Over the years, I’ve had the privilege to coach and mentor thousands of people from all walks of life—parents to sports teams.
There’s a theme among all my married clients and students with children: men eventually get tired of their wives. But, what they are really tired of is their wife’s expectation of them as a father and a provider.
I believe the fundamental conflict between men and women, between parents, and between lovers is expectation. Men reach a tipping point—a max output stage—where expectations can now be lowered due to overwhelmingly positive past performance. In other words, men identify with their work as “being enough.”
“I work hard, so now I have to come home and be a good father, and I still have to show the same amount of love I did before we had kids?” Yes, that’s an actual quote from one of my male clients who is struggling to identify with his wife’s needs.
Men have my opic vision. That is, we tend to only see what’s in front of us. We don’t always see the peripheral. After our work is done, we want to be done for the day…but there’s still more to be done—and that can break a man. Why? Because men lack the ability to request space. They lack the ability to set boundaries diplomatically. Often times, a man’s lack of elegant communication leads to anger and frustration.
Women’s expectations of their partner never reach that same limit, regardless of past performance. Men can work hard enough to master a skill for money, but in the process, they unfortunately replace the women for work, and now believe that it is sufficient. Women are left feeling alone, with a shell of a partner who once showed their love with affection, massage, palyful love, and adoration.
Yes, even though you’ve worked for 10 hours and the kids are in bed, you still need to massage my feet while we watch “Love is Blind.”
Men reach exhaustion in relationships because women are so demanding—but who is right?
The trick is for both individuals to work on themselves while not sacrificing the connection they had before children came along.
Men: you may work hard, but it will never matter as much as you think, and as much as you want it to mean. You must be a hard worker for a job, and a hard worker for the kids. And still, and more importantly, you have to remain a good partner, a lover for her. Expect her to be relentless in her concept of who you are and who she wants you to be. If you don’t like it, you portrayed yourself incorrectly in the beginning because she still remembers the old you.
“He was another person when we first met. Now, I feel like I live with a stranger.” This is from a married couple, together for 40 years.
Women: recognize the power you have and learn to be soft when you’ve pushed too hard. Learn when its appropriate to back down. It’s your nature to keep pushing, keep refining and hold the familial vision, but know that what you say matters.
Men will never ask for verbal expressions of confidence, they don’t want to appear needy—but secretly they are. Make sure to compliment him even when he doesn’t ask for it. Recognize his work ethic when performance is good instead of presuming it in silence. Yes, we know he may lack in other areas, but don’t only focus on correcting him there. Let him know you see the energy he puts into his career and that it is impressive, but gently remind him that you cannot compete with his work—the reason for working is for the household.
And women, remember that men compete with what you say. Showing him that he’s insufficient at home after hours of tireless work is a little provoking. Make it a compliment sandwich, if you will.
First, express appreciation for what he does do well, for all the work he has put in to his professional life. Then, add in what you need as well: what’s lacking at home, and what you two used to do before family. And softly end with that last sweet compliment or loving admiration about something he does well.
Catch his attention to something he wants to hear, squeeze in the real teaching in the middle, and end with that last piece of love.
Now to finish with the elephant in the room: I don’t care if you’re a homosexual couple. All of this applies to you as well. I’m talking about masculine and feminine structures, not sexual parts. The LBGTQ community still deals with the same frustrations. Someone in the house is getting too extroverted, and they’ve fallen out of love with the union. Instead, their attention is spent on another mission, and someone else is left to wonder if the love is still there.
For two women, replace “him or he” with the “masculine.” To those who identify as male or female, just apply the verbiage to that partner. Remember, someone in the relationship holds more of a masculine energy, while someone else holds a more feminine energy. That’s the core of the issue, not the hetero-normative style I’ve spoken from in the article.
Both men and women, or same sex couples, can live in harmony if they continue to strive for the ideals that they originally set out together.
This is why vows were written and boundaries were set from the beginning.
Conflict arises when we lack the ability to remember who we once were, get soft in our vision for who we wanted to be, and forget who we partnered up with in the first place.