Archive for May, 2010

Male/female arguments will sometimes be worked out quickly and rationally due to give and take.  But often times, the argument will stop dead in its tracks and she’ll walk away in silence.  This is when a man knows (or should know) that all hell is about to break loose.  One of two things can happen from here:  he can go after her and try to diffuse the argument (this I strongly suggest) OR he can be stubborn, let if fester, and allow his accounts payable to double with each stomp through the house, eye roll, tear shed, and huff and puff she utters.  Any of this sounding familiar?

I’ve read, and heard, many thoughts by men on exactly why women give them the silent treatment during a fight.  Most of them are wrong.  From my understanding, men think that women are just being juvenile, throwing a “tantrum” to get their way, and simply need to get over it.  This couldn’t  be further from the truth.  This hypothesis should be scrapped and more thought applied.  Women are much more complicated than that.  Let’s examine a man’s perspective…A fight has erupted.  You have your opinion, she has hers.  The two are on tracks on the opposite sides of town and have no chance of meeting.  You argue relentlessly for a short while.  Then you realize you’re talking to yourself.  She has disappeared before your very eyes.  She’s now busying herself-probably cleaning something-with a look of disgust on her face, possible tears blurring her eyes, but not a word escaping her lips.  Your thoughts are likely somewhere along the lines of “What just happened?”  “Why did she leave?”  “I wonder how long this will drag out.”  You try to speak to her and ask her what’s wrong (never ask this!).  She refuses to answer, just stomps around staying busy-ignoring you.  Or she may answer “Nothing.”  Nothing is ALWAYS something.  After a few minutes of trying to figure out what happened, you decide (being competitive by nature) that you are perfectly able to reciprocate.  “You don’t want to speak to me.  FINE, I can play that game too.”   So, now the dead silence begins.  Hours, sometimes days, go by-neither side is giving.  The silence is having no effect on you any longer.  It’s just a waiting game…she can’t hold it in much longer…she’s bound to come around soon.  Right?

Now, let’s look at it from the woman’s perspective.  Same fight has just erupted, two completely different viewpoints, no way of meeting.  She tries desperately to get you to see her side, but soon realizes that it’s impossible, useless.  Do you know why it’s useless?  Because you don’t understand her.  If you can’t understand her view, then maybe you don’t really “know” her as well as she thought you did  (Admittedly, this is somewhat irrational, but still exists in her thought process).  She’s beginning to feel emotionally disconnected from you.  “How could he say that to me?”  “Why won’t he listen to me?”  “How could he not  feel the same way I do about this issue.”  “He won’t even try to see my side.”  “Has he always been this ‘mean’?”  That’s it.  She’s left the conversation.  She is now hurt, no longer just mad.  Because she’s hurt, her anger is growing.  Becoming silent serves 2 purposes:  (1) she can now think this through without your input  (2) She’s giving you a chance to prove that you do, in fact, care that her feelings are hurt.  Take this chance and run with it.  If you don’t,  she’s now thinking…”If he really cared, why would he ignore my pain?”   If you come to her affectionately and try to somehow validate her feelings (you can validate without agreeing–this simply means telling her that you understand..”I can see how you would feel that way.  I feel this way”), she will see that she was wrong.  You will resume your place as hero in her heart.  WARNING…the longer you wait to do this, the deeper your hole becomes.  With every moment you remain stubborn and insist that she’s being childish, you’re confirming her worst fear…You DON’T care after all.  This gives the disconnect a license to dominate.  I hope you enjoy your hole.  🙂

Maybe if men and women understand where the other is coming from, the silent treatment would be drowned out by apologies, kisses, and make-up sex (by far the best part of the fight).  When fighting, both of you want to be heard, understood, and validated.  “I understand how you feel.  Here’s how I feel.  Maybe we can find a middle ground.”  This will steer you down the desired road during a fight.  “You’re wrong!  Why don’t you listen to me?  This is the way it IS.”  This will dock you in silence harbor until further notice.   Men are able to have an argument completely void of emotion…women, unfortunately, are not.  Emotion is her ever-present companion.  Women do not become silent to “punish” you–at least I hope not.  Women become silent as a defense mechanism to deal with the pain of disconnect.  Note to women:  The silence is more painful for you than it is for him.  Men can compartmentalize the fight and put it away until you come around.  Women, on the other hand, can’t and will continue to convince themselves what a jerk they married.  This, of course, is not the case–just a reminder of nature’s colossal joke-men and women will come together, but speak completely different languages in order to complicate life.   Marriage is about give and take.   When fighting, men get stuck in “being right”  mode and refusing to “let her have her way.”  While women would undoubtedly like to have their way (as is human nature), it’s her perception that he has disconnected from her that induces the silent treatment.   So, next time a fight erupts in your marriage, listen, validate, and meet in the middle.  Remember to ban the power struggle from your fight and focus on validation…unless you prefer the icy silence.

