Fight Fairly? Oh, I see, we’re off to LaLaLand!

In addition to living an insanely funny life (as you can tell by my bizarre posts), I am also very blessed to live a peaceful life with very few urges to grab a baseball bat and start swingin’! But that minimization of violent urges didn’t happen overnight. 🙂 Something that has greatly helped me over the years is learning how to fight with my mate in a way that actually accomplishes something other than blood shed, calls to 911, short stays in prison, etc…

Below is a chapter from my Intimacy book. I hope it helps you the next time you find yourself carrying a cast iron frying pan and in your best Jack Nicholson voice calling out to your honey. 🙂

17. Fight in a fair and constructive way

When a fight is over, it’s over.

This may be one of the most difficult things to do, but it’s also one of the most important. No one, including us ladies, likes to have things they’ve done in the past thrown in their face. It’s not fair (I hate that expression, but it holds true here) to keep bringing things up time and time again when you are angry with your man. Let me assure you that when you say the following things, your man immediately either gets angry, defensive, offensive or tunes you out completely:

  • Why do you always…
  • Every time you…
  • Remember 6 months ago when you…

Believe me, from the moment you utter those words, he’ll be mad and worse yet, dismissive of everything you say from that point forward. Once a man is in this frame of mind there is no point to arguing with him because nothing you say will get through to him and the whole point of an argument is to try and resolve something. If, in his mind, he’s thinking, “La la la la la…football, porn, video games, I wish she’d shut up…” while you are berating him for things he’s done in the past, you aren’t going to accomplish your goals.

So, how can you fight in a constructive way?

Here’s a solution that works with most men. Yet again, it’s about figuring out how and when to talk to a man. If you need to have “a talk,” make it a bulleted list, not a screaming, crying dissertation. If he walks in the door from work and you launch into him (even if it is sorely deserved!), he’s not going to want to deal with you. Or, even if you wait until he’s had his first beer and is relaxed, if you come at him cursing and yelling and crying, you’ve already lost the argument. He may say tons of things to placate you (read that as: make you shut up), but ultimately, most things accomplished by a long, drawn out, weeping, yelling battle are only temporary solutions. What you want is a real solution. So, how do you get that?

While this may feel completely unnatural, especially when you are piping-hot mad and looking around for some sort of blunt object, try arguing like this and see how it works with your man.

1) Ask him, “Honey, do you have a few minutes?”

  • Whatever you do, don’t tack “To talk” onto the end of that sentence. That immediately puts a man on edge as they fear those two words more than prostate cancer.
  • By asking him if he has a few minutes, rather than telling him you need a few minutes, you’re allowing him the opportunity to say yes or no. If he says no, then ask for a specific time when the two of you can chat.

2) When you are both ready to start this conversation, take him somewhere private, other than the bedroom or the living room. Outside or the kitchen can be good places.

3) Once you’ve both sat down, reassure him that you love him and tell him that you want to discuss something with him.

4) Slowly, calmly and quietly explain what your concern is, without attacking him personally.

  • “When you do X, I feel Y,” is a great way to start. It’s not accusatory, it’s explanatory. And there is a HUGE difference between the two.
  • For example:
    • When you drink until you pass out, I feel worried and scared.
    • When you are short with me, I don’t understand why and I start to wonder if there is more to it than you just being in a bad mood.
    • When you come home late from work without calling, I worry that something has happened to you.

5) Then let him talk. Let him fill in the silence. Don’t feel the need to do that yourself. Allowing him time to think of his response is critical. Chances are you’ve been plotting this discussion for hours, days, weeks, etc…but he’s just now hearing about it, so he may need a few minutes to figure out his answer. That’s okay. Silence is okay. Plus, he’s busy trying to think up his defense anyway, so any talking you do is falling on deaf ears.

6) When he does respond, listen to him, even if what he says is total bullshit. Give him a chance and then calmly explain your side of the story in greater detail. But don’t call him names or raise your voice or tell him he’s a knuckle-dragging pig that you wish you’d never met (even though you may be DYING to say that!).

7) Once you’ve discussed what the issue is, end the discussion with “Thanks, baby, for listening to me. I really appreciate it,” and then some kind of physical contact—a hug, a kiss, a held hand.

Now, I know you may be thinking, “ARE YOU CRAZY? I want to rip his nuts off and choke him to death with them! That bastard deserves to be drawn and quartered!” Believe me, I understand that urge. But this is all about how to have a healthier relationship with your man. If he dreads “the talk” or you yell, cry and call him names during “the talk” then he’s going to do everything in his power to never have “the talk” with you again.

