Toby Green publishes articles in the Body and Soul segment of major National Metropolitan Newspapers each Sunday. Read her latest articles here.
My, myself and I - March 16 2008
The thing about women is that in any given moment they are what they feel. Communicating about what they feel helps get what’s inside, out. Getting it out is a way of processing or disappearing their emotions.
When the topic or object of what women are feeling and communicating about is her man, men hate this.
And the thing about men is that they have a seemingly hard time doing what they don’t want to do with grace. Women hate this.
In answer to the question ‘Would you mind taking out the garbage?’ Men are literal. In his mind, heart and being he processes the question through ‘I’m watching a football game. It’s cold outside. I’ve had a few beers and I’m relaxing. His answer is ‘Yes. I would mind taking out the garbage.’ In her mind, in her heart and in her being she translates that into ‘There! Proof. If he really loved me, he would want to help and support me and lighten my load. He wouldn’t mind taking out the garbage.’
She feels hurt, angry and unloved. All she can do is talk about how she feels until the feeling passes. This is a major crossed gender wire. How many times have I heard him say, ‘Why didn’t she just ask/tell me to do it?!’
Women aren’t very good at asking for what they want from men. This is coupled with the ‘mind reader’ game. ‘Surely any sensible person would notice that the garbage bin is stuffed to the brim and needs to be taken out. He’s ignoring it because he’s lazy and stupid.’ So she goes into the transaction of asking him with ‘attitude’.
She’s also made a mistake in her language. She shouldn’t ask if he minds. TV, beer, relaxed, settled in, of course he minds. The statement should be, ‘I know you’ll hate this but please do me a favor and take out the garbage.’
If he refuses to take out the garbage, she has a viable complaint. But there’s no sin in not wanting to take out garbage.
I had a wife client accusing her husband of ‘not being supportive, not treating her as an equal, having no respect for her’. This language rarely works. I asked her to be specific. She said ‘I want him to get up at 6.45, go to the kitchen, put cheese and a slice of ham on one piece of bread, cover it with a second piece of bread, cut the two slices in half, put it in a baggie, then into our son’s school bag. Specific enough!?’ To which he replied, ‘Oh is that what this is all about. No problem.’
When they came back she reported he did it for a couple of weeks then slacked off. I asked why. He said ‘She didn’t make me.’ Hence the observation that men have a large ‘If I don’t want to do something why should I have to?’ belief.
Solution, women would better their cause if they dropped any expectation that he knows what she wants then drop her judgment that because he doesn’t know, that makes him a bad person.
And fellows, get real. None of us like doing what we don’t want to do. Just do it. And furthermore do it with grace. Your reward is many less hours of you being what her feelings are about and you having to cope with her communicating and processing those feelings.
Q . I was in a relationship I thought was great, until I found out he was having an affair. He told me it was over, but she kept ringing him. Finally, I called and told her to stop calling. He’s made me feel like a bitch for what I did to her.
A. Don’t want him to think you’re a bitch? The solution is to be a good sport and let him have both of you. Or realize that the woman he risks losing he’s the most loyal to. If you leave he’ll want you. After you leave keep calling him then she’ll become the bitch. Better yet, find someone who can make a commitment. That would look like a man who would demand all exes stop calling.