Different planets

Men are from Mars, women from Venus. I haven’t read the 1992 bestseller, but I relate to the premise. Ashley and I may be from different galaxies. We got married quickly, pregnant even faster. Engaged after four months of dating seriously, she moved in, and the fighting started. The honeymoon was over, even before the wedding.

First, let me come right out and warn all the rookies out there: Pregnancy hormones are INSANE, like the price of a Toshiba at Crazy Eddie’s in 1985.

All those little things that make a woman different? They are on HYPERDRIVE during pregnancy. As a man, you must learn to manage those emotions, or risk getting bucked off like she’s a wild bronco. Steamrolled by the runaway train of womanhood.

The good news is, these are skills you can use for the rest of your life. With enough thought and practice, you’ll be like Robert Redford in the Horse Whisperer out there. The Lebron James of husband-hood. The Pied Piper they’ll call you.

Okay, I’m not Robert Redford, and I don’t have Robert Redford’s wives, but I have learned a few things. And to be clear, this is not about manipulation. This is collaboration, compromise, fulfilling needs, and understanding what makes each other tick. Like snake charming…

Top 10 list

So, here are the top 10 ways to manage your wife’s emotions-

10. Pay attention. Sometimes the clues are subtle, and I miss them. But often she will vocalize what’s important. I miss these too, because I expect her to use the word “important” or emit flashing red lights, which she doesn’t. The key is to realize that when she says it out loud, it means it’s important (tricky, I know).

9. When she’s angry, it usually means she is hurt. Instead of yelling, picture she’s really crying. Her feelings are hurt. She needs attention, and comfort.

8. Don’t say “I’m sorry” if you’re not. No matter how bad you want to make up, don’t do it unless you mean it. You’ll resent her, and she’ll get sick of hearing it. And of course, pick your battles. Let her have everything that isn’t that important to you.

7. Don’t be defensive. Better to at least try to be sensitive. Fake it for a while, just to get the hang of it. Denying any culpability when you know you were a jerk will just drag things out. If you can’t convince yourself, you won’t convince her.

6. It’s your job to schedule date night. Sure, it seems equally hers and yours, but in her mind, it’s yours. Just put that on the list with taking out the trash.

5. Think of your wife like a musical instrument, and learn how to play her. Again, not a manipulation tactic. It’s about making beautiful music, by knowing how a piece of machinery works. An out-of-tune and mishandled Gibson sounds like nails on a chalkboard, until you learn how to use it. Then it rocks, for as long and as loud as you want. So, ask yourself what kind of music you want in your life? Then work at it.

4. If things get bad, don’t try to win the crazy battle. That’s not a title you want to have. Be the rock. Stand strong, and take what she dishes. She’s being a Panda Bear, and this is a test to see if you have the will and strength to be the man she needs. If the furniture or personal items get smashed, excuse yourself. It’s time for a break.

3. Keep an open mind. You don’t need to recreate your childhood, as much as you like the tradition of ____. You guys will create your own traditions, including some of yours, some of hers, and some you get to make up together.

2. If it’s important to her, stay invested, even if you don’t give a damn. It may seem trivial, but your disengagement will be a problem if it matters that much to her. You may even get 4-6 of these calls per day (at work) at first; just do your best to play along.

1. Touch her, even when you’re not trying to have sex. You’re tired, and sex is off the table for whatever reason. She wants a massage, or to cuddle. Go ahead and give it 15 minutes. It won’t kill you, and goes a long way in keeping you connected.

I remember bitching to a buddy of mine about the fights Ash and I had as newlyweds. Seven years ahead of me to the altar, he offered what seemed like sage advice: “Phil you ol’ bastard, you can either be right, but miserable, or wrong and happy.”

God bless the son-of-a-gun, my buddy is now divorced.

He never would have left his wife. Ever. He’s happier now, but she had to leave him. He was committed, faithful, good-natured, a great provider, and great dad. But after a long day at work, he would rather sit quietly in peace, with SportsCenter on and Budweiser in hand. He would prefer to adopt being “wrong”, unconvincingly, then rehash a tired argument, engage in new debate, or discuss the minutia of _____ (weekly meal planning, choosing the kids’ summer camp, hosting a neighborhood potluck, etc.).

You’re right, honey. I’m sorry. I’ll take care of it first thing in the morning.

Look, men want peace at home. We can only butt heads for so long before becoming withdrawn. We learn to put the honey-do list ahead of our own, and avoid the drama. Happy wife, happy life. The problem is, most women want need participation. They demand some healthy conflict, to know you’re invested, and paying attention.

These skills will get you through it, and ensure it’s productive and positive. Most are simply about good communication. It seems obvious in retrospect, but they were hard-earned, I promise. So, begin here, watch the feedback, and tune accordingly.

Start today by sending this post on to the one you love. Then, shake out a couple of martinis, put together a cheeseboard, and share a few laughs. Cheers!

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Like this column? Good for you, now make some babies already.