Unfortunately, him not wanting to suffer through “the talk” doesn’t mean he’ll necessarily stop doing the things that make you want to kill him. Instead it means he’ll make “the talk” such a miserable experience for you that you’ll stop wanting to even have them. Slamming the door of communication like that is one of the worst things you can do in a relationship.

It takes patience and practice to have an effective argument. There is a lot of trial and error, and as every man is different, you’ll have to tailor your argument style to suit your man. Some men give in if you subtly guilt them. Some men give in if you are a solid boundary-drawer. Most men will listen if you just lay it out, in a verbal bulleted list without all the (what they perceive to be) “lady-drama.”

It’s important to know that this doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to cry during an argument. Sometimes, you just can’t help it. But be aware of how your man will react to your tears when deciding (if that’s even possible) whether or not to show that kind of emotion.  While there are many types of reactions men have to tears, I’ve identified a few of the main ones. Try and figure out which type of man you have and that’ll help you know whether or not to really fight the urge to cry during an argument.

  1. The Placater: This guy jumps right into “fix it” mode where he will say anything to make you stop crying. Unfortunately, what he says won’t necessarily happen once the conversation is over. It’s typically just a salve to get you to not cry anymore. He may even be well-intentioned in the moment, but quite often he’s just grabbing at straws to stop the flow of tears and probably won’t even remember half of what he said an hour later.
  2. The Deer in the Headlights: This guy immediately shuts down and becomes a mute. Your tears terrify him and he has no idea how to deal with you, so he stops interacting completely. This type of communication shutdown keeps the conversation from moving forward even an inch, and then you have to try and recover from it and start all over again.
  3. The Jerky Prick: This peach of a guy thinks, “GREAT! Here come the waterworks!” It may be that he sees your tears as manipulative and/or melodramatic, so he dismisses them automatically. When he dismisses your emotions like that, there is no way any continuation of the conversation will help you at all. (My suggestion is, if possible, to run from this type of man as fast as you can. If he sees your true emotions and scoffs at them, he’s probably a jerky prick in a lot of other areas as well. Why suffer the rest of your life with that???)
  4. The Self-Pitying Child: This type of guy gets defensive as they perceive your tears as a personal attack on them or they feel so instantaneously guilty that their reaction becomes knee-jerk instead of calmly responsive. Once they start to sulk and give you that, “Yeah, I know, I’m horrible and I hate myself,” routine, the real forward progress of your conversation has come to a screeching halt. They are too buried in feeling sorry for themselves to actually process anything you are saying.
  5. The Attentive Sweetie Pie: A good and loving man will see that you are truly in pain and will want to really work through the issue with you. Your tears will be an indicator to him of just how deeply hurt or angry you are and he’ll want nothing more than to resolve the issue with you. (God bless this type of man and I hope most of you ladies have this kind of guy.)

Regardless of which type of man you have, even if he’s not listed here or is a combination of a few of them, just remember that your tears have power and if you cry wolf with them, they lose that power. Tears should always be a genuine display of emotion, not a manipulation tactic. When you are real and honest with your emotions, you set up an environment where it’s safe for him to be real and honest too.

A final thought on this subject. While the Golden Rule of Communication is to treat others as you want to be treated, the Platinum Rule of Communication is to treat others as THEY want to be treated. Knowing that men are such different creatures from us, you have to keep in mind what is most effective in speaking with them. Keeping calm and rational may drive you crazy, especially when all you really want to do is hit him in the head with a cast-iron frying pan while weeping hysterically. In the end, however, it will help you better resolve your arguments (I prefer to think of them as “discussions”) and isn’t that the outcome you are hoping for?

 

 

Image procured from http://www.123rf.com/clipart-vector/hitting.html

FREE Book Excerpt: Nagging? A thing of the past!

I’m quite sure I’m not the only person who has pulled out my hair, wanting to slowly eviscerate my mate for NOT FREAKING DOING WHAT THEY SAID THEY WOULD DO! Argh!

It used to make me want to turn myself into the Roadrunner and him into the Coyote. Where’s my Acme bomb???

Luckily, my hubby is pretty darn good about the follow-through, but I’ve been with men who would have let the house become a rundown shack with no working light bulbs and furry fruit in the fridge without me nagging at them. What did I learn? Nagging doesn’t help. It just pisses everyone off. So here is my contribution to marital (or living in delicious sin) happiness.

