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JustHere | August 23, 2017

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What do you do when you need help?

What do you do when you need help?

Being a communications professional, I’m an easy target for marital mockery when I fail to communicate something to my wife.

Usually, it’s nothing more than a rearranged playdate or missing homework assignment. But sometimes, a man’s failure to communicate is more deliberate, because we might be stuck, or confused or need help.

The problem – and I apologise if I’m about to break some Bloke’s Honour code here – is that we don’t ask for help, even when it’s blindingly obvious that help is what we need.

A general practitioner friend of mine told me about the ‘door handle diagnosis’. This is where a male patient turns up, complaining about something minor like a sore toe. The doc will give them some advice or a prescription and off they go.

And it’s only when they reach the door handle that they turn around and say ‘Oh, while I’m here…’ before revealing the actual – and usually far more serious – reason for their visit.

Because most men don’t ask for advice. We don’t even ask for directions when we’re lost. Admitting we’re worried, or even that we don’t know how to fix our kid’s bike (ok, that one might be just me) is still a huge deal for most men.

On top of all this, the male trailing spouse has additional plates to keep spinning. Adjusting to a new country and cultures, being removed from friends and family, starting from scratch in a new country away from much that is familiar, as well as being the primary carer to any children, and supportive in all ways to our hard working partners… well, it’s a lot to take on.

 

…the last thing you’ll find a bunch of guys doing is sitting around a coffee shop debating whether or not their child is being stretched at school or the state of their relationships.

 

But ask us how we’re doing, and we’ll say ‘fine’. Or we’ll joke about ‘taking one for the team’, give a tight smile and subtly change the subject. I’d love to say that the gradual increase in the numbers of male trailing spouses points to a broader blurring of roles and responsibilities between the sexes. But the last thing you’ll find a bunch of guys doing is sitting around a coffee shop debating whether or not their child is being stretched at school or the state of their relationships.

I’m well aware of how hypocritical this makes me, because I’ve tried to teach my kids that if they don’t know something or need help, they should ask someone.

Who knows; maybe one day my son will take this attitude out of the supermarket, where we seem to apply it on a weekly basis when we find they’ve moved the coffee again, and put it to loftier use.

Because there’s always someone who has been through what you’re going through. There’s always someone who can help.

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