Being perceptive is a good thing. Here's a heads up when it can backfire!
Intuition and perceptiveness in women are usually regarded as assets, and they are, if used well. But sometimes women assume they’re being perceptive when they’re actually “reading in” messages that are not there. When these perceived messages are hurtful to her or otherwise push her buttons, trouble begins both for her and her relationship.
Two days ago, one of my clients illustrated this very common phenomenon in a scenario with her husband. Adella is three months postpartum. She hadn’t left the house to do anything but chores since the baby was born. At the time she first contacted me, she had cabin fever and was quite emotionally and physically depleted. All her energy had been focused on her baby. Resentment of her husband was high since it seemed like his life hadn’t changed much at all. She had been feeling like almost all of the house and child responsibilities had been on her shoulders.
Adella’s husband Dave is a “good guy,” she acknowledged. Ever since their daughter was born, he’d been trying to support his wife and encouraging her to take some time for herself. So far she had refused, never giving herself permission to leave the house just to take care of herself.
With my urging and counseling, she finally agreed to take two hours last Friday afternoon to get her hair cut and styled. Dave was happily surprised. As Adella was nervously walking toward the door to get her coat, she heard Dave’s words calling after her, “When will you be home?” That was all it took. Adella exploded so furiously, she later described herself as a volcano erupting. “How could you ask me that? I finally agree to go out and do something for myself and you’re guilt-tripping me about when I’ll be back?? That really hurts! Well, fine! Then I just won’t go!!”
Dave was so stunned he couldn’t get a word out. He stood there utterly bewildered and frozen in his tracks for a few seconds. He then attempted to reassure her that he wanted her to go out and take a break and that he was just curious about when she’d be home.
Granted, some guys might act like jerks and selfishly take advantage of their wives being in charge all the time. These same husbands would probably also obviously or subtly guilt trip her and complain if she left him in charge of his child. But Dave was definitely not one of them.
Adella did what many women do. Because her own mind was giving her a hard time, she projected that onto her husband and basically hallucinated what she thought Dave meant. (Even if Adella had been great at taking care of herself, she still might have assumed Dave was communicating something in between the lines.)
In retrospect, Adella realized she could have simply answered his question with, "Around 8 o'clock. Have a great time. Bye!" and the unpleasantness wouldn't have happened at all.
Women, when a man asks you a question, give him the benefit of the doubt. Instead of assuming there’s a hidden meaning behind the question, respond back kindly and matter- of -factly. Assume that he’s simply asking for information. Typically guys are straightforward with their questions. Fight the urge to take a comment personally. If he asks, “Is there anything to eat?” Don’t jump to the conclusion he’s commenting on your lack of cooking skills. He’s probably hungry and just wants to know if there’s anything to eat. That’s it. Of course you’re always free to answer, “I’m not sure – take a look,” but the point is to always assume it’s just a question and nothing more. This will prevent all kinds of miscommunication and unnecessary hurt for both of you. Best of all, you might find out you’re married to one of the good guys after all!