Part Two: The Art of Communication: Stubborn Men
Overall I try not to write too often in these blogs that men do this and women do that. As soon as you make a generalization about the genders, there’s an exception. So I felt a little sheepish about yesterday’s blog where I exposed the futile efforts of some women to goad their husbands to talk. I’m sure my whole approach probably made some women mad or caused them to struggle with false guilt. Not all silent husbands are the result of anxious wives. Really, folks. Some guys just ain’t gonna talk.
There are two reasons for that: They are either shy or stubborn. I suppose they could be both shy and stubborn. Put those two together and his wife could end up in a mental institution. I’m not kidding. There are some women in those places all over the world right now who are sitting on the floor in the hallway and bouncing their heads against the wall and saying, “it’s all my fault, it’s all my fault.”
I have no problem with a husband not saying much if he’s by nature shy and reserved and doesn’t say much simply because he doesn’t say much. If you are married to one of those you need to figure out a way to not let that be a problem for you, too! Acceptance is a pretty important aspect of love. If your husband is naturally shy, you aren’t going to be able to convince him to become gregarious and slap-happy. The more you push him on that deal, the more resistance you are going to get…and you should! No one likes to have someone else not accept him with his shortcomings. I pity the man married to a woman who doesn’t accept him (I pity the woman, too. Really!). I’d caution you to be careful about divorcing your husband because you refuse to accept his shyness. If you marry someone else later you will discover your new husband has faults you don’t like either. Probably not shyness! You wouldn’t do that again, right? But he’ll have something that will irritate the crap out of you that are deeper than you can pry out with your scolding and he’s going to resist your efforts to change him just like the last guy. Human nature, my dear. Nothing personal.
But I do have a problem with a guy who refuses to accept his wife’s efforts to simply talk with him and dialog about whatever because he sees every effort of his wife to invite him to talk as an attack upon his personhood. This is absolutely ridiculous and a complete waste of time.
I have met some very generous and big-hearted women in my day. I’m married to one of them. Her humility keeps me on my knees. I think I was more than stubborn when we got married, but her gentle spirit broke me of that craziness years ago. It’s one of the reasons I believe in the redemptive nature of marriage. It ain’t gonna save you from damnation, but nearly so. Just shy of it. The best of marriages will bring you to the cross because there’s only so far you can go on your own strength and your great marriage makes you realize there’s still some unfinished business that only a holy God can handle. That’s the best way.
What is it with these stubborn guys?
Brandon, our Staff Researcher, just had a blog a week or so ago about what happens to stubborn men. It’s pretty scary. Brandon’s reading John Gottman, the legendary marital researcher, who claims to be able to predict divorce with over 90% accuracy if he can watch and listen to a couple discuss something they disagree about for five minutes! The biggest predictor is these men who just totally shut down to the point where it’s a religion with them. Who’s divorcing whom in a deal like that? It’s women dumping men. They just ain’t gonna take it. You can only be rejected so often before you just finally say, “Ok. I get it.” And that’s the end of it. And as Brandon’s parable of Albert the donkey showed us, the farmer’s gonna get a new model.
Now I’m not advocating divorce in situations like that. No doubt there are other circumstances too numerous to mention in these cases, but generally, if you are married to a husband who absolutely refuses to talk, even though he’s not shy, it’s going to bother you something fierce and when you are bothered something fierce you are not going to be in your best behavior, and more than likely, your something fierce behavior is not going to give your husband reason to shoot the breeze with you. No doubt. You could learn to chill and maybe, over time, your generous spirit could melt your husband’s stubborn heart, like my wife’s generous spirit did with me. You could. You’d need a little patience and perseverance for that, something that’s in short supply these days. It’s worth the shot, though.
But what is so irritating is these guys who are absolutely NOT shy living with very generous and accepting and non-judgmental wives and they still won’t talk! What in the world is that about? These poor women will tell me their efforts to soften their words so their husbands will be able to hear them and their efforts are totally seen as cruel and inhumane by these overly sensitive and childish men. It’s just nuts and it’s gotta make you wonder.
I mean, look, men’s egos are certainly hypersensitive and easily shattered, but this is ridiculous. She can’t say anything without you panicking and holding up a cross like she’s a vampire you are trying to fend off? Hey. She’s your wife! She’s trying to be your HELPmate. Let her HELP you. She cannot HELP you without your WILL. You have to be willing to RECEIVE it. You married a woman with a generous spirit and now you are trying to stifle her and shut her up?
These are the guys that would surely cause me to end up in jail if I ever acted out on my fantasies to throttle them. That probably wouldn’t look good on my vita.
Guys. Hey. Could you just chill, already? You didn’t marry somebody dumb. She’s got some good ideas. You don’t know everything. Just because she disagrees with you that doesn’t mean she’s being mean or putting you down or being negative or critical or a bitch. She should be able to disagree with you without you getting all bent out of shape.
My wife came up and said to me one time, “I’m not telling you what to do or anything, but I have this idea and I thought we’d just throw it on the table and look at the pros and cons and see, you know, what we think.” How can I NOT take the bait on that deal? She had me. Of course, I’m not going to be stubborn and defensive and I’m going to be a big boy and dialogue with her. Of course!
But, guys, look: if your wife is approaching you this way and you are still madder than a pistol and getting all huffy and puffing up your chest and sighing and rolling your eyes, your wife is NNNOOOOOOOTTTT the problem.