Friday, July 29, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: Basic Needs

Men and women have different basic needs. To understand and accept these differences can help enhance your relationship with your mate.

Men hunger for respect and success. They want to "win" at the game of life and love. On the other hand, women long for security and a sense of belonging by feeling connected. In a healthy relationship, the partners strive to recognize these inherent needs and do their best to fulfill them for each other.

When a woman consistently denigrates her man, he loses face. If he feels he cannot adequately provide (i.e. give his mate the security she needs), he can harbor feelings of failure. He pulls away from the person from whom these feelings emanate. As mentioned in the previous post, the man contracts or retreats. He does not want help from his mate or others because that makes him feel inept -- as if he can't figure things out by himself.

Here is the catch. Women, in general, like to help. They want to reach out and make things better. When she sees her mate floundering, her first thought is to help him. Unfortunately, the man feels emasculated by this behavior and either acts out or retreats even more. It's a no-win situation. This concept is also one of the reasons why a man won't ask for directions, even when he is hopelessly lost. He wants to figure it out by himself, for this fulfills his need to be successful in all endeavors, even the menial ones.

Men also like to be surrounded by beauty, which includes looking at beautiful women. They love the feel of a woman's skin and are less concerned over size than women believe. Women have a tendency to examine themselves too minutely and then point out their flaws to their mate. It is better to keep these less than confident feelings to yourself (or if you must discuss, do it with your girlfriends). Your man wants to love you just the way you are ... beautiful in your very own way! Don't deny him this pleasure.

Enjoy and honor the differences between the genders. If you wanted your mate to be more like your girlfriends, why bother with a relationship!

This post is loosely based on a lecture by Cinthia Hiett, M.C., L.P.C., a highly recognized relationship and life management expert.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: Communication Tips

Most men do not like drama. They are actually afraid of a woman's emotions, which is most clearly illustrated by their reaction when she starts to cry. 

Men are also attuned to a sense of danger, which activates their fight or flight response. When a woman acts aggressively towards a man, for example, denigrating or yelling at him, his defenses kick in. He will either flee the situation (if not physically, then mentally by checking out so he hears nothing of what is said) or he will fight back in return. Neither is a wanted result nor will they lead to healthy communication that can resolve an issue.

Although society tends to look at women as the sensitive ones, in truth, men are much more sensitive and their feelings are easily hurt. This may not be recognized because if a man feels disrespected or useless (he can't fix the problem), he may act aggressively (or non-sensitively). This acting out is a defense mechanism of which the man may not even be aware. He only knows that when a situation is threatening and doesn't feel good, he needs to extricate himself from it and in any manner available.

To have effective communication with a man, a woman should also be aware of her tone of voice and her body language so that it is non-threatening and non-confrontational. Staring a man directly in the eye (unless it is in the bedroom!) can be regarded as a challenge. If you have something difficult to say, it is better to look away when saying it. When your thought is complete, then turn back to look at the man. Try to keep your demeanor pleasant and your face neutral; try not to purse your lips or scrunch up the skin between your eyebrows. These actions can also be regarded as confrontational and the man will respond to your pose rather than your words.

A woman should also give a man a way to succeed when presented with an issue. I am always reminded of asking a child, "Do you want to go to bed now or 5 minutes from now?" You have presented the child with two winning strategies (for you), yet the child still gets to retain his/her self-respect by not backing down. Remember, ultimatums never work and men like to win!

Now it may seem that all this is game playing, but I beg to differ. In every situation, one should always be aware of his/her surroundings and with whom he/she is dealing. The goal is to communicate effectively. It does no good to be able to say whatever you want and for it not to be heard. If you simply keep the gender differences in mind and adjust your delivery accordingly, you will be able to reach a successful resolution where both the man and woman feel like winners.

The information and ideas presented in this post are from a lecture by Cinthia Hiett, M.C., L.P.C., a highly recognized relationship and life management expert.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: Communication Differences Between The Genders

Not only are men from Mars and women from Venus, men and women perceive and receive information and experiences in very different manners. Not being aware of the inherent nature of the opposite sex is at the crux of many misunderstandings that can spiral out of control and end in the dissolution of a relationship.

