Do you remember that line from the musical, My Fair Lady:
‘Why can’t a woman be more like a man?’
It’s a very light-hearted question from Professor Higgins, who was completely baffled by female behaviour and attitudes.
I sometimes think women want men to be more like women. Whilst they want their partner to be manly, they also want him to be more sensitive and emotional like a woman.
But is that truly realistic? Fundamentally, men and women are different, and there are some good biological reasons why which I will explain later.
This often gets played out in relationships, with women wanting their man to be more like them but also to be able to fulfil all their needs and expectations, which is not possible as no one person can meet all our needs. It generally takes a whole community to provide that. Sadly in our society, that community – extended family – isn’t available to do that, and many people are quite isolated because they work full-time and there isn’t the ability to form those connections.
Albert Einstein once said:
“Men marry women with the hope they will never change.
Women marry men with the hope they will change. Invariably, they’re both disappointed.”
So, let’s take a look at some of those needs, and expectations, and whether they are realistic.
A man can never be your best friend like your girlfriend. So if you expect him to be sensitive like your girlfriends then you are going to be disappointed, and he certainly isn’t going to be interested in the same things you talk to your friends about.
Men’s basic instincts are to be the protector and provider. However, I often hear women feeling a lack of self-worth when she isn’t ‘earning money’ outside the relationship, with the man feeling he should provide for his family, and feeling inadequate when his wife shares that she wants or needs to return to work to regain some independence. On the other hand, I have ‘Ouched’ when I’ve heard women complaining openly that their partner doesn’t earn enough, or doesn’t have a good enough job.
Share the same interests
Whilst couples often share the same hobbies and interests, it’s unlikely they will like all the same things (going shopping for most men is like torture). They cannot understand why women will try every dress or pair of shoes in every shop in the shopping mall and then buy the first they tried on! It makes sense to us women though. So, don’t expect them to jump for joy at the prospect of a shopping trip.
I hear so many women complaining their partner gropes them and just wants sex, leaving them feeling objectified. Ok, it’s probably when you are in the kitchen by a hot cooker and worried you are going to get burnt or get something hot spilt down you, so you push him away. But that leaves him feeling rejected. In my experience men are more likely to express their love through their bodies, it’s their way of showing appreciation. Whereas women are much more tactile and want the romance, needing cuddles, especially as a prelude to having sex. Unless you understand that and talk about it, it’s likely to cause conflict and not much action in the bedroom.
Equally share chores and childcare
So, you both work but chores need to be done and children need to be taken care of. But it’s unreasonable to expect those things to be shared 50/50. Different working patterns and job type all play into that. If he works long hours with a stressful commute
and you work less hours locally is it fair to expect equal division of labour?
Are you going to expect him to share housework or cooking if it isn’t one of his strengths? “Would you want him to expect the same of you?
And there is nothing worse or more demoralising than expecting your partner to do things to the same standard as you.
Perhaps they need showing, (in a kind way) or just accept they have done it. Criticising them or putting them down isn’t kind.
Any of the following familiar?
●Husband walks through the door and his wife says: ‘Here, you have the kids, I’ve had them all day’, without even checking what kind of day he’s had.
●Wife complaining that her husband hasn’t put the bins out, even though knows which day is bin day.
●Wife complaining husband has left something out of the child’s school bag when he doesn’t do it every day. He’s human!
Teamwork all the way.
Someone to make us happy
It isn’t up to anyone else to make us happy. We are each responsible for our own happiness. It’s totally unrealistic to expect your partner to make you happy. It’s nice if he does something nice or thoughtful that results in you feeling happy, but he’s not your personal-in-house entertainer, and supplier of presents and bling. There is nothing worse than hearing a man say: ‘Nothing I do makes her happy’. The truth is that none of us can be happy all the time. But if you aren’t happy in your relationship, ask yourself why, it may not be down to him.
Someone who is intuitive
No one can read our minds and in fact the thought of someone knowing what’s going on inside my mind feels scary! The number of women who tell me: ‘He should know, we’ve been together long enough’. His perceptions and priorities are likely to be much different from yours. Our brains are wired differently. Women have a larger limbic system meaning they tend to be more in touch and expressive about their emotions.
In contrast, men tend to be rather oblivious around emotions that are not explicitly verbalised. They also tend to be more logical in their thinking, wired to problem solving, meaning you not only need to ask for what you need specifically, but also to let him know he doesn’t need to fix you.
One of the things I recall with great embarrassment and guilt from the past, was the way I behaved after an argument with my husband. He attempted to put his arm around me to comfort me, I shrugged him off, saying ‘get off’ (cringe). On a subsequent occasion, I complained he didn’t give me a hug when I was upset. OMG, is it any wonder? Poor man was worried about getting it wrong as well as risking being rejected!
That’s what he got for trying to be intuitive. Instead, how much kinder and adult to thank him and say I didn’t want a hug at that moment. Then ask him when I did want a hug.
Able to juggle more than one thing at a time.
Men are wired to focus on one objective and task, whereas women are much more used to juggling lots of things simultaneously, probably because they have got used to juggling everything related to family life.
Another memory comes to mind that I recall with shame. I went out for the day, leaving my husband and young daughters together. When I returned home, they were all sat on the floor having a great time, looking so happy. My response was to complain he had done nothing else, no meal cooked, girls not bathed…….Eeek, how unkind! I spoilt what had been a great day for them all, as well as crushing him, leaving him feeling a failure. I still shudder at that memory..
Stop, and ask yourself if you are being realistic, or are you basing your expectations on some kind of imagined fairytale, which in actual fact is all in our heads. Because we never saw what happened after the handsome prince rode off with Cinderella. We were just told they lived happily ever after.
I will leave you with this last thought. My male clinical supervisor said to me once:
‘A woman has the ability to emotionally castrate a man with just one word’.