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Archive for the ‘Men/Women Differences’ Category

In this series (see Part 1 and Part 2 here) we are outlining what qualities women are NOT after in a man. The purpose is to shed some light on your quest to be the best version of yourself for your wife’s sake by showing you which qualities you would do best to emphasize in your interactions with her. When a woman marries, she chooses and hopes for certain qualities. The problem is, it’s not always intuitive to a man what particular qualities his woman married him for and which ones he would do better to keep for use at work, with friends, or in the garage.

This post is about a certain quality that men often find themselves in a rut with. Picture the scenario in which you’ve been stressed at work, you have a friend going through a crisis and you’re overdue on some home projects. You need space and time: time to think, time to find some answers, and, hey, time to spend in your “nothing box” (a.k.a. the area of the male brain where literally nothing happens).

Your wife, however, is trying to connect with you and wants to know if you’re ok. You’re not sure you want to open up right now as this is risky. You want to hold back from sharing too much – you’re in an emotional holding pattern and want to stay there.

If you’re a married man reading this, you already heard the rest of the story. If you’re not familiar with this story… well, let’s just say it rarely has a happy ending. What’s with that? No man is really sure. But in falling into this trap something begins to become clear:

One quality she doesn’t want from you is silence.

You might pride yourself in being a rock. An island. Stoicism is maybe a quality that’s admired where you work. But the tendency to clam up and keep everyone and everything out, while you figure it out, is not something that she needs from you.

Connectivity, however, is. She wants you to speak willingly from where you’re at in thought and in heart. She needs you to need her to listen as you expound on the influencing factors of your life. Not in a surface sort of way, but to share your heart deeply with her.

This is why communication that’s honest and open is so important to her world. Connecting with your deep thoughts and dreams gives her perspective on your needs and how to meet them more effectively. And honestly, we want our wives to know us on increasingly deeper levels.

Of course, opening your heart when it’s not your habit to do so is much more difficult than retreating into yourself. Truly communicating your inner musings requires taking the trouble to find the vocabulary to share them. It’s about trust. It’s about shelving your quest for retreating into yourself long enough to consider how to be able to share your needs with your life’s partner. In her world, when she knows she has access to your heart, and she understands you, she’ll be the greatest defender of your need for time alone.

When it comes to your silence, she’s already had to live with enough of that. What she’s still waiting for your willingness and vulnerability to share your deep side. She needs to know you want her to know. Give her that quality.

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In this series (see Part 1 here) we are outlining what qualities women are NOT after in a man. The purpose is to shed some light on your quest to be the best version of yourself for your wife’s sake by showing you which qualities you would do best to emphasize in your interactions with her. When a woman marries, she chooses and hopes for certain qualities. The problem is, it’s not always intuitive to a man what particular qualities his woman married him for and which ones he would do better to keep for use at work, with friends, or in the garage.

There is a certain quality that most men find irresistible to display, but that most women don’t appreciate. Picture the scenario in which you’ve been confronted by her regarding something she believes you should have done differently. You find yourself justifying your behaviour and explaining the factors of the problem all the while realizing that she’s not agreeing with you. You back track and explain again. Still, she doesn’t change her point of view. You pull out a napkin and begin to illustrate. Still, nothing.

We’re sure you’re aware this yields some frustration on her part. If you’re a married man reading this, you know where this story usually goes. If you’re not familiar with this story… well, let’s just say it rarely has a happy ending. What’s with that? No man is really sure. But in falling into this trap something begins to become clear:

One quality she doesn’t want from you is defensiveness.

You might pride yourself in being able to dodge a bullet, deft at spinning an issue so as to highlight your superior reasoning abilities, and expert in your ability to justify your decisions. They might even pay you a lot for that at work. But you having the ability to provide multiple layers of reasons and explanations is not on her wish list.

Receptivity, however, is. She wants you simply to listen – to resist expounding the reasons that explain yourself – and hear things from her perspective. Not a patronizing acknowledgement, but to actually use the scenario to share in what she’s going through or how she sees the issue.

This is why communication that’s honest and open is so important to her world. She lives and breathes on the level of relational understanding, which requires receptivity to thrive. This goes beyond just hearing her out, or paying lip service to her suggestions (the proverbial, “Yes, dear”). It involves valuing her input and perspective – she needs to know you are hearing her and taking her seriously.

Of course, seeing an issue from her point of view is much more difficult than defending yourself. Truly hearing her requires taking care not to interrupt and justify as you preserve and protect your own pride. It’s about “the Golden Rule” in our conversation. In her world, it’s only after she knows you have considered her insight that she can be open to hearing your “superior reasonings.”

When it comes to your defenses, she actually already knows those – it’s her focus in life to make generous explanations about your behavior. What she doesn’t know is that you are ready to hear and empathize with her side, that you appreciate the lens she sees your world through enough to want to do something about it. Give her that quality.

