Every week, at least 3-4 times, I write a blog post focused on the members of this club: happy wives. But today, I get to switch it up and post something for the hubbies too. While on vacationing in Charleston, South Carolina, Keith wrote this for our club. Enjoy!
My wonderful wife and founder of this Club, Fawn, thought it would be beneficial for me to share my perspective as a man and husband with respect to what keeps our marriage so enjoyable. Specifically, she wanted me to share my thoughts about how we manage conflict. What I’ve set forth here are essentially our “rules of engagement” or, simply stated, our approach to resolving conflicts. If this is of no use whatsoever, blame Fawn – as I said, this was her idea.
So, here it is… Being sensitive to your spouse’s perspective, honest about your own, and wise with your words, are the characteristics that allow you to ease into discussion instead of crashing into an argument. No, I’m not a “perfect” husband (I can be as thoughtless as the next guy), but I try to keep mindful of these principles as much as possible and –nine years in so far – I can say it works pretty well.
As I began writing this, it was really late and Fawn was asleep. I have my days and nights mixed up as my mother would say, so it was the perfect time for me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t think of what to write. I had the TV on for background when God unstuck my writer’s block with -of all things- Bill Cosby.
I glanced up at The Cosby Show that was on and tuned in a bit. I had missed part of the episode, but having seen most episodes numerous times, I knew it was the show where the family was preparing for the grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Sondra and her then boyfriend, Elvin, were fighting on the way to the Huxtable house and the spat carried on once they arrived.
In a funny moment with Cliff Huxtable, Elvin says “I’m confused about my role as a man” in seeking understanding for his bickering with Sondra. To paraphrase, “if I try to take her luggage, she says I’ve got this, but if I fail to open a door for her, she’s mad… ” Cliff advised Elvin that the woman is always right and, essentially, he should just ignore whatever logic he may be applying in a given situation for the sake of peace.
The episode was certainly very funny, and possibly even effective for the passive or disengaged, but outside of a sitcom this is not necessarily the most effective way to foster a progressive understanding (or oneness) with your wife.
If I were Elvin, I would say something like this to Sondra: “Honey, can you help me with a challenge I’m having? I love you and I really would like to exceed the expectations you have for me as the man in your life. For example, when I don’t open the door for you, it’s because I’m responding to the independence you seek when you expect to take your own luggage. I respect you and my goal is to be a gentleman and your heart’s desire, can you help me understand?” In most cases, this would result in a calm-voiced conversation where both would have a better mutual understanding by the end and making love might be an additional side benefit. Not bad, huh?
With Fawn and me, my approach isn’t that different from what I just described. I presume innocence in whatever situation, presume that we both want to understand each other, and I know that we both love each other madly – not for just a season, but for our lifetime. It is with that perspective I can approach whatever situation with as much ease as possible. I tend to be affable, but going along just to get along simply isn’t me and I suspect that is true for most men. That being said, utilizing basic communication skills and a softer approach to relate to my wife – the 2nd highest priority in my life (God is the 1st) – is always an investment that seems worthwhile. It’s worth trying. Plus, if I’m wrong, it didn’t cost you anything.
I am so grateful Keith presumes innocence because I am certainly not the woman or wife I hope to one day become. But I am who I am and can only be me and that’s good enough for now. I’ll continue to grow and mature just as Keith does…and that’s all that matters.
Until tomorrow…make it a great day!
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