Gentlemen, give this a read and learn how to keep nagging to a minimum. Ladies, after he reads this, you’ll have to nag him less. Doesn’t that sound like heaven and a HUGE stress relief? 🙂

Excerpt:

If you say you are going to do something, do it, on time, without complaining.

Women HATE being nags. We hate it even more than you. Trust me. We only nag when you don’t follow through on what you say; and really, that’s not nagging—it’s reminding.

We feel like we’ve turned into our mothers when we have to ask you to do something over and over again. But sometimes shit needs to get done. If that’s the case, DO IT. Putting it off doesn’t mean you won’t eventually have to do it anyway (the garbage can only sit around so long before it stinks), so just do it now and save the headache of her harping on you.

Here’s what a woman thinks when she has to ask you two, three or four times to do something you already said you would do:

  • That lazy fuck…why won’t he do it?
  • Ugh, I have to ask AGAIN. What am I, a broken record?
  • Do I have to do EVERYTHING in this house?
  • WHY does he say he’ll do something if he has no intention of doing it? Why doesn’t he just say no? Then I could do it myself or hire someone else to do it instead of waiting around forever!
  • Are his video games, football games, and nose picking adventures THAT much more important than me?
    • While you may be nodding your head and thinking, “Yes, Dallas vs. the Redskins IS more important that taking out the trash,” remember, your woman takes it as you saying the game is more important than HER. Crazy sounding? Yes. But true, nonetheless.

The biggest benefit of this is that your woman will learn to trust what you say. You’ve probably got friends that bullshit you sometimes and you know that what they say isn’t always what they do. Those kinds of friends suck because you never know if they are going to flake out on you. A woman doesn’t want to think that way about her man. Don’t be the person she thinks of as a flake. Be the man that “Takes Care of Business”. It’s hot. We love it. It turns us on. And you’ll probably get more sex as a result of it. Win/win.

End excerpt from, Sex: How to Get More of It.

I hope you guys enjoyed this tiny little piece of one of my books and will pardon the language. You know I never met a 4-letter word I didn’t like! 😉

Diffusing Anger (Email from a Reader)

 

Sometimes, my readers will send me emails asking for help with a relationship issue they are having. I received this one recently and thought I’d share it with you guys here.

 

Dear Jodi,

My husband and I were planning a long weekend away from the kids for over a month. I even took Friday off work so we could really enjoy ourselves. Right as we were about to start packing, his buddy called and said he had tickets to the hockey game on Saturday night. My husband immediately told him how thrilled he’d be to go and then informed me we’d be postponing our trip. Needless to say, I was more than annoyed.  I freaked out, yelled at him, then didn’t speak to him all weekend. Things are still a little tense between us and it’s been over a week. What can I do? How could I have handled this differently?

Thanks,

Annoyed wife

 

Dear Annoyed Wife,

I’m pretty sure my first impulse would have been something that would have landed me in prison; I’m glad you didn’t go that route! In all sincerity though, it is completely understandable that you were upset. Typically, we get all excited and build up in our minds exactly how the weekend will go. Tons of romance and fun and sex and good food–all the stuff we dream about for a long weekend with the man. We excel at visualizing the perfect vacation. Then to have it dashed at the last-minute for a sporting event? My head would have exploded. But, as we all know, an exploding head is not only painful, but incredibly unhelpful when dealing with a situation like this. So what to do?

Since the jackass behavior of your husband happened last week, you can’t pull a Superman and spin the world backwards to zip back in time, but you can keep it from getting worse. While this may not be the easiest thing in the world to do, you need to talk to him about it and tell him why your feelings are hurt. But it is critical to do this in just the right way. No one knows your husband like you do, so tailor my suggestions to fit your own life, but here are some things to say and some to avoid in this conversation:

Do not say, no matter how desperately you want to:

  • YOU ASSHOLE! Why am I always last on your list of priorities?
  • You always ruin everything. Why do I even try?
  • Are your buddies that much more important to me?
  • How could you DO that to ME???

While those things are probably what you are thinking, they’ll put him on the defensive, which will then usually put him on the offensive too. That does not lead to a healthy resolution. Instead, let’s look at a more constructive way of communicating using healthy and helpful strategies.

A couple of things to keep in mind before you start. First, stay calm. I know I’m asking you to probably do the exact opposite of what you gut is telling you. I’d want to chuck a hammer at him. But men typically respond better to a concise, verbal bulleted list spoken in a calm, tear-free way. Next, take him somewhere private that is not the bedroom–that room is for sleep and frolicking only.

