The story of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" comes to mind here. We love you and will process and communicate on that deep level when necessary, as a gift of love and nurturing to you. Yet if most of what comes up could be addressed without us, we will feel that you are "crying wolf" and that becomes a pattern, we WILL eventually resent it and you.
Now, many of the comments responding to the original Don't Talk So Much seemed to agree with my premise. And these agreeing comments came from both men AND women, generally those in long term relationships.
Some women felt that it was unfair. Some felt it wasn't right that women had to be sensitive to men's limitations and that men didn't have to be sensitive to women's.
And I agree with you. It ISN'T fair! And it goes back to the old saying, "do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?"
When I work with couples, I always encourage the more aware partner, the more conscious partner to take steps to break up the dysfunctional patterns in the relationship as they show up in the moment. I believe that this is another example of that type of situation.
This doesn't mean that men value their relationship with their partner less than women value the relationship. However, in my experience, men are much more reactive and women much more proactive when it comes to relationship.
I can't tell you how many couples come into my office a year or two after the woman has been asking her man to come into treatment. And often, that is "too little, too late." In fact, the research shows that long term couples enter couples counseling about six years after they acknowledge they have a problem.
So, YES, the woman will need to be the one to take the first steps the majority of times. And by recognizing the best ways to connect with a man won't that make your relationship better? And won't you then get your needs met as well? As I wrote before, as the more evolved of the sexes, women can definitely influence the relationship for the better, for the highest good of all involved.
Again, I am addressing this particular issue to women. When men come to me to improve their relationship, I teach them an entirely different skill set, which involves giving women what THEY need for connection. And when the partners come in together for couples counseling I take yet another approach. I have to work with who comes into my office (or telephones/Skypes).
However, I am writing this followup post on Don't Talk So Much because many women have partners/boyfriends/husband who refuse to be part of the solution. And so I am creating a program to support these women to improve their relationships and would love to hear your comments about the idea and my additional thoughts in this post.
If you are interested in more of the inner workings of men and how to be successful in a relationship with them, I will be holding a “Don’t Talk So Much” teleseminar course on this in early 2011. Click here (www.donttalksomuch.com) to be kept updated about this work and specific programs to help women improve their relationships.
Thanks so much,
Dr. Adam Sheck