I have some free advice. I’m sure this advice has been said and probably written before but I never claimed to be the greatest teacher in the Western World based on originality. (I claim to be a great teacher because I speak the language of the people, can create a metaphor, an analogy, or a real life example for just about any lesson on the spot, and I’m funny.) So listen up, because if you don’t get this after I’m through with you, your wife, mother, sister, daughter, girlfriend, or that girl who never returns your calls has every reason to believe you are exactly as idiotic as you probably are.
Women + Want = VALIDATION
(Now, let’s define our terms and review things we already know.)
A. Women = One of two kinds of humans. The kind who…
1. do not problem solve alone.
2. do not need help (in the form of advice) when problem solving, except the maintaining of eye contact and, “That sounds like it might work,” muttered at appropriate times.
3. tend to be lead by emotion which appears to cancel out rationality:
MYTH: emotional women are incapable of rational thinking.
FACT: Estrogen, like Satan, resides within us as an ever present stronghold over most verbal and many physical behaviors. For our purposes, consider estrogen and emotion to be Siamese twins sharing one heart.
B. Want = not merely a petty desire or even a need; better stated as…
1. crave, require, cannot survive without.
2. THIS IS IMPORTANT
3. must have in order for everyone to dwell in peace.
C. Validation = Confirmation of existence, importance, and correctness by another living, breathing, and thinking human, preferably within 3 years of woman’s age or older, preferably over the height of 3.5 feet (extenuating circumstances here may apply). Validation…
1. has to do with feelings not circumstances which actually exist.
2. has nothing to do with anyone except the woman.
3. can be accomplished with a very simple approach to all future conversations. (Examples below.)
EXAMPLE 1 (woman to man):
What is said: We never talk anymore. -OR- You’re not listening to me.
What is meant: I have been talking to children, idiots, and/or myself all day. Will someone please (pretend to) be interested in me for ____ minutes/hours and remind me that I’m an adult with a college education who has something to offer the world beyond the confines of goldfish crackers and/or 3 word sentences? (This is even applicable for women who are not stay-at-home moms.)
Things not to say: What do you mean we never talk anymore? We talk every night when I get home from work. | I heard everything you said tonight. If you gave me a quiz on tonight’s conversation, I promise you I’d make an A. | Honey, just because you think I’m not listening doesn’t mean I’m not listening. (All of these messages say the same thing: You. Are. Wrong.)
Things to say (when all else fails, simply repeat her words back to her with emphasis on different words): You’re right honey, I feel like we never talk anymore. | I know. I spend the entire day at work talking to idiots who might as well be children and I’ve probably been bringing that home. Can we start over? (This actually appeals directly to how she feels and might illicit a response of agreement and relief knowing someone understands her.)
Pre-emptive Strike Strategy: regularly mention how much you miss “talking to” her when you are apart. | Do not ask, “How was your day?” Instead try (with raised eyebrows and as much interest as you can muster), “So, any good mom gossip/drama today? Anybody cheating on anyone? Who’s mad at whom? Who’s kids were the most annoying today? Did you find any good deals today?
EXAMPLE 2 (woman to woman, possibly):
What is said: Does your child ever do this? -OR- What do you do when…
What is meant: I’m not actually looking for advice nor a solution. I just need someone to confirm that my child/situation is normal and hear from someone who has experienced it and survived. By the way, don’t want to hear HOW you survived, just that you did. I will then make appropriate comparisons, tell myself that if YOU can do it, then I definitely can, and sleep more soundly tonight as a result.
Things not to say: No, that has never happened to me. | You and your life are completely abnormal and this just might in fact kill you. | Have you tried A, B, or C? (Even if she hasn’t, she’s beyond “trying” anything at the point where she comes to you pretending to ask for advice.) | You need to do this, this, and this. (No. What she needs is a stiff drink. The hero is the person who shuts up and hands it to her.)
Things to say: Yes. It is completely normal, mine did it too and then one day, just stopped. Like that. Guess it was a phase. (More than likely, this is a lie. Don’t worry about it. Just give her hope.) | Ugh. Yes! I hate that! I know exactly how you feel. You are a good mommy and an even better wife. Those kids (that husband) are lucky to have you! They don’t even know how good they’ve got it. You are [insert short list of positive qualities here]. (Even though you are convinced she probably could do something to better her situation, it will only be regarded at this point as criticism. All she wants is for someone to throw her a freaking bone. Validate her effort, because right now she feels like it is futile and therefore, she is useless and a failure. At life.)
Pre-emptive Strike: paying regular verbal compliments for unusual things to the women in your life will generally improve her overall mood and life-outlook and ultimately will get you everywhere.
A while back it seemed like Eliott had reverted from semi-well adjusted and pretty much happy 4 year old back to the terrible two’s. After what seemed like weeks of fighting whining and crying over every little thing, I decided to treat her how I always want to be treated when I’m being that whiny. I just started agreeing with her. Genuinely. “You’re right,” I said to the shoe-trauma, “You do not like putting on your shoes. It is hard to put them on every day. It is so hard. And you do not like it.” And like magic, the girl stopped whining, looked at me and said, very matter of factly, “Yeah. I do not like it.” She put the shoes on and was done.
VALIDATE US. That’s it.