Ladies, imagine that as part of your dream job or volunteer work, you are offered a project that is really exciting, and could also earn you a very welcome financial bonus. You step up to do it. Eager to please your boss, you spend long weeks binge-drinking caramel macchiatos, getting little sleep, and pouring your soul into the work.
Finally, it’s presentation day. You work through the slides and answer the questions like a seasoned pro, and you know you’re nailing it. You’re proud of yourself. As you wrap up, your boss stands up, shakes your hand, and says, “Thanks for that presentation. But it would have been better if you’d done it this way…”
It’s a punch in the gut, right?
Now, imagine that your boss sees your face fall and says, “What’s your problem? I said ‘Thank you!’”
You might be thinking, “Yeah, right. That did not feel like appreciation. In fact, that was the no-thank-you-thank-you.”
What does this have to do with personal relationships? Let’s rewind a few days and think back to the last moment that you felt like your husband (or perhaps your son) didn’t do something the way it should be done.
Perhaps your husband cleared the table and loaded the dishwasher – but not the way you’d do it. Maybe there were plates facing all different directions, plastic containers on the bottom shelf, and even a cast iron skillet shoved in somewhere. (Can you say r-u-s-t?) But here’s the thing: In your man’s mind, he had stepped up to do something. He was trying to please you. As I’ve covered elsewhere, men have more emotional vulnerability than you would ever realize, about whether they measure up in what they try to do for their wives. So your man might even have been waiting for a big smile; something to tell him that you appreciated him. Instead, he hears you chuckle and say, “Oh my gosh, look at these dishes all over the place!” as you undo his work and redo it the “right” way.
You may think this seem minor compared to a boss’s lack of appreciation of a long project. But I found in my research with men for For Women Only that the “dishwasher”-type examples are in some ways far more serious for us as wives. Why? Because they happen all the time, cause unseen, daily pain to someone we love — and we often don’t even recognize it.
The natural follow-up (and often indignant) question that we ask is: “Well, what are we supposed to do if our man has done something wrong? I mean, the dishes have to get cleaned! Are we just supposed to smile vapidly, coo “Great job, honey,” stroke his ego, and forget about what is important to us?”
No, of course not. But if we want a happy husband (and a happy marriage) we have to learn how to address things in a way that doesn’t cause that regular, unseen, punch-in-the-gut feeling to our man.
Based on my research with thousands of men, there are two clear steps you can use to determine whether or not you should speak up, and how. The men often described this as “The Next Day Rule.”