Dear Jack, the thing is, everyone has an idea of how he or she wants to be loved. That determines a lot of things in marriage. When you don’t love according to prescribed desire, every other expression of love goes unappreciated. For example, if your woman loves texts and conversations, without those texts she may not feel fully loved by you. And unfortunately, in a relationship feelings are facts. They take on the character of events. That doesn’t mean you’re not putting in your best effort to love her. But there’s effort and there’s appreciation of effort.Let’s use food as analogy. If your woman wants a pudding but you serve her salad… now, salad is exotic and healthy, but it’s not going to be appreciated for the simple fact she wants pudding. However expensive the salad is, she’s not going to appreciate it like the pudding she wants. And that’s what you’re experiencing. In a manner of speaking, your wife wants pudding but you’re giving her salad. You’ve got to love her the way she’ll appreciate it, or she won’t be psychologically fulfilled. If she loves cuddles for instance and you give her everything except cuddles, those other things will go underappreciated, which can be painful to a man especially if you’ve poured your resources into those things, just to make her happy. Note, she’s not saying you should stop buying her the expensive presents. (She’ll never say that!) She’s just saying things like texts and cuddles are very important to her. They make her feel loved. Don’t you believe her if she says she’ll rather do without those gifts. That’s just emotive speak. She’s just trying to make a point that as important as those gifts are, she wants her cuddle and texts. She wants to be your devoted focus of attention, doesn’t want that attention substituted with presents. In other words, don’t you feel you’ve fulfilled your marital obligations with presents. You have emotional responsibility.
It’s not easy for a man to listen to the structure of this kind of narrative. We’re just wired differently. As men we tend to go for summaries, want summaries. But the woman wants to pour out her feelings. As men we have a subject matter approach to conversation, report style. Women prefer narrative. And so we men have a PowerPoint presentation approach to issues but women have a narrative approach: There’s foundation-laying ceremony – the story setting, including what she’s not trying to say… Then there’s introduction – before starting on the issue. So it’s not so much about problem solving; it’s about you listening. You need to expand your emotional capacity to make her happy. You must develop patience for such narratives.
The woman doesn’t know you lack the emotional bandwidth for such a narration structure. Men don’t have it. And those narratives meander. From a man’s perspective, it’s like dwelling too long on a sub-header. You’re almost screaming in your mind, please go on and go straightforward! But no! Marriage bears no semblance to PowerPoint presentation. There are no bullet points in matrimonial communication. There’s only a narrative and it requires attentiveness. And it’s not enough to listen to her words; you must pay HER attention. The whole thing is about attention. She wants your exclusive attention when she has something to say. And perish the thought you’ll understand. There are things in life you just have to accept. In marriage some things are the way they are because they’re the way they are, period. If you don’t give her that attention she wants she won’t be happy. Guess what happens to YOUR happiness! She’ll withdraw her matrimonial cooperation, until you address the issue. (It’s now an issue). Just sit down with her and let her pour out her soul. It’s matrimonial nirvana for her. She feels connected with you when she can talk in such a manner. She’ll call it “being free to talk.” Of course you can’t understand any of these rationally but like I told you, there are things you just have to accept.
Find out exactly how she wants to be loved, what’s important to her. Find out those things which mean a lot to her. It may be regard for her father, being accommodative of her sisters. It may be doing the dishes together, or cooking together, or going out together. Everyone is different. You don’t want acrimony in your house. It’s highly unnecessary and debilitating. Acrimony saps out the energy in a home, converts it into a depressive force that breaks human spirit like porcelain. You should strive for a peaceful home, and it takes some time for a young couple to achieve that rhythm. Young couples assume oneness by virtue of wedding not realizing they have to work at it.
Marriage is all these adjustments we need to make, the conforming to each other, the seeking of oneness. Oneness is the ultimate journey in a marriage. And it’s a long and interesting journey. You can’t have oneness without understanding, so seek to understand her and she you. Oneness is a dynamic journey. There are changes life will mandate. When that happens, adjust. There has to be constant adjustment in marriage, constant adaptation. The very idea of disharmony is incongruent with matrimony. Marriage is the ultimate expression of harmony. Rancour is antithetical to harmony. There can’t be harmony with constant picking of fights, trading of blames. You can’t have constant fights in marriage. No soul survives that kind of thing. Even the body will be under tension. Your soul needs equilibrium. The soul doesn’t do well with fears and fights, never thrives in them. Seek harmony in your marriage. Seek partnership. An ancient proverb says, one will put to flight a thousand but two will put to flight ten thousand. Remember, marriage is a journey of oneness. I wish you both a wonderful journey.
Your mentor, LA
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