“Shoot ‘im, Liz! Shoot ‘im!”
One of my favorite shows on television is Swamp People on the History Channel. The show is a reality based program that follows the people that hunt alligators in Louisiana during the one month during the year that it is allowed. The practice has taken place for generations and the thrill that the big one is close to 14 foot long and over 1000 pounds. Each of the hunters have their own special blends of bait and tricks to try to lure the big one to bite their hook. Typically, each of the boats they use to hunt the alligators have two people on board. One person is the wrangler that pulls the rope with the alligator on it and tries to get the gator to the surface where he can be put down. The second person is the shooter and is the one that has to be patient and find the right moment to take out the alligator. The dramatic moments in the show are centered around these 30 second moments when the wrangler begins to pull up the line. It is that moment when he finds out if he is dealing with a 5 foot or 15 foot beast.
This reminded of a quote I read by Jeff Feldhahn in the book For Men Only, “See, guys think of a woman as a swamp: You can’t see where you’re stepping, and sooner or later you just know you’re going to get stuck in quicksand. And the more you struggle to get free, the deeper you get sucked in. So every guy on the planet knows that the best thing to do is just shut down and hope somebody comes along to rescue you.”
I used to be one of the best shut down artists in the business. I can’t count the number of times I felt like I veered off course just slightly in my communication with the Peacefulwife and wound up in shut down city. I would take her feelings for granted just once and the harder I tried to solve the problem the more trouble I would wind up in. A large part of the problem is that men tend to try to solve any conflict so very differently than women.
A man’s reaction to conflict is to solve the problem. This could be anything from a physical thing like a house repair or car repair to a misunderstanding between husband and wife. A guy wants to repair the damage and have the problem go away. A guy can separate his emotions from the problem and move on.
A woman will tend to attach an emotion along with a problem. Unfortunately, this is where it gets sticky. Once this happens the problem becomes an afterthought in the process. In order to get back to the problem a woman needs to have the emotion dealt with.
Well a guy at this point will have a hard time understanding why solving the problem seemed to make the problem worse. So his instinct is to get angry or put his hands up and shut down. Of course, this only gets you sucked in deeper into the quicksand.
So, what is the solution? Well it turns out that the Peacefulwife needs to be listened to. The important thing is that she is able to verbalize her emotions and let me know how she feels. If she doesn’t feel that I am listening to her emotions then she cannot get any peace about the issue. I have to stop thinking about the problem and focus on her feelings. Once the Peacefulwife sees that I am listening to her feelings we can focus on a solution to the problem and pull ourselves out of the swamp.