Monday, December 20, 2010

How to live with man.

“I don’t understand why he doesn’t respond in a reasonable manner to my requests.” Yes, I know: No one really says that sentence in that way. But that is the basic sentiment that a lot of my female clients express to me about their boyfriends and husbands. Mostly, it’s just my job to just keep making pretty hair on their heads while telling them, “I hear ya,” so they end up feeling beautiful, emotionally open, relieved, reassured and, ultimately, empowered!
But, as a writer, I get to say, “I’ve been doing your hair for years, for almost as long as you’ve been doing guys, and you still keep saying the same frustrating thing about your men. Listen to yourselves, beyochs! Men aren’t ever going to respond in a manner that is reasonable to you because we’re guys and we respond to all requests, and all stimuli, as guys. And you woman keep expecting men to respond to your requests as you would like: as a woman. That’s insanity!”
Oh yes, I’m going to give you a straight-to-the-point tutorial, with bullet points, on how you can get your man to do what you want him to do. But first, let me tell you how my overly-broad rant was born. Today, my client, “Betsy,” came in for her highlights and she was typically depressed because her husband was being distant and they were having another, nothing out of the ordinary dry spell in their communication. He didn’t understand that when she asked him to do things like take out the trash, that it was helping her to have more time for him and doing other things like make dinner reservations, organize the cleaning help and nanny, and buy his family their Christmas gifts. I love this stuff because a)it’s not my problem, and b)hearing this stuff constantly assures me that I’m not crazy and that I’m just one of the human race who has the same problems (not exactly tho) that no one talks about publicly enough! Oh yes, and c) because I’m a writer and I get to process my clients' thoughts and stories and wrap and weave them around my fictional characters so I don’t have to actually delve into my own psyche or process my own personal frustrations with women and men. In other words, I get to write and judge.
Which leads me to my first bullet point:
• We will avoid processing any information, emotional or otherwise, if our mind is on something else.
So if you want your husband to help pick up, or watch the baby “for just ten minutes!,” when he gets home from work , just take a cheap Libby brand glass and smash it on the kitchen floor and yell any old thing about going crazy. After your less-than-a-minute tirade, your man will be glad to watch the baby because his mind had immediately let go of his day at work and he will then be in the mode of trying to placate and appease you, the mother of his child. (So what if it's out of fear.) But if you try and explain to him why you need a breather and how much you really do while he’s at work, you’re going to get glazed eyes and you’ll only get ten minutes. Go for results. Not reason. For the next time: always switch it up--never repeat the same tirade.
• If we nod yes to your request, and have a glazed look in our eyes, it means that we checked the listening box in the “I’m doing a good thing list,” but we will not remember what you just asked us. The memory of your request will be gone in less than 7 minutes. And if we know you saw that look that lets us off the hook.
My boss, Allison, sometimes forgets that I’m guy (believe me, when you work with and for women, it’s easy to do, even if you’re a straight dude…another article...), and sometimes she gives me pertinent work information too quickly or casually for me to process or remember. She told me, in casual passing (she’ll deny that), that there are these little forms to fill out if I wanted to take a day off, which would insure that my clients didn’t schedule on a day that I was not going to be there. Simple. Right? Well, I remember filling something out, but I don’t think I gave them to her. Doesn’t the front desk process paper things? (I do remember thinking that.) Anyhoo, I think I put them on the front desk… Story short: I was calling a bunch of clients a day ahead of their scheduled appointments to tell em, “Allison, didn’t tell me how to submit the forms so….” What Allison should have done, in the first place--to snap me out of what I was thinking, or not thinking at all (she saw the glazed eyes!), was to give me a mental & emotional picture; such as how I would feel like shit and be embarrassed if I had to personally call my clients to tell them that I would not be there for their scheduled appointments.
F__k the one-minute management stuff if you’re trying to make a man remember your request: use scary mental visuals. Remind men that you might come unhinged if your request might not be completed as stated. Scary visuals and memories work.
• If we get quiet, it means we are rejecting your request but are avoiding any confrontation on the issue.
This is the one where you get to be very quiet. No tirades or threats, and no reasoning! A good stare down will disrupt any rejection of your request to something like, “I really think the dogs need to be walked now.” Of course he doesn’t want to walk the dogs. Dexter’s on and setting the DVR would mean taking his hand away from his beer bottle. But a disturbing long stare into the side of the head is so unnerving that he’ll just get up and do it without any wasted long winded explanations.
• If we ask you for details about something like, “what exactly do you want me to pick up at the store?” We are asking you for simple list on a piece of paper.
Do not go into a diatribe about why you want the shit, who birthday it’s for and when we are giving it to them… TMI! If you want men to actually remember to take the list with to the store: paperclip it to his wad of cash.
• If you’ve done something fabulous and want him to notice, leave out the tell-tale signs for him to see how much work you’ve put into doing it.
If you’ve got your hair done: wear a better than usual outfit & pumps, then have your Gay over for an early evening martini when he gets home. Most men are a little jealous of their woman's friendship with their Gays. If he's always relieved you are with your Gay so it gives him more time for football you will have to include your Gay's hot straight brother in your posse.
If you’ve taken it upon yourself to putty, sand and paint that short wall where he took down the partition between the kitchen and living room last winter: leave out the paint, and putty knifes and make sure you put a drop of paint on the cuff of his favorite blazer that he left on the stove the night before. When he gets home, apologize profusely for ruining his coat. He won’t be mad at all but he’ll feel like shit and you’ll probably get taken out to dinner.
If you've gotten Botox and you want him to notice, you're an idiot because you should know that no man can discern those subtle changes in his woman-friend-spouse's face because we are always looking down when we are listening to you.
Look, it’s about results and harmony. It’s not about training or getting men to think like women. I think if you ladies, and men who live with men, would just shift your thinking, we’d all be a lot happier and we wouldn’t even know why.
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