The following are gross generalizations and should not be regarded as negative or positive statements about either gender. It is simply the way they see the world in different ways, which is neither better nor worse than the other. In fact, the brains of men and women are different too. Men have more gray matter, which means they see life as simpler -- more black and white and more self-centered. Women, on the other hand, have more white matter, which makes them more complex and empathetic. What this means is that when confronted with an issue, men may ask, "How will this affect me?" and women may ask, "How will this affect me, my mate, my children, my job, etc.?"

Let's examine some other core differences.

1. Men are neither subtle nor do they understand subtlety well. When a woman thinks she is conveying her needs or feelings by her actions (and sometimes couched words), it is usually going right over the man's head. Men speak directly, so if women want to communicate with a clear message, they must also be direct or the man just won't get it.  Conversely, when speaking to other women, she may speak indirectly for fear of hurting another woman's feelings. This woman will still "get it" even though the statements will not be overt.

2. Men tend to focus on what is important to them. They look to quickly find solutions to problems and they want to solve their mate's problems too. They are hardwired to see this as part of their job of being a man. A woman, on the other hand, will worry over an issue and mull over it many times while asking for the opinions of others before taking decisive action.

3. A man can be more single-minded than a woman. He keeps extraneous information out, while a woman has difficulty ignoring (and caring about) all that surrounds her. This is made clear when you see a woman multi-tasking in the home and at work. She is able to have many "pots" on the stove at the same time. A man, however, hones his focus on one "pot" at a time. He finishes the first pot before moving onto the next.

4. In situations, men usually contract while women expand -- that is, women tend to look to reach out and connect with others while the man can remain an island onto himself. What this means for a romantic relationship is that women can easily lose themselves as they try to please everyone else. Additionally, a man may expand when he is looking for a mate, but once he "has" her then he contracts back to his original stance. This is the reason why many women feel ignored once the chase is over and the man has captured his prize.

5. Men like action, and women like words. The statement uttered by many a woman, "We need to talk" strikes fear in the hearts of men. If you are feeling unloved or neglected because your man is not interested in lengthy conversations about feelings, take a look at his actions towards you. When it comes to men, actions most certainly speak louder than words. If he goes to work each day to provide for his family and then comes home and helps around the house or washes your car each week or mows the lawn each Saturday, etc, these are all actions that say I love you. When you think about it, wouldn't you rather be shown how much you are loved vs just being the recipient of lip service with an I love you uttered that has no concrete actions to back it up? Consider that thought before you complain that your mate never says I love you.

6. Men talk in statements and women talk in questions, or, in other words, men report while women attempt to establish rapport and elicit a response. When a woman speaks in questions, for example, "Do you like this great new dress I bought?" vs "I bought a great new dress today", the man assumes the woman is looking for a decision from him or needs him to solve an issue. And men like to solve problems! In truth, the woman is simply looking for feedback or to make conversation with her mate. However, if she receives a negative comment, her feelings are hurt and she becomes angry. The man is totally confused because he thought he was being asked to help. Obviously, this is a very simple example, but going forward listen to yourself when you speak to your man. Are you making statements or asking questions? If you are not getting the response you want, change your technique.

The aforementioned are just a few of the differences in gender communication. Keeping these in mind and working on discovering ways to be accurately heard by the opposite sex can make a relationship run more smoothly and without discordance. 

The ideas and information presented above are based upon a lecture by Cinthia Hiett, M.C., L.P.C., a highly recognized relationship and life management expert.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: An Option or A Requirement?

In order to live a fulfilling life, do you believe being part of a monogamous relationship is a requirement or simply one path of many to follow?

In years past, women needed men more than today. On the financial front, women are now more able to take care of their monetary needs by themselves. On the motherhood front, women can now have the child of their dreams via a sperm bank and without being personally involved with the father.

So, if women don't require a man in their life, do they really want one?

