My diet of TV has been trimmed down to the point that HULU can satisfy any mindless fix I need. While Family Guy and American Dad are necessities a relatively new show, to me anyway, has become an immediate favorite – Modern Family. Seeing as I am the poster child for the show’s analogous title I clearly have a point of reference. Yet this doesn’t explain why I like the other two shows, but I digress.
The most recent episode has Cam freaking at the possibility his homosexual lover (and co-parent for their adopted child) might have an illegitimate son from an illicit encounter at a high-school reunion some years earlier. As Mitchell attempts to calm his man down by urging rational restraint, Cam retorts
“Mitchell, I need to have my reaction”
This scene was an immediate reminder of how different we all handle life’s difficulties. This thought was then driven home the next day as a fellow blogger posted how she responded at her man’s reaction to challenging news. During which she summarized her feelings
“Here’s the thing that I’ve learned from watching men in my life…when men feel pissed/defeated in life, self-destructive behavior kicks in.”
In this same post she went on to say how he had gotten upset with her for the approach she took to his situation. The post generated a good bit of interest from commenters talking about how they suffer the same problem and offering possible solutions.
There is one area of a man’s life that is kept close to his vest and when it goes sideways their behavior can be at best unpredictable. It’s where men put so much of their passions and tie to their identity. That area is their careers. Look at the men in your own life, if their job (we’ll use this to include any career aspects) is going great then everything else is normally rainbows and butterflies. The world is beautiful and life is good. But when things on the job go in the wrong direction, woe be it to anyone getting caught in the cross fire.
Because women view their jobs differently than men do, I think it is hard for many females to relate when her man’s job takes a turn for the worst. In the attempts to be supportive, many times, she does more harm than good. I can recall instances in my past where the job didn’t go as planned, a sale got lost, a month blew up in my face, a client went with someone else, these can be all it takes to send a man off the edge into darkness.
How men react to such a crisis can be as varied as the man himself, some will simply embrace the darkness by going off into their cave licking their wounds and emerge ready to fight another day. Other men will crawl into a bottle for a night to drown out his frustrations, waking the next morning with nothing worse to show for his endeavors than his nuclear headache. And yet others do much much worse and take their behaviors to the extreme (this post isn’t for them, they need serious help). I have come to realize that when I face a job crisis there aren’t many things the Queen could to make the situation better, but there are many things that can be done to make it exceedingly worse.
One response in particular that used to just send me deeper into the abyss was “We are going to be OK” On the surface this doesn’t sound like much, but to many men (including me) you just called us average at best. Few men want to just be “ok”. We know we’re going to be ok, but we want more than that.
Then there is the desire to help solve the problem. Just as most women don’t want all of their problems solved this is usually an area where we don’t need or want help. Because we are logical thinkers chances are we have already thought through ever conceivable alternative.
My advice to T’s situation was
“Many men do find irrational behavior as a way of dealing with life’s downs. However, I don’t think that would be a standard behavior. Men look at issues much more systematic than women do. Often, I find, that men will go into their cave if they are experiencing issues especially with their career/job as it is so much a part of their identity. They want the solitude and quiet to process what is happening.
I would admit to wanting to be heard however the common feedback of “things will be ok”, or “we will be fine” doesn’t have the intended consequences.
A simple reply, “this totally sucks, is there anything I can do?”, in my opinion is the best response that can be given to a man in your Gentlemen’s situation.”
This response shows two things (1) that you empathize with our current situation but you don’t seek to fix it nor are you handing out sympathy. (2) that you are offering support from a distance. This says you’re here for us and are aware that we need time to process all of it but you will be here when we are ready. I find that men first prefer solitude to work through a life challenges, once he has gotten his head around it then he’ll be ready to talk crisis and the best thing that a woman can do will be to listen.