by Paul Elam
Some honest words from a man for women who want a better relationship.
|There is an incalculable amount of advice in this world instructing women on how to get what they want from men. Scarcely is there and issue of COSMO or a host of other women’s magazines that doesn’t have and article on how to find the right man, how to get and keep the right man; how to make that man love you, how to drive that man wild with desire, or how to get him to listen to you and help around the house.
There are a variety of books on the subject as well. One notable effort is Lori Uscher-Pines’ “The Get-Your-Man-to-Marry-You Plan: Buying the Cow in the Age of Free Milk,” which helps women corral that guy who is not sure he wants to tie the knot.
Once she gets her prince charming, she may want to smooth out a few of his kinks. For this she can turn to the classic, “How to Make Your Man Behave in 21 Days or Less Using the Secrets of Professional Dog Trainers,” by Karen Salmansohn and Allison Seiffer.
While I am sure that the laudable work of these ladies will help you find the partnership and intimacy that is the foundation of true love, I’d also like to offer my two-cents worth, as a man, with a little self-help magic.
Let’s call it, “How to Get a Man to Respect You.”
I can’t imagine why, but Uscher-Pines and the Trainer Twins didn’t address this in their books. And being that respect might actually have something to do with a relationships quality and longevity, I’ll try to pull up the slack.
I am tempted to apologize in advance to the many women who this advice does not apply to, but then again, those that really don’t need to hear this are unlikely to be offended.
Let us begin, ladies, with a definition of respect. I don’t know what it says in the dictionary, but I would define it as a feeling of admiration, and a tendency toward good treatment, based on the observed qualities in a human being.
That is to say that respect is not a given. Respectful treatment is, but the actual feeling of respect is a product of what another person shows you to be their make up as a human being. I am sure you want to be treated with respect, but I am also sure that you would prefer that respect is genuine and not something that your man has to feign because he doesn’t really feel that way.
Now that we have a definition for respect, let’s proceed with how to get it, starting with communication.
I have heard many women say that one of their problems with men is that they are not very good listeners. I have to agree that at times they are not. So let’s look at how to improve on that problem.
The first thing that many women can do to make their man a better listener is to realize that all human beings are limited by their attention span. With that in mind, let me point out that “How was your day?” does not require a ninety minute answer. In fact, in most cases, anything more than about three minutes is too long.
Now, you may find it fascinating that Myrtle in accounting has restless leg syndrome, but I assure you that your man doesn’t. Anything more than a passing mention of Myrtles twitching thighs will have him scanning the room for the remote control.
He will likely never say so, but at a certain point he will to want to point that remote at you and frantically push the “off” button in hopes of a reprieve.
The same is true regarding comprehensive descriptions of your shopping trips, disputes with your family members and co-workers, and exhaustive detailing of all his mistakes.
Talk about whatever you want or need to within reason and your man will likely pay meticulous attention. But treat him like it is his duty to pay painstaking attention to rambling, circular diatribes that have nothing to with his life any you will find his attention waning.
Exactly as it should.
Once you practice talking with a reasonable expectation of how much your man, or anyone, should remain interested in listening to you, you will actually feel listened to.
You will respect him for listening, and he will respect you for respecting him.
Another area in which I have heard men criticized is with respecting, or “validating,” as therapists like to say, your feelings.
And again there is some truth to this. For men, feelings have their place on the ladder, but not above reason or intellect. Men are problem solvers by nature, and the reality is that how they feel about something might identify a problem, but it does nothing to help solve it. So once feelings have served their purpose, men generally like to dispense with them and move on to solutions.
That doesn’t mean men don’t care how you feel. They just care more about fixing things. Expecting them to listen to feelings at the expense of resolving the precipitating problem puts men right back on the search for that remote.
So tell your man how you feel, but again, keep it with reason. If you do that, and then allow the conversation to focus on solutions, you will not only find that your feelings have been validated, but you will see that he is actually interested in what caused the feelings to begin with and in what he can do about it to help.
Again, you feel respected, and so does your man.
There is also one caveat about feelings that must be addressed.
They are not always reliable. Intellect and reason are far from empirical; emotions even less so.
Just because you feel a particular way doesn’t establish any fact except that you feel something. It doesn’t prove your man made a mistake, that he was insensitive about something or that he is hiding something from you.
Feelings, whatever they are, are almost always transient. They change and vacillate and come back to square one about as often as they wane off into obscurity. Putting your partner on the “validate these as we go program” is not a formula for good communication or a roadmap to respect.
It is a splendidly good idea to run a check or two, or ten if need be, on your heart with your head before expecting him to take your feelings so seriously. Doing that check will reduce conflict, solve more problems, prevent more problems and free the relationship to be enjoyed more by both.
I’ll assume you agree that is a worthwhile goal.
Another, very important thing you can do to gain a mans respect is to carry your financial weight. Now, if you are a woman that takes care of a home and raises children, that IS carrying your weight.
But if you are like most women in these times who work and support themselves, then it will garner you a lot more respect if you reach for your purse to take care of your half of whatever you do together. Most men want you to, but will not bring it up for fear of running you off. If what you want is free dinners, then forget this part. But if you want real respect, don’t just offer to pay your way, insist on it.
Thinking you are entitled to a mans money simply because you are a woman doesn’t command respect. And in this day and age it doesn’t show much self respect, either. Self importance, maybe, but that is not the same thing. Everyone likes to feel special, but that feeling doesn’t have to be gathered from another persons wallet.
There will always be men who take the old school, macho stance of “No woman is going to pay her way around me!” They are usually the same guys that think you owe them something when the check is paid. And the rest are just so insecure that they think this is their only way to companionship. I’ll wager that neither kind of man will ultimately respect you.
Most men won’t admit it, but they often wonder if the women they are with would even be around if it weren’t for financial perks. And some women won’t admit it, but the answer is often “no.”
Respect and security are bolstered by equality and undermined by a lack of it.
The thrust of this is that if you want respect, it really gets the ball rolling to start off by giving it. Every man and woman deserves respect, but we don’t get there by requiring partners to assume the role of a captive audience, personal therapist or an ATM on legs.