Monday, November 26, 2012

Sympathy, Not Solutions

Modern Family, "Two Monkeys and a Panda"

Phil discovers forgotten gift certificates to the spa that are expiring that day, but Claire can't go; he spends the day in a green face mask with other gals, quickly becoming chummy with them.
When Claire calls he puts her on speaker; their daughter Alex borrowed her sister's sweater and tore it, and Claire is now frantically driving all over town trying to find a replacement.

Phil tries to tell her what she should rather do, but she shouts him down and hangs up. Phil looks around to find the other women in the room glaring at him.

They explain to him that when a wife complains to her husband, she's doesn't want his advice. She wants him to make sympathetic noises and give her a boost.

If she wanted a fix-it idea, she would ask, "What should I do?" But if she is telling her husband a tale of woe with no requests, just pat her back and say "Poor thing."

It's not just Phil. Like when I try to make idle conversation with my father and I end up being told what I should have done five years ago when the story happened. 

A kasha of a maaseh?

I wonder if it's a man thing.

I thought this idea was so original until I heard a Rabbi Yisroel Reisman shiur a couple of weeks ago and he mentioned the same thing: Women do not want your advice, gentlemen. They want "Oh, my, that must have been terrible!"

It's a win-win to fake sympathy, dudes; you don't even actually have to listen to the story to begin with.  


FrumGeek said...

This is actually addressed in "Men are From Mars" (a book every couple should read). I personally don't understand it, I mean you complain to us, of course we'll try and fix it, it's what we do (not to mention it always feels good to be useful), but apparently you'd rather have the problem and sympathy than make the problem go away. Odd creatures, women are.

Princess Lea said...

My dear fellow, women are perfectly capable of fixing problems. However, there are times in life when a problem cannot be solved. It is at that point where we would like to unload onto a safe outlet, who will not mock us (presumably) for action or inaction taken. But men can't even do that right.

FrumGeek said...

*pats your head*
Oh, you poor thing! The nerve of some people!
(Am I doing it right?)

Princess Lea said...

Very good try. You're getting there!

Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

Men look for solutions.
Women look for group hugs.
That's why we go to the bathroom solo and you all go in packs.
It's also why we don't get to plan weddings. We'd rent 1 long table, bring in a stereo with a large speaker and lots of beer and wings. Centrepieces? What are those?

The Beckster said...

Lol. This convo between you guys is quite entertaining. And Princess Lea, as a fellow XX chromosome, I've got to give it to you. Great post and I definitely agree. I read about this in "Men are from Mars, etc.," but it's always good to remind men about this!

Anonymous said...

My DH did this for the first few months of our marriage. Solution: tell them at the outset if you just want sympathy. Now he asks "Do you want me to problem-solve with your or sympathize with you?" and then he does whichever. Problem solving is great when the dryer breaks, sympathy is great when someone was a jerk at work, but since no one is a mind reader, best to just tell them what you want up front!

Princess Lea said...

MGI: Oh come now, your sexism is showing. I, for one, prefer to venture to the bathroom without an entourage. As for hugs? Why is this person touching me? Stay away!

The dudes in my family are actually pretty interested in wedding details, and opt for the flashier options.

We are more than the sum of our typical gender roles.

Beckster: XXers unite!

Anon: I am all for clarifying the point; the menfolk I'm around need constant reminding! I don't expect mind-reading; ergo, this post.