The very mention of the word strikes fear in the heart of my family. It's been that way for years. Choosing paint for a room turns me into a frustrated, short-tempered, pseudo-monster-mommy (the word does, after all, contain the letters for "pain"). You see, I have this love-hate relationship with paint: I love looking through all the color chips, imagining the possibilities, but I hate having to make a decision, to commit to that color spread across my wall. What if I hate it? What if it completely clashes with the floor or the adjacent room/hall? What if it makes the kids too hyper? Too complacent? Too hungry? (Colors can do that, right?.) Trivial matters for some people, but in a family our size we don't repaint very often. So it's a basically a semi-permanent decision, with results that I have to look at all day, every day. Thus, the pressure.
So yesterday, when Darren was ready to take the kiddos out for the afternoon, he once again faced the frustrated, short-tempered, pseudo-monster-mommy who had avoided looking through the pile of paint chips (nicely stacked at the end of my bed for the past few weeks) and, thus, had not made a decision. But the rooms needed to be painted and the sale on the paint was ending that day and he needed to leave. Things had come to a head.
This man, however, handled the situation like a pro. After almost 22 years of marriage, he's developed some techniques that I thought other men might find helpful (and save themselves some pain(t) in the process). Want to learn from a master? Read on, my friend....
The ABC's of Dealing With a Frustrated Woman
- Acknowledge that the situation is important to her. Honestly? Darren could care less about what color paint we use. It just doesn't matter to him, but he knows it matters to me. And because of that, he doesn't belittle or dismiss my frustration.
- Be patient. It would have been easy (and easily justifiable) for him to be annoyed at my lack of decisiveness. He could have huffed and sighed and put some pressure on me...but he chose not to. He was probably fidgeting and pacing inside, but outwardly he remained calm and didn't add to the pressure I was already feeling.
- Comment and engage. I needed his feedback, to hear his thoughts, even though I knew the colors weren't all that important to him. He listened to what I was thinking, which colors I was leaning toward, and made suggestions. And when I put 5 different blues on the table, the man didn't break out into a sweat, but looked them over and shared his thoughts. That's dreamy right there, guys.
- Delay, if needed. His goal was to make a trip to Lowe's, finish buying all the paint (at the sale price, of course), and check that task off the list. But when time was running short and I got really stuck deciding on the very last room, he changed his agenda to accommodate and diffuse my frustration. Instead of plowing ahead with his own plans, he reevaluated the situation and decided the decision for that room could wait a few days, without making me feel guilty. (Bonus advice: One "D" that doesn't usually work is Divert. Your woman will most likely see right through that one. It works well with toddlers, but not so much with wives.)
- Encourage. Not much elaboration needed on this one. It stems from a choice: a choice to come alongside her, even when she doesn't have the best grip on reality or is making an unnecessary mountain out of a molehill. Maybe especially during those times...like when she's choosing paint.