Okay, husbands, today’s word of the day is Validation. That’s Val – i – Day- Shun. As far as marriage goes it’s also the word of the week, month, year, decade…Well you get the point. (Maybe I’ll go ahead and teach it to my sons, ages 10 and 6. You can never start too early.)
No doubt, you’ve been hearing how important it is to validate your wife’s feelings since before saying “I do.” You already know that in the marital communication rule book, it’s vital to listen to her complaints and venting and not automatically jump in wearing your super hero cape to fix the situation. You know that having someone patiently support our thoughts means the world to us. It’s like sex to guys. At this point, you’re undoubtedly saying “I know, I know. Now would you get to the point already? I’m a man and would rather read a half page flyer than War and Peace.
Okay, then, here goes. Men have a tendency to want to stay neutral in situations that don’t directly affect them. Think female cat fights (as you’d call them), disagreements between neighbors, coworker back stabbings, in-law feuds, best friend betrayal, etc. When their wives get into a skirmish, most men immediately start waving a Swiss flag and declare openly that they have the right to remain neutral and will exercise that right to the full extent of marital law. Some even hop over the fence for a fun game of devil’s advocate (oh, how we wives LOVE that…. NOT!!!!!)
Last week, my friend Amanda’s husband, referring to a situation where she’d been publically betrayed by a male coworker, said “I’m not taking sides. You know how Amanda is. She’ll be over it tomorrow.” Then he grabbed his clubs and drove off to meet said betraying coworker for a golf game…not as a close friend but a simple aquaintance. Amanda was beyond hurt. “Couldn’t he have just supported me this once? Did he have to go play golf with the shmuck? I am his wife, ya know.”
Yes, I know, Amanda. Now go and wash all his white t-shirts with those new red towels you bought. (Wearing pink isn’t as fruity as some men think.)
I’m certainly not suggesting that Amanda’s husband should’ve shown up at her coworker’s house with brass knuckles and a machete, but he could’ve and should’ve cancelled the golf game in support of his wife… and not naively assumed that his support wasn’t necessary.
So how does a husband support his wife in situations that he’s not directly involved in? Excellent question, you astute man, you!
- First and foremost, listen carefully to your wife’s account of the situation. Get her to stop ranting for a minute so you can find out exactly what happened and why she’s offended. This may involve asking lots of questions including what the other person might be thinking. Depending on how emotional your wife is, you may have to discuss it again at a later time so she doesn’t take her anger out on you. If you have to, say “Honey, I want to hear all about this and get to the bottom of it, but it feels like you’re getting mad at me for not understanding. Let’s pick this back up in a few hours, or tomorrow when I’m a little smarter and you’re less angry and unarmed.)
- Don’t assume that your wife is always wrong in every disagreement she has. That’s why it’s important to listen objectively. However, some women are just thin-skinned. You can’t go around making enemies of every person she’s ever unfriended on Facebook. (Just don’t plan any golf games with them.)
- When you’ve listened and listened and listened to your wife’s account and all you can surmise is that she’s just PMS’ing, please do NOT ask the following questions. (This advice may save your manhood.)
– Is it that time of the month?
– Have you taken your medication?
There is nothing, NOTHING that we loath hearing more than these two questions when we’re upset. (You may want to have this bullet point engraved on a plaque to put in a visible spot in your man cave.)
- If your wife is involved in a disagreement with someone very close to you…your mom, dad, brother, best friend, boss, liver donor….well, this is where it gets complicated. You may want to hide out for a few days until things blow over. I hear the mountains of Afghanistan are a great place to go. No, seriously, as long as you feel that your wife is correct in her complaint, once again, validate her, but don’t fight her fights for her unless you strongly feel the need to do so. (Again, no golf games with the other side until things blow over.)
As long as wives are women, we’ll probably be more emotional than you are. We’ll get mad over things that you wouldn’t even notice. As our husbands you’ll want to choose your battles wisely, but always remember who you’re married to. A happy wife is more vital to your well-being than an indifferent golf partner.
About the Author: Angela is an award winning humor columnist, freelance writer and public speaker living in Middle Georgia, and the San Francisco Bay Area. She uses her keen insight and clever wit to help husbands understand the complex mechanisms that are their wives. “I like to think of goodhusbanding.com as an owner’s manual for the average wife. Of course results may vary, but we’re all fairly similar whether we admit it or not.” Angela uses her background in psychology, the myriad of learning experiences offered through her ten year marriage, and input from her “in the trenches” audience members across the country as input for her articles.