Toyin had been breastfeeding her baby son, while she managed to get some spoonfuls of jollof rice into her body. She hadn’t eaten that day, but had been breastfeeding every two hours, and by that time, it was almost 12 noon and she was famished.
Even as she did these two vital things, she noted that she hadn’t bought her husband’s food and he would let his displeasure over the matter be known at home. She added that it was the second time, she was getting food to eat after service was over in church, without getting any for her husband, who was at that time taking foundation classes.
Even as she said it, an older woman, who had been married for over 35 years, told her that when he starts to rant, she should simply say, “I understand.”
My ears, and those of some other young moms who were present, perked up. We all wanted to know why she should just say those words. Would it lessen the fact that she didn’t buy his food, when he expected her to?
Satisfying our crave for gist, this older mom settled down to tell us how she was able to separate herself from the pack of girls that her husband was rolling with back in his hey days.
They had not been exclusive when he asked her out, as there were other girls on the scene, but he was the most eligible bachelor in the neighbourhood, so girls fell over themselves for him, and mothers set their daughters up with him. That was a good thing for a young man but a bad thing for a young woman, to have so many competing for her lover’s attention.
She didn’t know how to get him, but in her confusion, she stumbled on these two words, and it worked like charm. Although it took her husband years to admit that he actually chose her because she supposedly understood him.
On the day he made that admission, this mama, whom I will call Mrs O, said she was completely surprised. Amazed that those two words she had often said out of a lack of any other thing to say, was what changed her husband’s mind in her favour. Truly, the small things sometimes matter.Their dating phase had been turbulent; it was littered with break ups and make ups. They fought a lot, because he always wanted to have his way. Having gotten tired of fighting, she just resorted to saying, “I understand”, which was really a stand-in for “whatever.” She, however, told him at a point that, while she understood his reasons for being so lackadaisical and pompous, she wasn’t going to put her own life on hold for too long to wait for him.
At that time, he left feeling offended that Mrs O wasn’t going to wait for him, but a week later, he came back and proposed to her.
Since that time, Mrs. O passionately uses the two words; her grown daughters know about the trick their mom still uses till date to get water out of her own stone, (Mr O).
Upon further introspection, it has become obvious to me that Mrs O’s game plan, if something innocently stumbled upon could be called that, was to get him to choose her himself. Or let him come to the realisation that he needed her in his life, more than she needed him.
Men like thinking that everything is their idea, so she just played to his gallery. His decision to pick her among the lot of girls to marry was his, but she definitely influenced that decision in a major way.
I still don’t know how it went with our jollof-rice-eating-breastfeeding-mum, but my mind is still whining and trying to see how she can make her husband feel as though it was his idea for her to eat, without getting something for him too.
Essentially though, this Mrs. O’s method deserves a second look, even a third. If it could snag her a man in the ‘80s, then it could surely do some magic even now, with proper adaptation to the 21st century realities of dating.
By telling your man, “I understand” whenever you hear an excuse that sounds like utter nonsense, which is then followed by elaborate even more trivial reasons that will infuriate you and goad you into an argument but you still keep your cool, you lead him to one simple conclusion: “She understands me.” And there isn’t anyone alive, who doesn’t like to be understood.
Understanding him doesn’t necessarily mean that you agree with whatever he is saying or not saying. Or that he can have his way, the way, Mrs O’s “I understand” meant.
It simply means you acknowledge his right to his decision.
However, while he has a right to his own decision, so do you. And just as he has the right to share his decisions with you, you also have same right. You can, however, state your decisions (not demands) upfront, or influence to the extent he thinks those decisions are actually his.
Notice that you’re not making any demands. You’re not displaying any of the neediness that men find unattractive. And you’re letting him know that you have standards that HE needs to meet, before you decide to choose to be with him.
When you present your needs and boundaries like this, the right man will realize he’d be a fool to lose you. The right man will step up to the plate and ASK YOU for the commitment you’re after…and he’ll swell with pride, thinking it was his idea all along and that he’s ‘won’ you.
If he doesn’t, you’ll know where you stand with him, and you can keep the door open for the man who is ready and able to create an amazing relationship with you.
And if you are already married, then the job of influencing your husband is a full time one, because, like another older woman told me years ago, you cannot change your spouse, you can only influence them. You have to master the art of having your way, while making your man think it was his decision all along.
If you think you can’t do that, I would like to state that women for centuries have been doing this…and still are.
Draw from their strength.
Kristine is a member of The Lovelint team. She is a down to earth person, who says it as it is. Having given relationship advice for years in a national daily, she has found out that fear is one of the main reasons holding people back from enjoying a healthy, happy relationship. She is married with kids and is willing to listen to you and help as much as you let her to.