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When a woman marries, she chooses and hopes for certain qualities. The problem is, it’s not always intuitive to a man what particular qualities his woman married him for and which ones he would do better to keep for use at work, with friends, or in the garage. By outlining what qualities women aren’t after in a man, and showing their alternatives, this series will shed some light on your quest to be the best version of yourself for her sake.

Let’s start with a great quality all men exhibit, particularly when it comes to those they love and care for. Picture the scenario in which a man has listened to his better half vent emotionally about an upsetting problem. After hearing her out for a few minutes he sees the root of the issue and offers an obvious but brilliant and practical solution.

If you’re a married man reading this, you know the rest of the story. If you’re not familiar with this story… well, let’s just say it rarely has a happy ending. What’s with that? No man is really sure. But in falling into this trap something begins to become clear:

One quality she doesn’t want from you is the ability to provide rapid-fire solutions and knee-jerk answers.

You might pride yourself in being right, in being a problem solver, and seeing things logically. They might even pay you a lot for that at work. But this quality is just not on her top three list of qualities she married you for.

Understanding, however, is. She wants you to understand her. And not just intellectually, but to be with her where she is at, deeply and emotionally, and share in what she’s going through.

This is why communication that’s honest and open is so important to her world. She needs to know you understand; and even draw out how she feels. This goes beyond understanding a conversation, or being on the same page about something. It involves understanding her as a person – she needs to know you “get” her, and love her: her weaknesses and strengths, her struggles and triumphs.

Interestingly, understanding is a more difficult than providing solutions. Understanding requires coming side by side to observe something in all its messiness, its insignificance or its magnitude through another’s eyes. It’s about care. This means shelving your quest for a solution long enough to feel what she feels, and to feel it strongly enough to say something meaningful in order to prove to her she’s not alone, and worth your full attention.

When it comes to solutions, she actually knows those. What she doesn’t know is that you care enough to understand, for understanding is what empowers her to make her own decisions. Give her that quality.

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I (Rowan here) stumbled upon my wife and daughters (ages 36, 7 and 5) watching a Barbie movie, “Island Princess,” to be exact.  Not having the agenda to watch it myself for content (!), I leaned into the other reasons to stop and watch the movie with them: to spend time with them, and to analyze the appeal of this famous franchise!
 
It was an insight extravaganza into the female soul.  Here are some surface renderings of what I saw.  (If you’re a man who has ever wondered about what goes on behind the eyes of the other sex, hopefully this will stir some thought. If you’re a lady, please feel free to clarify my findings).
 
Relational Saturation:  EVERYTHING in the movie was about, or heavily couched in relationships: Barbie’s friendships with the island animals, later with those in “civilization,” and ultimately with the prince.  This movie showed relationship as the lens to see the world through, and was even used solely as the basis for tension and plot. I looked at my girls, amazed: Wow, is that what goes on in there – ALL THE TIME?!
 
Romantic Climax:  If relationships generally are the basis of everything, then the romantic relationship is the I CHING of life, period! Everything builds to this in the movie, with the insinuation that the rest of life flows from it. Now, our girls are quite sheltered from mainstream culture as we are careful what influences we let into our home – but as I sat with them and watched their faces, they were thoroughly glued to the screen! I was left to wonder, how much of a woman’s hope, happiness, and satisfaction in life is left in the hands of her prince?  What kind of prince am I?
 
Rescued, Discovered, Pursued: This is important: the rescuing, discovering and pursing of who Barbie is happens in layers. Layer 1) Uh oh, Barbie gets shipwrecked, but rescued by the Island animals, discovered as a great friend and becomes accepted and pursued by them. Layer 2) She’s discovered and rescued from isolation by the Prince (and his loyal but unaffected assistant) who pursues her for something more than friendship. Layer 3) Events transpire to rescue Barbie from the King’s rejection and disdain. Even he discovers her true character, and she’s then approved of (pursued) as a wife for his son. The only tensions in the movie, at each stage, are whether she will be rescued, discovered and pursued. 
 
It makes me wonder, what layer are my 3 girls at right now?  I want to recognize the junctures at which they need rescuing, discovering and pursuing.  Sometimes I’ll only be able to watch and hope and be a friend; in others I’ll need to act and speak the truth into their tender hearts. 
 
Guys, will you and I be the unseeing King, the unaffected assistant, or the always-believing Prince?  Ladies, may we have your hand, your friendship and your trust?  Deep down, it’s what we want to fight for.

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There’s a major error in the renovations. Side 1: He sees an opportunity to push for more renos at a discounted rate. Side 2: She is willing to live with the job just to get her house in order again.

The baby grows into the terrible twos and the couple realizes they may never see the inside of a nice restaurant again. Side 1: He wants to start looking into babysitters. Side 2: She wants to take the time to teach him table manners and keep dates at home for a while.

