Tuesday, April 30, 2019

An unfortunate dynamic in recently retired couples

Mrs ERJ and I have been retired for a few years now. Since most of our friends and family are of a similar age we have front row seats watching friends and family make the transition.

One dynamic that merits mention is how men and women react to increased time together.

Many women feel "bonded" when they live-stream their thoughts. This is not wrong, but it is more of a woman-woman mode. It can come with a price when the woman feels that there is no need for a filter.

Grumpy old men tend to live in their heads more. We observe. We analyze. We make comparisons.

Visualize a situation when the GOM has a 'lightbulb' moment.

Suppose he has been watching the dog scratch himself far more than is usual. Woman took the dog to the vet. The vet looks at her records and notices that the dog is vulnerable to alergies. It is spring. The vet recommends a common, off-the-shelf antihistamine.

The dog continues to scratch himself silly. The GOM changes the air filter. The woman vacuums the carpets twice a day. They buy dog food made from Patagonian, free-range lambs and rice grown by virginal, Tibetan monks.

And the dog keeps scratching.

Then the GOM thinks, "Maybe our dog has fleas!"

He shares that thought with the woman.

If she is in live-stream mode, what falls out of her mouth is something like "You are wrong. That cannot possibly be. I took Dog to the vet. The vet would have seen the fleas. Dog always gets allergies in the spring."

Then, after a minute of reflection the woman says "Maybe we could treat Dog for fleas. That probably won't hurt anything."

What GOM hears "You are WRONG." Then he hears a bunch of stuff he already knew so he filters it out. The only thing he heard was "You are WRONG."

If a man is alone in a vast forest and he says something, is he still wrong?
It is a joke until you realize that the woman craves "bonding" with GOM. Her instinct to live-stream has exactly the wrong effect unless she filters or changes her speech/thinking habits. Leading with "You are WRONG." will push GOM away and, at the minimum, make him clam-up.

Much preferred, lead with "Why would you think that?"

WWYTT (or 'white') is neutral, passive and elicits more information. Writers are advised to avoid the word "would" at all costs because it is the epitome of passive. In this case, however, 'would' is the perfect word.

You might give it a try if your grumpy old man resists bonding.


  1. Communication... It's a recipe FOR success! :-D

  2. Ok, so HOW long have you been listening in at our house??
    Thank you, I will try this.

  3. I see that one was hit right out of the park . . .


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