June 2001

Women clients say to me,"When I do things to please my husband, I am showing him how I want to be treated." There is one huge fallacy in that method. The majority of men don't learn by an example which is that obtrusive. Men need to be told very clearly what you are attempting to do. For example, when you bring him breakfast in bed, you need to clearly state, "I would like you to do this for me when you want to please me." Women react to my stating this as if I had just bombed their marriages. They say, "That isn't romantic! I want him to be spontaneous. I want him to do it, as I am doing it, because he wants to." Then I suggest she might say something like this, "I consider this a romantic gesture that we could both enjoy." Some males may need a more direct approach than that. The more explicit your intentions are, the more exact your verbiage must be, then, it is more likely that your wishes will be granted.

Most men tend to be dense because they have been programmed by our culture to follow the outdated traditional roles of what they believe are male traits. That issue was brought home to me when I expected that my husband should have learned how to cook after watching me prepare dinner for twenty years. When he questioned how he could have learned in that manner, I said, "I learned from watching my mother. No one formally taught me how to cook." When I gave it further thought, I realized that I had watched my Dad fix the family car though the years, and I didn't have the slightest idea of how to go about making even minor repairs.

So I had followed the traditional role also. Neither of us had paid attention to those activities which were not considered our gender role to follow. When my son, Lyman was four years old, he was outside observing his Dad rewiring a lamp. I called him to come inside and have lunch. I knew my husband would not stop for food until he had completed his chore. Lyman, Jr. said, "How will I be able to fix things for my wife if I don't watch Daddy fix this?" Is this role modeling at this young age? My son, now forty years old recently completed installing his kitchen's recessed lighting for his family. What is this then, if not role modeling?

In order to step out of that stipulated, subconscious, cultural, dictate, females need to announce their expectations. We need to say, "I want to be treated as I am treating you now, with the same consideration, and sensitivity,and by these very deeds that I am showing you. These are the activities that please me. They are the way to my heart."

Just as anything thing else we learn, we need to repeat the message as frequently as necessary until the pattern is established. However, ladies also need to say to their gents, "The way that I explain my feelings to you so that you can understand how I feel is the way I would like to hear from you, your feelings." Females also need to be aware that when they share their feelings most males become very anxious because they believe that they most solve our problem. Therefore, a lady needs to let him know that she is only venting and all she expects is, "I guess you had a difficult day today." or "That person was really out of order saying that to you!" or whatever else she wants him to say. Which means women have to decide what they want to hear so that they can illustrate to the man how to answer in order that in the future he can satisfy their needs.

Yet one thing more, women must listen to what a man is saying when he states his emotions. We have to be aware of how difficult it is for him to do this. We need to repeat what he has said in a compassionate manner and be responsive to his desires (I am not referring to sexual ones in this writing). Females have also been enculturated to ignore a man's expression of their sensibilities. We have to become aware that we shut down our relationships without realizing it even as they shut us down. A woman can not take what a male says and twist it to her own liking and expect that he will want to share his inner dreams again. As I stated before, the Shaywitz's research proved through Cat scans that men and women's brains react differently to the same stimuli. We want to live with the opposite sex, so we need to realize what makes each gender tick, supply it, and then all will run smoothly. We need to learn to cooperate in efforts to bring the understanding of our gender differences together by forming a bridge where we meet in the middle.