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Saturday, April 26, 2008

GREG NELSON: The fine art of man-ipulation

Someone once said about women, “You can’t live with them and you can’t live without them.”
Although it sounds like something a great philosopher might have come up with I think it was actually a comedian. How appropriate.
But it also could have been said about men too because it’s probably true either way. Because there are so many differences between the sexes it’s somewhat amazing that any relationship lasts longer than a few weeks.
A successful marriage requires a lot of give-and-take from both partners but somehow it seems the man is always the one giving. That’s probably because women are better trained in the art of manipulation.
You notice that’s “man”-ipulation.
How ironic. That’s not just a coincidence.
It’s something that’s handed down from generation to generation, mother to daughter. It’s like an 18-year train-the-trainer seminar.
By the time the daughter is ready to have a meaningful relationship she knows all the tricks.
Sons just don’t seem to get the same type of advice from their fathers. About the best dads can do is, “Make sure you always have an alibi.”
It just seems that the well-trained woman has a knack for getting her way and making the man feel it was his idea all along.
“Oh shoot, I forgot to get the hamburger out of the freezer this morning. I just don’t know what we will have for dinner. I guess I could warm up some of that leftover broccoli casserole we had last week,” the wife will say.
Of course the understanding guy will reply, “Why don’t we just go out to eat tonight, honey?” “You’re so thoughtful, what a wonderful idea,” says the little manipulator, knowing full well that’s what she had in mind all along.
Men like to think they are the smartest species on earth but they fall into that trap time and time again. Next to her daughter announcing she is going to have a baby, the most exciting bit of news a mother can hear is that her years of teaching have finally paid off.
For example, there was this couple that had been married just a short time. The husband was in bed early as usual because he had to get up at 5 a.m. for work.
About an hour later his wife joins him. She gives him a kiss - just enough of a peck to make sure he woke up - then she exclaims, “Darn, I think I forgot to shut the living room windows and it’s supposed to rain tonight.”
Without hesitation the man climbs groggily out of bed and heads to the living room.
“Oh, while you’re out there you might as well let the dog out, make sure the front door is locked, and grab me the new People magazine, a can of soda and some of those diet chips because I just can’t sleep,” the wife says. In the meantime she excitedly makes a telephone call to gleefully report, “It’s working!” to her mother, who now has tears in her eyes knowing that the years of coaching and tutelage have come to fruition and her baby has become a real woman.
The manipulation is so subtle that men don’t even know it’s happening to them. Many times women pose it in the form of a question.
Wife: “Are you wearing that?”
Husband: “No dear. I’m just practicing getting dressed.”
Wife: "Are you planning to clean the garage today?”
Husband: “Why, yes dear, right after I get through mowing the lawn, fixing that leaky faucet, repairing the closet door and the 16 other things you asked me if I was going to do today.”
Wife: “Don’t you think I need a new hairstyle?”
Husband: Be careful here. It's a trick question. First make sure she hasn’t already done something different that you haven’t noticed then say, “Certainly not. You look just like Angelina Jolie would if she had short hair and curls.”
And so it goes, but after two marriages I have finally started catching on to some of those wily female techniques.
Yeah, right.
That’s why I just changed clothes for the third time, replaced three burned-out kitchen light bulbs that supposedly made it too dark for my wife to cook, compliment her on how nice she looks in her new flannel “Superwoman” pajamas (hopefully they are new) and then drive 10 miles to town to get a pizza?
Won’t we ever learn?
Greg Nelson is a Morning Sun staff writer. He can be reached at or by calling 989-463-6071, ext. 15.


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