True story. John and Martha have been married for over thirty-two years and they swear that in all that time they have never had even one disagreement, dispute, argument, spat, or fight. What’s wrong with these people?

When two normal, decent, honorable, kind, considerate, loving people live together in close proximity day after day, like a husband and wife, there are bound to be times when there is some friction and there are issues. That’s normal.

Here are some ideas that you can use to calm the troubled waters and to help you and Abby weather those marital storms.

Hear, Hear

When God created man, He gave him two ears and one mouth for a reason – that he should listen twice as much as he talks. We have it on good authority that He was specifically thinking of married men when He did this.

When Abby talks, listen intently so you do not misunderstand or misinterpret what she is trying to tell you.

The way in which your wife delivers her message is often more important and more powerful than the words that she says. Her delivery can either enhance the message relayed by her words, or it can contradict it. In fact, some communication experts say that up to seventy-five percent of the impact of a person’s message comes from how it is delivered.

As your wife speaks, listen to the words she says, be aware of what she doesn’t say, and weigh the tone of her voice and her body language.

When it comes to buying that mansion on the lake, that 32-foot cabin cruiser, or that fancy sports car, there is only one rule:
If you’ve got the money, go for it!
If you don’t have the money, don’t fool yourself.

One man seems to have learned this the hard way as evidenced by the wording of a classified ad he placed in the newspaper: “Boat For Sale – Apparently I misunderstood my wife when she said, ‘Do what you want.’”

After You, Dear

Here is a little technique that will help you avoid some arguments and help you win others. When you and Abby have an issue with something, you will both be eager to state your case to support your position.

Keep your mouth shut and let your wife go first. Maybe what she says will make perfect sense to you and you’ll agree with her and that will be the end of it. Maybe by talking it out, your wife will change her position. Maybe by letting her go first, she will reveal something to you that will be valuable for you to know.

This is based on a true story: Susan and Dan were in their early thirties and had been dating for over two years. Susan called Dan on a Wednesday afternoon and asked him to meet her at Pasquale’s at seven for dinner because she wanted to talk to him about something.

Susan got to the restaurant first and Dan soon joined her. Susan said, “I would like to talk to you about something. I think . . .”

Dan interrupted her, “Susan, I want to say something first. We have been dating for over two years and although we get along great and have a wonderful time together, we don’t seem to be going anywhere. I think it is time we go our separate ways.”

Susan is stunned. “You mean it’s over?”

Dan says, “It’s over. I’m sorry.”

“That’s your final answer – there’s nothing I can do to change your mind?” Susan asks.

“I’m sorry, but it’s over,” Dan says. “By the way, what was it you wanted to talk to me about tonight?”

“My uncle, Robert, who invented a component for computer processors, passed away and I inherited over twenty million dollars from his estate. Tonight I was going to ask you to marry me. Goodbye, Dan.”

When “Nothing” Means “Something”

Here is a real-life example for you to evaluate. It is evening. You are sitting in your favorite chair in the living room reading the newspaper and Abby is in the kitchen. The pots, pans, and kettles seem to be rattling and clanking a little louder than normal and the cupboard doors seem to be getting slammed shut with authority. You, being in tune with body language and unspoken messages, sense that something is wrong.

You rise from your chair and approach Abby in the kitchen. “What’s wrong?” you ask, trying to keep your voice calm and even.

“Nothing,” she replies.

Even though she said the word, “Nothing,” her tone of voice and overall appearance seem to say, “Something.”

You quickly search your mind for a clue – what in the hell have you done now or what did you say that irritated her? You can’t put your finger on anything that you have done recently that should have upset her. But, there is “something;” there’s no doubt about that.

This little scenario has been repeated in real life, word- for-word, billions of times between husbands and wives all over the globe. And, just like those billions of other husbands, you’d have a better chance solving Rubik’s Cube blindfolded than coming up with a surefire method for determining what is bothering her. Basically, you have two options.

Option Number One: You can question, probe, and pry until you dig it out of her, which may or may not work.

Option Number Two: You can simply let it lie, figuring that she will eventually tell you when, and if, she’s good and ready.

Either of these two techniques are fraught with potential advantages and pitfalls, but if we were to pick one, we’d suggest that you just let it ride until she’s ready to bring it up on her own. It’s wishful thinking, but maybe her somber mood has nothing to do with you and she’ll work it out on her own.

Let the Tornado Blow

Not all women are wired this way, but it appears that many are. Every now and then, when the tension, stress, turmoil, and burdens of everyday life become too much to bear, they blow a gasket.

Your wife might rant, rave, and storm around the house for a while and even throw in a few swear words for

good measure, just to make sure you understand how damn overwhelmed and unhappy she is.

Just follow the advice given by the weatherman on the radio when a tornado is spotted – take cover. When the storm is over, perhaps you can calmly comfort your wife and the two of you can work through her concerns together.


Excerpt is from Marital Advice to my Grandson, Joel: How to be a husband your wife won’t throw out of the window in the middle of the night