Why trying to change your partner never works!
Love is our most basic desired emotional need. We deserve to be loved; we need to feel loved. To love and be loved by another, brings feelings of fulfillment, happiness, wellbeing, and health. For each one of us lucky enough to have found love, there are many more who spend their entire lives searching for it.
This is why love is worth fighting for! Your relationship is worth fighting for! Your happiness is worth fighting for! After nearly 37 years of marriage I can honestly share with you that John and I are still very much in love and look forward to spending the rest of our lives together! I am not a marriage guidance counsellor or psychologist; actually, my motto is simple. “A kind word today keeps the Councilor away”!! Magazines and articles abound on this subject but are often a quick fix. We should never feel such lack of self-worth that we allow physical, emotional, or sexual abuse to be accepted forms of behavior within our relationship. The word Love itself can be complicated as we will discover later but I believe the key to a successful relationship is achieved in just two simple ways. Yes, you read that right, just two!
Acknowledge that men think differently to women.
Learn the Love Language of your partner.
Imagine as you set out on this journey that you are carrying a backpack full of heavy rocks. The backpack symbolizes your relationship, and the heavy burden of rocks represents all the things that have contributed to its decline. Don’t worry we are about to empty that backpack for good!!
I promise you that by the time you have finished reading my post you will have a better understanding of your partner. You will have the tools to improve communication and bring excitement and love back into your relationship. You will have the opportunity to fall in love again. If you feel you have tried everything to repair your relationship, I hope you will gain comfort in the words of a simple quote that has given new hope to so many. Dr. John Gray, author of Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus explains perfectly for us. “We mistakenly assume that if our partner loves us, they will react and behave in certain ways-the ways we react and behave when we love someone”.
As women we constantly feel the need to improve and nurture. We are recognized experts in this field! This often applies to “making improvements“ to our partner. I am not referring to things like “darling I think the blue shirt would look better” I mean actually trying to change our partner. The truth is we cannot! and we shouldn’t! A woman’s love can inspire a man to be all he can be, BUT it is up to him to change. A man’s love can inspire a woman to be all she can be BUT it’s up to her to change. This is a partnership.
Congratulations you have just thrown out the first rock!
How men and women are different emotionally:
Expecting a man and a woman to think, feel, act, and respond in the same way will most certainly result in disappointment and failure. If fact we are so different, we may as well come from different planets! (Or Solar Systems for that matter!) The reasons for this are complex and may include cultural conditioning background/education. The important lesson here is that we can enrich each other with our differences.
Women versus Men checklist!!
Women complain that men don’t listen-we want empathy when we are upset. Men show their love by offering us solutions. Talking about our problems is NOT an invitation to offer solutions. “Why is he trying to solve my problem, I just need to vent for an hour (or all evening!!) and I will be fine!”
Men complain that women are always trying to change them. They feel controlled and just want acceptance. Women think they are nurturing him. On the surface nurturing seems harmless enough, but with the hidden agenda to “change” him, it takes on a whole different meaning.
Men are more interested in objects; women are interested in people and feelings.
Men are project orientated. Women are the nurturers of the relationship. Personal growth and the needs of others are important to us.
Men may feel incompetent, weak, or even unloved when a woman offers suggestions. Women are showing their love when they offer suggestions to improve. Men do however pride themselves on being experts in the fields of Getting places-fixing things-solving problems. Asking a man to ask for help is the ultimate insult! I understand how frustrating this can be, but to acknowledge this male trait will put us on the right path to emptying that backpack of rocks! Truly it will!
Women don’t wear uniforms. We change depending on our mood. We can express multiple moods in a single day! We are experts at multitasking, and moods are no exception. Men find this extremely hard to understand.
When women have a problem, we find a trusted source and talk in detail which makes us feel better. Dr Gray describes this perfectly. “A woman under stress is not immediately concerned with finding solutions to her problems, but rather seeks relief by expressing herself and being understood”. When a man has a problem, he doesn’t want to talk and share. He will go into his “cave” alone with his thoughts to solve ”his” problem. If he finds a solution he comes out. If he can’t find a solution he comes out and finds a distraction to forget about his problem! When he is in his cave, he is only listening 5% which to him means he is listening! We as women are asking for full undivided attention.
A man only wants to make improvements when he feels he is being approached as a solution to a problem rather than as the problem itself. Like many women, I found this specific difference profound. It may even be regarded as the pivotal difference for positive change.
Examples of how men and women invalidate each other’s feelings:
Men: But you shouldn’t feel that way | Look there is nothing we can do about it | Why do you let people treat you that way? Forget them.
Women: Those potato chips are too greasy they’re bad for your heart | How can you think of buying that you/we already have one | You should call a plumber he’ll know what to do. (guilty!!)
There are many more examples in Dr Gray’s book. I chose some of my favorites!
Congratulations! Having acknowledged these fundamental differences, we can safely remove another rock from our backpack!
Men are motivated when they feel needed. Women are motivated when they feel cherished. This difference is so important to recognize and vital for our success. Let’s reiterate that difference out loud together!
Congratulations! Toss out another rock! A big one!
Women: We never go out. Man: We went out last week
Women: I need more romance. Man: Are you saying I’m not romantic
Women: No one listens to me. Man: I’m listening to you right now
Women: Would you bring in the mail/The mail hasn’t been bought in. He hears. “You forgot to bring in the mail you should remember (disapproval). Could, resonates more deeply with men than Would.
