This powerful exclamation (insert tonality) is one of the shortest universal communications that unites all the men on this planet with a common understanding. A man just needs to say this to another and they would suddenly both be tuned in to the same frequency.
Many of my friends who, in John Gray’s words, hail from Mars, have shared their exasperation and helplessness in figuring out or pleasing the women in their lives. On the other side, my Venusian friends have expressed similar frustrations about the men in their lives. So what are the missing pieces that would bridge these two species? The unfortunate news is that there are many. The good news is that some of these have significantly more impact than others, and they are really not that complicated. Here are three for you to work on – small changes can make a big difference!
In this article, I will use “their women” to refer to the women who are in an intimate relationship with a man, and vice versa. While this is in reflection of the common perspective of many couples involving ownership and claim, it is mainly used for ease of reference. It does not represent the view of the author (I), nor does it disregard the fact that we are all independent individuals, men or women alike.
To be accepted
There is a reason why this is top on the list. Over a dinner with some female friends, we marveled at how so many men seem to be trying to ‘fix’ their women, that what is is never good enough. Regardless of whether a woman has a physique of a supermodel or not, it is often either “you’re too thin, I can’t feel you when I hug you” or “have you put on weight?” When was the last time you heard someone say “Oh, she’s perfect the way she is! I like her just as she is”? I took this example because the topic of weight is an intimate friend of almost every woman. There are many other ways in which the non-acceptance is subtly expressed. The moment you try to fix something about your woman, you are sending across the message that there is something wrong with her.
There is a fine line between being honest with a woman, and accepting her for who she is even if nothing changes. In this world where we take pride in improving things, we have subconsciously exchanged sufficiency and satisfaction for a critical eye and dissatisfaction. There is nothing wrong with this, it has brought about major evolutions and it is how the world runs. What is important is recognizing that relationships and people are more delicate than things and need to be handled differently.
A woman comes alive when she is appreciated and accepted for who she is today, not who she will be. Recently, a friend was deeply touched by a man who saw her beauty, both on the inner and physical, and who was not shy about expressing that to her, “My boyfriend has never looked at me with eyes of admiration like that! It made me feel so special and beautiful, for the first time ever”. A woman blossoms like a hibernating flower when she feels and believes that she is beautiful, and many men don’t realize the influence that they have on this matter.
The words that you say can have the effect of ripples on a still lake, and your actions can move mountains. However, if you want to know the key to making that stubborn lock click into place, it is in the way that you look at her. So, how have you been looking at your woman?
To be heard and understood
There is at least something that both parties in many relationships share in common – a mutual perception that the man doesn’t understand the woman. Or maybe the man thinks that he does and the woman thinks otherwise, in which case it reinforces the point that he doesn’t.
To many man, this is a behemoth quest that does not seem like there is light at the end of the tunnel. For the blessed ones who have truly figured your woman out, know how to treat her right and give her happiness, you have my utmost respect. If you don’t happen to belong to that category, worry not, I have a piece of good news for you. While many women think that what they want is for the man to understand her, what they truly want is something that is a lot easier to achieve – feeling that her man is interested in understanding her and is making efforts to understand her better day by day. Phew! What a big sigh of relief to know this, isn’t it!
Much of the process of understanding a woman involves listening to her with your undivided attention. Ever had a woman exclaim that you are not listening to her, when you think that you apparently are? Chances are that while doing so, you also have your eyes on some other task, or the TV, or have your mind a few thousand miles away.
Hearing is different from listening. You just need a pair of ears to listen, but you need a whole different set of skills to hear. When she is telling you about a problem that she is facing, do you jump in with solutions or try to console her by dismissing it as something insignificant? Often, she just wants you to be there to provide a listening ear and to be a companion. When she is emotional, do you move away or react just as emotionally? Listen to what she is saying verbally and what she is expressing non-verbally, it is likely that she is trying to express some unmet needs.
To be loved
It is not enough that you love her; she needs to know that and to be able to receive your love for her. It is the same as with all communication – it matters not what you say but what the recipient actually gets from your message. We are all guilty of assuming that the other person is getting the same message which we are transmitting, and then getting upset over the fact that they are not responding in the way that we expect. Assumptions, expectations, interpretations.
Are you sure that she knows that you love her, or is she receiving mixed messages from you? Dr. Gary Chapman’s groundbreaking work on The 5 Love Languages describes the different ways that we express and interpret love, and how we can leverage on this to get our messages of love across. Check this out if you haven’t already done so. It may just be that the both of you are speaking different languages, which can be easily addressed.
To all the frustrated men out there, please be patient, we are learning about ourselves just as you are. Some of us are just a little more special and needs a little more time and attention. Not to mention that we are juggling two different roles at the same time – a student in learning about ourselves; and a teacher in educating the men in our lives about us and how to interact with us.
I know that your woman is not perfect. Shape her not with your criticisms and opinions; shape her with your love, acceptance and patience. It will not be easy, but it will be a worthy journey filled with priceless trophies.