Then try a conversation that goes like this, even if it is physically painful to do so:

“Honey, I want us to get back on track. I don’t like the way it has felt between us for the last week. I want you to know that I was very excited to go on a long weekend trip with you. I was really looking forward to time alone, without the kids, where we could just lay around, eating, relaxing, having fun, making love (If he’s not listening to you yet, saying, “making love” will perk up his ears!). All week long I fantasized (another man-attention-getting-word) about what we’d do and what a great time we’d have.  Taking off a day of work wasn’t easy, but I was happy to do it so we could have extra time together.

When your friend called and invited you to the hockey game and you decided that we weren’t going on our trip it hurt my feelings and made me feel like our time together didn’t matter to you–that us having some well-deserved time alone wasn’t important to you. As a result, I felt like I didn’t matter to you.

I just wanted you to know why I got so mad.”

Then let him talk. This may be the hardest part, but just be silent and see what he does. He’ll need to process what you’ve said. He’ll need, in all honesty, time to think of his excuse. Hopefully, his response will be one of understanding, but even if it’s not, you’ve said your peace in a responsible, adult, direct way.

At this point, especially if he doesn’t respond in the way you want him to, don’t beat a dead horse–you’ve said what needed to be said and repeating it over and over to try and make a point will just make his brain float off to La La Land. Give him time, it may take a day or two, to process what you’ve said. If it isn’t better at that point, you may want to briefly mention that you’d hoped the conversation you had the other day would have helped smooth everything between you–is there something he wants to discuss? Put the ball in his court as now it’s up to him to finish calming the waters.

To sum it all up, while our first reaction to a situation like this may be to scream and throw stuff at his head, that rarely solves anything. It may feel good to you in that moment, but learning how to communicate in a way that will work on him, in particular, will lead you to a much happier, healthier relationship. Then, if something similar happens in the future, he KNOWS exactly how you will feel and if he does it again, you have quite the leg to stand on in that situation, as it’s been previously addressed by you.

Good luck, Annoyed Wife. I hope he makes it up to you with a fabulous long weekend in the near future.

Take care!

When In Doubt, Remain Calm

So, my real name for this post is more along the lines of, “Don’t be a douche bag,” but I thought I’d go for a less in your face title since I’m new here and people don’t know me very well quite yet. In all honesty, I’ve never met a 4-letter word I didn’t like.

What I really want to address here is that so many times I’ve seen (we probably all have) that a boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife will immediately assume the worst when confronted with an uncomfortable or confusing situation. This always confounds me. Shouldn’t the love of your life be the first person to believe you and have your back in all situations?

Here’s an example. One time I was out with friends and one of the guys said to another of the guys, “Hey man, that was so much fun last Friday night! We had such a great time. Those girls were HOT!” Now, before the poor guy he was talking to could say anything, his girl jumped all over him. “YOU SAID YOU WERE WORKING ON FRIDAY! WHAT THE HELL??? DID YOU GO TO SOME STRIP CLUB?? I HATE YOU!” This she screamed in front of everyone. It was mortifying.

I immediately had a few thoughts run through my mind.

  • I felt bad for her because if he had been lying to her, getting busted in front of everyone is simply humiliating to everyone involved, but especially hurtful to her.
  • I felt bad for him because I knew he actually WAS working. The other guy was about to tell him what he had missed by being stuck at work. Only he wasn’t able to continue his thought because the wife freaked out.
  • I felt bad for everyone else because the evening had just gone from fun to hell in a hand basket in 2 seconds flat.

It’s this type of gut reaction that is the death knell of a relationship. While I too would immediately think WTF?? I would also give my husband the benefit of the doubt. She could have solved the entire situation without it turning into a nightmare of he said/she said by simply and calmly asking the loud mouthed guy what he was talking about. Instead, she flew into a rage and blew the entire situation into something that was awful for all of us, but especially damaging to her relationship.

Of course, if there is a history of lying between them, she’s likely to be sensitive and prone to yelling first and asking questions later. But even if there is a history of dishonesty, screaming like that never solves problems.

Before assuming the worst and flying off the handle, take a moment to collect yourself. Leave the room if you have to. And then broach the subject in a calm and non-threatening way. You are much more likely to find out what really is going on if you don’t have everyone within a 10 mile radius hiding under the table in fear of your wrath.