Really, Ladies… He Can’t Read Your Mind

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Why does my marriage work – and work so amazingly well?

Communication.

Yeah, I know.  You’ve heard it all before.  “Communicate with your spouse. Talk about your needs, your hopes, your dreams, your fears, your anxieties and little irritations.  Work through them, and you’ll have a great relationship.”

But you’ve tried and he doesn’t listen.  Or maybe he seems to but then he does (or doesn’t do) the same thing the next time.  And you can’t figure out why he doesn’t seem to care because after all, you wouldn’t dream of being so cavalier about things that are important to him.

Let’s take a pretty basic example, and say he forgets to put his socks and underwear in the hamper.  Instead, he just drops them on the floor and there they sit.   So you have to pick the items up yourself and toss them in the laundry.

Socks

Or his concept of “doing the dishes” is to “do the dishes” and nothing else.  The mat under the drainer doesn’t get washed, the stove doesn’t get washed, and the counters don’t get cleaned up.   So after he’s done with the dishes, you have to clean up after him.

Stove

Annoying, huh?

Yes, it can be.  If you allow it to be.  Or you can “communicate”.

Unfortunately, too many women think that communicating involves having your man read your mind.   I know; I’ve been there. “Look at this mess!” you sigh, pointing dramatically and world-wearily to the socks on the floor (or the grease splatters on the stove).  “Mess?” he asks, confused.  “Your socks are on the floor!”  And he looks briefly befuddled, then hurriedly picks up the offending items, tosses them in the laundry and starts to head off.

Man with Laundry 2

And you’re ready to shriek.  And may, in fact, do so if this is the 137th time you’ve complained about the socks.

And he’s confused.  After all, the problem is solved, right?  The socks are in the laundry.  So why are you standing there, annoyed, and acting as though this man who is a complete brainiac at the office is a total doofus at home?

Here’s where you get to communicate.  “Before you leave for work every day, please pick up your socks and put them in the hamper.”

It’s that simple.  No drama, no sighs, no expecting him to read your mind, no picking up after him.  Just a simple statement of what you want done.    If he doesn’t do it, leave them there.  But don’t do it as a punishment, or as a passive-aggressive way of getting even; do it as a consequence.  If he doesn’t pick them up, they won’t go into the laundry. And they won’t get washed.

The next day, repeat “Before you leave for work, please pick up your socks and put them in the hamper”.

Why should I have to do that?  you may ask.  Shouldn’t he just get it?  He’s not a child!

And there’s the rub.  That attitude, the “I have to handle everything, he’s behaving like a child, he should know better” long-suffering dialogue you have with yourself is the problem, not the socks.

Man with Laundry

If you want something, just tell him.  If it doesn’t get done, tell him again.  As long as you do it without drama or impatience, most men will gladly try to remember to do whatever it is to make you happy.

By the way, this goes for sex, too.

If there’s something intimate you want him to do or think you would like, tell him.  Don’t expect him to read your mind.  Just tell him.   (More on this in a future blog.)

To be continued…

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Love Talk

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John is a typical man from the Baby Boomer era.  He wasn’t raised to express his feelings, and isn’t comfortable with verbal exchanges of love-struck happiness during those times when he’s “expected” to say them.   So, like many men of his age, his silence could be taken for a lack of caring, when truly, nothing could be further from the truth.

I’ve tried to institute a game with him that I thought might make it easier to get those words out, but it hasn’t gone over so well. The “Tell Me Something Nice” prompt usually elicits a response like “No, I can’t…. it’s raining out”.  Or “No, I can’t… I’m asleep”.  Or “No, I can’t… I have a bullet lodged between my teeth from saving the West”.

This morning I tried a new tactic.  We’d gotten up and taken the dogs out, fed them their breakfast, and decided to climb back into bed, pups and all.  (The three dogs are not allowed on the bed after lights out at night, but this was just a morning snuggle.)

John was ready to fall back to sleep, but I was in one of those yappy moods.  “You sleep while I talk at you.”

Grunt.

Okay, he’s still awake.

Repeat after me.  ‘I am a lucky man.  I have an awesome wife.'”

Dead silence.

Do it!  Repeat after me.  ‘I am a lucky man.  I have an awesome wife.'”

His breathing, slow and measured, sounded like someone who was on the verge of falling asleep.  I waited a bit, but it seemed there would be nothing further coming from the Hubs.  Just as I was about to begin pushing my way through the dogs so I could get out of bed, a very low and deep voice said….

“I am an awesome man.  I have a lucky wife.”

HA!!

He’s right.