There are always two sides to an issue or challenge; and the more stressful that issue, the more polar those two sides can be. For instance, opinions regarding which side of the room the new sofa should sit would pale in comparison to the difference of opinions in what to do about a job loss, and so on.

When you are under stress, the best course of action is a combination of your opinions and ideas as a couple. If you are facing some tough things within your marriage, or if you are facing something from the world you’re living in, the way out is to combine your insights and capabilities to navigate a clear path. Allow each other to express your points of view with the objective of trying to see how they can work together.

This approach gets you talking strategy objectively which brings down defenses. “I need to understand how you see this,” gets further down the right road than, “Why can’t you see things my way!” It also generates a desire in the other person to understand your perspective, too.

Remember, you’re on the same side.

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I slept alone in our house last night while my wife and our two daughters attended a very important sleep over.  They were part of some extremely exciting plans to watch Prince William and Kate’s wedding – AT 3:00 A.M!!  Despite my suggestions, it wasn’t enough to see a recorded version much later in the day – they just had to be up and watch the real thing, live! 
 
They were joined by royal watchers across Canada, by 8000+ reporters from around the world, and over a million people lining the streets in London. Just about everwhere on the globe, this wedding was being reported on by media, talked about in Starbucks, and strategized against in Taliban hideouts (probably, anyways).
 
I love how the world stops to watch a wedding. Vows. Royalty. Beauty. And the story of a couple promising to love and cherish each other all the days of their lives.  What fascinates me is the appeal. I think in some small way everyone wants to taste what this couple is living. Every woman wants to be rescued out of commoner status to be cherished and loved and made to feel like a princess. She wants, as John Eldredge says so well in his book by the same title, to know she’s “captivating.” Every man too is drawn to this event because he wants the power to bestow the honor of his choice on a beautiful lady and show her off to the world. He wants to be that hero.
 
Of course, the real wonder of this 3 a.m. event is that everyone CAN taste what this couple is living.  All the wistful stares, silent wondering, and (though a “he” would never admit it) the admiration of the beauty, splendor and wonder of the royal wedding are not in vain.  They speak of a deep desire for something we were all designed to live.  That’s why events like this have such a massive appeal to humanity – because somewhere deep inside, we know we’re created for it too.  
 
For those of us with the intent to pursue the wonder of what’s possible in our lives, their story can be our story.  If we endeavor to make it so, we too can live out of a script of Princess and Hero, and their joy can be ours too. Granted, we’d have to deal with our cynicism and our unbelief that we’re able or worthy. We would need to battle the lies of our insignificance, inability and our victim-mentality.  We would have to bring ourselves and each other up out of the dust, that which we’ve regarded as common and average.  But all that’s possible, isn’t it?  And in doing so we’d prove the adventure of love’s story awaits all of us and it’s worth the price.
 
So though I slept alone last night, my heart was full of wanting more for “us.” A desire to make our story something increasingly incredible and worthy of showing to the world.  And not just a recorded version, but rather something that’s worth waking up for and watching live.

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Remember this line?

“The one thing I am proudest of in my whole life, is that you were happy with me. If I couldn’t…if I couldn’t tell you I wasn’t happy sometimes it was because I didn’t want to risk hurting the one person I treasure most. I’m so sorry.”

This is the moment in the movie, Shall We Dance, where the John (Richard Gere) offers a glimpse into his inner world to his wife, Beverly (Susan Sarandon). His intent is to explain his actions in surreptitiously taking dancing lessons. His statement hits the mark, but also shows us something else.

We sigh. It’s a revealing line because many of us women don’t believe or understand your motivation behind a lot of what you do. We question your motives and often anticipate the worst. Though this apology is warranted (as are many of yours!), when we see things for what they are, a fear is revealed that we carry with us into our relationships with you.

Fear? Absolutely, men, and it’s a fear on two levels…

Firstly, it is a fear of being alone, or rejected. Often times we are fearful that in your promised love you’ll change your mind. It’s silly we know, and you’ve (mostly) shown us the opposite, but still we play “soap opera” in our relationships: we pose, we expect the worst, and we dramatize the little stuff.

The second fear this apology unearths in us is that our deepest desires won’t ever be realized, no matter how hard we try for you. That after we’ve chosen our mates wisely, given our everything to you, more will be required of us. We fear the moment when you see as a princess will fade all too quickly, and that after the magic is over the slipper won’t fit anymore, and we’ll be seen as less than we were.

But facing the fear, the truth is clear: we’re glad we have you at our side. And despite the fact that you “don’t want to risk hurting the one you treasure the most,” we’d like you to talk with us about your reasons and motives until we are assured of your love, and therefore help us learn to love ourselves.

Thanks, Woman-dom

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