TIME WILL TELL
There’s a great line in the movie “The Quick and the Dead.” As the bad guys were pursuing their victims, they were being killed off one by one by Sam Elliott’s character. As they determined to continue forward the line goes, “We’re going but, we are going to go real slow because I ain’t riding into no head shot.”
Any man attempting to explain what a woman wants from a man needs to proceed with caution. I’m certainly no expert on the subject. I have learned some things and improved my relationship with my wife. This blog is not meant to be exhaustive. I’m simply engaging in conversation. I’m willing to share my experience, data, and some of the opinions shared by others.
It appears, with heavy consensus, men and women often want the same things but, have different ideas about how to get what they want. Even when men and women use the same words they often have different meanings. For instance, when you ask a man what’s wrong and he says nothing, nothing means; leave me alone. But when you ask a woman what’s wrong and she replies; nothing, nothing means you had better figure out what’s wrong and, be quick about it.
There’s a strong argument that men don’t want women to read their minds, with one exception. But, women not only want you to know what they’re thinking, they expect precision and speed.
I like to give watches as gifts because it fits an idea of mine that it’s important to know what time it is. There’s a time for everything. A time to stand your ground and a time to compromise so you have ground to stand on. A time to talk and a time to listen. There’s a time to pay attention and yes, there is a time to ignore. If you can’t tell time it will be difficult to be where you need to be when you need to be there. Women tend to be time keepers and men will be well served to synchronize. Timing is everything!
SELFISHNESS HAS NO HOPE OF EVER BEING SATISFIED
Most of the time what we want from each other is logical, meaningful, and appropriate. Many times our methods are what’s lacking. To stay committed to a strategy that isn’t working is an indicator of the presence of selfishness. When habits fail to produce desired results a change of habit might be in order. Nobility and virtue can not flourish when we insist on getting what we want in only one way. A decision has to be made if you want to progress. Which is more important to you; getting what you want or getting it the way you want it?
Many people spend years educating themselves for a career. But one of the most important decisions we make is who we choose for a mate. Too often, more time is spent planning a wedding, than planning a marriage. You can’t just decide to be a surgeon and show up in an operating room without any training. And yet, many of us enter marriage without investing in learning what we need to know to be successful. Pre-op and post-op are there for a reason. If your relationship is ill, and it’s important to you, get a diagnosis, have the surgery and go to rehab.
Women tend to live from the inside out. When their heart is aroused hope is released. They are wired for nurturing. Women are creators of life. They think about taking a man in the womb and incubating him to perfection. Men, on the other hand, are wired to be gatherers, hunters, prone to be finished when they catch the girl. He concludes his work is done when she says, I do. Everybody needs to Wake Up!
The different wiring is designed to be complementary to each other. Love, like life, is a delicate balance of tension. Stretch it too much and it snaps. Give it too much slack and it’s not functional. Understanding, appreciating, and respecting the different wiring allows for a pleasurable and fulfilling relationship. When we try to rewire one another we have an ongoing battle of the sexes. Men and women are wired for optimum coexistence.
Things like a family of origin, societal pressure, and life experiences are often not considered when choosing a mate. Everyone has some baggage, dysfunction, and immaturity they bring into their relationships. Love has the potential to conquer all. But, when we aren’t skillful in the way love works it can easily break down and fail. Love is a great feeling but, unless you feel like working to maintain it, that feeling will pass.
STAY IN SCHOOL
My wife and I will celebrate 36 years of marriage in May. We have much to celebrate. So much to be thankful for. I began more charming than a prince. I have made some mistakes that only love and forgiveness could rectify. I am determined to be the man she wants. I’m the romantic in our relationship. I court her. Woo her and continually try to win her. Why catch her once when I can do it again and again? I was not a man, by my own definition, when I married. So, I became one.
I don’t spend any effort trying to change her. I have made myself a student of my wife. I learn her moods, hot buttons, pet peeves, and emotional needs. I’ve learned her likes and dislikes. I have a grip on interpreting her code words. I wish I could say I do it perfectly. This is an art form, not a science. It’s a way of life. I see her as a gift, a treasure, the most valuable part of my life. If I fail here no other success will compensate.
I do dishes, laundry, help with house work, and do much of the cooking. Routinely, not just on special occasions. Tina works out of the house while I work from home. Sharing the load is not some gift I give her but an acceptance of responsibility. I arrived at this point having originated from thinking these things were her job. I’ve simply learned how to make love to my wife when we’re not having sex. Sharing is caring!