To me, it seems that a lot of women think the idea of having a relationship is more appealing than actually having one. And the reason I say that is because there seems to be a lot of man-bashing going on. This negativity actually promulgates the idea that there are no good men to be found, for what we project out into the world reflects back to us. We also seek confirmation for our belief system and so a lack of men or men who are cads becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

How can one possibly "see" and welcome good guys into her life, if she is blinded by a belief system that says no one is good enough for her.

What is necessary is to realize that men and women have two very different ways of approaching the world. Their needs and desires, the way they process their emotions and the way they handle issues are all very different from women. Since women tend to "like" (or feel more comfortable around) people and situations that are familiar to them, men can get relegated to a discard category.

In order to find the man of your dreams, it is necessary to adjust the lens with which the world of men is viewed to one that is kinder and gentler. In truth, the liberation of women may have swung too far on the pendulum. With their new freedoms, women are far less accepting of men's foibles than vice versa. Choose to learn more about gender differences and accept that the differences as a good thing. Once you reach a plain of understanding about the opposite sex, you interactions can be more pleasurable than painful.

In the next couple of weeks, I will share some fascinating information about gender differences.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: The Committed Relationship

Beliefs about marriage and divorce are part of our culture; however, some statements may only be myths often repeated so the populace begins to believe in their veracity as they enter the collective consciousness. Let's examine some of these so-called truths, while recognizing that these are gross generalities and that there are always exceptions.

1. Having learned their lesson from a bad or troubled marriage, each partner goes on to be successful in their subsequent relationships.
Unless the time is taken to address each partner's responsibility in the failure of their relationship, the same mistakes are often repeated. Simply acknowledging the mistakes is not enough. Work must be completed to change the causal behavior.

2. Taking a relationship for a test drive by living together increases the chances for a successful marriage.
This is not necessarily true as studies have shown that those who cohabitate before marriage have a greater chance of eventually divorcing. This may be due to the idea that relationships are temporary and can be ended easily. Stronger relationships are formed when a leap of faith is taken (only after thoroughly coming to know your partner) by making a commitment to marriage before moving in together. It illustrates a deep trust in your partner, which is a foundational trait of a strong partnership.

3. Having children, either in wedlock or before, creates a strong bond and improves marital satisfaction.
Welcoming a baby into a relationship is a time of high stress. If a strong relationship did not exist before the child was born, chances are that tension and problems will escalate when both partners are tired, cranky and focused mainly on the child and not as much on each other. In the case of second or subsequent marriages, when merging two families that each have children of various ages, it is important to allow adequate time for adjustment to the new situation before "expecting" children to be as happy as the adults. Change, even when it is for the better, is always difficult.

4. Intermittent unhappiness in a relationship does not bode well for its longevity.
Life has its ups and downs, and our relationships (as a microcosm of life) also fluctuate. With two committed partners, storms can be weathered and momentary (or what may seem unending) unhappiness can be turned around. It is unrealistic to believe that your partner can fulfill your every need. During a tough time with your partner, look for doses of positivity from friends and other areas of your life. These good feelings can buoy the relationship until a better place can be reached.

5. Marriage, as an institution, is more beneficial to men than women.
In actuality, men and women both benefit  albeit in different ways. Studies show that married couple live longer, happier and healthier lives. In many instances, men gain greater health benefits while women gain greater financial advantages (or both benefit from a dual income). 

6. Luck and love are the two keys to a successful marriage.
Although luck may play a small part, it is mostly that you take the time to choose your partner well. Being friends first; having common interests, goals and values; being committed to each other and to the marriage; and willing to work through issues vs running away at the hint of trouble are some hallmarks of what makes a long-lasting partnership and marriage.

7. Married people have less sex than single people.
This turns out to be a fantasy promulgated by the swinging single.  According to national studies, married people are not only having more sex, they are enjoying it more  both physically and emotionally.

In truth, while there are universal principles that apply to all relationships, each is as unique as the partners who join together to create it. When a commitment is made to marriage, it is each partner's responsibility to do his/her best to honor it fully with love, truth, trust, respect, humility and acceptance.