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