Chick Hughes

“Silence propagates itself, and the longer talk has been suspended, the more difficult it is to find anything to say.”
Samuel Johnson

photo by: duchesssa

“You’re ugly.  You’re stupid.  You have no friends.  Don’t sit by me!  Everyone hates you!”    Ever stop to think about  just how powerful your words are once they depart from your mouth?  Words may just be the most lethal in our arsenal of weapons.  This applies even more so in junior high/high school where acceptance is vital to one’s ego.  While physical wounds will heal, emotional wounds are likely to forever haunt us.  Even when we think we’ve overcome our childhood emotional trauma, like a thief in the night,  it will  manage to return and claim yet another piece of our self worth.  Words have the power to build a person up, and consequently, to tear a person down.  Bullying among children is not a new phenomenon.  But, having children of my own who are reaching the age of the “bully,” I find myself  pondering the whys, hows, and what ifs surrounding these aggressive attacks.  Why do bullies bully?  How do they choose a target?  How does the targeted child cope?  What can we, as parents, do to prevent our kids from becoming the next statistic?

We know that the bully’s motive is simply to mask his own insecurities. He is fueled by two things:  a succumbing victim and a pack of followers cheering him on and providing him the social validation needed to further raise his own self-esteem…in other words-to gain social status at the cost of another’s demise.  We also know a bully will choose as his target anyone lacking the one most coveted possession by any and all teens: popularity.  Without it…well, you’re nobody, therefore fair game for ridicule.  The wrong look, clothes, labels, friends, size, sexual orientation, parents…any one of these “differences” can doom one to social exile.  It seems that these days, one doesn’t necessarily have to fall into the “unpopular” category.  One can fall victim to bullying simply by making an enemy out of the wrong person.  Getting just one person’s feathers ruffled can result in a domino effect…bullying by association.  “My friend said she ______.  Don’t speak to her anymore.  If you talk to her, you’re not my friend.”   By the end of the week, a small transgression against this one person has grown into mass treachery of the most unforgivable kind.  From here, the victim spirals downward thinking his reputation is irrevocably damaged.  While some adults tend to minimize the mini-dramas created by their kids, this kind of social devastation can be paralyzing to children.  Some become severely depressed and lose interest in every aspect of their lives.  They may refuse to attend school in an attempt to avoid the inevitable taunting… tragically, to some suicide seems the only imaginable solution.  Children as young as 11 have committed suicide as a means of desperate escape from the emotional tortures of bullying…both from school and from technology.  The newest bully on the block: the internet.  Children were once able to escape their social hell at school and feel safe at home.  But with home now becoming a battleground on which they are attacked via facebook, email, texting, etc., there is no “safe” place for retreat.  So now a sense of social drowning is taking over, and the idea of suicide is more and more seductive to teen and pre-teen victims.

Perhaps the only real way to confront this epidemic is head-on.  Many victims’ parents are speaking out on the fact that schools are looking the other way when it comes to bullying.  Our silence is not only providing the cover needed to conceal these devastating  social attacks, but it also robs victims of the validation needed to fight back.  The cost of this “let’s not get involved-it’s not our problem” attitude is loss of innocent lives, not to mention the broken spirits of countless other victims who may entertain the thought of opting out of life.  We owe it to our kids to give them the ammo needed to fend off  attackers. Schools and parents are the two main educational resources available to children.  If we don’t get involved, who will?  Perhaps a solution lies with schools including lessons on bullying as part of the curriculum.  Armed with knowledge, understanding, and exposure of the behavior, victims may be better equipped to cope with impending fallout.  Maybe this same knowledge and understanding will trigger self-analysis on the part of the bully, while also creating a little empathy for his victim.  Exposure can be quite the effective deterrent.   Without doubt, this behavior will never go away.  But isn’t it our job as parents, educators, and nurturers of our children to arm them with the education and awareness needed to fight against and conquer one of the most prevalent trials of growing up…social warfare?

