Even with years of therapy, we will only become aware of it and manage it a little bit better. And most men will never agree to years of therapy. We’re babies. So what are the options here?
There IS hope! Although the majority of men won’t come into couples therapy or will only begrudgingly allow themselves to be dragged there by their partners, there IS hope.
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While I prefer working with the couple to improve the relationship, it often doesn’t happen that way. Most of the relationship improvement work I do is with one partner, not with both. Most of my relationship coaching is performed with one female partner. And it works!
The couple is a system. If we change one component of the system, the entire system will change. And if it doesn’t change sufficiently, at least the partner knows that they have done everything that they can do. After you clean up “your side of the street” you have a clear conscience for whatever actions are necessary from there, one way or the other.
So, ladies, back to helping you. If my recommendation is DON’T TALK SO MUCH, what can you do? First of all, get clear about your priorities. What is the purpose of your relationship? What do you need from your partner, that only they can provide? What can you “delegate” to others in the need department?
My advice is the 80/20 rule: process 80% of what needs to be processed with your girlfriends and your therapists. Process the 20% that REALLY needs to be processed with your man, with your man. It might actually be even less than that. And learn how to do this in a way that they can tolerate (Actually, I have some tricks for you here).
Don’t talk so much! Instead, SHARE your life with your boyfriends and your partners and your husbands. Sharing comes from a different place and has a different intention than talking does, at least for men.
Allow men to talk when they are in the mood. Reward them for it! Yes we can talk endlessly if we are sharing our vision of the future or bragging about our accomplishments or our prowess. In fact we can become obnoxious in our verbosity at this point.
But it’s not really a dialogue and we’re not really “processing” in the conventional sense. We talk to share our fantasies and our hopes and our desires. If we really are feeling safe, we sometimes share to have a sounding board and to reflect.
And all we really want from you at that point is to be admired and appreciated and valued. You can relate to this, can’t you ladies?
We are sharing as best we can, most of it being nonverbal. So share with us as well and as an experiment, share more with us through activities instead of words. Shared games, shared adventures together, shared romance, shared sex! After that kind of sharing, a man might surprise you and open up and be vulnerable enough to want to actually talk about feelings!
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If you give us what we want (which isn’t very complicated most of the time) we will give you the keys to our kingdom and share our world with you. And be excited and thrilled to do so. And give you everything we have and are, with an open heart.