A Minnesota author and ex-cop highlights the differences between how men and women handle communication about a crisis in his new memoir - an Amazon.com Bestseller Hot 100 New Release.
A Minnesota best-selling author thought he was in fine health with a full life ahead until he received the shocking news that although only in his mid-fifties, he had two potentially fatal health issues - a brain aneurysm, which could rupture at any time, and a blood clot aimed at his heart. The spiritual aspects of his story evoke awe. Anderson's memories of police work provide pulse-pounding moments. But the differences between how he and his wife reacted to and communicated about his health crisis are funny and familiar. His avoidance tactics, as expressed in the male complaint: "I never know what to do when she cries," included planning brain surgery when his wife was out of town and writing a fact-filled memo to keep her from getting too emotional. "A Dog Named Leaf: The Hero from Heaven Who Saved My Life" by Allen Anderson (Lyons Press, November 2012) includes a strange and mysterious but wonderful true example of a healing that involved Anderson, his emotionally scarred rescued dog Leaf, and the in-sickness-and-in-health journey of a twenty-five year marriage. For more information and to read an excerpt, go to www.adognamedleaf.com. Visit the book's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ADOGNAMEDLEAF.
"I admit to having a meltdown after the neurosurgeon called to tell me I needed brain surgery. My father had a stroke while I was in the Air Force and it left him an angry, debilitated, and helpless man. That's the last thing I ever wanted for myself or my wife Linda. After I pulled myself back together, I asked, 'What would Spock do?' To get a handle on the situation and avoid causing unnecessary pain, I created a fact sheet with flow charts and positive outcomes, so Linda wouldn't freak out. When I presented it, she screeched, 'You have a brain aneurysm, you need brain surgery, and you gave me a memo?' I learned that if you are faced with your imminent demise, never give your wife a memo about it. Instead, hold hands, listen, and let her cry. YOU probably did."
Although much has been written about Mars and Venus's styles of communication, using broad brushes to describe how men and women use verbal and nonverbal language to express ideas and emotions is unhelpful. Just about everyone agrees that differences in male and female styles don't apply to all men and women. In Anderson's story his attempts to communicate about the dire situation while keeping his wife's emotions in check came from a sincere desire to spare her from pain. He used reason, logic, and paper in anticipation of how their lives could be destroyed without successful medical intervention when he would have had better results from emotions, compassion, and touching.
Gwen Cooper, New York Times best-selling author of "Homer's Odyssey" calls Anderson's book, "A remarkable story. It will reaffirm your faith in the unique and mutually healing bond that can form between humans and animals."
And then there was Anderson's startling and unexpected communication with his dog Leaf, who showed he understood what was needed in ways that hint at a new frontier for human-animal interaction. Leaf responded to Anderson's painful conversations with his wife in ways that no one would expect from a dog. Yet psychologist Stanley Coren, University of British Columbia, claims some dogs have a vocabulary of up to 250 words they understand. Goldsmiths College did a study of empathy in dogs and found that canine companions consistently attempt to comfort people in distress.