Maybe it’s time to bully the bully?

Chick Hughes

“When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.” Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes

Why does the heart break so easily?  We open our heart to our chosen love, one we feel will trust us as equally as we trust him, one who we give our everything without hesitation.   We sail blissfully along in our love boat of perceived perfection, oblivious to the imminent threat of piracy.  Once we’re all snuggled into our bed of security and familiarity, something happens: a breach of trust.  Whether that breach is infidelity, abandonment, abuse, or just lies of such great magnitude they alter our entire relationship–our world has just disappeared from beneath us.  We’ve lost our footing.  We’ve lost our “safe” person. We’ve lost “us.”  Our heart is broken.  Desperation and hopelessness take over, and our world will never be the same again….or so we think.  Can we manage to get over having our heart stomped on?  Do we forgive and try to move past the pain?  Is the relationship worth it?  Can we find the power to trust our transgressor?

We may go the duration of our relationship assuring ourselves that we would never–should never–get over such a breach of trust on the part of our spouse/partner.  And maybe we won’t if, and when, the time comes.  Every relationship is different and is sustainable to different outside threats.  Every individual has a different threshold of pain, tolerance, and forgiveness.  But the fact remains that EVERY relationship is vulnerable to such threats.  And when a breach of trust is upon us, we will each cope with it differently.  The magnitude of the breach may determine the size of the road block we must get around in order to mend the  trust.  Our level of devotion to the relationship will also determine whether we feel it’s worth salvaging.    If our heart is so easily broken, then it’s obvious we are greatly  invested in this person in question.  In order to arrive at a love powerful enough to cause such pain, that love must be worth fighting for, right?  So, what now?  Do we fight for the one we love despite feeling betrayed and forsaken?  Or do we run the other way, wait for time to heal our broken heart, and move on to someone else who may potentially dance a jig on that “healed” heart?

The choice is ours.  Regardless of who we give our heart to, that person has the power to break it into millions of tiny pieces and then spoon feed it to us.  Trust is the glue holding together our very fragile, very vulnerable love.  Once broken, it can take years to repair.   Both parties must work diligently to make that repair.  The person who broke the trust must recommit to the relationship and work overtime to ensure himself trustworthy again.  The betrayed one must work on forgiveness and acceptance that a perfect relationship doesn’t exist-not that a breach of trust is excusable.  But a relationship is work, never ending work.  That work will include keeping the ship on course.  But it will also include fighting a few hurricanes along the way.  No marriage is without problems.  No problem is without solution, and sometimes, solution means forgiveness.  Trust, like pain, will mend with time-if given the opportunity.   Love not worth fighting for never had the power to break our heart in the first place.   Forgiveness and trust come easier to the heart than to the mind.  Allow your heart to trust, to love, to forgive.  Only then can it mend.

Chick Hughes

“We’re never so vulnerable than when we trust someone – but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy”Walter Anderson

What is it exactly that breeds hate in a human being?  And why does that hate drive some to commit unspeakable crimes?  While hate crimes take place in every country on every continent, Africa recently seems to be at the forefront of the news.  A hate crime  referred to as corrective rape is quickly becoming a favorite pastime among the local men.  Corrective rape is defined as the criminal phenomenon where LGBT people, especially lesbians, are raped by a member of the opposite sex as a means of trying to “correct” their sexual orientation.” The African culture has propagated the delusion in their men that all a lesbian needs is one good man to “set her straight.”  What genius logic…  If beating a woman senseless, raping her, and sometimes killing her doesn’t result in her adoration of men and subsequent change in sexual orientation, what will?

Corrective rape is dismissed in Africa as if the rape, itself, is well-deserved punishment.  African men consider committing rape macho–in fact, leading a gang rape against a lesbian secures a man’s place as leader of his pack and is rewarded by his cohorts.  Their mentality suggests that these women are somehow less human, less worthy, disgusting, and in need of  their “manhood.”  Delusion is a powerful puppeteer…no?  What is most distressing is the willingness of the victims to believe these things to be true.  As disheartening as it may be, a victim will often adopt the perceptions of her attacker as her own and come to believe herself to be as vile as  she is accused of being.   Physical and verbal abuse are amazingly convincing means of degradation.   Hate tends to take this course–passing it down from hater to hated.   The motivation of the rape: the perpetrator’s hate.   The result of the rape:  the victim’s self-hate…a heartbreaking reality.

