Wednesday, November 11, 2009

(MUST READ) When She Gets Mad: Keeping the Peace in Relationships and Marriage

Women get mad at us for a lot of different reasons, a significant number of which have nothing whatsoever to do with us. Handle it wrong and you’re in the dog house; handle it right and you’re golden…

Today you’re going to get a HUGE favor. I’ve abstained from writing about today’s subject in this newsletter because quite frankly it’s something I want men to learn after reading my book, but something has happened that compels me to do so before I can do another thing.

I got a call telling me that another of my best friends has died, this one in a car crash after he and his wife had an argument about something they shouldn’t have even been discussing at the time. She was moody and upset, needed an outlet, picked a fight with him over something he’d said two weeks prior, and he left in a huff, apparently to try to cool off.

He got plowed at an intersection. He was not intoxicated or otherwise impaired, but witnesses said he ran a red light and was struck in the driver’s side door by an oncoming car. It was only two blocks from his home, so while there is no way of knowing what really happened, we must admit that there is at least a high probability that he was angry or otherwise distracted, or possibly driving too aggressively, and paid for it with his life. Fortunately, the driver of the car that hit him sustained only minor injuries thanks to safety belt and air bags.

Dane was a good guy, a very rugged, manly man, but he was stubborn as the day is long and repeatedly refused a copy of “THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage” because he thought it was silly for a man to read a book about how to get along with women. A pity, because it could have saved his life.

Dane never learned how to deal with his wife’s temper and moodiness. He had an odd temperament himself; it took a lot to make him angry, but if you pushed him that far, he went all the way and just blew up. He never hit his wife, and never said anything purposely to hurt her, but he would yell and knock things over and then leave to keep from destroying his home any further or hurting his wife, and thought that was handling it well enough. As I said, a good guy, but stubborn.

So to try to make sure that this doesn’t happen to any of you, I’m going to tell you about women’s anger and how to handle it. And I will ask something of you in return for improving your relationship and possibly saving your life as well, but we’ll get to that in a bit…

Sometimes women just get angry to bleed off the emotional energy of being bored and frustrated. I’ve written frequently and at length about this problem how to avoid it, and you can find a lot of articles in my archive and blog in every month from August, 2006 through the present, but the two most relevant are the August 13, 2009 article, “Women’s Biggest and Loudest Complaint About Men, and What You Can Do About It BEFORE It Kills Your Relationship” and the September 30, 2009 article “Differing Emotional Scales: A Key to Understanding Women and Improving Your Relationship.”
If you’ve not read them, please do so, because understanding boredom and a woman’s emotional scale are critical to properly handling and avoiding fights.

Women can also easily get mad at you for something they THINK you’ve done, without first trying to find out whether in fact you’ve done it. They’re much more emotionally-driven than we are, and worse, emotionally-dominated. The reasons for both these traits are spelled out in the two aforementioned archived articles, so I won’t repeat them here; there’s already a lot that must be said (and read) today and limited space (and time) in which to say it (and read it).

Then the clincher, they get mad at you over something you really have done, whether you realize it or not. It’s important that you understand all this so that you will in turn understand how critical it is to try to find out which kind of anger you’re dealing with. For instance, if she’s mad at you for something you haven’t done, there’s not a whole lot you can do to “undo” it, right?

So, the obvious first step is to try to determine, OBJECTIVELY, whether she has a legitimate issue, just thinks she does, or doesn’t care whether she does because she just needs to vent and you happen to be handy.

If she’s just in a foul mood or picking a fight over something ridiculous, point out to her that she’s angry at something that normally wouldn’t be an issue, and that you’ll be happy to either try to do something with her to bleed off that energy or she can pitch a fit at somebody else, because being a whipping post isn’t in your job description.

Or, if you’ve mastered the art of the naughty boy grin, call the preceding “plan B” and bust on her a bit and convert that negative energy to positive, playful energy. Even if you’ve not mastered it, give it a shot, and if she insists on remaining pissy then go with “plan B.”

It’s a little tougher when she thinks you’ve done something that you haven’t, because you’re facing genuine anger instead of general moody pisstivity. She thinks she really has an issue.

Instead of sticking your foot in your mouth and blurting, “What did I do?” which almost instantly pins guilt on you by triggering psychological anchors from past fights, or “What’s wrong with you?” which is absurd when you think about it because it’s obvious that what’s wrong with her is that she’s angry, in a leadership tone, tell her, “Tell me what’s really bothering you so we can get it fixed and move on.”

It’s important that you direct her to open up rather than asking her anything. The act of leadership alone will help to calm her anger and subconsciously make her feel like you are interested in listening and making amends. The same thing applies when you suspect that she really has a legitimate issue, and the same process should be followed up to this point.

The difference here, when you’re dealing with “real” anger, is that there are two and only two possibilities: that she does or does not have a legitimate issue. In neither case do you want to argue with her, because nobody ever wins an argument. Now that you’ve ascertained what she thinks is the real problem, your job is to lead her out of being mad.

