Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Most emailed article in New York Times for 3 days straight

What Amy Sutherland has to say seems to have resonated with lots of folks: Treat your spouse like an exotic.

I adopted the trainers' motto: "It's never the animal's fault."

When my training attempts failed, I didn't blame Scott. Rather, I brainstormed new strategies, thought up more incompatible behaviors and used smaller approximations. I dissected my own behavior, considered how my actions might inadvertently fuel his. I also accepted that some behaviors were too entrenched, too instinctive to train away. You can't stop a badger from digging, and you can't stop my husband from losing his wallet and keys.

PROFESSIONALS talk of animals that understand training so well they eventually use it back on the trainer. My animal did the same. When the training techniques worked so beautifully, I couldn't resist telling my husband what I was up to. He wasn't offended, just amused. As I explained the techniques and terminology, he soaked it up. Far more than I realized.

Last fall, firmly in middle age, I learned that I needed braces. They were not only humiliating, but also excruciating. For weeks my gums, teeth, jaw and sinuses throbbed. I complained frequently and loudly. Scott assured me that I would become used to all the metal in my mouth. I did not.

One morning, as I launched into yet another tirade about how uncomfortable I was, Scott just looked at me blankly. He didn't say a word or acknowledge my rant in any way, not even with a nod.

I quickly ran out of steam and started to walk away. Then I realized what was happening, and I turned and asked, "Are you giving me an L. R. S.?" Silence. "You are, aren't you?"

He finally smiled, but his L. R. S. has already done the trick. He'd begun to train me, the American wife.
Economists often say, people respond to incentives. Sometimes we don't know what those incentives are. It could be that any kind of reaction is received as a reward. Somewhere in our subconcious the exotic is programed to respond to reactions. Even if the human exotic becames aware that we are intentionally not reacting, I suspect L. R. S. can still work.

I need to go back and finish reading this book. But first I have to figure out where I last left it.

Then may be I should order Sutherland's new book.

UPDATE: It's now most emailed of the day for 4 days straight.


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