Tuesday, September 13, 2011

On marriage training for men....

In my "On communicating with women" post I included the following:

Now, my wife threw me a curve today because the training period never ends
when you think you know everything, she will quickly remind you that you don't.

Now you may be asking yourself "what did you mean by that Oh Bard of the Blogosphere?  Well, I'm about to tell you.  First though, my qualifications.  On 9/21/11 my wife and I will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary, so I have spent 20 years in the trenches, trying my best to gain as much inside knowledge as possible in order that I may carry forth this knowledge and present it as a beacon of hope to my fellow man.  If I can save one newlywed, I will feel that my hard work and dedication to the cause will have been worth it.  Don't be like the intrepid explorer who, while climbing Mt. Everest, put his full weight down on the wrong spot and fell to his death, those obstacles have already been discovered and marked.

Women and men are inherently different, if you haven't learned that yet then remember it well and carry it with you, this is rule #1.  We communicate (see On Communicating With Women) differently and want different things.  A woman wants someone who will listen to her, cry with her, laugh with her, reveal their innermost feelings and other crap like that.  They love movies like The Notebook, Valentines Day, When Harry Met Sally, etc. because they idealize relationships.  Go HERE for IMDB's list of 100 best romantic comedies and you will also find 100 movies that I never want to see.  Ever.

Men, on the other hand, want something different.  They want someone who never wants to talk about their feelings, but who share common interests.  They want someone who gives them the appropriate amount of affection, when they want it, and provides companionship when they do not.  They don't want to be hassled.

So how do you reconcile the two wants?  Through an intensive training and conditioning program with your wife as drill instructor.  For the purposes of the blog I will call the program simply The Program.  How do they do this and where did they learn it?  Science doesn't really know the answer, but it is something ingrained within the female spirit, they just KNOW how to do it efficiently.  Think about fear for a minute, how did you learn to be afraid of things that may hurt you?  For the most part you were not taught, it's instinct.  Thousands of years ago mankind learned to survive in a world that is proportionally more dangerous than the one we inhabit today.  Certain behaviors have become ingrained in us, we don't really think about it or know where we picked up the behavior, but nonetheless they are a part of us.  If you see a bear do you have to have someone yell at you run?  Of course not, you quickly appraise the situation and come up with the complex mathematical equation of mauling = bad. 

Consider this example:  You walk into a restaurant and this is what you see:

If given a choice, where would you sit?  I don't know about you, but I am going to want to sit at the farthest table with my back to the wall.  Why do we do this?  Thousands of years of evolution have taught us that the safest place to eat or rest is somewhere that affords us the widest view of our surroundings.  You want to sit where you can see everyone and no one can come up behind you.  You aren't paranoid and probably do this without thinking, it is an example of just KNOWING something without knowing you know, you know?  Your wife, on the other hand, knows to try to guide you toward the table furthest away from that TV hanging from the ceiling.  TV's with sporting events on them are like breasts, you may not want to look, but you also cannot make yourself look away.

Click HERE for another example of this kind of behavior.  Most men will get the majority of these correct.  Men are not handed a book on bathroom etiquette, it is INGRAINED.

Anyway, back on topic.  Women reconcile their wants with the wants of their spouse or boyfriend by initiating their ingrained training regimen, or The Program.  They know that like clay men have to be molded, that men must be shown the way.  When I was in boot camp one of our instructors explained that the basic premise of our eight week stay was to break us down like a shotgun, then arrange the pieces back  in such a way that was conducive to military service.  That's what our women, through The Program, hope to accomplish.

Just like in boot camp you have choices.  You can embrace The Program and become one with it, or you can rebel and make things exponentially more difficult.  In boot camp those who chose the later path are the ones who end up marching with fake guns until 11 PM while being screamed at by a Navy Seal.  These people quickly become very unhappy and very sore.  In marriage, those who chose the later path end up alone and/or find themselves making very large monthly alimony and child support payments.

The length of The Program really depends upon the trainee.  I have a buddy who says things that clearly indicate to me that he is resisting.  Resistance is futile, do you want to be happy, or do you want to be alone and writing checks to someone who has already moved on to their next trainee?  Generally speaking the training program last no more than 6 or 7 years, but I have seen cases where it lasted up to 10 to 12 years, depending upon the resistance level of the trainee.  Men who are in their 10th year or more of conditioning are not pleasant to be around.

So, how do you avoid a lengthy and painful training period?  It's really quite easy.  Women don't really require much, but telling them that you love them isn't enough, you have to SHOW them.  Suggestions:

  1. Take them on a weekly, or even monthly date night where you take them to dinner and a movie.  It doesn't even have to be one of those sickening romantic comedies that all seem to have the same premise and are written, filmed and released in about 2 weeks.  Those things are the Harlequin romance of movies.
  2. Help with the kids, cleaning and cooking.  My wife took laundry off of the table after several of her shirts were so shrunk that they wouldn't fit on a Cabbage Patch Kid.
  3. Take the time to listen to what she has to say.  You can turn off the game for 5 minutes and listen and it will save you 5 hours of grief.  Trust me on this one.
  4. Practice active listening.  This is where you repeat what she has said to make sure that you understand what her beef with you is.  There are MANY times when people go off half cocked because they heard one thing but the speaker meant something entirely different.  Take the time to listen and understand what is being said.
When my wife says she envies someone because her beau listens to her, shares his feelings, buys her stuff and shows her attention I always say something along the lines of "so they're dating right?" and the answer is almost always yes.  You will be well served, however, to remember well that in a woman's mind this should never stop, so avoid intense pain by ensuring that you pay attention to her and you will have a happy and successful marriage.

I remember my wife, very early in our marriage, yelling at me to "get with The Program".  Little did either of us know that she meant that literally.

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