Relationship Fitness

P19 E5: Men, Pay Attention

The idea that women are inherently mysterious and difficult to understand is a myth often perpetuated by popular media. This portrayal creates an artificial divide, suggesting that men and women are so fundamentally different that mutual understanding is nearly impossible. However, bridging this gap is simpler than it seems: it starts with a straightforward approach—ask questions and genuinely listen to the answers.

 

Many men feel perplexed by the thoughts and feelings of women, seemingly living in a world apart. If you’re curious about what a woman is thinking or feeling, just ask her. You’ll likely discover that she is more than willing to share her inner thoughts, particularly in the context of a close relationship. Women want to feel acknowledged and understood.

 

The critical step, however, follows the question. True listening is where many falter. It’s a common habit to think about what to say next while the other person is still talking. This often leads to interrupting or planning to solve her problems before she has even finished explaining them, cutting short the opportunity for real understanding.

 

To truly connect, try using reflective listening. This method involves echoing back what the other person has said to show that you have really heard them. For example, if she expresses concerns about a sports team, instead of immediately sharing your viewpoint, first validate her observation by saying, “So, you’re worried that Mookie Betts might not perform well in the World Series again this year?” This invites her to expand on her thoughts or correct any misunderstandings before you add your own perspective.

 

Attentive listening demonstrates respect for her thoughts and feelings. Remember, she chose to be with you because she values your insight and respects your opinion. Initially, however, she seeks to be heard. This dynamic is often highlighted in couples therapy, where one partner may not truly grasp what the other is trying to communicate, instead reacting to their own triggers or misconceptions.

 

Once you are sure you understand her perspective, then it is appropriate to share your thoughts. But tread carefully with advice—despite common misconceptions, therapy teaches us that advice is often the last thing needed. People are usually looking for support in their thought processes rather than direct guidance or solutions. If the conversation is about choices, like selecting wedding colors, she is likely seeking your involvement in the discussion, not for you to dictate the outcome.

 

In conclusion, understanding women—or indeed anyone—is not cloaked in mystery. It involves engaging sincerely, asking thoughtful questions, and listening without jumping to conclusions or interjecting prematurely. By adopting this approach, you move from a ‘me’ to a ‘we’ mindset, which is essential for building and maintaining any meaningful relationship.

 

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Luis Maimoni is a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in relationships of all kinds, including men having relationship difficulties. Luis offers a no cost, no obligation consultation.

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