Understanding What Makes a Man Want to Walk Away…And What Makes Him Want to Stay
Last Saturday, my husband, Paul, and I spent most of the day outside dealing with “Leafmageddon”. It was time. Most of the trees have defoliated by now and what leaves hadn’t found their way to the pool were in huge piles at every entrance to our house, just waiting to get inside.
We were about 90% of the way done with the backyard when Paul announced that he was just about out of energy for the backyard and would be moving on to tackle the front momentarily.
“What? Noooo…are you sure we’re done?” I whined.
“Yeah, I’m done.”
“But, but, but Sweetie…I was going for more of an Al & Dian look.” (Al and Dian are the neighbors with the impeccable yard whom we aspire to be like one day.)
After a pause, he looked at me and said, “Hey, how come women get to have “Honey Do Lists” but men don’t get “Deary Do Lists?” We laughed again, “because that deary do list would hastily be copied and pasted over to the honey do list!”
A Culture that Created Honey Do Lists
My thoughts wandered to a story my grandmother once told me about the time she and my grandfather took their four children on a camping trip. The punchline was about how he backed the car into a tree as they were leaving the campsite because of his stubborn refusal to listen to her.
They had been bickering back and forth as they were packing up camp, preparing to leave.
Flustered and annoyed, he backed the car up, unaware of the tree behind him.
She tried to warn him, “Uh Leland… LELAND! ”
He snapped back at her, “Mildred, could you — JUST for this ONE time PLEASE — BE QUIET!”
(Four children silently snicker)
“Well Leland, I tried to tell you.”
If you’re thinking my grandfather was a jerk for snapping at my grandmother like that, well I have to agree…that’s no way to speak to your lady.
But there’s another side to this story.
As sweet as she was, she had driven him crazy constantly telling him what to do…with the nagging, and hen-pecking…all well intended, but annoying just the same.
Sadly, she had no idea that she was being anything but loving and helpful.
My grandmother wasn’t unlike most women from today’s world, where women are equal with men.
So What Went Wrong?
In case you’re wondering, the answer is yes. My grandparents did eventually divorce.
It wasn’t her fault any more than it was his fault. It was many things, of couse. And most problems in relationships, as we all know, start with communicaiton.
While a successful relationship requires two partners who are willing to communicate and understand each other, with a shared desire to move forward and stay together even through the rough patches, I submit to you a concept you may not have heard before:
The woman holds more power in this area of the relationship — the area of Communication — than you might think.
Often a relationship can be turned around when a woman changes how SHE communicates.
Communication – What DOESN’T Work and Why
1. Telling him what to do.
I see women doing this all time in public and in social situations. I see it on TV, where almost every show these days portrays the male figure as an inept dolt who must rely on his much smarter, more capable female counterpart to keep him in line and make the decisions.
This message has created a general sense that women have to lead because men will screw everything up. But this is a myth that unfortunately destroys relationships.
When we tell our man what to do we emasculate him. Telling him what to do pulls him out of his natural leadership role as the masculine energy partner.
Is it any wonder when our men start finding excuses not to spend time with us?
Side Note: If he’s about to hit a tree, you should speak up! And if you’re generally not in the habit of telling him what to do, such communication would not only be appropriate, it would be appreciated!
2. Criticizing or judging him.
Sometimes we do this without even realizing we’re doing it. It starts as a playful comment about one of his typical quirks or short comings, that over time, evolves into an annoying grievance that we’re somehow justified to express as often as we notice his offending behavior.
Consistently criticizing or judging is destructive because it wears away at his sense of safety and acceptance within the relationship. It tells him he’s not acceptable and he needs to change. Men who experience too much of this in their relationship will eventually withdraw and find other ways to spend their time that “feel good.”
Food for thought: Have you ever been in a relationship and felt criticized or judged? How did you react? Did you retreat or did you try harder to please your mate?
Complaining is anything that shows up as displeasure or disregard for what we have, that is somehow his fault or his problem to solve in order to make us happy.
I’m not saying it’s not OK to express what you want (and don’t want). You should.
Men naturally want to please us. They want to make us happy. But when it seems we are never pleased or satisfied, he thinks it’s because of him. If we are like this all the time, he will give up on making us happy.
If he’s “committed” to the relationship for the long haul, he will take on more of a “resigned” nature.
If he’s not committed, he will eventually move on to someone who is easier to please.
What To Do Instead
Instead of telling him what to do…
Ask him what he thinks about the situation and then let him lead…
“What do you think?”
Instead of criticizing or judging him…
Speak honorbly to him and about him ALWAYS. Don’t ever run him down to his face or behind his back. He should be your hero!
He is what you say he is. Choose your words carefully.
Instead of complaining…
Speak the language of gratitude. The more you appreciate him, the more he naturally wants to give. It feels good to him when you are pleased. The more you express a feeling of appreciation and gratitude, the more he will give. The “well” will never run dry.
Communication is the lifeblood of a healthy relationship.
The fact is men and women don’t communicate and express themselves in the same ways. Whoever said “Men are from Mars and women are from Venus” was really onto something!
Misunderstandings WILL occur. But it doesn’t have to ruin an otherwise loving relationship.
Women, we can FIX so much of this!
I believe that every woman (and man!) has the potential to experience love and relationship on a deeply intimate level. This is my mission as a love and relationship coach.
If a deeper, more intimate relationship is something you desire, I would love to help you experience this.
If you’d like to know more, please contact me for your FREE initial consultation.
Love, Carrie xoxo