A friend wrote me a suggestion about how to make challenging situations work for you: “Bag it, barter it, or better it.”
I replied to her that I know a lot about bagging it – how else could I survive into my 70s – and I regard bettering it from a sympathetic distance, but I’m not sure about bartering.
She responded with an example: “There's a job I don't like to do, e.g., scrub pans, so I offer a barter: I'll do the rest of the clean-up if you scrub the pans.”
Note, in this example, that the exchange was “you scrub the pans” for “I’ll do the rest of the clean-up.” The man has a specifically defined task while the woman’s commitment is huge. “The rest of the clean-up” includes dishes, along with vacuuming, washing windows, and detailing the car. This kind of barter only works once, if you define “works” not to include your wife’s smoldering anger for a week or so.
I believe that most men are not very skilled at bartering with women, mainly because we don’t grasp the value that women place on what they are offering and what we are offering. With that in mind, I have a few suggestions of barters that have worked for me:
· You’ll prepare a three-course meal if I open the wine and then clean my plate.
· You’ll negotiate the relationships with our children if I listen attentively to your description of the negotiations.
· You’ll look after the grandchildren if I stay in the room with you and offer to “help.”
· You’ll prepare meals for holiday events if I reach stuff on the high pantry shelves, unscrew tight jar lids, and ask for seconds of every delicious dish.
· I’ll wear my clothes if you pick them out for me.
· I’ll let you tuck in my shirt if you do it slowly.
· I’ll weed the garden if you tell me which are weeds and which are flowers.
· I’ll help you with your computer issues if you give me control of the tv remote.
· I’ll drive on trips if you don’t laugh aloud when I get angry about being lost.
· I’ll help select potential girlfriends for our son if you let me stare at other women.
· I’ll give you a back massage if you have a drink before we get started.
· I’ll make the after-dinner drinks if you drink them and forget about previous bartering.
I suspect that the above list is not in the spirit of my friend’s “bag it, barter it or better it.” She may think these are typical strategies men use to take advantage of the good nature of women. She may think this is not really bartering. And I’ll agree with her if she doesn’t tell my wife.