Whatever You Do Don’t Try And Fix Her
One thing that men all over the world seem to want to do is to fix the problems their women present to them. It’s what we do; we men are fixers. The only problem is that when a woman tells you about her problem she usually isn’t asking you to fix it.
Here’s the difference: when something bothers you, you take action to change it, to mend it, or to fix it. But when something is bothering a woman, she likes to talk about it.
In your response you see a need to fix it for her, so off you go making your suggestions about how things could be improved / altered / mended / changed / or whatever. And the end result?
She doesn’t feel heard, and you feel put down when she reacts negatively to your very helpful suggestions. She’s not very pleased and accuses you of not listening to her. You’re hurt because you were really offering something that pleases you – a solution…. and neither of you gets what you want….
Since this is so important let’s summarize these differences between men and women:
- when a man has a problem he usually wants to be left alone; a woman wants to be with someone.
- when a man has a problem he likes to retreat into himself to think it through; a woman wants to talk about it (oh boy, does she ever!).
- when a woman complains she wants support, empathy or some sign that you’ve understood her; what she probably doesn’t want s for you to do is provide a practical suggestion to fix the situation for her.
In essence, therefore, when a man has a problem he wants to find a solution; when a woman has a problem she wants support and empathy, and somebody to talk to about it – the last thing she needs are instructions on what to do next.
If she needs instructions on what to do next she’ll ask for them. So, unless she asks for help don’t offer it. (Although you could ask her if she wants anything from you to help solve the problem. That’s always a good way of showing her that you care.)
And while it’s true that women often go on and on about a problem, you have to accept that really is their way of dealing with the problem, frustrating though it undoubtedly is for you as a man to listen to.
You’re itching to find a solution, while she wants somebody to listen to her.
And while it might be difficult for you to listen to this apparently circular discussion of what’s going on for her, you’ll find that if you take the time to listen, when she’s finished and you ask her if there’s anything you can do to help her, more often than not the problem will actually have gone away. That’s the way to please a woman – it shows her you respect her needs.
It’s also important that you don’t make fun of her or diminish the value of what she’s doing: if she’s angry, sad, tired, whatever, that’s her experience, and it’s just as valid as yours, even if you got very frustrated listening to it.
OK, so what do you do if she tells you about a problem she’s got — for example, something that happened at work? Don’t rush in and give her a solution, don’t rush in and give her suggestions about how to fix it. She’s perfectly capable of doing that for herself.
What she actually wants is the experience of your support: a shoulder to cry on, a hug, a hand running through her hair and some kind words whispered in her ear. Giving her your support and boosting her confidence like this (or in any other way for that matter) is actually going to strengthen your relationship.
That Delicate Monthly Cycle
Premenstrual tension has been the butt of so many bad jokes over the years that even if it ever was amusing, it’s long since ceased to be funny in any way for men and women alike.
Because women can behave irrationally emotionally and irritably without good reason when their hormonal swings take place during the monthly cycle, and because this can be both hurtful and unpredictable for the man she’s with, it’s hard to know how to approach the subject.
What’s obvious is that neither sex understands the impact of PMS on the other. For a woman who is going through some very real emotional and physical changes (some of which can be quite unpleasant, among them bloating, muscle cramps and mood swings), hearing a man making a bad joke about PMS is just hurtful.
For a man who doesn’t like dealing with feminine emotionality at the best of times, the irrational mood swings and sudden rages that arrive the back of hormonal changes can be both totally disconnecting, induce a huge amount of resentment, and make him feel that he’d rather be anywhere than in the relationship. This is not a very pleasurable time for either man or woman.
It’s a tricky area, there’s no doubt about that. One of the keys is for women to show self-awareness when they’re not experiencing PMS and talk about it with their men so that there is at least a level of understanding about what’s happening for her. That will please her because it shows you know how to please a woman, and be with her in her moment of emotional need. For some sense on women’s emotions read this.
I think it’s also incumbent upon the woman to find some way of relieving the symptoms. This can be as simple as asking her partner for a lavender aromatherapy massage on her back, taking some exercise, or finding a holistic therapy that alleviates the symptoms.
Just taking it out on her partner because he happens to be the nearest and safest target is completely unacceptable. Just as unacceptable as it is for him to go down to the pub and start making jokes about PMS with his friends.