SoulMate 8

Setting Up Your Spouse to Fail in Your Relationship

Relationship battles are always individual to the relationship, yet there are common themes and behaviors that pop up over and over.

One of those is the spouse who doesn’t like specific expectations, requests or demands from the other spouse, but doesn’t address the issue directly. Often she resorts to what’s known as passive aggressive behaviors, putting her partner (whether male or female) in a no-win situation. Let’s presume her partner is a husband for the purposes of this discussion. (Note: passive aggressive behaviors do tend to be used more often by women than men as women – even nowadays – tend to be socialized to avoid addressing difficult issues directly.)

Let’s say the couple has decided to save money to buy a house, and to forgo splurging on themselves for such things as eating out, unnecessary clothing, vacations, etc. One day they go shopping together to purchase gifts for some family members’ birthdays, during which the wife suggests the husband check out the wristwatches she knows he really wants. While he’s doing that, she heads to the dressing room, carrying a cocktail dress she’d noticed earlier.

When her husband finds her, she’s in front of the three-way mirror, admiring the lovely dress that fits like it was made for just for her. What happens next depends a great deal on the thoughts, feelings and behaviors the wife employs in her interactions with her husband, although almost certainly, whatever his reaction is – if it’s negative – will be blamed entirely on him.

Grace Kelly, in her famous dress from "Rear Window".

Grace Kelly, in her famous dress from “Rear Window”.

Say he says, “You look beautiful” and she chooses to take that as permission to buy the dress even though she knows full well it’s not in their budget. She happily says “Oh thank you! I know we’re trying to save money but it’s so wonderful of you to say it’s okay for me to buy it!” The husband is now in a very awkward position… He’s been snookered, and he knows it. And there’s little he can do. If he “allows” the purchase by pretending to be okay with it, or by saying nothing, the two of them have engaged in a relationship charade that will eventually lead to relationship anger of the type that’s almost impossible to sort through without professional intervention.

Yet, if he says “Whoa, wait a minute… who said anything about buying it? I merely said you looked beautiful”, the wife is likely – based on the choices she’s already made to first try on a dress they can’t afford, and then to deliberately misunderstand his compliment for purchase approval – to become upset, feeling he deliberately led her on. If this couple has poor communication skills (which are likely if the conversation has already gone this far), there could well be a meltdown by either or both of them in the very near future.

In both instances, the wife – using a passive aggressive style – has put her husband in a very difficult position. Unless he’s unusually adept at figuring out how to extricate himself from these manipulations, there are almost certainly major problems within this marriage. She has a style that deliberately sets him up and places him in a no-win situation. Even if he offers no outward display of irritation or anger, he is feeling angry and manipulated, and that anger will spill out in other areas of their relationship.

Below is an example of a post I saw on a relationship blog a while back. Can you see what happened?

We went to the local organic cafe this morning because my wife wanted something “healthy and nice”. I said “my wife” because healthy food was her motivation, not mine.

When the cashier asked what we would drink, my wife said “Water of course” and turned to ask me what I wanted. I said “Cola of course”. She looked at me, then she stared at me and asked the cashier to give me water. I asked why and she said she has to make sure I eat right. I said “Its not food”, to which she responded, “Well, in that case I have to make sure you drink right”.

Two hours later, I was in a bank when a man and a woman walked in and stood in line behind me. After a few seconds the man walked to the coffee table and got some coffee. Then I heard them arguing and the woman saying “You know you can’t have that.” The man smiled and continued drinking his coffee.

Coffee

Coffee

The woman left the line to sit in the lobby. I tried to avoid looking at the man, but I still saw him shaking his head so I said, “Women, it looks like they all took the same class.” The man looked at me and shook his head some more, winked at me and smiled. I took that to mean, “I can’t talk right now”, so I laughed and said “What a smart man!”

That was three hours ago and now I am hungry and still wondering. Why do women want to run our life? Does anybody know why?

The author goes on to further explain that he’s had some health problems but doesn’t understand why he can’t have a cola once in a while. And seems from the other gentleman’s wife’s comment that he’s supposed to avoid caffeine.

So what we have here is a classic example of passive-aggressive behavior. Both husbands put their wives in no-win situations. The first husband knew they were going to the organic cafe for “something healthy and nice”, yet insisted on ordering a cola in a setting where the wife could either give in (and he wins) or make a scene (in which case, he’s the victim… and he wins). The same with the second husband. Both chose to take their relationship battles into the public

As long as these men continue to look at their wives’ caregiving behaviors as trying to “run their lives”, and to react to it in such a passive aggressive fashion, they will always have conflict in their marriages.

Beauty

Beauty

Published in: on August 24, 2013 at 8:56 pm  Leave a Comment