Relationships are Complicated!

November 8th, 2011

This week I picked a subject that will probably touch all of us...
Yes, let's face it, relationships are complicated, so what can we do to about it?


In this posting, I refer to relationships as of men and women: lovers. Although there are many more relationships in our lives and different kinds of them, I would like to talk about this kind in particular today.

A few years ago I read John Gray's famous book:Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus and I recommend it to anybody who is in a relationship or wants to be. Reading this book truly opened my eyes to a lot of truths about men, that I had never imagined, let alone understood!

More recently, I listened to a conference call with Matt Boggs, author of Project Everlasting about how men and women can improve their relationships by first understanding their main differences and working with them instead of against them.

The truth is, Men and Women are wired totally differently, we often see each other in very distorted ways and have unrealistic expectations, this makes it really hard to achieve successful and lasting relationships.
Of course, every relationship and every individual is unique, and aside from gender differences there are many other factors that come into play: personality, culture, upbringing, etc. But understanding gender differences can be very helpful nonetheless.

Just to name a few differences, outlined in Gray's book, that have been helpful to me:

A woman's sense of self is defined through her feelings and the quality of her relationships A man's sense of self is defined thought his ability to achieve results
Women are motivated and empowered when they feel cherished Men are motivated and empowered when they feel needed
Women need to be listened to when they are unhappy and disappointed, because just talking about their problems makes them feel better It is difficult for a man to listen to a woman when she is unhappy or disappointed because he feels like a failure
Women tend to give "hints" when they want something from their men Men are unable to understand "hints"
When men are silent, women imagine the worst and try to make them talk about their problems When men have problems they need to withdraw and be silent, the last thing they want is talk about their problems

There are many more of this insights in Gray's book, and they can help us navigate through our relationship without getting too frustrated.

Just the way we use verbal language can make a big difference, but until we understand how our partner functions, it is very unlikely we would change our language. For instance, let's talk about "hints", I could totally catch myself giving my husband hints (which is natural for women to do) and been utterly frustrated at my husband's reaction (or lack of).

Here is an example: I would say: The kids need to be picked up and I can't do it, he will hear: You should pick up the kids, I feel unsupported and resent you. (demand), In order to be understood and avoid conflict, I should just say: Would you please pick up the kids?.

Another example: I would say: The backyard is a mess, he would hear: You didn't clean up the yard again, you should be more responsible, I shouldn't have to remind you (rejection), I should just say: Would you clean up the backyard please?

The book also gives you a very helpful list of 101 things you can do to score BIG with the opposite sex!
Here below I picked a few of them, the ones that resonate most with me, but everybody can find many items on the list that will apply!

How to score BIG with a WOMAN How to score BIG with a MAN
  • Tell her you love her at least a couple times a day, or call her from work just to say that!

  • Give her FOUR hugs a day

  • Practice listening and asking questions and resist your temptation to solve her problems or give her solutions, JUST listen and show empathy

  • When she talks to you, put down the magazine or turn off the TV and give her your full attention

  • Compliment her on how she looks

  • Validate her feelings when she is upset

  • Make a point of cuddling or being affectionate sometimes without being sexual

  • Be patient when she is sharing, don't look at your watch

  • Display affection in public

  • If you notice she is tired, offer to do the dishes or cook dinner, don't wait for her to ask
  • When he makes a mistake, do not say "I told you so" or offer advice

  • When he gets lost while driving, don't make a big deal out of it

  • When you ask for help and he grumbles, just ignore the grumbles gracefully and trust he will do what you asked

  • When he withdraws, allow him to have his time alone and wait for him to come back to you

  • When he helps you, be appreciative, tell him how happy you are with what he did

  • Ask for his support rather than dwelling on the things he's done wrong

  • Be direct when asking him something, don't use hints

  • He forgets to do something you asked him to do, resist your urge to criticize and say "it's OK, would you get it next time you are out?"

  • Be happy to see him when he gets home

  • Don't give him unsolicited advice!

Anyway, this is just one book out of the many resources out there to make sense of the opposite sex, in fact, right now there is a free event that is taking place, called The Art of Loving, it is worth taking a look.

Reflecting on our differences is a good thing for the sake of achieving or finding a more successful partnership!

Have a great week!


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