Sunday, October 26, 2008

I found my Y Chromasome...It was under my Estrogen patch.

I think I may have mentioned before, I love women. SO many things about you are SO wonderful...but I won't tangent. And rather than lump all women into one mold, today I will be referring to my lovely bride. And to her credit, I have found the following trait to be fairly common, but not exclusive, to the female species.

Today I would like to talk about an age old struggle, that great barrier between us, the Great Wall Of China that separates the female psyche from the male's...

Listening, instead of FIXING.

This has often been a thing. She will come to me with a story about an ill-tempered child, a bad day at work, a story about an infuriating family member told for the 247th time. And I will sit, and listen as a good husband should. (By the way, I am using the official title of a "good husband" here, but I am clearly still in training.)

And then I will offer a suggestion. Or ask if she had tried something in particular. Or probe more into her process, in an effort to sneak up on a solution.

And that is when the fireworks start.

I am judging, second-guessing, judge and jury at the end of a hard day, clearly not on her side, making her feel weak, inadequate, silly, stupid.

You see, along with boybits, we males have another subtle difference from you beauties...even we softer males have an undying urge to...Fix. And you don't want want us to LISTEN. I get that. And I do listen, I swear to you I do. But as soon as you are finished recounting the events, isn't it natural to want to avoid a recurrence in the future? To try something else that you may not have thought of before? To use the experience of another? Isn't that an advantage of sharing your life with someone, to have a built-in library of resources to aid each other in navigating life?


Clearly not.

I could use your help friends...can you tell me where I am off here? I really want to...well...fix this.

ps- Tomorrow is the Weekly Pessimistic Prize again...I look forward to hearing your stories of weekend terror.

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AndreAnna said...

Maybe after you're done listening to her "rant" (I use that term VERY loosely) you could simply say, "Wow, honey. That sounds like it really sucked/hurt/upset you/made you sad/pissed you off/etc. ad nauseum."

Since you're right and men DO want to fix things and it would be beneficial to everyone to be able to discuss things on how to avoid such events in the future, maybe you could just put it more delicately. You ARE on her side but when people - anyone - offers unsolicited advice when someone just wants a listener, it can be felt with a pang of condescension.

So, do this:

After you say the above line, or something simliar, add in: "Is there anything I could to do help you next time?/What could we have done better to make you not feel this way again?/How can I help you not feel so upset?"

This way, you're ASKING her if she wants your help instead of GIVING it to her and I'll bet she's a LOT more receptive to that.

Not that I'm speaking from personal experience living with a Fixer or anything. Despite his deep compassion and sincere empathy when "listening", sometimes when he says things that I take as "advice" I could rip of his bong-bongs and put them in a jar on my nightstand.

Anonymous said...

I got you beat BIG TIME Jay. I (oh yeah my wife was there too)took 3 litle girls to High Shcool Musical 3) as well as 75 preteens and teenagers and a very few unlucky parents. The girls screamed every time the lead male star was on the big screen. Haapy happy joy joy. Got to love Disney!!!!!!

Christina said...

When I complain to my hubby about something, I don't want him to fix it either. Really, all I'm looking for is a hug and maybe a "that sucks honey, but I'm here for you." In all honesty, that one hug and reassurance makes it better.

Oregon Elkhorns said...

not only do I feel you pain, I live your pain Bigman. I too am a Husband in training with a deep set desire to fix and move to the next fix and the next. I am a good listener by my account but I just want to get through the Blah blah section and hear the meat and fix.

Better put I tailor solutions for clients for a living so why should this skill set not work at home?

As I said I am still in training and probably always will be, especially with an 8yr old Mom clone living under my roof. I am however willing to try out some the very well defined suggestions from Andreanna. She may have just saved me a lot of jack on therapy sessions. Be well-- Tony

Ann Onymous said...

What she wants, Jay, is a "that sucks!" or "what a jerk!" -- not a "well maybe you should have handled it this way," or the like.

I feel the wife's pain, but I'm learning to understand the husband too and, especially, trying to keep my sense of humor about the whole crazy thing (parenthood, that is). Matter of fact, we had kind of a funny exchange the other day that went exactly like this (and I have it verbatim because the conversation was via email):

Me: I go to pick up these dang kids and my day is instantly ruined.

Him: They love you.

Me: I just went ballistic on them, shrieking at the top of my lungs,
gnashing my teeth, pulling my hair, rending my clothes. F*@k!

Him: Gotta stay cool, babe - we want them to stay cool when they're pissed, right? ~duck~ I love you.

Me: Right. I'll just follow your example.

Him: HAR! Bad idea. A man's reach should always exceed his grasp. Or whatever.

Oh, and I feel totally exposed now because I've just revealed that, uh, I am so not the perfect mom and yes, I sometimes make huge parenting mistakes. So I hope it was helpful!