Woman: I feel like you’re not here. Man: If you can see me, I am here. (you can see where this is going!)
Men use speech simply to relay fact and information. (Literal translation) Women do not usually expect the word “never” to be taken literally; it is our way to convey frustration.
Men mull things over. Women think out loud. Women talk to gather information (the only reason men talk) explore, discover, feel better.
Men want to fix women. Women want to improve men! Please remember this as our journey continues with ever intense clarity!
Translating our partner’s language is imperative to success but is often overlooked. Don’t worry, it’s not as hard as it sounds. Here are several examples shared by Dr. Gray taken from his book “Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus” With a heartfelt smile I suspect each one of us will have to take ownership for at least one of these!
Scoring Points: The love department: Men and women keep score differently:
Men: Presenting you with a dozen red roses = 12 points, to a woman this equates to 1 point.
He believes, the bigger the gift the more points he will score. Women award 1 point simply because she views this as a single gift of love regardless of its size. A wildflower picked on a walk and given with love will earn the same number of points, maybe even more.
By understanding these vastly different thought processes, we can now learn which love language our partner speaks.
Before we do this, let’s empty out a few more rocks from that not so heavy backpack. Fantastic! Well deserved! It’s getting lighter!
Men give a point each time a woman shows her appreciation for something he has done. This increases his desire to do more and keep giving. Men need to know they make a difference and are needed.
We tend to naturally give love the way we would like to receive it. A beautiful sentiment with a potentially dangerous outcome!
The importance of understanding your partner’s love language:
As with different spoken languages and dialects, we each have our own love language. By learning both ours and our partner’s love language we can better understand and communicate to improve and enrich our relationship. Below, Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages shares with us.
The 5 emotional love languages. Which language do you speak?
- Words of Affirmation:
- Quality Time
- Receiving Gifts
- Acts Of Service
- Physical Touch
Words of affirmation:
Are verbal compliments important to you or your partner? Words of recognition, encouragement and praise inspire you. Thanking and receiving thanks regularly motivates you. Does thanking your partner motivate and inspire him? Do words of affirmation make you feel appreciated? Do you make a conscious effort to use kind words? Words can say one thing, but our tone of voice can say another. Do you see the event through his eyes, not your own perception? Do you need to hear your partner say “I love you” even when you know he does?
Is it important to you that your partner makes time to give you undivided attention? You need your partner to recognize the importance of “together time”. Group activities require you to share him with others, no matter how fun they may be. You are comfortable with this BUT You need time that allows him to fully focus on you. You desire quality conversation with your partner. You need understanding without interruption or defense. It is important that your partner is in tune with your emotions. Doing quality activities together is more important to you or him than words.
Acts Of Service:
Are you happiest when doing things, you know your partner loves? It may be that you both share the same love language but speak different dialects! By this I mean, try to learn your partner’s dialect so that you can choose accordingly. It might be important to you, to have a pristine bathroom, but it may be important to him to have a pristine kitchen! Yes, I know that is probably a farfetched example, but you get the idea! Humor is always a wonderful addition to any relationship! Acts of service should always be carried out with love, never in fear or resentment. We must be willing to make changes to meet the emotional needs of our partner.
Is physical touch the most powerful connector for you? Does a lack of physical touch make you feel less loved and appreciated? Feeling a sense of closeness is important to you. Physical expressions of love are more important to you than verbal or gifts. Touch has a powerful romantic value to you. Touch increases our levels of dopamine and serotonin (two neurotransmitters that help regulate mood, relieve stress, and reduce anxiety). Touch has a positive effect on the healing process and our immune health. Our sensation of pain is reduced when someone we care about holds our hand. Physical touch can be sexual, but sometimes the simple act of holding hands can give us reassurance, resolve conflicts, and strengthen our relationship. It is important to recognize that Physical Touch may not be your partner’s Love Language.
How do you give and receive love? Are tangible items an important reminder that your partner loves you? Do you cherish the gift with love regardless of its value? Is gift giving important to you because it conveys the message ”I saw this and thought you would like it. I was thinking about you”. Does this sentiment apply when you receive a gift from your partner? If the giving and receiving of tangible gifts (not to be confused with acts of service) is your language, remember to connect and discover if your partner shares the same language.
Many of us may be bilingual and take ownership of several languages. Yes, we can to a point, however we will always gravitate back to our own true language. Does it matter what form our relationship takes? No of course not! What matters is allowing ourselves the opportunity to love and be loved in our own language.
The 5 Love Languages is a truly wonderful resource. A book that keeps on giving. It offers valuable tools to help us reconnect with our partner.
Discover The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts or Take a Peek inside the Bookshop
Learning your own and your partner’s Love Language takes courage and honesty. Understanding these 5 languages can take our relationship to a greater place of connection, understanding and love.
Let’s empty the remaining rocks from our backpack! Wonderful feeling!
A few stubborn rocks may find their way back in periodically, but now we know how to throw them back out!
Enjoy and love each other!
My Quote for you: We love a film, We love a place, We love a color, We love certain foods. Let’s never allow ourselves to forget the true value and meaning of the word Love.
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