I’ve been sleep deprived lately—something I’ve come to accept as part of my life. My night owlism is at an all-time high since I began working from home, various libraries and outdoor spaces.
But with the lack of sleep comes prophecy. I get little moments of insight where the voice behind my ear says something that I don’t just know is true, but I feel it. The other night, between episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Luther, I came to realize something about my time spent with the lovely Jamilah Jeezy.
This something that I realized pertains to the glory days in good ol’ Virginia, when hard decisions revolved around which beach we’d be drinking wine at. It pertains to the dating days, when we’d browse Blockbuster (remember them?) and laugh at offensively horrible movies like The Watermelon Heist, en route to discovering slept-on gems like Dogma and Idiocracy—during the college days of trying to find something real in the world. That something, the little bit of prophetic wisdom that came to me while binging on Netflix, couldn’t have been more relevant during the early married days, when we both began learning that real is what you make it, and the very things that “they” say you have to do to be happy in life, are the very things that make you unhappy.
That little something is especially relevant today, while we’re in the city of Angels chasing and living the dream. The bit of prophecy that I discovered the other night which I’m unnecessarily belaboring was this…
I have never, at any point in my life, been able to solve a single one of her problems.
Not when she was batting her eyelashes and trying to get chose, not when she graduated from Down Ass Chick 101 into girlfriend territory and not even now, when we slit our wrists at the altar and told God that we’d be together forever. At least I think that’s how it went—I was also sleep deprived and stressed at the wedding. But I do remember she walked down the aisle to music by the sexy ageless wonder, Sade.
Chew on that for a second, though. You might be thinking, but Rone, aren’t relationships all about solving each other’s problems and making each other whole? Again, that’s what “they” would have you believe, and exactly what is going to keep you unhappy.
When I say I’ve never been able to solve a single one of my wife’s problems, I don’t mean that I haven’t exponentially changed her life for the better, and let her know that life is, in fact, worth living—that goes without saying. I’m a G Boy.
What I am saying is that in my years of being with her and in other situations of field research with other relationships and dealings with women, I’ve learned that it’s in a woman’s nature to express her issues in a way that, when they hit my ears, seem sound like insurmountable obstacles that spell doom around the corner.
Why do they do that? Because they’re crazy.
I’ve also noticed that in these situations, it is in a man’s nature to jump into problem solver mode and tell her what she’s feeling and what she’s not feeling and how to fix it.
Why do we, myself included, do that? Because we’re crazy.
Not in the same way that they’re crazy, though. God had some fun with that creation. But we’re crazy because we expect our ladies to communicate, feel and solve the same way that we communicate, feel and solve. Finding out that all women are crazy was the best thing that ever happened to me. It kept me from taking mine back to the store, thinking she was broken, and allowed me to regroup and recalibrate, so that I can get through to this other being that I’m choosing to share a life with.
When I say that women are crazy, it’s because they’re crazy to me. When in their natural habitat, amongst other women, they tend to understand each other’s communication styles, but if I didn’t know any better, I’d be doomed to a confused life.
In the early days, I would jump in with solutions before Mrs. G even got three sentences in. I know that when I come to someone to vent, I’m typically not just practicing my talking, I want some solutions, so that I can stop doing what I’m doing and feeling what I’m feeling.
What I learned is that cutting her off immediately with solutions, or trying to engineer her emotions, I’m doing the woman perceived equivalent of her nagging me.
Don’t forget to do X, because blah blah will happen
Are you going to do X? You know how last time blah blah happened
Why are you doing X? Have you thought about doing Y?
Her coming with a thousand questions or criticisms when I’m in chill mode, or when I have something under control makes me want to jump out of the window and try my luck with whatever happens on the way down. However, at the root of a nag 9 times out of 10 lies a good intention.
So even though I think I’m following the natural order of operations by providing solutions off the bat, it probably evokes the same feeling of a nag.
Any dude that has been with a woman long enough has gotten his head bitten off for providing solutions during one of these moments. It’s actually a rite of passage to learn not to do that.
The reason for this is that a woman’s level of comfort with emotions faaaaar exceeds a dude’s level of comfort with them. So while it might seem like she’s having a meltdown, she might just be having a Tuesday. Whereas if I was to vent my frustrations in the same manner, there might be a legit reason to be afraid.
It makes perfect sense.
A little girl infant recognizes from the very first time that she pees, that a lot of things with her happen internally. Her reproductive system for the most part revolves around organs that she’ll never see with her eyes or touch with her hand. For that reason, among many others, she learns to look within and find some comfort there. She adapts to sharing very intimate things with parents, doctors and trusted people really early in life. So it becomes easier to trust and believe in those gut instincts and come back to a sense of grounding after allowing herself to experience a wide range of those emotions in any given moment.
The first time a baby boy pees, there’s a good chance his pee got on someone else. By the age of six, he’s been hit in the nuts at least twice, if he plays outside enough. He takes more credence in the end result of exploring the outside, rather than exploring what happened inside of him on the way to that result. With his reproductive system, what you see is what you get. Because he looks at the world from outside in, he probably isn’t as comfortable with the inner workings of everything. It’s all about results, results, results. Because of that, he doesn’t have as many colors to paint his emotional portrait.
So if he sees someone FEELING to that extent, his reaction is going to be “Whoa, something is wrong. Let me help you with that.”
What he might not realize is that by getting it all out (rubbing one out, if you will), she’s able to re-center and help herself. On the flipside, he wouldn’t bother exploring those feelings on the way to his decision, partially in fear that actually feeling them would cloud or prevent him from making his decision.
No one is necessarily right or wrong, but understanding this can save some arguments and headache.
One of my uncles put me on to a strategy that saved my life. It’s simply this:
Do you want me to help you solve the issue or are you just venting?
This way, he can proceed accordingly, without having to worry about being blindsided and stepping on a landmine. They both have their place, so it helps him, and since adopting it, helps me making sure the conversation doesn’t backfire. Solving and venting both have their place.
So while I have HELPED my wife solve plenty of her problems, I’ve never solved a single one. Solve mode typically leads to missing each other’s point of view, without knowing why. So while my guidance has its place, I’ve found it helpful to weigh whether she needs me to step in or needs me to give her the emotional space to save herself.
And with that, it’s nap time.