Friday, February 05, 2010

So, how's that working for you?

If you have ever seen the Dr. Phil show, you will recognize his catch phrase. He usually asks this question right after you explain the manner in which you have been dealing with a problem. Okay, I know it's a loaded question. If your way of dealing with the problem were working, you wouldn't be talking to Dr. Phil about it. However, it's a great question because it turns your thinking back on itself. It makes you open your mind to new solution, or at least it should. However, there are some hardheaded people out there. People like me.

Just about the time I think I have this whole, husband, father thing figured out, I fall flat on my face. Again.

Being a man, my default setting is, if things seem fine, they must be fine. If my wife isn't telling me I am screwing up, she must think I am doing a good job, right? If my children don't run away crying when I talk to them, I must not be doing a terrible job, right? Wrong.

Being the sexist pig I am, I will put this onto simple stereotypes; Men are to relationships, what women are to checking the oil. As long as the car starts, and there are no horrible grinding sounds coming from under the hood, the engine must be fine. Actually, my wife is much better at checking her oil than I am at checking our relationship. That is a good thing for her car, not so much for her.

Guys, let me clue you in here. Most of the time, things aren't "fine." Even when she says, things are fine. Fine is like a codeword for, "are you really that dense?" Now I will admit that men hear what we want to hear, and when we hear things are fine, that is usually a relief to us.

Most men, myself included, look upon a face to face talk about what's wrong with our relationship in the same way we would an IRS audit. If we do talk about it, we will take the first item that comes up and say, "yea, I am sorry, I'll work on that." We really don't want to peel back the months, or maybe years of pent up frustration. Too messy, too much danger, too much pain.

Back to Dr. Phil. So, how's that working for you? In most cases, not so well.

Similar to not checking the oil, by the time you actually see or hear a problem, it might be a very big problem. One that could have been prevented if you had done some preventative maintenance. Like the old Fram oil filter commercial, you can pay me now, or you can pay me later. I have seen what the cost is when you ignore a problem; I don't want to be in that situation again.

If you don't spend much one on one time with your spouse, I would advise getting out of the house and going to a nice, quiet spot. It may be dinner and a movie, or it may be just a empty parking lot where you both can really throw a fit without anyone you know seeing you. Whatever works for your situation. One thing I do know, one date night or one yelling match will not solve the problem. A lot of stored up emotion takes time to come out, and there may be a few rough times before it starts looking better.

In my experience, when you find out how badly you have been screwing things up, no matter the faults of the other party, you will know what you need to do to make things right. The problem I have is, after things truly work their way back to being fine, I tend to relax a bit. I start to revert back to my old behavior, because I am a guy, and not a very bright one at that.

Maybe I will get a life size cardboard cutout of Dr. Phil to put on my closet door, with a sign that says, "hey jackass, how's that workin' for ya?"

1 comment:

JazGram said... are probably right!

I love my husband unconditionally because... he makes me laugh. When I laugh I am happy. When I'm happy, he's happy and it's a wonderful circle of harmony.