Deb said...

why on earth would we want a man's idea of how to fix things? good lord, jay, you really are more male than i thought!

i don't need anyone telling me how to fix it, because if and when i decide it needs fixing, i will reach into my very large bag of tricks and figure it out on my own.

your role, if you really haven't figured it out by now, is to simply sit there and listen. with your mouth shut. and then throw out a fairly genuine, "holy cow" or "un-frickin-believable" or "i can't believe you had to go through that". and don't EVER suggest that you might have experienced something even remotely similar.

Wep said...

I have a warning from my husband to you. If you then start using the oh that sucks and giving a hug eventually there will be the time when she says

Is THAT all you have to say? That SUCKS? How is THAT supportive.

My husband just realized that much like a tornado certain times when I'm upset there is NOTHING he can do right except expect to always be wrong.

ComfyMom~Stacey said...

I kind of view it as a 2 way street. I as a woman just want to vent, but I also know that my husband, as a man, wants to fix. It goes the other way too. He'll go off on something, expecting me to make suggestions but I assume he's just venting so he gets annoyed that I apparently don't care about his problems. It's not fair to either side to assume they know what you are looking for when you begin going on about a situation. So our agreement is tell the other what we are looking for.
I begin my venting with "I'm just venting." and if I don't he'll say "Sounds terrible! Are you just getting it out or would you like some help?" He'll begin his rants with "I need some suggestions"

Chitown Meg said...

I am new to your blog....I do enjoy it :) I'll be back to read more!

Whitney R said...

I have told my husband that I just need to vent and have him listen. And that I already know how to fix it but I still need to vent. And if I don't know how to fix it I usually figure it out while I'm ranting and raving OR I will ask.

He really is getting good at keeping his mouth shut :)

And at the end you can just ask if there is anything you can do to help. If she says, "the laundry, dishes and please put the toilet seat down." just say, ok. ;)

Jenni Jiggety said...

You have to navigate these waters verrrrrrry carefully Jay. Some times we WANT you to offer suggestions and sometimes we just want you to sit nicely and look interested.

Basically what I am telling you is you can't win...

CassJustCurious said...

Here's what I want to hear: "that's incredible - better you then me because you know I would have Freaked/Flipped/Killed/Embarassed/Died if that had happened to me." Sneaking a compliment while knocking yourself that's a winning combination.

Jay @halftime lessons said...

Thank ou all so much for all the thought and time you put into your comments today...some great advice. And mostly, it sounds like I am screwed.


ali said...

"I am clearly still in training." You are ALL still in training, Jay. Today, my husband threw a grandaddy long leg spider at me and we've been married 11 years. He still has a lot to learn.

jill jill bo bill said...

Rick does the same thing to me. Plus, he adds, "Figure it out" sometimes, even if there is no figuring to be done...

Wendyburd1 said...

boybits?! *falls to the floor gasping from laughing*

Good N Crazy said...

I fall under the category of Listen for a bit and then try to fix it. Course I still hate the hubby to do that to um...we're sorta messed up over here.

Working on it though.

Been a nasty stress moving and all, new job yada yada..

But...! I think we found renters for our Utah house! Yip, yip!

Brittany said...

Hmmm...I think I must have a set of balls stashed some where on my person, because I am a fixer also. A fixer and a doer, often without a plan or any pre-thought process...which often maybe...your wife is onto something.

Luanne said...

next time, just say..

"That sucks...I'm sorry" and then give her a hug and a kiss on the forehead and leave it at that...

That's what we want!

Glitter Fairy Princess's Mommy said...

LMAO! My husband and I have the same "arguments". We've tried to institute a two-pronged approach.
1. I complain and he keeps his mouth shut. Mostly.
2. A little while later he brings up suggestions/helpful comments. That way my initial ire has faded and I don't direct my anger at him. After all, it was meant for our lovely children, dog, extended family, random irritating store clerk, etc.

I'd just like to point out that Men aren't the only ones habitually screwed by this genetic predisposition. If I ever complain/vent about family that I married into instead of being born into then HE takes great offense. After all, he CAN'T fix that situation, or it would've been fixed when he was 5, right? So then HE gets mad at ME instead of me at him. We're still working on that one...

Ann said...

Oh Jay,
I'm so behind reading your blog because, for some reason, every time I went to your page my computer would come up with the dreaded "error" message along with the deep chime of doom and shut down. WHAT?!?
I would load it back up and try to access your blog from someone else's blog and the same thing would happen. HUH?!?
However, today is my lucky day. I made it! My computer has let me come over and play.
Now, what was this post again?

Ann said...

Oh yes, the "fixing" of things.
I get this. I do the same thing.
When my husband tells the tale of a client who is unreasonable (Rob is a computer software guru) I try to offer other ways of approaching the situation.
But that's not what's needed. Thats not the point of this "sharing". Actually, it's not sharing, it's venting. He vents, I vent. We don't want it fixed. We just need to say it out loud in the hopes that it will get out of our minds and leave us alone.
I've realized it's just a conversation. (It is frustrating sometimes though. I think I have some pretty good ideas!)

posthumous pointer
To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one's self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived - this is to have succeeded. - Emerson