Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The WSJ Thinks Your Wife Should Shut Up and Make You a Sandwich

Ken MacDougal feels victimized.  His wife, after she made him a sandwich, stuck a note in his lunch reminding him to stop by Home Depot after lunch.

Even years later, he remains traumatized and "peeved" about the situation: "I didn't need a reminder in the middle of my sandwich," he says.

Nagging, The Wall Street Journal earnestly reports, is even more common than adultery, and yet can be even more toxic to a relationship.  I'd like to helpfully remind you that adultery is traditionally considered a male attribute (although recent studies have shown that women are starting to cheat at almost the same rate as their male counterparts).  According to Howard Markman, a professor of psychology, nagging can be a prime contributer to divorce when couples start to argue about the nagging itself.  And of course, in that type of toxic relationship, who can blame a man for straying?

Women are much more likely to nag because they are "conditioned to feel more responsible for managing home and family life" and are "more sensitive."  Still, the WSJ rushes to assure us, men also hold a share of the blame.
Sure, a husband might tune his wife out because he is annoyed; nagging can make him feel like a little boy being scolded by his mother. But many times he doesn't respond because he doesn't know the answer yet, or he knows the answer will disappoint her.
In other words, his share of the blame is really still her fault, because women are too sensitive, and he is only trying to spare her feelings while he rationally assesses the situation.  It's also his mother's fault, who has been nagging him since childhood.

Back to Ken MacDougal.  His wife, sensitive to his tense "thousand-year stare," started signing her notes with extra hearts and smiley faces, trying to soften her words so as not to seem too threatening.  She even left out her own signature from the notes, instead signing them from "your faithful bathtub drain," or whatever appliance was low enough for him to step all over.

WSJ  leaves us with some tips to save our marriages.  Sometimes it is best to avoid the conflict altogether.  In the most dire of circumstances, perhaps hiring a handyman would be best.  Don't try and do it yourself, ladies!  That's still a man's job, even if your man doesn't feel like doing whatever chore is distracting him from the big game.  No matter what, be sure to avoid direct conflict.
"As long as I am not putting pressure on him, he seems to respond better," Ms. Pfeiffer says. Mr. Mac Dougall agrees. "The notes distract me from the face-to-face interaction," he says. "There's no annoying tone of voice or body posture. It's all out of the equation."
Finally, WSJ suggests adjusting expectations, asking wives, "Does that lightbulb need to be changed immediately?" Maybe not ladies, but your attitudes certainly do.

1 comment:

  1. The fact that this was published both in the WSJ and also in 2012 really concerns me.