Last week, on behalf of men on Father’s Day, I asked women to tone it down a bit when they bring up conflict. Women, you scare us men!
Then I asked the men to enjoy the day, since the next week the article was going to put a little bit of pressure on them. Well, men, here it is. Let’s see if you can handle it.
First, thank you to the women who have decided to bring up disagreements in a softer way. Us men appreciate it.
While many women found this approach did make it more likely he would listen, others found that their efforts did not pay off at all. In fact, some found that it completely backfired, saying “It seems like the only time he listens is when I yell at him. I bring it up in a softer way and he just ignores me.” So what happened?!
In an effort to avoid all conflict, no matter how a woman brings it up, some men will still not listen. Even when they scream and yell at their wife they are often trying to end the conflict, not encourage it, much like an animal puffs up his chest to scare off an attacker.
But men, we have to realize that conflict won’t kill us. Usually. Granted, each year husbands are killed by wives, but each year people are injured in pogo stick accidents, too. Neither of them, as you can imagine, are very common.
So for the average male, it’s safer to engage in a conflict conversation with your wife than avoid it due to a fear of death. (Unless, of course, you try to make a get-away on your pogo stick, I suppose).
Each year just as much damage is done, if not more, by avoiding conflict than addressing it. This doesn’t mean that conflict needs to be intense and painful and destructive. This is extreme and unnecessary indeed. However, many men seem to avoid conflict no matter how minor in intensity or how gently brought up by their wife.
So men, man up. Learn to take a little heat. In the words of my old supervisor, “It’s discomforting, not dangerous. And you can handle discomforting.”
Men and women provide a great balance for one another. And when these differences are applied in conflict, it rings true. As so well said by a female client of mine, “I need to step down and he needs to step up."
So many women are doing a great job of “stepping down” by bringing up conflict in a softer way, by not being so intense. So it’s time for us men to step up and stop trying to avoid conflict completely.
Men, be willing to engage in a conversation, even if it’s not as fun as discussing your plans to go to the lake next weekend.. And if your wife gets a little intense, may I share with you a lifesaving comment from my college professor? Being a married man himself, when his wife got angry he would think “Wow, this must be really important to her to get this upset. I’d better listen and find out why.”
In the words of self-proclaimed handyman and comedian Red Green, may I end my article in the same way he ended each show: “Remember, I’m pullin’ for ya, we're all in this together.”
So men, put down your pogo stick, get back in there and show her that you love her. Even enough to listen when she gets a little mad.
For more tips on keeping your love alive, visit www.panhandlecouples.com.
Remember, couple relationships are easier than you think, but harder than you act.