Personal growth brought me an understanding of the practical ways in which men and women are affirmed. Men are moved by being praised and women are moved by being heard. So get moving. Why sit hardened in stubborn cement. Since one great fear of men is incompetence, criticism will shut a man down quicker than anything. A man will go around and round before he will ask for directions. Internally, he is fighting incompetence. He doesn’t want to be seen as not knowing where he’s going. It is a wise woman who will employ this insight. A subtle consequence of GPS is the salvation of many marriages.
Something I caught years ago before my wife worked outside the home, was her need for me to listen to her when I came home from work. I had been out all day slaying the dragon. When I came home I was ready for my man-cave. The last thing I wanted was to talk. She had been home all day collecting all the things she couldn’t wait to talk to me about. This was a point of contention until I was willing to extend my studies.
There’s some debate about actual numbers but it’s generally accepted that women use about 20,000 words a day to a man’s 7,000 words. At about three words in I got what she was saying. I used to get upset when she insisted on continuing to explain. I got it already. I was solving the problem while she was still painting the picture. Will you please just stop talking?
She did not want me to solve the problem. She wanted to be heard. My job is to provide this space for her. My need for recognition of my competence dictated my quick response. I’m a problem solver. Why can’t she see this? Actually, I was creating a problem. I, eventually, found bliss in giving her my undivided attention. No multitasking. Just sitting calming, engaging the woman I love, while she expressed herself. For as long as it takes. I might not even get to offer a solution but, I have prevented a big problem for myself.
Tina is intelligent, intuitive, and wants the right to fix things herself. There might not even be a remedy. She might just need to vent, complain, or get something off her chest. I learned to use the time to admire her. To look deeply into her eyes. To show her I care about whatever is important to her. Her rant might even seem trivial to me, but she’s not. And, I want her to feel how important she is to me. The payoff is this makes me feel competent and her validated!
BEING HAPPY IS BETTER THAN BEING RIGHT
I discovered a gold mine when I learned that the last word doesn’t always require syllables. Using love as the period to every conflict sustains the melody of the heart. A tender embrace, an assurance of safety, and a willingness to seek mutual resolution is perhaps the pearl of great price. Empathy has endurance. Romance is tied to understanding. Humor works wonders too.
If I win the argument, and I’m rewarded with an iceberg, what have I gained? Nobody crawls into bed with a loser and brags about the good time they had. Who wants leftovers from a fragmented and shattered opponent? Nothing is more distracting than feeling taken for granted, unaffirmed, and obligated. Dousing the object of your affection with a bucket of indifference is certain to cause the wrong kind of sparks. Happy is right in front of us if we will open our hearts to it.
CHECK THAT GREENER GRASS MYTH
If fantasy is greater than reality it’s time to call Houston, for we have a problem. There’s nothing more connecting than agreement. The greatest harmony is found in singularity. Deep fulfillment isn’t possible if the needs of both are not met. Balance is found in equality. When one person is elevated above the other disorientation ensues. If disillusionment sets in we have turned down a dead-end street.
No woman should stay in an abusive relationship and no man should stay an abuser. And vice versa. Love is worth living for – it’s not worth dying for some distorted version. You are worthy of a rich, rewarding, and abundant life. Give it to yourself and you will attract someone who agrees with you. Maybe even the one you’re with now!
If you know what you want you are ahead in the game. If you know how to get what you want you are remarkable. Giving up before we have exhausted every possible remedy makes us less likely to find what we’re looking for. Apathy tends to define a Blamer. Try being the mate you wish you had. You might just find your mate doing the same thing.
I found some keys to understanding my dysfunction. I share my discoveries in my book. If Only I Had A Dad: Finding Freedom From Fatherlessness http://amzn.to/2lMHJ9t
This is without a doubt the best article I have yet to read on marriage. Your research has served you (and us) well!! I have found in 32 years of marriage, that we never stop growing. We change with time, as does our partner. It is imperative to be open to change. Rejuvenation and understanding are the keys. Be open to learn. Great blog!
I agree. Marriage is a living institution. As we pass through stages of growth marital bliss continues in the adjustments we make.
This was an insightful read and one that should be perused by anyone who is currently or thinking of beginning a relationship with another person. Loved the time analogy.
As a guy who wants a healthy relationship with his wife, I remind myself of these things all the time. Thanks for chiming in.
Those really are the keys to a healthy relationship: being mindful and going back to the basics. Cheers!