You Can Win Both

In the comments of Dalrock’s post “Five Years of Keeping Her Happy Proves David Swindle is a Better Man Than You”, commenter Jeff asks a question. The eminent host quotes and responds:


Question again,

I have NOT done dread on my wife. However, I have started chuckling when she wants to argue something mundane, and when we do have a heated discussion and she concedes and says ” you’re right”, I will say “I know I am”. She has seen acting like an abused wife.

I have read how this is a feminist tactic to get husbands to submit. BUT I haven’t read how to deal with this, you know the down turned mouth and puppy eyes with the shoulders drooped looking down.

Do I ignore this?

Others have suggested ignoring it, and I don’t think that is bad advice. Much of this is a matter of style/taste. If I imagine my wife doing the same my own instinct would be something playful which sets a new frame. I might start walking past her with a mock serious look on my face, and then all of a sudden pull her into my arms from behind while laughing and kiss her on the neck. If you can imagine doing that with your wife as something fun/loving, then it would probably work well. Another possibility would be to suddenly take her hand and whisper conspiratorially; I just remembered! You have to see this incredible thing in the kitchen/living room/wherever (a room you aren’t in which is on the same floor)! Take her hand and urgently lead her into the other room, then pull her into you and declare “us!”. This is pretty goofy stuff, and may not be right for you. But it matches with the goofiness of the mock puppy dog look, and also resets the frame.

I’d be interested in Cane Caldo’s approach to the same question as well.

I agree very much that this is a matter of style and taste. Let us hasten to add that (as in anything) all styles and tastes are not equal, and some are better than others.

Jeff’s “I know I am” retort is acceptable in a repertoire for playful banter arguments, but will ultimately backfire on him in earnest arguments. She will be enforced in her notion that winning the argument, or simply being right, is the key to headship. I say enforced because women have this belief already. They are born with it, I think; or susceptible to it. Be assured: The next time she is right (whether Jeff is wrong or not), or Jeff is wrong (whether she is right or not) she will have the bit in her teeth, and Jeff will have a very smug mare on his hands. Dalrock’s suggestions are good for potentially disarming this wifely trapwork, but it would be better to not tempt her to set it. As Dalrock suggests: Just letting her stew in her admission that Jeff is right, is the better way to go. Stewing tough meat is a time-honored way of rendering it consumable.

Another response I favor is, “Then aren’t you lucky to be my wife.”, swiftly followed by a slap on her ass, and a kiss on the cheek.[1] This will communicate several things. I’m going to list them, but don’t let the reader be absorbed by the order in which they are listed.

  1. Her admission is heard and acknowledged. They’ll be no pretending by her later that she never said it. Women who are in a power struggle are often tempted to lie about such things if they don’t believe you paid attention. In their minds, if you didn’t pay attention, it didn’t count, and lying about things that don’t count is just like not lying. It’s not telling the truth, but it’s not lying lying. This is my experience.
  2. It communicates that your goodness (in this case, being right) benefits them both; that’s it’s not a tug of war. Right within a marriage is not a zero-sum game when the husband wins the wife loses. If the head of the family body wins, then the whole body is in order. Psalm 133 says: Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.” The image is of a priest being anointed, and that anointing oil flowing down from his head to his beard and down onto torso; anointing the whole body, and mountain rains that fill the rivers and make them flow into the valley below. Husbands and fathers are the priests and mountaintops of the family.
  3. The butt-slap communicates intimacy, and that you will not let an argument get in the way of enjoying the privileges of a husband just because she has (or is threatening) a bad mood. Providentially, it demonstrates both of those from a superior position. Her bad mood doesn’t get to dictate a bad mood from you, and she doesn’t get to dissuade you from wanting to tap that ass; as is a husband’s right.
  4. Life will go on, and an argument resolved no longer matters. The argument hasn’t consumed you even if it has her. And if it has, then this approach is a good way to toss it aside. As you should, because life really does go on, and you really do have better things to do than gloat to yourself about how you finally won an argument with a woman. Save that for your prayer time and thank God for your wife’s display of wisdom.
  5. You have left her an opening to be happy about the outcome of her husband being right instead of an occasion to her to reflect on “poor ol’ me”. Said more powerfully: You’ve created an expectation that she be happy about it, and that such repentance in an argument will not be the beginning of more reprobation from him. Wives greatly fear admitting their husbands are right will lead to an adult and never-ending version of “nanna-nanna-boo-boo”. They fear it because that’s what they would do.[2]  Happy wives are easier to sex up. Sexed-up wives are happier. (One sees how these things work together.)

The great upshot is: All those things are true. It’s not manipulation. It’s not merely changing the frame or perspective. Even if Jeff has to try at it, he’s not faking, but putting into practice these truths about the dynamics of marriage.

I hope that helps.

[1]If you’re uncomfortable with this, or fear her response: Then do it really fast before she can respond.

[2] Jeff, unfortunately, founded his wife’s fears in the short-term; though husbands are usually not given to carrying on about it. Regardless: Don’t do that.

13 thoughts on “You Can Win Both

  1. Outstanding Cane. I trust you will likewise admit that my final sentence in the response you quoted was sheer brilliance.