That doesn’t mean that you con her. I’m talking about true leadership and a real solution. If she just thinks that you’ve done something that you really haven’t done, start with, “I think I may see where you could think something like that, but here’s what’s really happened…” and then just explain it to her. If she tries to reject your explanation because she’s still amped up or wants to stay pissed until she can milk some more adrenaline out of it, go back to the plan for handling a mood, and try first to convert the negative energy to positive by getting playful and if that fails, tell her she’s going to have to be angry with somebody else because enabling pissy, bratty, bad behavior by arguing or fighting with her is not in your job description.

If you have indeed done something wrong, your job is still to lead her out of the situation. First, you admit that whatever you did was wrong, could have been handled better, or whatever is an appropriate admission, and tell her that it was a mistake that you won’t be repeating, at least not deliberately, and that you didn’t do whatever it was to hurt her or make her angry.

There is no need to be heaping apology on top of apology, and in truth, much of the time an apology can actually work against you if you have already admitted that you were wrong. An admission of guilt and expression of remorse is strong, while many women – but not all – view apologies as weak, especially if they are repeated. And it can be one of those “be careful what you wish for” things too, where she wants an apology and loses respect for you if you give her one.

This issue of apologies varies widely from woman to woman, and you’re best bet in handling it is to ask her at some time when she’s in a good mood how she views apologies, and whether she’s ever noticed losing respect for someone or seeing them as somehow weaker after they did so. This is the kind of “what’s really inside you” question that women like to discuss, and you’ll get the best answer she can give you. Then when the situation arises, watch her reaction to see if it is congruent with what she’s told you.

Getting back to the altercation, once you have admitted guilt and pledged a better effort in the future (which you’d better make good on or you will lose credibility very fast!), if she continues to act pissy and like she’s trying to hang on to the anger, again try to flip it around to playful, and if she refuses to go there, refuse to be an enabler and tell her that you’re not going to be a wuss and grovel before her. You’ve admitted guilt and pledged reform, and if she wants anything more than an apology beyond that, she can talk to you after she calms down.

There are several caveats here. First, NEVER, under any circumstances, try to buy her off with some kind of gift or favor, even if she demands it. You’ll only anchor the gift to a negative meaning and emotion, and look like too big a wuss to handle a problem head on. Indeed, if she demands it, she’s doing one of two things: she’s testing you to see if you’ll wuss out and try to buy her or she’s proving that she can be bought, proving in turn that she’s a prostitute, not a wife, and you need to get her out of your life quietly and quickly, before she decides that she’s going to leave and has time to bleed you dry and hide the assets.

Next, never succumb to the urge to return fire if she starts saying things to try to hurt you, because once it’s said, it can’t be taken back. Don’t slink away with your tail between your legs, but do tell her that there is obviously an issue that needs to be worked out and she can talk to you about it when she has calmed down and is ready to address the issue instead of pitching a fit, but in the meantime, you’re her husband, not a whipping post, and she will deal with you as her husband or not at all. (If you can’t stand up TO her when you should, in her estimation, you can’t stand up FOR her when you should, which causes her to instantly lose respect and attraction for you, so don’t hesitate to stand tall.)

There’s never anything to be gained from a competition to see who can hurt each other the most. That’s called “war,” the most spectacular and costly of all human endeavors, and it is a last resort, not a standard operating procedure. You fight when all other options have been exhausted, and not until, and when you fight, you fight coldly and deliberately, to win, not out of anger, to punish. If you find yourself pushed to the point of having no choice but to fight with a woman you’re living with, you’re either with the wrong woman or she’s with the wrong man.

And if there is a single rule that will help you get through delicate situations without a fight, it is this:

“Always focus on what is wrong and how to fix it, not who is wrong and should be punished.”

It sounds simple because it is, and it works better than anything I’ve ever seen. As long as the two of you are focused on the problem and fixing the problem, you are in a mode of cooperation, even if one or both of you is upset. It’s when the discussion turns competitive – Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Who gets punished? Who gets to “win” the fight and who has to “lose”? – that things escalate and get ugly, and there’s really no good reason that should ever happen.

So that’s it. Use it in good health. Live long and prosper.

That’s some of the most important advice that anyone will ever give you, and it works for everything from a moody little spat to a working through divorce issues. It’s also one of the cornerstones of "THE Man's Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage" and I’m giving it to you unsolicited and with my blessing.

In return, I’m going to ask a favor or two. First, invite your friends, whether they are having trouble or not, to subscribe to this newsletter by filling out that short subscription form at the bottom of the page at http://www.makingherhappy.com. Also download my free “Break-Up Busting 101” report, and attach it to this e-mail and forward it to them as well, and invite them to pass it on so we can start putting an end to at least some of the fighting and frustration that goes on in every couple before somebody else ends up dead during or after a “domestic dispute.”

Second, visit my new web site, again at http://www.makingherhappy.com, and seriously consider downloading your own copy of "THE Man's Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage," especially since there’s new content going in and there’s about to be a price hike. (All buyers get free lifetime updates.) It’s time to learn all those things that you should have been taught earlier in life about women, relationships, and marriage, and make your life and relationship all it can be, because life can be fleeting; it can be gone before you know it, and for no good reason.

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

No comments: