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Wife Support Part One: Getting Him to Open Up

 Since a recent onset of arthritis, I’ve had a devil of a time opening things. Jars, boxes, and – the most evil of all – prescription bottles – defy my fingers. The normal twist-and-lift makes me wince, if not gasp out loud, in pain. Hearing me on the edge of swearing – ta-da-da-ta-da-ta-da-ta-da – my Shining Knight to the rescue! 

…when he’s around. Shining Knights save a lot of other people too. In his absence, I have had to come up with all kinds of creative methods for cracking open cranky containers: some more effective than others. One thing that I haven’t tried yet, for obvious reasons, is dynamite.

Opening a man is something like opening a stubborn jelly jar: it’s a sticky business.  

Why, when the only practical solution to loosening the lid is running warm water over it, do we women sometimes think a bundle of TNT is necessary? 

Ironically, this approach only seals his heart while it detonates our own dreams of emotional intimacy. 

Most men are comfortable with conversation as long as it’s about exchanging information. This isn’t to say that they don’t have feelings and dreams they long to talk about – recent studies have found that men are deeply emotional – even more sensitive than women, actually – but conditions have to be just right before they are willing to go there; to risk exposure. If they fear arctic conditions, for example – the gloves and parka stay on. Or if a man suspects a pie in the face, you won’t get them into the spotlight. And who would open up to a partner who finds fault with the way he does things: big and small. (“Don’t put that glass on the coffee table. Now, tell me, dear, your deepest dreams.”) 

Would you show all your cards to a spouse who questions your decisions, or belittles your worries, or laughs at your mistakes? Would you reveal your inner-self to a partner who needles and pries or picks and prods? Or to the wife who clings like a vine and whines on a dime?

Not if you’re a man, you won’t. Dynamite never opens the jar; it just blows up in your face.

So what’s a girl to do? First, cut the contempt and criticism. Second, treat him with respect – always, unconditionally. Third, admire, even adore, him. Fourth, start talking – just the facts, ma’am (watch your timing). Fifth, let him give you plain information in exchange (about anything!) and listen with interest -- all 100% of you. Sixth, after listening (it takes a while to warm him up this way) nudge him gently away from facts with a no-pressure: “And how do you feel about that?” (Careful! No loaded questions here!) Seventh, give him the most authentically affirmative response your womanly heart can ooze. 

Little by little, his lid will wiggle. Keep the warm water running -- however many minutes, hours, or days (even months) it takes -- and you’ll get your nice guy open.  

And believe me, it’s worth it. The jelly inside is yummy.

NEXT UP: Wife Support Part Two: Who Needs Women. Mona shares and teaches romance at Mona's Musings with a Hint of Romance and posts daily at Mona's Musings on Facebook. and is the award-winning author or With Mine Own Hand: The Musical Account of Nephi. Based on her experience and study of two fathers, one husband, three sons, two grandboys, and seven  brothers, she is writing a book about UNDERSTANDING MEN (go figure). Women say her live presentations on the subject are like going to Zumba class (though she's not sure what that means). Her Relief Society version is world famous (well, Canada is on the schedule). 

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