Men love to fix things. We see every issue, every problem as a potential thing that we need to fix. If it is broken, squeaking, or just a pain, we can fix that. This might be true about physical things as long as we have a can of WD-40 and a roll of duct tape. However, when it comes to more relationship things, our methods don’t always work so great, but that doesn’t stop us from trying to fix it.
Just today Kate was talking about a situation in her photography business. I immediate deemed that she was being taken advantage of and without even a question from Kate to get me started, I dove in to telling her exactly what she should do to fix the problem. Before she got a word in edgewise I gave her a plan to change the situation.
You Can’t Change A Fixer
Fortunately, my wife was gracious enough to simply say, “I”m not sure that will work”, rather than blowing up at me. What could have been a big fight (and would have been in our past), was averted because she recognized that my need to fix was triggered by my interpretation of the situation as one that was taking advantage of (or hurting) her.
But You Can Fix Them
Kate knows that she can’t take the “fix it” out of me. I’ve tried to change but I don’t think it is totally possible. Now that I’ve recognized that there is something broken in me, I’ve come up with plan on how to fix it. The three-step plan on how to fix the fixer upper in me.
Step 1- Identify the focus of the problem
- Your wife – something she did wrong, or didn’t do, or anything that is hers.
- You – anything you did or didn’t do. This can also include “Your family”, “Your kids” (when they are in trouble they are your kids).
- Anyone else.
Step 2 – Identify the right tool
- Get those grabber things and try to fish out the clog
- Get drain-o and dump it down the drain to break up the clog
- Replace the pipes
- Call a plumber to fix it
- Come up with a plan to fix it
- Listen to the story and just empathize with her
- Ask her questions
- Give her a hug
- insert your own option here…
You’ve heard that old adage, “when all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail”. This is the same concept for listening to your wife’s challenges. If the only tool you have is coming up with a plan to fix it, every problem you come across will get fixed. If however, you have a whole toolbox of options your chances greatly improve.
If the focus of your wife’s issue involves #3 – anyone else (like my wife’s photography issue did) then listening is probably the right tool. Listen to her whole story and add something like, “that sounds like a real challenge.” or “Wow I wish that wasn’t happening to you.”
If the focus of your wife’s issue is #1 -her then your best option might be to go directly to a hug, avoiding any attempt at fixing all together at first.
Don’t think that is enough? Add a question. “Is there anything I can do to help you with that situation?” might be the perfect fit.
If the focus of your wife’s problem is #2 – YOU, then you might need some additional tools. This is honestly where fixing could come into play, but usually the first place we avoid using it. When we are the focus of the problem we might need to take some time to develop that 4 point plan on how to make Thanksgiving at the in-laws bearable.