"Thank you, Ron, but I think I'm successful because I believe deeply in what I'm talking about. There's nothing more satisfying to me than watching men learn and grow as they advance through my program."
"Okay, but there's one thing I don't get."
"Why is it that men have to do all the learning and growing? Why is everything our fault?"
I smiled. I was hit with that question frequently. "This isn't about blame, Ron. It's about accepting the fact that men and women have different conversational styles, Some people are of the opinion that it's the male conversational style that should be adopted universally. Which is why there are women out there taking courses in 'assertiveness,' so they can learn how to talk like men. A total waste of money, if you ask me. I say -- and the Wyman Method confirms -- that it's the female conversational style that should be adopted universally, because when both men and women do adopt it, it changes the dynamic of the male-female relationship in a positive way. Do you understand?"
"I'm trying to."
"You see, we're living in different times now, times that place sensitivity and compassion and the sharing of feelings in high regard. It's a woman's world, Ron, and it behooves men to learn the language. When in Rome."
Ron looked dazed. They all did in the beginning. My program was a difficult one, I admit. I wasn't merely asking men to change how they spoke to women, I was putting them through what amounted to basic training. For example, in addition to tape recording their speech patterns and practicing new scripts with them, I forced them to listen to music composed and performed by actual sensitive men (Kenny G., Michael Bolton, John Tesh). And I took them on field trips for on-site language adjustments, driving them out into the country, getting them lost, and teaching them how to ask for directions. The Wyman Method wasn't for the weak willed, obviously.
"I realize that incorporating these scripts into your daily life with Marybeth may make you a little uncomfortable at first," I said, "but the process will get easier. I promise."
He nodded hopefully.
"Why don't you start again." I pressed the Record button on the tape recorder. "Go."
He cleared his throat. "'So, Marybeth, how was your day?' "
I beamed. "Excellent, Ron. Listen." I rewound the tape and played it back for him. "How did that sound to you?"
"Like somebody else," he said.
"That's because you're becoming somebody else. By the time you've finished the program, you'll be a man Marybeth can talk to, feel close to, and your marriage will be stronger for it."
"If you say so."
"Now, we're going to move on to the next line of our dinner table script. Repeat after me: 'I'd like to share what happened to me at work today, Marybeth.' "
Ron looked stupefied. "Me? Share? I don't lead an exciting life. I'm a dermatologist, not a race car driver. Marybeth's not gonna be interested in hearing how I go from examining room to examining room squirting liquid nitrogen on people's actinic kerotosis."
"Please. Let's hear the line, Ron."
He shrugged. " 'I'd like to share what happened to me at work today, Marybeth.' "
"That's perfect, absolutely perfect."
And it was. Ron was on his way to becoming another success story.
MY NEXT CLIENT that day was a man who wanted to communicate better with his girlfriend. The client after that was a man who wanted to communicate better with his female boss. The client after that was a man who wanted to communicate better with his mother so he could be written back into her will. He said she was worth a bundle and that he'd give me a piece of the action if the Wyman Method brought her around. I thanked him and said his completion of my program would be reward enough.
Copyright Jane Heller, 2001. All rights reserved.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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