Have you ever gotten into an argument only to realize afterwords how juvenile you acted? Where you say something so asinine that afterwards your face crunch up and quietly you mouth out the sound of “ooooo” ? Yep that was my response. Not going into much detail of the conversation other than telling you that I responded with, “Well I take my apology back!” At that moment, it felt like a five-year-old kid taking his toy out of the sandbox and heading home. That was dumb.
Without dredging the whole Men are Martians and Women are Smart, which is so 1990s, there are truths about why us men folk tend to miss out what seems to be the obvious when approaching emotional problems. Case in point, when I feel overwhelmed, I get frustrated. Frustration leads to whatever I see is a problem, it needs resolution now. Not a discussion, not a plan of action, just dive in and figure it out but get it done (wow, writing that makes me feel like I am Mater, the Tow Truck from Disney’s “Cars”). My very understanding wife who thankfully loves me dearly has helped me understand that yes she can see I am frustrated but taking it out on a messy room is just a distraction and actually adds fuel to the problem. You see why I love her? Now when she becomes overwhelmed, she quietly absorbs the daily drudgery until she cannot contain her frustration and collapses on the couch. Obviously missing all the signs that led up to that point, my attention to her is misplaced and though I stop doing whatever I was doing, it is already too late. She does not need me at that point to fix whatever stopped her, she needed me to help her before it got to that point. Ooooh, dang I got it.
The stereotypes that the levels of masculinity directly relates to levels of insensitivity are greatly exaggerated. All men fail at this (I’m sure women do too but I do not have many lady folks as friends to confirm this). What I mean is that regardless of how sensitive you are with the needs of your wife or how confident you feel as a champion of a successful lovable mate based on the number of hugs or “I love yous” received matters for not when she falls or when you stumble and fall on top of her (speaking figuratively of course). When I need something, expectations are that it will happen immediately, instant gratification. When she needs something, expectations is that it will happen over time but continually. As Rick Perry said, “Oops“.
Noticing a trend here? So here is what I figured out. My wife needs the following to keep her stable, happy and stress-free (or at least minimize the stress):
- Support – kind of obvious but apparently not well understood by me
- Consistency – something I seriously need to work on
- Hugs – I should know better but yet here it is on the list
Supporting your wife vs supporting what she does are actually two DIFFERENT things. You fell out of your chair right? I was stunned by that too! I love my wife, I am proud of who she is and of the family she has given me. I love how she looks, how she laughs and how we play. Though my love for her is not in question, the way I support our love is. Example (a good one she pointed out to me recently): When I do something with one of our kids, the other feels left out, it is not intentional, the activity typically mandates as such (Boyscouts is an example). My wife quietly encourage her son and plan activities for our daughter while we are away so that everyone feels connected. My wife is supporting our son for our local Destination ImagiNation (DI) team. This activity requires active involvement for both child and parent. I figure this would be a great bonding experience for my wife and son. So not to be a major influence, I backed off completely. It sounded reasonable, and logical but now I realized it was wrong. Why? Because I made a stupid remark about the things my daughter and I will be doing while they work on DI in a teasing manner. It wasn’t meant to be a dig but that what it ended up being. Now my son feels like he is missing out and wife felt like she was in this alone… DANG!
What I should be doing besides encouraging my son to move forward with DI and keep him on task with ideas, is to ask my wife what are the next steps and see how we could involve the whole family in making their efforts successful. That last sentence was market-branded talk for, get off my butt and jump in! Success for me is a task well done, success for my wife is a task done together. I need to make that part of my way of thinking.
Not only should you support/love/talk/play/do anything with your partner in crime/life, you should be damn sure you do that consistently! Every man gets the ah-ha moment after talking to their wives (or they will once their pride is put in check) the problem is what happens afterwards. We get it, seriously we do, what our problem is how to move that knowledge into our long term grey matter. Guys do not have to be a minuteman, ready at a moment’s notice (hey, hey keep your thoughts clean folks); but rather remember why you faltered in the first place. If you add that to your routine of doing things, the volume of hugs and “love yous” will increase! Which leads me to the final topic.
Who knew hugs were so therapeutic? We watch the scripted hugs on every show on every channel. We know how good they feel when requested but yet we forget to add that to our daily routines, or at least I do. I did not come up in a family that was very affectionate physically. Heck my dad struggled with telling me how he feels about anything other than how much work has been put in for the things we had. I met my wife very early in my life. My displays of affection early on were pecks on the check, SERIOUSLY! I look back and though it seemed so innocent then, I struggled with displaying my love to a girl who would eventually become my wife. My wife loves hugs, to her it is synonymous to saying good morning, good afternoon, or hey! Hugs help her stay grounded, gives her emotional fuel to continue to tackle her daily battles, to feel safe and protected. I like them too but the daily grind of day long work and what feels like endless commutes sap the emotional triggers that welcomes the open embrace from the one I love. But it is not as simple as throwing up your arms and giving what amounts to an apathetic hug which is very dangerous. A hug should never be a “have to” but rather a “want to”. Hugs are loaded weapons, be careful where you point them or how you use them. I enjoy the embrace of my Queen and even feel the draw for them. I just need to allow myself to be open for more hugs like a sieve rather than the trickle they are now.
So what have we learned today? Never act like a child? Scratch that! Acting like kids is what keeps you young. Behaving like one is where trouble is found. I have learned that in order to maintain my happy healthy family, I need to be a consistently supportive huggable guy! (you see what I did there) The following expressions are used a lot with folks of my generation, age is just a number or wisdom comes with age, though I agree with the former, I cannot do the same with the latter. You could be an old kook and still be juvenile with how you react to life. Wisdom comes from making mistakes and learn from it by swallowing your pride and keeping that lesson permanent in your head. That is something I am still working on to this day.
Oh and this next part is not for you!
Honey, I am getting it, thanks. Thanks for sticking with a goofy guy and being my beacon of light to guide me in a direction that is better for the both of us. Love always, Your not-as-head-strong-as-he-use-to-be-or-stubborn-to-put-it-bluntly loving husband.