The root of hate is usually ignorance with a side of fear.  We fear that which is unknown to us and that which is different from us.  Hate crimes are committed by those who feel the most threatened and afraid…because they are the ones least educated on the issue at hand.  What is it about gay women that scares these African men enough to drive them to rape, beat, and  murder them?   Perhaps it threatens their own insecurities as men…”what does another woman give them that I can’t?”  Perhaps it’s a way of  exerting dominance  on them as punishment for deviating…”You think you don’t want a man…I’ll show you what you want.”  Perhaps their culture has placed such intolerance on being gay that they, themselves, would be considered a social outcast if they didn’t “jump on the bandwagon”–we’re all acquainted with social pressure.  Could it be that the African culture has imposed this hate on adolescents, and–due to the lack of proper education–they honestly don’t know better?   After all, without education and exposure, a mind cannot grow and accept that which is outside its world of “normalcy.”

Humanity is our one common thread.   We differ in every other way imaginable: culture, race, religion, opinion, sexual preference, personality…and so on and so on.   We are infinitely different…but ALL human.   Isn’t that enough common ground?  Must we force uniformity and resist individuality?  What a boring existence that would be.

Chick Hughes

“Hatred is the coward’s revenge for being intimidated.” George Bernard Shaw

What does a woman need to attain sexual desire?   Emotional connection.  What does a man need to attain an emotional connection?  Sex.   At first glance,  it would seem a perfect fit.  But look closer.  This is an intricately complicated puzzle to which a piece eventually goes missing.  Once that one very important piece is missing, it’s time to throw out the puzzle…right?   This seems to be the downfall of so many marriages.  This piece goes missing, and what good is a puzzle without all of its pieces?

When a marriage is fresh, there is both emotional connection and sex.  All is right with the world.  Everyone is blissfully happy.  Then one day,  usually once the realities of marriage have taken hold and neither spouse has time to cater to the other, something happens.   More time gets devoted to work, children, and chores–less time devoted to maintaining  that emotional connection.  For him, this is less important.  For her, emotional connection represents the major load-bearing wall that holds up her house of love.  Once gone, her house is vulnerable and sure to come tumbling down around her.  Once she no longer feels that connection, guess what else she no longer feels…the desire to have sex with the one whom she is slowly beginning to view as her enemy.  She feels that he no longer WANTS to connect with her.  She thinks…he doesn’t want “me”…he just wants “sex.”  This revelation will lead to her feeling used and discarded.  The last thing she wants now is sex!  Now, she has drawn a line in the sand.  He doesn’t want me…I don’t want sex.  She no longer desires him and may even withhold sex in a passive aggressive retaliation.

He is sometimes oblivious to the loss of emotional connection as it does not top his list of needs.  He has missed this very pivotal piece of the puzzle.  Now that it’s missing, the sex is missing.  He’s left scratching his head and feels the same sense of rejection.  If he’s not getting his sexual needs met, guess what he does to retaliate (whether consciously or subconsciously)…he withholds emotional connection.  He makes even less effort to talk, connect, and spend time together.  In his mind, if he’s got nothing to gain, he’s got nothing to give.  So now, both spouses are withholding the one thing the other needs in order to return the favor.   If he would make an effort to reconnect, she would desire sex.  If she would make an effort to spice up their love life, he would feel more connected.  Round and round we go.   We have a sexual tug of war on our hands.  Who will give?  Who will let go?

This struggle happens in every marriage sooner or later.  It’s how you each handle it that will determine your marital future.  The truth is we like to point fingers and place the blame on our spouses.  But we all know “it takes two to tango.”  None of us is blameless.   The key is communication.  If you’re feeling disconnected, talk to your spouse.  Sentences beginning with “YOU…”  usually end with emotional walls and little success.    “I feel…”  will get your point across without laying blame.    But the MOST important thing you can do to mend your marriage is simply listen.  Listen to what your spouse is feeling, or not feeling, and be prepared to do your part in finding that missing piece to the puzzle.  Sex and emotional connection go hand in hand in marriage.  If one is lost, the other will follow.

Chick Hughes

“More marriages might survive if the partners realized that sometimes the better comes after the worse.~Doug Larson