Note: I feel it necessary to indicate here that this post is a (poor) attempt at a humorous approach to a sometimes serious subject. Feel free to leave comments, but do so knowing that it was never my intent to offend, just to have a little fun with stereotypes and my relationship with my wife.
In many situations, being direct in addressing a problematic issue is the best approach. It can bypass a lengthy and sometimes unnecessary introduction in the interest of brevity, clarity, and candor. By “many situations” I mean, “except when it comes to communicating with a spouse about a behavioral change you or s/he would like to see on the part of the other person.”
To those of you who would like to dramatically change the course of your spouse’s life, habits, dress, driving style, and/or personal hygiene I say, “Thanks ladies for putting up with us.”
The rest of us are too busy shaving our backs or cleaning the dirt out from underneath our fingernails with an Exacto knife to worry about much else. If something happens frequently enough, it might stay in our heads longer than 15 seconds, but the only possible consequence of that unlikely event is that the thought will get converted into words that will get us into trouble.
Often women complain that men don’t share their feelings enough, but the real problem is that they’re not well-received when we do!
My wife is a great sport. She puts up with a lot of teasing, tickling, and nicknaming. She even laughed at (most of) my jokes for a year or two after we were married — what more could a guy ask for? (Since she never reads my blog, this whole one-way conversation will stay just between us.)
When my wife says “Tell me what you really think” or “I’m not sure what to do” she’s actually looking to have me respond with one of these phrases:
- “You’re very pretty, dear.”
- “Forget the budget, you really need another pair of shoes/jeans/whatever.”
- “You’re absolutely correct.”
- “Why didn’t I think of that? Let me drop what I’m doing right now and jump up to do that!”
The nice part about the list of responses is that the first one is true. The other nice part is that if I can only remember one response, the first one will get me pretty far, especially if she mumbled something to me from the other room and I have no idea what she said.
As a bonus, I’m not committing to anything which is what makes #3 so dangerous. Now that I think about it, if she does actually read this post, she might mumble something from the other room such as, “If you agree with me, tell me I’m pretty.” She’d probably get me on that one.
So what’s the best approach for asking your wife to change a behavior that frustrates you? Keep it to yourself and hope that it goes away on its own. If you share your feelings, chances are that you’ll be reminded of everything you’ve needed to (but didn’t) change.
Now where did I set down my Exacto knife . . .