Saturday, October 23, 2010

Some Profound Comments About Retail Therapy and Boredom in a Reader's Marriage

My top student has seen “retail therapy” at work in his own marriage before he and I met, and as usual, his comments are not only astute and educational, they’re proof of just how much a man can really know about women…

In a recent edition of this newsletter, I told you about how women engage in “retail therapy” to alleviate boredom that their husbands leave them room to feel. If you missed it, you should read it now before continuing for maximum benefit from today’s edition. See it in the archive at our forum, http://forum.makingherhappy.com/.

There’s a guy about 900 miles from where I live who has become both my top student one of my best friends. He’s a leader, a “brainiac,” and I dare say the guru of gurus in his part of the country where women are concerned, because he’s learned about everything I’ve taught and went beyond that to make a few discoveries of his own.

His comments are always good material for these newsletters, because he has a gift for taking whatever I’ve said and grabbing an example of applying it to his own life or something in his history that either increases the impact of the lesson or generates a new, advanced lesson worthy of your attention. He sent me this in response to the October 22 edition on retail therapy:

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Your response to Kent was perfect:

"There's no amount of explaining that you can do that will help the situation, and that's not because your wife is stupid, impetuous, or enjoys trying to put you into the poor house. It's because she's bored.

“I don't see your name on my customer list and you've only been on this newsletter list for a little over a week, so I'm going to bet that you have no idea just how destructive an emotion boredom is for women.

“Boredom is one of the things that a woman looks to a man to for protection; it's the price you pay for her nurturing, and it's a biological mechanism, not a logical one;"

Boredom is deadly, and women aren't to blame for being women - that's your real message. Say it over and over and over, and you'll be getting somewhere. Most men on Earth, including TV scriptwriters and all the guys every guy works with, BLAME women. Most women BLAME men for being men, with the full backing of the media and politicians. Stop that nonsense and everyone can be happy and start communicating.

Excellent newsletter, all the way. As far as the retail therapy goes, my wife was totally aware that it was not reasonable, but couldn't identify "why". One of the brutal ironies of our marriage is that she thought I wasn't listening, when in fact I listened myself nearly to death. It's perfectly REASONABLE to think she would know what I needed to do to make her happy, but it just so happens that she didn't. I suspect there are a few million more wives within a hundred miles who don't either. They can describe the feeling they want (maybe!), but not how to get it. I'd be interested in your thoughts on this, but I'll bet 90%+ of all marriages have that problem. Just my observation, nothing more.

How many men say, "All she does is complain," and how many women say, "He never listens to me" or "He's never nice to me,"? One of my favorites is the old "He never takes me anywhere," from women with great jobs, nice cars, and the ability to go anywhere they want anytime they want. And they often earn as much or more than the men! Now THERE is a potential newsletter, because "you never take me anywhere" is a message about as strong as "whatever" or "OK", but typically misunderstood by men!
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Let’s go through his comments and make sure you get everything out of them you can.

First, let’s talk about “blame.” What does it ever accomplish? Has anything ever, just once, in the course of your entire life, improved because you or somebody else blamed someone for something that has happened? Neither you nor anyone you know can recall such an instance, yet everybody does it! Why? Because blame is easier to lay than responsibility or action are to take!

Taking responsibility invariably means that you also have to take action. Now, think about this: why do most people shy away from taking action? No, it’s not because they’re too lazy, although that is also a valid reason. Most people shy away from taking action because they don’t know what action to take. Not knowing something you need to know can be frustrating, not to mention embarrassing and downright scary. It’s far easier to point the finger and put somebody else on the spot, in hopes that they’ll either fix the problem or reveal to you something that you can do.

What I’m about to say falls under that “If I can teach you nothing else, let me teach you this” category: There is nothing wrong with ignorance. We are born not knowing anything, and should spend our entire life learning – curing ignorance. I’ve spent my entire conscious life learning things to fix other people’s problems, and most people who know me swear I know everything. I don’t, not even close, nor do I claim to or try to. I see my own ignorance of any subject as an opportunity to learn and do something new, a new area of problems to solve. That’s precisely why it’s not a problem. (The illusion that I know everything comes from the fact that I never open my mouth unless I do know something that I can prove. I’ve never understood it, but somehow never offering a wrong answer equates to “knowing everything” instead of “speaking factually and responsibly.”)

While there’s nothing wrong with ignorance, there’s nothing right about apathy – the choice to remain ignorant and unable to do something that you need to do because you just don’t care. That’s when ignorance can hurt you, and cause you to hurt others as a result. So when you recognize that you are ignorant of something, and the answer evades you, what do you do?

Ask somebody who knows, by virtue of having succeeded at what you need to do! Don’t ask for people’s opinions, ask for their knowledge and experience. People who have successfully achieved anything love to tell you how they did it. They may not disclose the secret combination of herbs and spices in their fried chicken recipe, and if they’re a professional problem-solver they may ask a price for the knowledge you need, but good how-to information is usually worth more than its asking price because it makes your problems go away and either provides you something to enjoy or provides the means for you to enjoy something you already have. How cool is that?

He’s quite right that often women know what they want but don’t know how to get it, or don’t know how to express it to us so that we understand what they want. Volumes have been written on that subject, some of it useless fluff, opinion and theory and some of it stuff that you can put to work immediately because it slaps you in the head with reality and says, “Do this!” I’ve written some of the latter myself.

