I should hope that no one took my last post seriously, as it is a recipe for dysfunctional relationships. There was a lot of truth there–a lot of openness and honesty–but not much in the way of empathy or wisdom.
I assume that the author of the datingish post I was parodying did not intend for his post to be taken that seriously, either–a little bit seriously, sure, but not that seriously. It was too devoid of tact for that. Well, I for one found it humorous because he just didn’t hold back one bit. “If you think you’re fat, you probably are”? It’s obviously not a piece to be enjoyed by the overly sensitive.
He did have several valid points, foremost among them that you should not expect your man to read your mind. It is almost always better to just come out and say what is bothering you. If you tell him nothing’s wrong, be prepared for him to go on his merry way believing that nothing is wrong. If you told him about a problem two weeks ago, don’t expect him to remember it, let alone intuit that it might still be bothering you. For that matter, if you told him about a problem yesterday, don’t expect him to remember it, let alone intuit that it might still be bothering you. Men can’t afford to store this much information in their brains. If you want him to keep knowing something, you have to keep telling him.
And that’s where a woman’s real dilemma begins. How many times can you mention something that’s bothering you before your man gets so effing sick of hearing about it that he just tunes you out? I think it’s “once.” If the thing that’s bothering you is that he hasn’t taken out the trash, the correct answer is “never.” You must never ask him to take out the trash. You must never ask him not to leave his dirty socks on the floor. You must never ask him to please do the dishes. Unless it’s a sexual favor, asking is nagging. You don’t want to be a nag. So it looks like you’ll have to take out the trash your own damn self.
But don’t resent him for it, or you might start acting different around him–so different that he might ask what the bleep is eating you, and you’ll have no choice but to answer, “Nothing,” which will be a lie, but he’ll believe it and you’ll just go on resenting him because you can’t say you’re upset because he didn’t take out the trash, because that would be nagging him about the thing you never bothered nagging him about in the first place because you expected him to read your mind! He hates that!
So I guess you learn to enjoy taking out your own trash. I dunno.
As for men not liking to be told how to do stuff, well, that’s understandable. It might come as a surprise, but women don’t actually enjoy telling men how to do stuff. We wish you’d just read our minds. SERIOUSLY, HOW HARD IS THIS CONCEPT?
Just kidding. But you know, there’s such a thing as being overly critical, and there’s such a thing as being overly sensitive to criticism–which isn’t necessarily criticism, just, you know, helpful suggestions. I’ll show you the difference:
OVERLY CRITICAL: “What’s wrong with you? Only an idiot loads a dishwasher like that!”
NOT NECESSARILY CRITICAL: “You know, the dishes get cleaner if they’re actually exposed to the water stream.”
Yeah, I know that last one still seems emasculating, but you should have seen it before we edited it.
It is also true that men want to solve problems, not talk about them. They want to fix things. I suspect that they mostly want to fix things so you’ll shut up about your problems and let them go back to doing something that interests them, but either way, that is the mode they’re operating in. This is a problem because most women want to talk about their problems without necessarily getting a ton of advice on how to solve them. I’ve heard some relationship “experts” recommend that you just let your man know that you don’t expect him to solve your problem, but you just want a sympathetic ear. That is apparently good enough for some men, who are relieved to know that they don’t have to solve all your problems.
Other men, of course, don’t want the job of giving you sympathy. They recommend that you go to your girlfriends if you want sympathy. Which is cool, you know. If a man isn’t up to some sympathetic listening, maybe he’s just not in the mood. Maybe he’s tired or had a rough day or has a headache. So yeah, dude, it’s not too much to ask your woman to take her problems and her sympathy-fishing elsewhere. I mean, you’re only her life partner, not like her BFF or anything. Just don’t be surprised if she starts keeping more than just her problems from you. Just as she shouldn’t be surprised if a lack of sexual intimacy results in a lack of a whole lot of other stuff, too.
Seriously, kids, if you can’t count on each other for emotional support and regular nookie, why are you together, exactly?
Meaningful relationships require doing things that you might not feel like doing. Everything important requires you to do stuff you don’t feel like doing when you don’t feel like doing it. You do this for your employer and you do it for your kids, but you won’t do it for each other? That makes sense. (In case you couldn’t tell, I was being sarcastic!)
I won’t even address the whole television thing. Men and women should just probably not watch television together. Not if a remote control is involved.