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Read Letter

Sense and Sensitivity

Dear Jil,

In the last few weeks I have been examining my heart, analysing my sharings with you. My cogitation moves me to write you about deeper issues. You must grapple the serious dimensions of marriage for example. If you want your husband to appreciate you more, this judgment you must cultivate. It’s good for any relationship.

A relationship transits historical chunks of time. And over a stretch of time so many things can happen. Fortunes can go up, fortunes can go down. A man’s fortune can dip or rise. This can be occasioned by a number of factors: government policy, operating environment, macroeconomic dynamics… His company may be undergoing structural adjustment; there may be market realignment, tech disruption. He might be going through private turmoil himself – the sense of being lost, being alone, fear, seeking to find meaning. By conditioning, men keep things to themselves. They are brought up to be “manly” in the face of great odds. Unless things get to a head, or the pressure becomes unbearable a man will hardly talk. He doesn’t want his wife or girlfriend to stop looking up to him or respecting his strength. Doesn’t want to convey fear.

If you’re attentive, and I hope you are, you can tell when your man is in trouble or going through difficulties. Your intuitive capacity should ordinarily alert you to the state of his unexpressed circumstances.

The equivalent gifting in men is nuanced sensitivity. Let’s call it perceptiveness. Men can read subtle changes in the mood of a woman, the slightest of temperature changes. A man can detect changes in feeling – micro moods, if he pays attention. Very quiet women depend on this sensitivity to facilitate communication. They send out pulses. Possibly 80 – 90% of communication in marriage is non verbal. Maybe more. The more dedicated and loving the relationship the less the verbal layout of the real conversations going on.

This sensitivity in men is an underscore of Paul’s statement that a married man always wants to please his wife. Those “pleasings” are not always about big demands. There are “mini pleasings”. Like what movie to watch, whether or not to go to a function, what to wear, favour to a friend… There are these subtle, erm… electromagnetic impulses emanating from the heart of a woman.

This impulse communication is an important mode of communication for the woman. (It’s how she gives the come on, though sometimes aided by coyness, and maybe a tender touch. Wink!) When a woman says a man doesn’t “understand” her she’s not referring to English comprehension or whatever language. It just means he’s not decoding those pulses emanating from her essence. They contain her desires. And when a couple says “we just get each other” it’s in reference to the meshing of perceptiveness and intuitiveness. The meshing of the two capacities produces harmony and mutual “understanding”. Love facilitates the combination. That’s how couples can be so radically different from each other yet have a wonderful marriage.

Devotion to this sensitivity complex – with both parties seeking to please each other produces matrimonial elysium. A partner is described as selfish when matrimonial sensitivity is a one way traffic phenomenon. A man must pay attention to those impulses since the woman makes non verbal requests and censors demands with them.

Now, we know from the Pauline conjugal principle that other things being equal a man will always seek to please his wife. But you have to be careful not to overdo things, making insensitive demands or over-censoring requests. Be careful about rejection of request for coitus in your marriage for example. A series of nuanced no’s can produce withdrawal. The man keeps away as a message. He’s angry and discouraged. And the fear of discouragement can be anticipatory – as in, don’t hurt yourself you already know she’ll say no. It’s like facing a brick wall. You don’t need to hit it to know the effect on impact. Knowledge it’s a brick wall is enough. Anticipatory rejection makes a man suffer in silence. There’s pain laced with a thin coat of anger. That’s how “non existent” issues pile up. The man keeps curating impressions, drawing conclusions.

Because women are not given to making those kinds of associations, many underestimate the inherent danger. Three strikes are usually too much for a man to handle. He reacts, and of course the woman thinks it’s overreaction. Men tend to reach powerful conclusions from repetitive instances. It’s their nature.

But back to the train. I was warning you about some things. For example don’t make certain demands when a man is undergoing difficulty. That kind of attitude is read by the man as insensitivity. It’s a Marie Antoinette syndrome. Remember Marie Antonoinette? She was the wife of Louis XVI of France. She was beautiful and had a charming personality, and the French were initially captivated by her. But they came to dislike her and eventually beheaded her! Her husband was similarly guillotined. In fact the deposition of her husband led to the abolition of monarchy in France. They accused her of being profligate, and that was a misdemeanour compared to other charges laid against her. They called her “Madame Déficit” - because of her lavish spending during times of austerity. Some scholars deemed her frivolous and superficial. The more the political pressure the more she plunged into costly diversions including massive purchases of haute couture from the celebrated fashion designer, Rose Bertin. In other words this woman had no appreciation of circumstances. Don’t let your hubby (or boyfriend) characterise you Marie Antoinette. Be understanding. An understanding woman can read situations, knows when not to make demands.

Sensitivity is one of the most important ingredients in a copacetic marriage. It bespeaks care.

I do wish you as always eternal conjugal happiness.

Your mentor, LA.


©Leke Alder 2014

Tags : Communication, Marriage, Understanding

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