How To Tackle Problems Head On

I study moms all day long, and one thing they often complain about is dads. 

Here’s what I hear: Dads are terrible at the breakfast routine, they don’t understand our doubts, and their need to pee on a toilet seat is beyond comprehension.

Okay, men aren’t perfect. But let’s look at something men don’t have that’s beautiful: they don’t have gerbils running around and around on wheels in their minds.

Yes, gerbils. Let me explain.

On a recent vacation, I woke up early to save a seat by the pool. Of course, the resort had signs all over the place strictly prohibiting this behavior (racing down to the pool groggy eyed and tired, dropping off your multi-colored beach towels, and going back to bed), but I didn’t care. I’ve never been much of a rule follower and we were in Mexico without our children trying to get some shut eye.

While saving our seats, I took a minute to sit on a lounge chair and think about the amazing day we were going to have—laughing, talking and lovingly applying suntan lotion all over each other’s backs. I knew it was a lie—that my hubby would be glued to his iPad all day, and I’d be glued to the newest addition to my self-help book library. But hey, a girl can daydream.

Later that morning, we made our way to our seats where a nearby couple was blasting country music.

While I like country music, my husband (born and raised in Switzerland) does not. He has said on many occasions that the lyrics make him feel “overly sad and angry—and who the hell wants to feel that way?”

When he heard the music, he said, “I’m going to have to say something.”

This made the gerbils in my mind take off, racing to nowhere on their teeny, tiny treadmill-like wheels. I immediately imagined how this situation will end in disaster, despite the fact that it hasn’t even begun. In 47 seconds, the gerbils made me envision three different and horrible outcomes:

  1. This 250 lb man-of-a-man (who could easily punt kick us both across the pool) is going to start yelling at my husband, calling him horrible names and causing the entire pool-side audience to think we’re lamer than lame.
  2. The guy’s going to refuse to turn the music off, my husband’s going to get pissed, and we’re going to have to move to the seats in the back. 
  3. I’m going to feel horrible every time we see this couple around the resort, and I’ll go out of my way to smile and make small talk so that they don’t think we’re jerks.

As I’m sitting up in my chair, scoping out where we’re going to move and how long it’s going to take to haul all of our stuff over there, my husband walks toward the man.

Richard: “Hey man, I don’t mean to be a pain, but is there any way you can turn it down?”

Music Man: “Oh, gosh, sorry about that, man. Of course. No problem.”


And just like that, the very dramatic, day-ruining, lord-we’re-horrible-people event was over in 2.6 seconds. It was handled like men handle things—quickly and honestly.

As I sat in stunned silence, I thought about how, when presented with a problem, my instinct is to stew on it and project horrible endings to the situation, while my husband’s instinct is to simply go solve it.

Men aren’t perfect. And neither are we. But every once in a while it’s nice to look at what they don’t possess in a positive light, as a lesson to be learned.

Katherine Wintsch