"Big Four" Highlights


 

Two Simple Sayings

For domestic tranquility and marital harmony, consult your wife

Gabriel Somarriba

As a psychologist, husband, and father, I often hear from men looking for tips on how to improve communication and keep peace at home. For the most part, such issues are complex and require knowledge about each individual situation. But there are two bits of advice that fit almost every family. With six simple words, you can avoid a lot of conflict at home.

“Let me talk to my wife.” This short phrase is among the most prudent phrases a husband can utter in the face of an unexpected request. The other phrase is, “Let me talk to your mother.” The first phrase is spoken as a husband and the latter as a father. Both are invaluable buffers in giving men much needed elbow room to decide what to do next. Allow me to expound on why each phrase is so helpful, and I recommend men to frequently use them.

‘Let me talk to my wife’

This phrase is like a quarterback calling a timeout at the line of scrimmage. Perhaps the defense has shifted into a new formation or the play clock is about to expire; either way the quarterback calls timeout to consult with his coach on what to do next. Husbands should follow suit and talk things over with their wives when confronted with an unexpected request. Whether it's going out for quick beer with buddies, or something more serious like accepting a promotion that requires a move, consulting one's wife only helps, and rarely hurts. 

By telling the person in front of you that your decision-making process involves your wife, you are telling them two things. One, that you are an integrated man who understands that important decisions require your wife’s input because they will affect her as much as it will affect you. Two, you are telling others that you will not be pressured or rushed into giving an answer before you're ready. The aphorism “haste makes waste” certainly applies here. How often have we made hasty decisions that came back to bite us? By saying we need to consult our wives, we are buying precious time for further reflection.

‘Let me talk to your mother’

In a previous article, I wrote about the need for a parenting initiative—wherein both parents are on the same page concerning principles. This initiative is meant to evolve overtime with frequent discussions (away from the children) on how best to discipline children given their developmental stage. From the children’s perspective, mom and dad are essentially the same person when it comes to setting limits such as curfews, bedtimes, access to social media, and so on. Thus, there should be no easy parent vs. strict parent dynamic in the home.

When a father says to his children, “Let me talk to your mother,” he sends two clear messages. One, mom and dad make decisions together and there are very few exceptions to that rule. Two, instant gratification is out and learning to be patient is in. This is a life skill kids need to learn sooner than later.

What this reveals

After practicing these helpful phrases, it's interesting to take account how others respond. If someone objects in any way to your preference to consult your wife, that could be a red flag signaling you that the request is coming from someone who doesn’t have your best interests at heart. They could be trying to rush you into a decision that is exploitative. In this way, having these words ready on your lips can be a good screen for people's motives.

In the case of children, objections from them could reveal a sneaky motive—perhaps their mom has already said no to their request, and they’re hoping that good-old dad will give them an automatic yes. This well-placed phrase can show them you're not so easily fooled.

This phrase not only gives you valuable time to reflect on your choices and how they affect the person who matters most in your life, it also finds meaning in Catholic teaching. Consulting with the woman in your life is how marriage was designed in the first place. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "The woman, "flesh of his flesh," his equal, his nearest in all things, is given to him by God as a "helpmate"; she thus represents God from whom comes our help." (1605). She is our help mate. She provides wise counsel. She provides support and encouragement. She keeps our head out of the sand. Our wives are valuable resources we'd be fools to discount.

More likely than not, “Let me talk to my wife” is a phrase that will be met with understanding and appreciation by people of good will, and it’s hard to think of more marriage-centered words than these.

Gabriel Somarriba, Psy.D., is a psychotherapist living in northeast Ohio with his wife and their two children.