In the previous post I offered some advice to mothers who believe it to be their primary duty to prevent their child from suffering any and all difficulties in life. I reminded them that in order to for a boy to grow into a man, there are times where she must stand with him, while resisting the temptation to stand in front of him. Today I would like to offer the men a little advice. And though this is not specifically about fatherhood per se, it is certainly a lesson that every husband must learn if he wishes to communicate properly with a woman. What I am speaking about is the frustration that often takes place when a woman tries to explain her problems to a man, only to receive a response that irritates her even more than the original problem.
Understandably, when a woman begins to express her frustration about a certain set of circumstances, a man's natural response is to try to mitigate the situation. And from his perspective this makes perfect sense, for if he were in a similar predicament this is precisely what he would do. Yet no sooner has he offered his reasonable and systematic analysis, then she is back to her original complaint. Feeling ignored, he repeats his advice once more, only to discover that she seems completely uninterested in his "sage wisdom." Gentleman, this is a clear signal that she wants you to abandon this approach. In fact, if you continue along these lines you too may end up on the enemies list. Efficiency is not what she is after here. Actually, it may be the very last thing she is after.
If it is true to say that mothers need to learn to practice the virtue of "stabat mater" (see previous post), then it is equally true to say that men need to practice that same virtue, especially as it relates to their wives. One might even call it the "stabat pater". Yes, the hardest thing for a man to do when he sees his wife frustrated, is to stand by and do nothing as she gives a detailed account of her misery. If she were to sit around and devise the most onerous task for a man it could hardly be much worse than this. Needless to say, a man is not always motivated by the purest of intentions, sometimes he is merely motivated by the desire to make the complaining stop. But in any case, what he must understand is that what she wants from him [even more than a viable solution] is to know that he is listening to her. Sure, she may want you to throw in a few hopeful words about how things are going to get better in the not too distant future, but whatever you interject, just make sure it doesn't involve any concrete advice. If you do this, she is likely to become further irritated with you and accuse you of "not listening". Then, worst of all, she may even hit you with these ominous words; "You know, you just don't understand me". If she says this, do not argue with her- simply respond; "I know I don't, but I'm trying." Only give her advice if she asks for it, and even then do not expect her necessarily to heed it.