Y Me?: Only in the sitcom world

Posted 9:43am on Wednesday, Mar. 14, 2012

I've been getting some great questions from readers lately, so I thought I'd answer a couple. I'm noticing a pattern: Women seem to be preoccupied with why men won't commit or get excited about the stuff they like. Men are, by and large, more concerned about sex and sending me e-mails they think are funny (leave the funny to the professional-nonprofessional-hackneyed-advice-giver, please). I pretty much get the same several questions over and over, and I think I know why.

We live in a world where sitcom relationships are looked upon as archetypes, and I think it governs a lot of people's expectations. It's not a healthy reference point -- men are stupid and obsessed with sex, women are smart and hold the moral compass but are also deferential. But it resonates because it's familiar and the roles are nice and codified. Also, conflicts are resolved neatly after half an hour.

Problem is, the archetype itself is based mostly on lies. Dear Yme,

Help me! Why are men freaked out by independent women? They say they don't want drama or cling-ons. Lies! I seriously have no issue with either and I have difficulty with relationships. Men do love drama! Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I'm tall and confident. ... Hmmm? -- Amy

Dear Amy,

It's true, some men just want a smutty June Cleaver, but I think you should really evaluate why you're wasting your time with those kinds of guys. There are plenty of men who respect strong, intelligent women.

The need for drama isn't gender-specific, either. Some people just need it, and it sounds like you're a dramagnet™. My advice is to take a closer look at why drama seems to keep finding its way into your life. At the risk of being cliché, the common denominator in all of your failed relationships is you.

If you truly are an independent, confident woman, you won't be afraid to make some changes in your behavior.

Dear Yme,

My husband and I have been married for almost eight years (together for almost 13!), and I'm a pretty cool wife. I don't drag him to weddings or funerals or make him watch chick movies with me.

However, I'm not perfect. I have a serious issue when people don't do things correctly the first time by following instructions; it's a control issue. I'm able to control my mood swings/irritation at work because I like being employed. But at home, it's different.

My question to you: When I notice he is doing something the wrong way, do I allow him to do it incorrectly and learn on his own? Or should I instead offer helpful tips that he will most likely ignore? Or should I just wait for him to step away and fix it secretly? I kind of get the vibe from him that despite his frustration, he enjoys figuring it out on his own, but that drives me nuts! -- Casey

Dear Casey,

Leave your poor husband alone. Assembling or programming something is probably therapeutic for him. It sounds like you two have a great marriage, but there's a reason he didn't ask you for help: He wants to solve the puzzle. And trust me, it would make matters much worse if your way is better, and he is wrong. The only thing you'll accomplish is emasculating your husband. That's the sort of thing that builds resentment.

Men, even clumsy, inept men like me, enjoy figuring things out. Next time you feel the urge to chime in, do something to relax yourself. Take a bath or read. Or both. If watching him fumble over something bothers you to the point you can no longer hold your tongue, try doing the task incorrectly, behind his back. He'll secretly appreciate that he's the family's fixer. And, he'll pretty much have to read the instructions to figure out how to undo all of your damage.

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