What he doesn’t mention is that often women get an idea in their head and think they want something, but are grossly dissatisfied when they get it. Retail therapy is such an instance. Wanting a “nice guy” who cries with them at chick flicks, and “metrosexuals” are others. Some things sound fun when they talk about them, but when they bring them home, they don’t pack the punch the women anticipated, and they’re right back to being bored and crazy.

In the end, what women say they want and what they respond to are sometimes two different things, so giving them what they say they want isn’t always the answer. You don’t just drop something in their lap and leave the room hoping everything will be alright. You have to stick around and watch, and listen, and think about what you’re hearing and observing. You must learn, and test both her response and your existing knowledge base for contradiction, and if you find contradiction, you must resolve it.

And when you see that whatever it was you gave or did wasn’t right, you can’t just blame her for telling you the wrong thing. Nor can she blame you for giving her or doing the wrong thing. You both must take responsibility for communicating and working together to resolve your problems, and you must take personal responsibility to lead the way through problems to their ultimate solution. That may at times even include her problems, the ones that don’t directly involve you, if she tells you that she needs your help.

And no, that doesn’t mean that you just take over and do it for her. That means you listen to what she has to say, then take the lead in a cooperative effort to solve the problem and get past the crisis. I said “lead,” not “control,” and certainly not “save.” Know the difference, or screw up and be punished.

Not your responsibility, you say? Then prepare to accept the consequences. A woman can go without something they want for a lot longer than we give them credit for, but they will not go without what the need for long, any more than we will. And if you don’t get on top of this situation, she will start trying to find out on her own by experimentation, and the female brain is more often dominated by the creative side than the analytical side, and she will act as if she has nothing to lose, because in her mind, she doesn’t.

If she ends up running you off or with another man, it’s very easy for her to just blame you. After all, if you had provided what she needed, she wouldn’t have had to experiment. You can argue against that all day long with me, but don’t try it with a woman. I’ll try all day to help you understand it, where the average woman would cut you off and tune you out with a king-sized “Whatever!” in a heartbeat. She knows what she’s doing, and if you don’t, in her mind you’re just a moron who doesn’t get it.

So here we are again. All of these relationship issues keep coming back to the same things: be well-matched with your partner, take responsibility for the health of your relationship, learn to communicate, lead and behave like a man, and take signs of boredom as a warning sign that you are letting her down somewhere and get to the bottom of it FAST! Could it really be that easy?

Let’s say that every day of your life, you get out of bed, stump your toe on the bed post, stumble into the bathroom and squeeze hemorrhoid ointment on your toothbrush, get on the wrong bus to go downtown to work, and spill your lunch in your lap trying to eat it. Could it be that you just need to open your eyes before you get out of bed so that you can see what you’re doing? Rather like the old joke in which the patient complained to the doctor that every time he drank cocoa, he got a sharp pain in his right eye, and the doctor told him to take the spoon out of the cup, huh? Clichés become and remain clichés because they are so universally true.

Complex problems often have simple solutions, and solving them is impossible for the people who don’t realize that because they spend all their time looking for complex solutions. Recall if you will the highly popular but quite incorrect summary of Occam’s Razor: “The simplest solution is most often the best.” Women appear to be a complex problem because there are things about them that are very similar to us, yet others that are radically different, and we simply don’t see the ways in which we are similar and different accurately.

More appropriate, and entirely accurate, would be Sir Isaac Newton’s constraint on problem-solving: "We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances. Therefore, to the same natural effects we must, so far as possible, assign the same causes." The truth is that women are not a problem at all; there is nothing mystical or magical required to explain or understand them, in spite of the untold thousands or even millions of incorrect assumptions that every man thinks he knows about women. In truth, women are quite wonderful to have around if you simply spend a little time and effort to learn what you need to know about getting along with them, and once you know, acting upon it is pretty automatic, because it’s fun, and unless we’re so depressed that we can’t see straight, it’s pretty hard to avoid doing fun things that just happen naturally.

So there you have it, the answer you’ve been looking for all your life. How do you get along with women? You take responsibility for learning what you need to know, and you learn it. Big deal. It will take you 2-4 hours to read it the first time, depending on how fast you read and how much time you spend actually thinking about what you’re reading.

It will take you a few times through to integrate your history and life into what you learn and become a true expert. Understanding and experience open the door to more understanding and experience. It’s one of the keys to the universe. And compared to a lifetime of misery, those few hours are insignificant.

You shed the bad programming that has been pumped into your brain for nearly four decades now. Also insignificant in terms of time and effort, because that’s going to happen as you read.

You live the life that you were born to live, enjoying being a man, maybe for the first time in your life. Sound like fun? Well, it is!

Are you ready to begin? Ready to be a guy, maybe the only guy you know, who really understands women and loves every minute he spends with his wife, not to mention knows which minutes to spend with her and which ones to be elsewhere doing something else he enjoys? If so, go to http://www.makingherhappy.com/ and download your copy of "THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage," and get started on that first 2-4 hours of awakening to the wonder that is woman.

Waiting for tomorrow, waiting for a sale, waiting to see how somebody else makes out are just excuses, excuses that are costing you your own happiness, so do it now, improve your life and don’t look back. That’s what a man does.

In the meantime, live well, be well, and have a wonderful day!
David Cunningham

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