woman drags herself through the door after a long, stress-a-palooza
day at work. "What a day! I am so fed up with that job," she
tells her husband. His response, generally speaking, is predictable.
"Well, quit," he says.
Thatís not the answer sheís looking
for, says Barbara Bartlein of Bay View, psychotherapist and author of
"Why Did I Marry You Anyway?" A woman wants her man to
simply lend her an ear.
The exchange illustrates a primary
difference in the way men and women communicate. Women tend to process
issues by talking them out, Bartlein explains. The average guy,
however, is wired to think about solving the problem. "Women get
frustrated because they just want to vent," Bartlein says.
"They donít want somebody telling them what to do."
Francie L. Stone, psychologist and
certified sex therapist at Aurora Womenís Pavilion, often sees the
same clashing communication styles in her practice.
She points out that itís not unusual
for a woman with an issue to pick up the phone and share it with every
one of her girlfriends, female relatives and other women in her social
network. She wants to tell the story, Stone says, and she needs to
tell the whole story.
When she brings the same issue to her
man, he is less inclined to hear every detail. Stone says men are more
likely to say, "Can you Ďbottom line ití for me?"
Generally speaking, men are looking for the CliffsNotes.
When a man has a problem to work out,
you probably wonít find him on the phone or confiding in his poker
pals. You might, however, find him puttering around the basement,
where heíll be fixing whateverís bugging him. Alone. "Men are
likely to go into themselves and internalize and then theyíll come
out and theyíre ready to go on," Stone says. In other words,
So, if men are from Planet Bottom Line,
and women are from Planet Speed Dial, is there a way to avoid
Yes, say Bartlein and Stone. Thereís
a simple solution for a woman trying to get what she needs from a man:
Point-blank ask for it. Bartlein realizes that this may get in the way
of romantic notions of those who believe "If he really loves me,
heíll know what I want."
"Trust me," Bartlein says,
"they donít. Iím not saying they donít try." For
example, men are trying to be sweet when they say things like,
"You really look good. Youíre not as fat as so-and-so." In
a typical male mind, Bartlein says, that would be chalked up as a
Men are definitely not mind readers,
Stone says, and neither are women. Maybe your guy believes you are
well aware of the fact that heís crazy about you because he calls
you from the road with an urgent warning that there is glare ice out
there. "Iím thinking, ĎBig whoopity-do-da, you havenít told
me you loved me in five days,í" Stone says. "I need you to
tell me every day that you love me and I need a kiss."
Stone suggests that couples make
specific lists of what they need in order to feel loved and
appreciated. Then sit down and talk about those needs in a
nonthreatening way. "We all have needs, in our relationships, our
jobs, in all areas of our lives," Stone says. "We have to
keep an open mind and be accepting of our differences."
Acceptance, Bartlein says, is the key
to real, lasting romance. "Long-term relationships are about
snore strips and flannel nightgowns," Bartlein says. "But
more than anything itís understanding how men and women think
differently, because they really do."