Men are simple. They are not all that complex. Some time ago, a lady came to me to rant about her husband. “My husband never helps me with things that need to be done around the house! We both work and, when I get home, I am expected to do all kinds of things while he sits on his big behind and watches television!”
Being naturally perceptive, and highly trained in such matters, I concluded that this lady was unhappy with her husband.
I asked, “Do you tell your husband that you need help?”
“You bet I do,” she replied, “for all the good it does.”
“Okay,” I said, “walk me through it. What happened the last time? What did you say?”
Without hesitation, she said, “I marched into the living room, stood in front of the TV and said, ‘I need some help around here!’”
“Hmmmm,” I said. (All counselors must master saying “Hmmmm”). “And what did he do?”
Said she, “He followed me into the kitchen and said, “How can I help you?”
“Well, that’s a good start,” said I. “And what did you say?”
“Just look around at this mess!” she said. “There are hundreds of things to do! Just find something and do it”
“And how did that work for you?” I asked, already knowing the answer.
“In just a few minutes, he was back in front of the TV. He didn’t do anything,“ she said with a touch of bitterness.
After pausing for an appropriate amount of time (counselors must learn the art of “pausing”), I said, “Listen, I need to share some things. First of all, part of the problem is that you talked to him like you were his mother. Grown men don’t appreciate being talked to by their wives when their wives sound like their mothers. They have a mother. They don’t need another one.”
“Secondly, men are simple. They are not complex. When you told him you needed help, he was ready to respond. When you said there were hundreds of things that needed doing, he decided that, whatever he did, it would be the wrong thing. So, knowing he was going to do the wrong thing anyway, he decided to do nothing and go back to watching TV.”
Said she, “You’re nuts!”
Ignoring the caustic, personal remark (counselors have to learn to ignore caustic, personal remarks), I said, “Look, try it this way next time: When you need something specific done, go to the living room, smile, and say, ‘Honey, when this program is over, I would really appreciate your help with something.’ He will probably say, ‘How can I help you?’ Then you say, ‘It would really be helpful if you could put up the dishes, or whatever.’”
Seeing the look of disdain for me on her face (counselors must learn the art of enduring disdaining looks), I said, “Men are simple. If you give them a vague list of a hundred items, without any priority, they either know instinctively, or have learned through bitter experience, that they are going to fail. They are not mind readers. They will assess the risks, realize they are in a no-win position, and go back to watching TV. Give them one task at a time to do and they will succeed nearly every time.”
“Men are dumb,” she said.
“No, I corrected, “men are simple. It’s the women who are complex.”
“Just try it,” I urged, “and let me know if it doesn’t work.”
Well, she never brought it up again, so I assume that there is, out there, a happy wife with a good husband who is steadily working through a list of hundreds of items one task at a time.
Either that or she just ignored me and did it her way. (Counselors must get used to having their advice ignored). And women who ignore such sage advice must get used to husbands watching TV when there are things that need to be done.
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]