We interrupt your regularly scheduled Friday Night Date Place (and it’s still Friday night if I haven’t been to bed yet), to bring you an important relational message.

Fellas, fellas, fellas. I realize many of you are brooding Cro-Magnons, waiting for the potential within you to be recognized and a woman to come along and make you presentable for the rest of society. I get that, just as I applaud (and question) you ladies who jump on that diamond-in-the-rough/social misfit/fixer-upper grenade for the rest of us.

One of the things about being a brooding Cro-Magnon is that your selfishness can often be indulged. The world can be reduced to your wants and your needs and as a loner type ((sigh* that “bad boy” too many women are inexplicably drawn to, God bless them) you don’t have to do that whole “relate to humans other than yourself” thing.

Don’t take it personally, O gentle Cro-Magnon soul, you are basically in the same position as the rest of us. Relating to women can be tough. As a wise pastor once counseled me, and you may want to jot this down, “there’s something about having a vagina that must make a person crazy.”

With that in mind, let us examine a couple typical conversational scenarios and see the possible pitfalls that we might fall into.

Scenario #1:
Woman: “My day has me so stressed out …”

Once you begin to hear about her day, do you:
A. Try to solve the problem?
B. Try to compare what she calls stress to what you went through today?
C. Try to listen to her as a sympathetic ear?

ANSWER: None of the above (what, you’ve never taken a quiz before?) This is what is known as the “white noise” portion of the relationship conversation. Women don’t want you to solve their problem, just listen. It’s how these aliens process their day. We men have precious little brain space and we can’t clog it up with the minutia of their day. So the key is to sound engaged while actually being in your happy place. Practice this conversational discipline: deep, slow inhale; deep, slow exhale, then say “uh huh”. The timing works out so that you sound like you’re paying attention and, as an added bonus, it keeps you from saying something stupid. Later, you can always claim to have “missed that part” if she asks you something about it – because you’re a dim-witted Cro-Mangon, she’ll understand. She’s happy that you’re just trying.

In this next scenario, you, O gentle Cro-Magnon soul, have mysteriously fallen into an argument. Go figure, since you’ve been studiously following my sage advice. Again, the key to conflict resolution is conversation. The sad reality is that at least one of the parties involved has to be the grown up. They have to suck it up and take the lead in getting to the heart of the problem, facilitating both parties positions being heard, and ensuring that compromise is reached or even a possible apology achieved.

Scenario #2:
Woman: “I’m sorry for my part of the conflict …”

Fellas, do you:
A. Become your own lawyer and defend your original position?
B. Become a logic professor and break down the fallacies of her original point?
C. Become a petulant ass, hop on your high horse, and charge ahead with your rightness?
D. Become a student of the Maurice Broaddus School of Breathing Your Way Through a Conversation?

ANSWER: None of the above (aren’t you paying attention?). Remember this phrase if you decide to become your own lawyer: “Your Honor, my client is an idiot.” Fellas, apparently you’re new to relationships, and I’m simply trying to prepare you for the reality that is marriage. “I’m sorry” is your out cue. The fight is over if you let it. Admittedly this is a dream scenario, but if you get the apology, you take it an run. To be doubly safe, you apologize for something to. “For what?” you may ask. You’re a man – you’ve done SOMETHING wrong between the time you woke up and your next breath.

Now may also be a good time to explain to you the concept of a Pyrrhic victory. You can always win the argument. You can argue, badger, and charge your way to proving your point superior, but it may come at the price of bashing her self-esteem or doing irreparable harm to the relationship. Remember, what’s been said can’t be unsaid. And nine times out of ten, most arguments are about nothing in the first place. So you have to ask yourself “is being right worth it?”

A word of reassurance saves you from women playing the “tears card” for which there is no defense. O gentle Cro-Magnon soul, we know you love yourself and your world rotates around your own orbit. However, you have to attend to her needs and wants. Sometime, when we do Conversations 102, we’ll talk about things like noticing her hair and make up. And the proper responses to things like “does this outfit make me look fat?” (Run!)

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