Monday, August 08, 2011

Blind-Sided: Failure to Talk Is Just As Bad As Failure to Act in Any Relationship or Marriage

A profound demonstration of an attitude that can kill a relationship in a heartbeat, from a man who will likely never be able to fix his relationship or anything else. Don’t make his mistake…

I get a lot of material for lessons from readers’ letters because most ask really good questions, but every now and then, somebody’s comment on the “unsubscribe” (how I hate what computers are causing to evolve in this language! Would anyone care to discuss the use of the word “input” as a verb? Try conjugating it, and let me know what you think when you get to the past tense, “inputted”! LOL!) form opens the door for a great one as well. Observe the comment at the bottom of this form:

-----Original Message-----
From: XXXXXXXX@hotmail.com [mailto:XXXXXXX@hotmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, July 26, 2006 2:28 AM
To: David
Subject: AWeber mhh_tips: This Lead Unsubscribed: XXXXXX@hotmail.com

This lead has unsubscribed by following the link at the bottom of one of your AWeber messages, and decided to provide comments. Why did I receive this email? http://www.aweber.com/faq_messages.htm#messages6b

Name: XXX
Email: XXXXX@hotmail.com
Signup Date: 05/05/07 05:06 AM EST

Comments:
your wasting my time

We’ll ignore the poor spelling (“you are” is “you’re,” not “your” which is possessive), lack of capitalization and punctuation, and the ridiculous assertion that I’m wasting his time when the choice of how to spend his time is his own, not mine, and look at the communication issue, which is relevant to all kinds of relationships. I sent him the following reply, and after you read it, we’ll draw parallels into committed and other relationships:

Hi Wes,

Really? How so? What would make this worth your time, and why did it take you almost three months to come to this realization? Has there been something change recently that you dislike? Tell me what's making this a waste and I'll try to address it, or are you one of those people who sits and waits for validation of the bad choices they've made and when they don't find it, move on to another source? People who want information ask for it; they don't just turn their back on it and walk away. So tell me, what is it that you want to see and know?

David

Yes, I goaded him a bit, hoping to wake him up and make him realize that he did have an input channel (he’s never written once in nearly three months to ask a question or make a suggestion as to how I could better serve his needs), and to possibly provoke him into taking a hard look at himself and determining if he was indeed looking for validation instead of information.

(Yes, Ladies, we guys can do stuff like that. We also jab each other with mild insults about our weight, signs of aging, etc., to help us thicken our skin a bit and be better at handling criticism, and at least some of us know that it doesn’t work the same way with women, especially after I did that “What to Do When She Gains a Few Pounds” newsletter -- http://forum.makingherhappy.com/showthread.php/779-When-She-Gains-a-Few-Pounds-Walking-Through-a-Minefield-in-Relationships-and-Marriage – earlier this month.)

He never responded, but look at what we have here, because there’s plenty to learn from it:

How many times have you seen relationships end like this? Everything seems to be cruising along for months, no questions, no discussions, seeming like everything is on a pretty even keel, and suddenly, BOOM! A huge fight, or worse, a break-up or divorce, without there ever having been a word of discussion about a problem?

How many times have you found yourself being irritated or confused and wanting to say something, but didn’t? Or found yourself not understanding something and frustrated and wanting to ask something, but didn’t? We get pissed off at women for appearing to expect us to read their mind, but how many times have you been guilty of doing the same thing? Expecting her to “just know” that you need to say something or ask something, need her to do something, need sex, or whatever is just as ridiculous, if not more so, than her expecting you to, because as a man, your job is to initiate and lead discussions and actions, remember? Demonstrating strength and leadership skills is one of those attraction-building activities we’re near-constantly discussing.

Your lesson for today? If you have an issue that involves your partner, don’t walk away from it, and don’t expect them to “just know” that there’s an issue. Talk to them about it – don’t whine about it, yell about it, or act needy or controlling because of it. Just put it out there and talk about it, and invite her to remain engaged and to discuss it with you, otherwise you’ll come across as just lodging a complaint and nothing more will happen.

Yes, I’m serious! If you need an answer, keep her talking until you have it. If you need her commitment to a goal or behavioral change, negotiate it. If she sounds like she’s talking in circles, prompt her to be blunt. And if something comes up that you really do need to work on, suck it up like a man and fix it if you expect her to ever engage in any other discussion with you. Problem-solving is a double-edged sword; sometimes you find out that YOU are the problem, or the source of the problem, and that YOU are the only one who can act to fix something. Sometimes it’s going to be her.

Sometimes it’s something both of you have to work on. Even on occasions where neither of you really did anything to contribute to the problem, both of you may need to contribute to the solution. Speaking of which, enter into problem-solving seeking the best solution for the problem, not the best solution for your convenience, or validation for your mistakes.

Women love to talk, as long as somebody is listening, and they love to listen as long as they will also be able to speak. They are, after all, far and away the more social gender of the two, and also far and away the most active and aggressive when it comes to managing relationships, so as long as you are talking and listening, you can usually expect her to do the same as long as you conduct yourself with respect, for yourself and for her. The women on our forum, http://forum.makingherhappy.com, are most helpful and enlightening, if you need a woman’s perspective or interpretation of something, and you should drop by and get to know them and the rest of us.

You may be surprised at how adept many women can be at solving problems, especially if you can stay focused on the problem and stay away from discussing the people involved and the drama that comes from that. Focus on WHAT the problem is and WHAT can be done about it, not WHO caused and WHO needs to act. And if you see a pattern of one-sided solutions, examine the pattern; is it because one partner or the other is contributing more to the problem, or because one partner or the other refuses to acknowledge their contribution to the problem?

If it's the latter, you need to be examining whether you should even be in the relationship or marriage, because living with someone with that short of entitlement mentality will rob you of life or cause you to spend much of your fighting to defend against it. Either way, it’s no way to live, and there are a LOT of good women around looking for a good man; I hear from them daily wanting to meet the single men on my mailing list because they’re tired of wusses who are threatened by their independence and want a man who appreciates a loving, low-maintenance woman.

Incidentally, another related pitfall is women’s tendency to want to talk about the emotions of a problem or situation to exhaustion before actually addressing it. Some will even insist, and fight to stay on the subject of emotions, accuse you of never listening, etc. If you get into that jam, your only way out is to say, “Look, we have to fix this. If you need to discuss how you feel about it, there will be plenty of time for that after we get the solution figured out and whatever has to be done set in motion, and I promise I’ll listen. Right now, I need for you to focus with me on getting this handled.”

And when the crisis is past, you’d damned-well better let her talk about her feelings, and ask her questions as an active listener, or she’ll just write you off as another jerk who doesn’t listen, but don’t let her drag you into the girlfriend abyss by stoking her up. Part of your job is to listen, and another part of it is to keep her grounded and protect her from getting carried away or even completely swallowed by her emotions. A balancing act, for sure.

“But how do I do that balancing act? How do I talk and listen to her?” you say? “How do I know whether I should be here or not?” Good question! And thanks to the cooperative and combined efforts of several hundred women, it’s all laid out for you in "THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage," which you can download at http://www.makingherhappy.com right now with little more than a couple of mouse clicks. Hop on over and get yours and start having answers and resolution instead of confusion and frustration.

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

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