Relationship Fitness

S19 E5: Men, Pay Attention

In Season 19, Episode Five titled “Pay Attention,” host Vince Vasquez and licensed marriage and family therapist Luis Maimoni explore the misconceptions about understanding women. They discuss how men are often portrayed as disconnected from women’s thoughts and feelings, and how this contributes to a gap in understanding between genders. Luis emphasizes the importance of asking women directly about their feelings and genuinely listening to their responses without rushing to give advice. This episode encourages men to shift from a ‘me’ to a ‘we’ mindset, fostering better communication and deeper connections in relationships.

Guest 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. Schedule a visit via his website: LuisTheTherapist.com

Vince:

Welcome to relationship workout for Man, a podcast dedicated to helping men be intentional and choosing a better partner and being a better partner for the person they choose. I’m your host, Vince Vasquez. And today I’m speaking with Luis Maimoni. He’s a licensed marriage and family therapist for people in all kinds of relationships. This is season 19 building and keeping commitments, episode Five: Pay attention. 

And the key theme here is women are not as mysterious as we’ve been told. They are, if there is something you want to know, then ask, then pay attention to what she says in response. So, Luis, what do you say to that? 

Luis:

I say, preach it, brother! But in all seriousness, men are often portrayed in the media as clueless about women’s thoughts and feelings. Women are depicted as enigmatic and unreachable, leading us to believe they are so mysteriously different that we can’t possibly understand them. This results in a divide where men live in one world and women in another, and the two never truly connect. However, if we’re shifting from a ‘me’ to a ‘we’ mindset, it becomes essential to understand what’s happening on the other side.

I’ve had numerous male clients express their confusion about their spouses’ thoughts and feelings. After exploring this issue, I’ve developed a piece of advice that I often give in therapy: If you want to know what a woman is thinking or feeling, just ask her. You’ll discover that she is eager to share more about her inner world, especially if you’re in an intimate relationship. She wants to be heard and seen.

But here’s the crucial part: After asking, you must genuinely listen to her response. This is where it can be challenging for us because we might immediately think of something smart, witty, or insightful to say in return. We barely let her finish a sentence or two before we feel the urge to interrupt, explain, or solve her problem. However, the moment we start doing that, we sever the connection to understanding—like cutting it off with a hatchet.

So, ask and then truly listen. Allow her to express herself fully. You can employ a technique called reflective listening: for example, ‘So what you’re saying is the Dodgers might choke in the World Series again this year because Mookie Betts struggles to hit.’ Even if internally you think he hits well throughout the season, hold back, and let her finish her thoughts. Then you can share your perspective on how the Dodgers might fare this year. Simply ask and listen attentively, and you’ll find it really does work.

Vince:

I believe it’s easier said than done. It’s challenging to listen when your mind is brimming with thoughts that you’re eager to share. There’s a fine line between listening intently and expressing your own thoughts. Sometimes, it’s preferable to stay silent and let the other person share. I often struggle with knowing when to share because I naturally slip into problem-solving mode. I fear I might get too caught up in expressing my viewpoint when I should be focusing on listening.

Do you have any advice? I’m making a genuine effort to pay attention, and I’m trying my hardest not to interrupt her or impose my perspective.

Luis:

She’s with you for a reason; she values your thoughts, your insight, and respects who you are. She certainly didn’t choose to be with someone passive; she wants your input. However, she also yearns to be acknowledged first. Your initial role is to actively listen and fully comprehend what she’s saying. This dynamic often surfaces in couples therapy; one partner will express something, and the other will respond without truly understanding the initial statement, reacting instead to their own internal triggers and defending a point that wasn’t being made.

Once you have truly listened and are confident that you grasp her viewpoint, then you can share your thoughts. But remember, don’t jump to give advice unless it’s explicitly sought, and even then, tread lightly. A brief note on advice: people often think therapy is about getting advice, but a fundamental lesson from therapy training is that advice is often unwelcome. Opinions are plentiful, and advice is just another opinion. So, while you might believe she’s seeking advice, more often than not, she isn’t.

If she’s pondering decisions, like choosing wedding colors, she may want your engagement in the conversation, not for you to dictate the outcome. She’s looking for your participation, not directives.

Vince:

I appreciate your point about her not wanting to marry a doormat, but rather needing to be seen and heard, and not necessarily receiving advice unless it’s explicitly requested. Those are some truly wise words.

It’s okay to share your thoughts, but as you mentioned, one should be very careful when giving advice. That in itself is good advice.

Luis:

Yes indeed. However, if people started listening to this podcast and found no practical advice, I think it would lose some of its value. If that were the case, we would merely be discussing the philosophy of being a man. While that might be interesting, it likely wouldn’t be as practical as emphasizing the need to be cautious when giving advice, since advice is often unwelcome.

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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