Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Dear Rooster Cashews, My Boyfriend Will Not Stop Farting In Bed. What Can I Do? Signed: Gas Mask In Greenville.

While checking email at my Hotmail address the other day I came across one of those worthless "news-bites" they have right before you enter the main page. Usually it's some fluff piece from Men's Health, or Cosmo, or a writer employed at MSN that can't find a job in their chosen profession of cleaning toilets after finishing a day's work of programming the new Vista operating system for Microsoft... Same people. You know the type of article... "10 steps to prepare yourself the perfect vacation," or "How to get that special person to notice you." It's meant to be a simple interest story read in under three minutes that you can tell to others when you're at the water cooler after finishing your first round of slamming the boss for being a moron. This one was a "Dear Abby" type of article under the title of "Women: 7 Relationship Rules." I was intrigued because women fascinate me, and also because I have no clue how a woman's mind works. That may sound bad on my part, but think about it: How many guys can honestly say they understand how a woman's mind works? I don't see any hands in the air from the male audience, so I'll assume the answer is zero. Since they don't pass out books on the subject once you hit puberty, guys are left wondering why a crying jag is going on just because we said we liked her new pants, or why her voice raised three octaves with a reply when we say like "A" over "B." I'm clueless. And maybe that's for the best. The last thing I do is take any of the articles to heart. But they amuse me with their quick-fix answers to something that is so much deeper than a three minute help guide can answer. So, for grins I've decided to post the article along with a rebuttal of sorts. And before I go any farther, let me say the rebuttal is a joke, ok? First: The MSN piece Q: My boyfriend and I disagree on many things. We end up arguing because I feel like he is trying to one-up me. He says that he is only trying to explain why he disagrees, but I end up feeling like he's trying to make me feel that my opinion on something is wrong and that his is the better. I usually get ticked off and twist his words around and make sarcastic remarks, which does not make the situation any better. He has asked me why I would think he would hurt me intentionally, and I have no answer. How can I get past our disagreements without feeling like he's trying to blame me or one-up me? Tart. A: Dear Tart: Sounds to me like you recognize the obstacles you're putting in the way of a strong relationship. That's a good first step, since no progress can be made otherwise. It would be interesting to think about your family and if there was anyone who made you feel your opinions were wrong. Perhaps you're reacting to old stuff that has nothing to do with your boyfriend. I'm not a psychologist, so I can't advise you there. However, I do know a lot about communications and I've come up with what I call "Fair Fighting Rules." Here they are: 1. Use "I" language. The word "you" will, most assuredly, cause someone to become defensive. The minute we hear "You did this" or "You did that," we feel we are being judged and our automatic human reaction is to defend our position. The moment we become defensive, communication stops. 2. No "zinging." Many of us think a little, friendly "zing" or sarcastic remark is harmless. Not so. In fact, one of the number-one indicators of underlying conflict or negativity within a work environment or relationship is increased sarcasm. There is nothing harmless about it. 3. Don't "chase rabbits." Not sticking to the topic at hand, or chasing rabbits, creates a negative emotional reaction in others. When we don't stick to the point, the person trying to listen is first confused, then impatient and finally resentful. 4. Don't interrupt. It's not only rude, but it often creates the opposite of what we want to achieve. When we interrupt, we generally think we will end or reduce the length of the conversation, but the opposite is true. 5. Restate what you heard. We should make this tip a habit in all our conversations. If we have restated the other person's message correctly, their reaction will most often be, "She DID understand me!" Then you can move on to the next issue. 6. Ask questions that will clarify, not judge. A question should never begin with the word "why." That puts people on the defensive -- and we know that defensiveness stops conversation rather than continues it. 7. Stay in the today, not the yesterday. Often, when we talk about the yesterdays, we tend to throw up the past, or blame. Blaming is a judgment and automatically causes the other person to become defensive. Here's my advice for Tart. Remember what you should have learned in elementary school: Play nice, share your toys, and listen. Pretty simple stuff that goes over well in the adult world too. I should have been a psychologist. And now a rebuttal from the men: I can't wait to get angry replies from the National Organization for Women. Save your keyboard. It's humor, ok? Click the pic so you can read it.


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