Tuesday, June 06, 2006

How Women Test Men, Part 2 (The Toilet Seat!)

In the next part of this lesson on testing and communications, we’re going back, for the sake of all who haven’t reviewed it in the archives and are sending in letters asking about it, to pick up and explore the ancient issue of “the toilet seat, up or down, and whose job is it?”

I hope you're having another great day and a great week! Yesterday we revisited the issue of testing and how to sort out issues into tests, bratty behavior, and legitimate issues, and it got a little long before I got through both examples I wanted to cover, so today we're going to continue the discussion using the example of the age-old fight over whose responsibility it is to manipulate the toilet seat. Hang onto your hats!

For those who've just joined us, here's the original question, sent in by Jake:

"Hi David! I bought your e-book, and after getting through the first section I know the relationship is definitely one I should stay in, and I'm in the second section now and a bit "challenged" by all the stuff on how women test us. My wife is a bit of a brat, and while I love her to death, she's constantly giving me grief about all the girly stuff, like hanging towels just so on the towel rack and putting the toilet seat down for her. How can I tell what part of this is a legitimate issue and what part is just her being a brat and what part is a test? Any help would be appreciated. --Jake R."

In the previous discussion, I stated that you must evaluate context (whining, asking politely, yelling, etc.), signals (hints, body language, mood, etc.), and congruence (is what she's asking or complaining about consistent with other behavior, i.e., if she's acting picky about how you hang the towels on a towel rod, is she equally picky about the appearance of the rest of the house?), and responding with logic and authority with bits of the naughty boy scattered about for good measure. The same thing holds true with this issue.

Objectively speaking, there is in most cases no reason for everybody in the house to take responsibility for anybody else falling into the bowl. Period. Unless your partner suffers from a bladder control problem that causes her to rush to the bathroom peeling off clothing along the way, or is taking some kind of psychoactive drug (or is afflicted with something like Alzheimer’s Disease) that causes her to forget that she has to do things like lower her pants and check the seat before sitting down, expecting everybody else in the house to raise and lower the seat is just absurd, because they’re having to do it twice so that she doesn’t have to do it at all.

Hence, she's either being a brat and can get over it, or she's testing you to see if you're going to wimp out and give in. Luckily, the counter move for both of these scenarios is the same.

Your first move is obviously to tell her to get over it. However, how you tell her to get over it can make the difference in having her respect you and having her wait until you're asleep to pour a pitcher of ice water on your crotch. (I hate it when that happens!) Again, it involves switching gears between naughty and authoritative.

With the look of a mischievous kid on your face, you start off with something like, "Do you mean to tell me that a woman of your maturity and intelligence isn't capable of looking before she sits down to make sure there's a place to sit? You should be glad that I raise the seat while I'm in there!" (And for the love of Pete, if you're not raising it, you should be, so get with the program!)

Bust on her, and get her laughing, or at least sheepishly retreating, but be careful not to ridicule her to the point of frustration and anger, which is abusive and will be entirely counterproductive. At some point, when the nagging has subsided and she's either smiling or pouting a little, you switch gears, and become the expert decision-maker:

"Okay, all joking aside, here's the deal. We know that putting the lid down creates a dark, wet environment that will encourage the growth of mildew, and we don't want that, so it stays up all the time. I raise and lower the seat for my own needs, since I need both, and there's no reason in the world that you can't do the same thing.

"However, I know that stumbling into the bathroom in the middle of the night half-asleep is a good way to end up sitting on the bowl instead of the seat, because I’ve done it myself, so I will join you in making an effort to see that the seat is down before going to bed, and if I get up in the night I will try to remember to put the seat back down when I raise it.

"If I don't remember to do it all the time, you'll have to understand that sometimes I don't even remember getting up in the night, and can't reasonably be expected to remember to lower the lid when I'm barely aware of being in the bathroom. We're going to have to cut each other a little slack.

"That's the offer, be smart and take it because it doesn't get any better and we both know it could certainly be a lot worse."

Yeah, it's a mouthful, but look at what you said, and if you said it right, what she heard:

-- You're aware of stuff that grows in the bowl and could leave her with a yeast infection (a lot of the mildew you see is a strain of yeast called "Candida Albicans," which among other things is the most common cause of feminine yeast infections).

-- You're not going to put up with any bratty crap.

-- You are willing to be considerate and cooperative on reasonable issues

-- You can think things through and make reasonable and equitable decisions

-- You can present those decisions with authority while still allowing her room for input (it's an offer, not an ultimatum)

-- You know the score and know that she knows it, too.

That's a lot for a short paragraph. The naughty boy routine disarms her, and possibly charms her, and then the authority figure leads her to an equitable solution and expects her to take it, but doesn't attempt to bully her into it. Bullying a woman will get you hurt or killed if she's strong willed, and will get you a useless, needy, esteem-deprived coward if she's not, and you really don't want that.

Incidentally, if when you tell her it could be a lot worse, she has the bad sense to pop off with something like, "Oh yeah? How?" say, "I could just do like a lot of guys do and leave the seat down all the time, or I could be a real wimp and just do exactly what you suggested, becoming a man that gives in to whims and which you can't respect and bore the living hell out of you."

You could even push it a step farther by jumping back into naughty boy mode and with a big grin, say, "Hmmm, maybe if I start leaving the seat down all the time you'll appreciate it when I start raising it again..." Remember, gear-switching like that is incredibly attractive, because it creates an air of unpredictability and a tension that is entertaining for her but still safe.

One other word of caution: When you do considerate things for her, like putting the seat down at bedtime, taking out the trash, etc., don't make an announcement. It's seen as approval-seeking, which is wimp behavior. She's paying attention to what you do at all times, and if you do something nice for her, she'll notice, and if you allow her to respect you by doing it without fanfare, she'll reward you for it. ;-)

As I said yesterday, Jake wrote back recently, and he’s on top of things (including his wife, to hear him tell it, as his is one of many great success stories I get from buyers of “How to Be Attractive to the Woman You Love”). But, there’s something you can do right now, without waiting for tomorrow’s newsletter or any other.

Everything I talk about in these newsletters and much, much more is covered in “How to Be Attractive to the Woman You Love,” and you can get your copy and start making your partner and yourself happy, secure, and full of life. Don’t put if off; procrastination is for losers, as is a crappy attitude that would have you sitting around reading a newsletter picking up crumbs day after day instead of spending less than the cost of a good meal for two to have it all in your hands right now. Go to http://www.makingherhappy.com and get it done, now, because life is too short to be following a trail of crumbs!

In the meantime, live well, be well, and have a wonderful day!
David Cunningham

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