If she comes to you with a problem, just listen... "DON'T" try to fix it...

Having been brought up with problems and skill building on how to fix them, from baby to toddler to boy to man and actually finding great success in professional life having this skill by my side, it is almost natural to expect myself to be looked up to for solving problems, no matter how big or complex.

I have been the go-to guy whether personally or professionally, within family, friends and office colleagues. So when people come to me, 9 out 10 times, it is to seek help to solve a problem. My sleeves get rolled up (sometimes not literally) and I dive into it, almost like second nature. In fact that is one of the feedback, I have been given by peers as part of my leadership development that I need to sometimes reflect a bit more, a bit more planning before jumping right into it.

Leaving work and professional development aside, the expectation in the role of husband is completely opposite. You are NOT, repeat NOT, expected to solve problems specially when they are being narrated by your wife. Womenfolk and specifically respective wives do not expect you to solve problems regardless of how obvious the solution is. They don't need your view, they don't need your help, they actually don't want you to solve the problem. In fact I am not even sure whether they want the problem solved at all. So what do they want...? Here comes the moment of truth, wait for it... They want you to "listen"...quietly.

Here is an extreme version of the concept, a YouTube video titled, "It's NOT about the Nail". By the way which hits the nail exactly on the point I am trying to make, no pun intended of course :).

So next time, your wife comes to you with a problem, remember the rule. She doesn't really need a fix (actually she does need it, maybe of a different sort, but that's for another blog post), she needs you to just listen. So be patient, zip it and focus on just listening to her, with full attention, eye to eye. Here is another YouTube video which explains the "eye to eye" concept without need for any further elaboration.

Letters to M&M - you are as happy as you choose to be

My girls,

So there is this seemingly barf aww-inducing Brad Pitt quote going viral on social media for a bit, not sure if it will be around by the time you are old enough to get it and feel the fuzzies in your heart so I am going to post it out there for your future selves.

Okay now that you are done aww-ing hear me out loud and clear and yes I am going to be harsh and heartless - kid, It's absolutely NOBODY's business to KEEP you happy. Its entirely your responsibility to BE happy and content - find things to do and people to be with that help you get there but never ever even for a second expect others to "make" you happy.

We women seek validation and fulfillment through our relationships and invest all our hopes for sanity into what the spouse says and does and then wonder why the words nagging and clingy are so often associated with a wife.

And to be fair, its an awful lot of responsibility to burden a mere mortal with! Everybody had good days and bad, everybody makes mistakes and allowing another person or event to control your emotions is a surefire way to invite yourself to fall into an endless pattern of expectation -> disappointment -> heartbreak... rinse.repeat.

I am actively trying to nurture in you the love for reading, some hobbies and interests involving creative expression and planting seeds of spirituality all with the hope that you never find yourself running out of fulfilling things to do by yourself.

May yours be very fulfilling and content marriages without the absurd compulsion that you need your partner to complete an otherwise "incomplete" you!

..can I get an amen?!

Letters to M&M

Dear M,

The other day you saw me getting mildly annoyed at your baba over something, I know you have perhaps never seen us disagree or quarrel before and hence the carefully measured, almost hesitant "mama, do you and baba ever fight?" as you nervously plucked your lower lip..

My dear kid, we do disagree, we've perhaps had a couple of full blown arguments, but no long and distinguished list in that department.

It's mostly because the first expectation that your baba set of me the day we walked into our first home together in our wedding finery was that he wants to be respected and that its a non-negotiable. I'm glad your dad made my job easier by declaring upfront what psychologists and behavioral experts are establishing after years of research on primary emotional needs for a man in a relationship.

Wish I knew then that a woman's primary emotional need is to know that she is loved and I had put my clauses for tangible/vocal expressions of affection out there too - your baba can be stingy with those sometimes but we'll leave that for another post :)

In understanding that never-be-disrespectful rule, I made a big mistake of figuring it could only happen if I kept on adjusting, accommodating and never disagreeing with him. It worked just fine - maintained the peace and harmony around our house that you are growing up so cocooned in that you get visibly disturbed at the sight of loud arguments and yelling. But I realize in hindsight its been making our relationship an imbalanced one; worst cases of those are where the peacemaker is forever stretched, never measuring up to expectations while the demander is a bully, even borderline abusive. May Allah never let us experience that in our relationships and make our spouses and children the coolness of our eyes aameen.

I see so much of myself in you - the ever-accommodating, truce-flag-bearing, thriving-on-approval people-pleaser. If you can, don't make the mistakes I made kid; but if the only real way to learn is by making mistakes, I hope you don't take too long in realizing that successful relationships are not about always being in agreement but finding effective ways of communication to walk through the differences, mindful of the respect/love needs of your partner.
If ever you find yourself in a relationship where you guys never seem to disagree with each other just check if its because you built padded zones of disconnect around yourself to avoid disagreements.
love, mama

Did you feel a POP in your BOTTOM?

