When answering honestly, most couples managing to ‘last’ will admit there was a separation, when one partner had simply had enough of waiting for and wanting operational changes that the other wouldn’t help make happen.
In my experience, it’s usually the woman who finally has to put her foot down, shove her partner out, or pack up and go. The men I know are baffled. “I thought everything was fine,” they mourn in chorus.
The smart ones, the men who understand their life is better with their woman, shape up. They finally start listening, they accept directives and corrections, they read the relationship and self-help material their women are reading, they make ready exceptions to all the training and rules with which they were raised.
The men start listening to the woman.
Sadly, in my day, most males experienced only one intimate relationship with a female before partnering or marrying: their mom. Mom was nurturer, supporter, and official safety officer. Her love was unconditional and adoring. Her job was to keep her little men fed, clothed, safe. Then she had to push them out of the nest.
No wonder men don’t understand wives whose expectations vary.
So, any young marrieds out there, here’s the scoop.
Some of our girlish expectations of marriage are nonsense fed to us by Disney movies and fairytales. We are programmed to want a dashing Prince to rescue us from the perceived evils of our worlds. (Age only diminishes but doesn’t eliminate these ideas.) Modern women more realistically want an equally committed partner, a tireless confidante, and someone who will exert leadership when she’s down, restore her to power when she’s up. Be both.
Women need romance. Marrying us is committing to romancing us – forever. Marriage isn’t the touchdown; it’s getting the ball. It’s just not that hard. Open the fucking door for us. Seat us. Pay attention – we are doing our best to be valued and adored. Show us your best manners, wear your best clothes, clean yourself up for us. Say “Yes!” Worship us.
Be manly. Stand between us and danger. Stand up for us among detractors. Side with us. Part the crowds and conflicts so we may go forward.
Of course we’re wrong sometimes, ridiculous, unreasonable and immature. But we’re yours. And our strengths, sanity, and sensitivity will be there for you when you most need it. We are your ally, we’ll protect you from outside and inside threats not even on your radar. Trust us.
The only one to whom we pay more attention than you, is ourselves. We’ll see our faults and failings all too clearly, and we’ll repent. Notice the improvement; patiently, quietly notice our need for it.
Women study their partners, learn their needs, and strive to help their beloveds meet them. We pay attention, all the friggin’ time. We know when you are down. We usually know why, often before you do. If we’re wrong, it’s because you’re denying us data. Tell us stuff – real stuff. Ask us for information – “How do I go forward?” Integrate our advice.
Earn our respect and regard as meticulously as you do from others at work, in sports, in any and everything you do. Choose to be hard-working, reliable, honest, insightful, loyal. Show us your best self; there will be plenty of times we’ll see and help you endure your worst.
Learn to clean, cook, launder (“read labels!”), and tidy. Assume these are your tasks along with your sovereign realm of wood-chopping, lawn-mowing and taking out heavy garbage and recycling bins. Plan and execute surprise parties, vacations, and outings. Consider our needs and wants in each circumstance; many differ from yours. Learn what we may need; ask us!
When we ask what you are thinking about, admit when your mind’s a blank “blue screen”. Don’t admit when it’s a game score during our daughter’s recital, that woman’s figure during a dinner out, or your hairline when we’re bathing.
The right answer is “You, my Love”. And then think about us – as we are – in real time. Notice us. We’re here, beside you, holding on despite a million irritants and deeper worries.
When they are honest, male veterans of long-standing relationships will admit they are crazy about their women. They’re awestruck by the resources of compassion, forgiveness, support and love their women have given their lives. They’ll admit they are still mystified by her inner workings – but they’ll advise you as I have.
Listen to the woman.