Two Common Mistakes Men Make in Relationships

Only Two?....

January 10, 2019

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People are gonna freak out when they see this title! “What? You can’t make generalizations about men like this!” Well, no generalization about people are ever 100% accurate.

However, having been a therapist and social worker for 20-plus years, there are themes that occur repeatedly with couples. Sometimes these themes divide along gender roles.

If you see yourself or your partner in any of these generalizations, make a few shifts and you will see a big change for the better. Here are two big common mistakes that men make:

1. First Common Mistake: Men Waste Their Time Doing the Wrong Things in Their Relationships

Often, men don’t listen to what is most important to women. In not listening, they waste their time doing things that they THINK are important, when they aren’t important to their partner. Don’t waste your time!

For example, Mike’s wife has told him repeatedly that she is tired after work and hates fixing dinner. She gets annoyed when after a long day of work she comes home to his sh** on the floor. She says stuff such as, “It’s like I am the only one going out of my way to do stuff around here!” Mike gets defensive.

He doesn’t care that the house is messy. He thinks she should just chill out. Why can’t they just order in more or give the kids cereal for dinner? Mike spends his time explaining to her how she needs to chill out, relax, not take so much time cleaning and doing other chores, and that she needs to take better care of herself. This usually results in a screaming match, and Mike thinks his wife is way too uptight.

She might be uptight. However, arguing with her doesn’t change it or improve matters.

The Solution:

• Mike picks up his stuff every day and throws it in a laundry basket that he keeps in his closet for just that reason. He sets his phone to remind him twice a day so that he can get into the habit of cleaning up his stuff.

• He tells his wife that he is going to be responsible for dinner Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He sets his phone alarm on that too!

• He asks for specifics on foods she would like (because the kids’ nutrition is very important to her) and asks her what time she wants everybody to eat. In exchange, he golfs on Saturday mornings, then takes the kids in the afternoon so she can get some chill time. She’s happy. He’s happy. He gets laid. End of story.

• Another example: Your wife hates your flirting with waitresses at restaurants. Don’t spend time arguing that your wife is controlling and needs to trust. Stop flirting with the waitresses. Don’t clean out the garage as a surprise. Stop flirting with the waitresses.

Tada!

2. The Second Big Thing That Men Often Do: Read Women’s Minds

They haven’t accepted that many women expect men to read their minds in their relationships. That is correct.

“Women expect men to read their minds.” There. I said it. I am not saying it is okay. It just is, and you have to work through it.

A lot of women believe (sometimes on an unconscious level) that their partner should just KNOW what they want and need. They hold onto it hard: If someone really, really loved them, they would just know what they want. And if they have to tell their partner, it doesn’t count.

This fantasy of women has somehow gotten instilled in a lot of our psyches without us even realizing it. You know we women do this because when we really want something we might just not say anything, we might get super annoyed that it hasn’t happened yet, or we will hint without being specific. Hinting isn’t helpful.

This is probably based on a whole litany of gender socialization, fairytales, women not being taught to address their needs … blah blah blah. Whatever the reason, the impact is a whole lot of dissatisfaction and frustration on both sides.

The Solution:

Women haven’t been taught to say exactly what their needs are and to provide details. For example, in the example above, Mike’s wife might be getting super frustrated about Mike’s stuff on the floor but instead of sitting him down and asking him not to leave his shoes in front of the door, she might just slam the door and walk away. Or, maybe she really, really wants that cute vase from Pottery Barn for Christmas so she hints, hints, hints … and Mike doesn’t get the hint.

What should Mike do?

• Sit her down, ask for specifics. Tell her you love her and want to help her and be there, but you need clear direction. And tell her that your not knowing specifics ties your hands and makes it more difficult to do the things that make her happy.

• Or use his own version of: “When I don’t know what you need, I can’t be there for you. Please be specific.” Ask a few questions to get more information.

Clearly, just meeting your wife’s needs and not having your needs addressed isn’t the right way to a contented relationship. It has to work both ways, and it should be equal on the give and take.

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