I thought I would have to wait for a boy to truly enjoy my love for the other side. You know the FART, POTTY and other excremental type of comedy. That thought was more about I would be able to share that side with the guy however what happened today also confirmed the theory but in a different way.
This morning, I hear the story which involves my daughter number 2 being the star, in the spotlight. It does involve the little guy but the star is no doubt my daughter in this. She has given, "The cat did it", "The dog ate it" and "Who farted??" a different meaning altogether.

Recently, my one year old boy has started responding with big nods indicating a "YES!!". He doesn't always mean yes, sometimes he may just be head-banging to the music. But who cares, the mom believes he is saying yes and pretty close to having a real conversation. Noddy be thy name.

So the kids are playing together as they do and my daughter hears a "POP!!". She knows exactly what it is, as it came from exactly where she was sitting. The smell was coming from that same spot also. However, she is very much in denial mode. Who be the scapegoat then?

She remembers Noddy nods to pretty much anything and asks the little guy. "Did you fart?" The boy was smart, he hadn't heard that word before hence didn't just start nodding for no reason. Perplexed. She continues, "Did you feel a POP in your BOTTOM?" Now Noddy knows BOTTOM. So he starts nodding. Mama... Noddy Farted... khekhekhe!!

Pleased she found the little guy to blame for her misdemeanor. The little guy pleased as well as he felt he made a conversation, he was part of the game, proud of himself. Not realizing he has accepted to a crime that he did not commit. But then what are brothers for, of course for saving their sisters from embarrassment in such situations.

This also some reminded me of that scene from Patch Adams where the guy's hand is stuck in the raised position, "Who Farted?"

When Wife's emails become Spam!

So for some reason, a few months back, mayG's emails started going to spam on my corporate email address. The exchange administrator might have realized, she is spamming my mailbox and hence effecting my productivity :) or maybe she just violated a rule like "sending too many links on an email" which led to this.

Regardless, I found it quite amusing, not sure if she did. I mean, I know what "selective listening" is and I strongly believe it and use it to advantage when required but never thought this could be extended to "selective email reading also" in a forced-upon way.

The funny things was, when she assumed I read something when I didn't obviously because her email went to spam. I am able to know what goes to spam but only next day which I can then pull back if required. This meant that the so called "instant" communication we are used to, slowed down to at least the next day. This is particularly not good if something urgent to-be-actioned-same-day topic is only read by me on the next day.

It was a fun few days but knowing the creative and technically sound person she is, she had already found a workaround which was an in-your-face to the exchange admin. I share stuff with her also from my email address so, she knows the spam rule ignores everything if it was a reply to an email that was sent from the very same server.

So, the subject could be anything however mayG's emails which were now "replies" to my earlier sent emails would have the message she wanted to communicate without changing the subject, bypassing the rule. What led to make a blog-post out of was one particular message where I shared the news about the "profit share" (which wasn't too good this year) with subject "No profit share this year :(" with her. Her reply with the same subject "No profit share this year :(" was the list of grocery items in the body of the email that I had to get that evening. The irony of it. Here I am sulking about the whole year not reaping any benefit for us, no profit share and I am hit with the grocery list. So unfair right and yet funny at the same time.

On the other hand, I kind of like the idea of extending the selective listening, reading & watching concept to selective email reading concept. I don't mind blaming the exchange admin for why mayG's emails were going to spam. Maybe this becomes the new rule for all organizations. All emails from the wife's mailbox go to spam, making a point here that may be only married people would understand.

What I love about your love

I was listening to this Jana Kramer's song, "What I love about your love...". It's a nice catchy kind of song which I would easily label, the "mayG and UTP" kind plus it had wonderfully written lyrics. I have a thing for country music anyway and this is the one I dedicate to you, mayG, today.

So much for not being "expressive" enough. There you go, don't just have a nice day, have a nice PDA! (public display of affection)

It kind of led me to those series of posts that mayG and I tried with the "Let me count the way ways..." series where we got crazy blogging in Feb'11. If you haven't read those yet, here you go,

Let me count the ways - Prelude
Post # 1
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Post # 13

The excerpt from the song lyrics which hit the right spot for me would be my concluding remarks for the post. Enjoy the video also, shared at the end :).

...It puts my hun in my honey 
Oh it puts the fun in my funny 
It's right on the money 
and All of the above... 
...It's what I love about your love 
Knocks me off my feet 
Takes me on a trip to another galaxy 
Smacks me with a smile longer than a country mile 
Gets my heart a runnin' like a river running wild 
I can never get enough 
That's what I love about your love...