There is one thing a lot of women do that drives husbands crazy. Of course, this is a mistake some guys can do as well, but from my experience, it’s more likely a female problem because women tend to have this desire to make everyone happy and, if everyone isn’t happy, it must somehow be their fault. This is a common conflict between my wife and I; she’s very nice to others while I think… she’s too nice and needs to ease up a bit (arguably the best conflict you can have). What drives a husband crazy is simply this: A lot of women have this ability to make everything that goes wrong somehow their fault: “It feels like I did something wrong.” It comes out of niceness, but it becomes like a twisted narcissism as it essentially says, “It’s all about me… if it’s something I can feel guilty about.”
The following script is based on real events that had a better resolution later (i.e. this is not me venting about my wife, but rather sharing a story). It’s not 100% accurate, especially since it’s coming from my biased memory. As I said, my wife is very nice to other people. She’s the kind of nice that ends up hurting her in some way. She’s a hygienist at a very good dental office who has always been given rave reviews and has even won awards for their quality of service until the other day (duhn duhn duhn):
- Wife: One of our clients posted a really negative review about our office today. She said she waited 45 minutes and the hygienist didn’t apologize. She also named the dentist who served her, claiming they didn’t have a good bedside manner. It’s really upsetting because I must have been the hygienist.
- Me: Were you 45 minutes late with any of your patients today?
- Wife: No, but I got up to 30 minutes late.
- Me: So it wasn’t you.
- Wife: But it could’ve been me.
- Me: Did you have anyone who was really rude when you saw them because they were upset from waiting?
- Wife: Everyone was very nice, but they could have faked it.
- Me: I doubt if they were that angry they made a post. How many other hygienists worked today?
- Wife: It was likely before today.
- Me: On the days you don’t work?
- Wife: It could’ve been last week when I did work. The complainer also said it’s her second time having to wait 45 minutes at the office.
- Me: You just got back from an 18 month maternity leave, so it can’t be you.
- Wife: It could’ve been before I left. It just feels like it must have been me. I feel terrible.
- Me (getting frustrated): On the plus side, at least you’re not the dentist who was named.
- Wife: The dentist is a really lovely person. I don’t know how the woman could complain about her. The real problem was me.
- Me (fed up): Well then go ahead and punish yourself for something you likely didn’t do.
From this conversation I made two main mistakes. The obvious one is by the end of the conversation I was rude. I’ll own it. I should have been nicer. I could’ve even said something similar but in a nicer way like “Well, I guess you have two choices: You can either move forward making sure you always say thank you for the person’s patience when you’re late (appreciation is a better tool than apologizing in instances like being late) or you can beat yourself up for something that may or may not have been about you.” Even simpler, at any point in the conversation I could have just said, “I’m sorry that happened,” instead of trying to figure out what the problem was – my second mistake. In this situation, all I should’ve done was let my wife vent and concluded with something like “That’s too bad.”
My wife’s mistake in this conversation was doing the thing that drives husbands crazy: Being sad after making something about her that likely wasn’t about her. Ladies, please, stop beating yourselves up for things that either aren’t about you or aren’t that big a deal! There is nothing worse to a husband than to have his wife feel sad. We want you to be happy and laughing. We want fun. We want you to be the happy and flirty person you were when we met and fell for you. In marriage, the wife often becomes this overwhelmed, “I’m carrying the weight of the world” type person desperately trying not to be judged by some imaginary ruler. She creates a standard that is impossible to achieve and then feels bad for not attaining it. My heart goes out to these women, and I just want them to be free from this unnecessary burden. You don’t need to be perfect. You don’t have to take on burdens that aren’t yours to carry. All a good husband wants is for you to be happy and to accept that you’re good enough and to help him feel that he’s good enough. If a wife is sad (minus after a death or tragedy), the husband will take this as a sign that he’s on some level not being a very good husband; he must not be providing or protecting in some way. If his wife is sad, he’s likely thinking “I need to fix it.” If his wife is always sad, he’s going to give up trying to make her happy and accept the feeling that he sucks, which only perpetuates the problem.
There is truth to the saying “Happy wife, happy life.” A happy wife means the husband can feel like he’s doing his job, which makes him happy. A happy couple increases the chances of a happy marriage, which in turn helps for a happier life. Happiness is infectious. Thus, we all should be seeking to find how to be happy and at peace.
This week may you find a way to be happier (tip: it starts with a grateful and content heart).
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people