    You have gotten to the core of the issue, something I didn’t see because I didn’t really understand what transpired up until the point of her acting that way. When my wife and I argue one of us either fairly quickly recognizes that the other is right, or we get to a point where we (really I) have to let it sit for a while. Either way, if she is telling me I’m right my automatic response is a sincere “thank you”. But in my wife’s case her telling me I’m right is very sincere as well, although she may take a bit of a jab at me in the process or do a bit of eye rolling theater. I won’t try to describe this in detail, except to say that they aren’t a challenge they are more theater, and they naturally make me smirk. They also are very short lived. She doesn’t stew on the issue any further at this point, I don’t gloat about it, and we both go on about our day.

    However, earlier in our marriage especially there were times where she would sulk. It wasn’t like jeff described of his wife, but what I termed many years ago “punishing me with her presence”. Normally logic isn’t very effective in these situations (see spreadsheet man), but by calling it what it was I think I eventually helped her see the truth of what she was doing. Either way, I never felt tempted to stick around and take the “punishment”, so I’d go find something better to do. Some combination of the two along with excellent insight on her own part lead to her more thoroughly recognizing the pattern and putting an end to it.

  2. @Dalrock

    I trust you will likewise admit that my final sentence in the response you quoted was sheer brilliance.

    I tell you: I needed sunglasses, my friend.

    But in my wife’s case her telling me I’m right is very sincere as well, although she may take a bit of a jab at me in the process or do a bit of eye rolling theater. I won’t try to describe this in detail, except to say that they aren’t a challenge they are more theater, and they naturally make me smirk.

    I know exactly what you’re talking about, and my response is the same. My interpretation is that the theater is the challenge; a sort of, “You’re silly to have taken me seriously or made a big deal out of nothing.” But it is among the faintest of challenges. Either way, we’ve moved onto the point where she’s doing it (whatever “it” is) my way.

  3. Excellent post Cane,

    I stopped by after seeing the link on Aman’s post today.

    I had a husband ask me today about this subject and how I worked with my wife to help her overcome her need to punish me with her mood, silence and facial expressions when she did not get what she wanted. I gave him my answers and that maintaining one’s own joy through the process was vital to achieving the goal. I also suggested your post by way of a link for additional advice.

    I have discovered that just as I find more ways that I am not fully submissive to God so too a wife has a whole war chest of ways she can consciously and subconsciously attempt to control the conversation and circumstances. The advice to a husband to learn to handle most of this playfully yet still communicate the poor attitude is an ideal approach to exposing it, to the light where ultimately where the Spirit can work to eliminate it so that the two can grow together more fully as one.

    [CC: Welcome Ken, and thanks.]

  4. Just about the worst thing a woman can do is sulk (it is passive-aggressive behaviour). My mother never sulked – stoicism is a different thing – and thus when I first came across it (aged about twenty) I was completely thrown, and naturally assumed I had to be to blame in some way which was not explained to me but which I was supposed to be fully aware of even though I was entirely clueless. It was done to score an advantage and to manipulate me. Horrible.

  5. I think this sort of attitude has some merit outside of the home (minus the ass-slapping)

    Embarrassingly, I can be about as neurotic as a woman, and while I’m fortunate to occasionally fall into an infectious lighthearted mood after something serious, it doesn’t happen unless I’m only around people with whom I’m already very comfortable..

    And while you’re taking requests, I’d like to hear your take on this: I think she, like a lot of liberals, identifies the problem, but comes up with a wrong solution.

  6. Pingback: Lightning Round – 2014/08/06 | Free Northerner

  7. I think ya’ll are too eager to speak your gloating. Silence answering my wife’s admission of my competence is golden unless she wants forgiveness for accompanying disobediance or acknowledgement of her repentant submission. By the time she admits her folly, she already knows that I am right. She also knows I will admit my error the moment it becomes apparent to me, assuming I’ve not already admitted I may be wrong before I am yet certain I have erred. A man who will learn to speak only when necessary does better in much of life, not just marriage.

  8. @tteclod


    I think ya’ll are too eager to speak your gloating.

    There is a kind of boasting in what I recommended, but which part do you think it is? What did I recommend boasting about?

  9. Its refreshing to see wifey proclivities described by each man posting. Over time it starts to seem like men who have these struggles are -just not doing things right-even though i know that’s not the intended message.

    One thing to add. That you reach a healthy equilibrium over time, and perhaps some theater is what you are left to deal with and that is manageable, should not convince anyone, those writing or reading, that Jezebel with Medusa hair isn’t struggling against whatever bonds have been applied. There are no final solutions, once and done. This is the stuff of sin nature for all.

    She (Jezebel-snake-hair) is crafty. She may find the most subtle ways to pop out, in fact I submit that the steady manageable state involves a bit of whack-a-mole in its best case was one of those little squirmy bastards on her head creeps its way into some situation. Or, they wait for a weakness, they wait for something the husband does that they see as leverage and out they come.

    There is a lack of open discussion of this. We beat our inner proclivities (sexual etc) to death. Then we keep sternly instructing men about managing her proclivities. Its rare when it is even acknowledged that she has them. Cane has dealt directly with women who have posted here in a fashion that said to her/them…..that is your sin nature woman, nothing to say but cut that out….period. How refreshing. How great the need for that tact to be let out into the open.

  10. Pingback: Husbandry: Dealing with arguments | chokingonredpills

  11. Pingback: Husbandry: Dealing with arguments | chokingonredpills

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