It must be hard being married to me.
Now, I’m no loony or anything, in fact as far as us females go, I’m pretty…..now what does my hubby call it? ……. level. I’m not overly dramatic, nor am I high maintenance, I am something of a plodder, emotionally, I mean.
Or, I was.
Recently, I have found myself becoming slightly more unpredictable and I can both see and feel my hubby’s bafflement when I have even the smallest of emotional outbursts.
Being a man, and being a very sensible and practical man, he wants to fix me. That’s what men do, isn’t it? A problem occurs and men deal with it by coming up with solutions.
Women, however, we empathise with each other first. Then we make sure we’ve got all the details, quizzing each other on every single thing – why this, why that, how-do-you-about-feel this and how-do-you-feel-about that. We curse at injustice, we cry at sadness, we get passionate about inconsequential minor details and we get emotionally involved, feeling each others’ pain and uniting in our femininity. That, for us is how we fix each other.
This was highlighted to me a few days ago, when Hubby found me shedding a delicate tear (read: sobbing noisily and very unattractively into a large glass of wine) and gave me a cuddle.
“I’m just feeling a little sad,” I managed to get out, spraying him with snot and tears. “About, Mum.” He retreated fast.
“You’ve had her for 60 odd years,” he said, very gently and kindly. “You need to remember how lucky you are.”
Now, he’s right.
Of course he’s right, (not the 60 odd years bit, I pedantically pointed out to him that I have only had her for as long as I’ve been alive, so significantly less than 60 odd years) but – the message he was trying to get across – that was right. The news has been strewn with horrendously sad stories over the past few weeks, which have made me sick to my stomach, Hubby has been dealing with a client whose young wife has just been diagnosed with cancer and one of my very good friends lost her dad when she was just ten years old. There are examples of terrible things happening to good people every where you look. My story, in comparison is not that bad.
I’m lucky really.
My mother’s battle with dementia is comparatively, not that sad.
I get it.
However……I already know all this. Knowing that I am very lucky to have had my mother for all these years and that she was a fantastic mother, are what keep me from being an emotional mess all the bloody time. I don’t need it pointing out to me.
The thing my hubby and quite probably lots of hubbies up and down the land, trying to fix their temporarily broken wives, don’t realise, is that in that moment of sadness, we just want sympathy, a cuddle and to be allowed to wallow. We need to feel the self-pity for a few moments, we need to let the grief in and we want to feel the release as the tears flow and the sobs wrack our bodies, because in their wake, we are left with an emptiness and a calm, where before there was physical pain.
The fix is not giving us solutions and practical advice.
The fix is the messy, snotty, noisy and sometimes dramatic release.
So, my advice to men who are trying to help their wives, girlfriends, partners deal with something difficult in their lives is as follows:
Don’t offer solutions, at least not when she’s having a good cry. There are other times when offering a practical fix is a good idea but it is never when she’s in the middle of an emotional episode. Leave your advice offering until things are calm and then broach it carefully.
It is a good thing that she is crying. It is good for her. It is stopping her from going insane.
And, at some point, not long after the ugly emotional episode, your level, plodder of a wife will return.
Love you, Mum x