I’m not going to get into the “whys”. There are lots of reasons to argue with women, and they keep inventing more. Clearly, they don’t sufficiently appreciate how terrific we are.
Today we’re going to talk about what to do and what not to do when verbal combat with your female partner is unavoidable.
If you pay attention, you will not necessarily win more arguments with your woman, but you will lose fewer. And the unintended consequences and collateral damage will be reduced. This will add significantly to the global happiness quotient. Also, you’ll get sex more often, and you know how important that is.
First, some key questions:
Is this argument necessary? Men are instinctive and reflexive beasts. When we are challenged, evolution has programmed us to fight back hard. But is that always the best response? No, and this is where we need to be clever strategists. Learn to let things go. Be easy. Practice these words, “You’re right, honey. I’m sorry. I’ll pay more attention to that.” You don’t even have to remember exactly what she was talking about. You don’t even have to change your behavior much (or at all). Your acquiescence itself is the reward. Her anger will deflate. She will be flooded with endorphins. You may even receive your preferred reward for being a good partner.
This is like a judo move, giving unexpected ground, a very clever approach familiar to devotees of Sun Tzu, or Spencer Tracy.
Did she speak to you very quietly? Gentlemen, please write this one down. It’s terribly important. If she starts in on you at loud volume, it’s one thing. If she raises an issue in a tightly controlled voice, while her eyes have centered a red laser dot on your forehead, very loud alarms should be going off. Clear your mental desk and brew some strong mental coffee. It’s serious, and you need to pay attention now. You may want to keep a phone handy, in case you need emergency medical care or a place to stay that night.
So the argument is on. You have choices as to how to conduct yourself, and they matter very much.
Don’t do these things:
- Don’t yell. If you yell, you lose, in all sorts of ways. Stay calm.
- Don’t use bad language or personal insults. First, it’s just not very decent or manly. Second, she’ll remember it forever. 10 years from now, she’ll remind you about the name you called her on November 27, 2008, at 10:47pm.
- Don’t be physically intimidating. Approaching her, looming over her, breaking things, or showing any physical sign of aggression is out. You are free to bundle all the acid into a hot, burning ball in your gut, or to have a small stroke, but you must keep it all internal.
- Don’t threaten consequences. No talk of leaving for good, no threats of cutting budgets, cancelling events, or any other consequences over which you have power. Be cool and don’t let it get out of control. Channel JFK during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He had a hot wife too, by the way.
Do these things:
- Do let her vent for awhile before you respond. Look serious, make eye contact and nod. Hey, you can even ask helpful questions that elicit further details. “Did that kind of wreck the whole evening for you?” Let her talk herself out. She’ll feel better and the volcanic anger will pass.
- Do talk about your feelings. “When you say things like that, it makes me feel like you don’t value all the nice things I try to do to make you happy. That hurts, honey.” This is plain brilliant. It always works, because now you’re thinking like a woman.
- Do say nice things about her. Sure, you’re having a fight now. But reaching outside “now” to pull in something positive about her forces her brain out of the immediate death match. It adds context. “I’m listening. But I have to tell you, you just reminded me of the way you stood up to that guy who overcharged us at the electronics store – and got our money back. That was great.”
- Do be prepared to disengage and walk away. If all else fails, and things look to be degenerating, be prepared to de-escalate by disengagement. In the short-term, it may make her angrier. But it’s sometimes necessary. She may actually pursue you to another room, to continue the argument. Don’t let her. Frame it. “Honey, I’m worried that this is just getting bigger and feeding on itself. I don’t want this argument to hurt our relationship. I think we should talk about it some more when we’ve both cooled down.” And walk away. A quick, soft stroke on her arm as you go may be a nice touch – it’s a judgment call.
Women argue differently than men do. It’s a fact. Men usually make things worse in an argument. It’s a fact. We need to play the long game and think strategically. Greater harmony will ensue.
As always, if you have questions on dealing successfully with women, please forward them on. You can trust Man Talk Now to uncork the good stuff.