The Female Explained...

The Female Explained...

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WORDS Kate Swann and Kristina Mamrot | Psychologists and Authors |

I was reviewing the first article I’d written for MMH – The Male Explained. Funny, I thought. Why do men need to have males explained to them by a psychologist?

When I’m working with male clients in my counselling practice, they rarely struggle with understanding the motivations and forces that drive the other males in their lives. Fathers, mates, brothers, male partners are all explored and understood relatively easily. Complex male bosses who are giving grief can cause us to linger for several sessions, but that’s more around unrealistic expectations than mystery about the male psyche.

It’s the women in my male clients’ lives who send them into therapy in a last-ditch attempt to make sense of the female mind, and for essential survival tactics.

Here’s a few of the issues I see regularly and work on with my male clients to help them navigate the often stormy waters of their relationships with the women in their lives. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll only talk about romantic relationships. But if you want to expand your thinking around what makes women tick, think about your parents’ relationship and how these issues apply to them.

Has the woman in your life ever complained that you don’t understand her, that you’re not listening to what she says?

Problems with understanding crop up when women expect their men to behave like their mums or best friends. No allowance is made for the fact that you’re a guy, and not a girl, and this stuff often doesn’t come naturally for guys.

In evolutionary terms, men are the hunters and protectors. They problem solve quickly and efficiently, then use brute force to sort everything out. Sabre-tooth tiger threatening the cave? Fight the beast, chop him into pieces, and cook him up for dinner. The women and children are hungry and cold? Track down a herd of something swift and graceful, catch as many as you can, skin them for warm clothing, and eat the leftovers. Problem solved.

But today’s women want something more. And what that something is – well, that’s a mystery (even to them).

What your girl is demanding is that not only do you provide for her and keep her warm, fed, and safe, but that you also turn into a chick yourself at the drop of a hat and do all the soft nurturing stuff. Yes, it’s unfair – no one’s denying that. But here’s what she means when she complains that you’re not listening.

She’s NOT asking you to swiftly and accurately assess the situation and come up with the best solution. She’s asking you to shut up and LISTEN. All you’re required to do is pay attention to what she’s saying, let her know you’re listening and that you’ve understood. Then give her a hug.

And here’s the really important part: ask her again the next day how she’s feeling about it. Listen all over again, then give her another hug.

No problem solving. Don’t even think about going there. That’s the part that gets you into trouble over and over again. We’ll move on, because it will become clearer as we go. Trust me.

In fact, believe it or not, it’s healthy for women (and men, but we won’t go there) to express their emotions by crying. When your girl’s crying, it doesn’t mean that you’ve failed in your eternal quest to make her happy. It just means that she’s upset. And there’s nothing wrong with it.

I often talk this perplexing issue over with men who somehow think it’s their role to prevent their woman from crying, or to fix everything so she never has to cry again. Don’t be frightened of her tears.

Tears and sadness are just emotions like happiness and contentment. You wouldn’t try and stop her feeling happy, would you? So there’s no need to stop her feeling sad either. As humans we have an extraordinary range of emotions, and it’s important to be able to feel and express the full range.

So let her cry. Hold her, listen, and don’t make the mistake of sliding into problem-solving mode.

I guarantee she’ll feel better after a good cry, especially if you’re right there with her. As soon as you start to problem solve, she’ll feel like she’s lost you, you’re trying to move her on before she’s ready, and you’ll cycle back to, “you don’t understand me.”

Let’s face it, by and large, women expect their men to be mind-readers. And it’s just not fair. When I point this out to women, they may argue with me a bit, but they usually end up shame-faced. Women need to explain clearly what they want from their man, and then stick to it. No out-of-left-field changing their minds.

Now if you don’t like the thought of sending your woman in to me for that conversation, you can do it yourself. We’ll use a typical scenario – but you can substitute it for any of the recurring issues that crop up. You know the ones I mean.

Here’s how you set it up:
“Honey, I love you.

But I get really confused about what you need from me when it’s your birthday and you say ‘surprise me’ but you get mad because I didn’t get it right.

When this happens I get really upset and confused because I don’t know what you want me to do, and everything I try seems to be wrong.

What I need you to do is to give me clear instructions about what you want – ‘surprise me’ clearly isn’t working. You could say something like, ‘I want a bunch of those red roses I love from the florist down the road, a bottle of my favourite perfume (with name of perfume supplied), and a booking at that new restaurant we want to try’.

Please take the guesswork out of it for me, and let’s get this right. You’re the most important woman in the world to me, and I want to show you how much I love you.”

Remember to keep the top and tail “I love you” in, and don’t skip over the mushy feeling stuff in the middle. That’s speaking her language, and without it she won’t understand the importance of getting it right.

Does a little bit of you die when she asks this question? It should, because you’ve just been set up for failure. I’m not even going to start to explain why she asks this – that’s a whole article just in itself. I’m just going to tell you how to survive it.

If you say ‘yes’, you’re a heartless bastard. If you say ‘no, of course not’, she doesn’t believe you. Yep, you’ve just been set up, and she can have a hissy fit, try on everything in her wardrobe, throw everything all on the floor, and be miserable all night.

Here’s the ONLY answer to the question that fills all men with dread: “Darling, I love you, and your bum always looks beautiful to me.”

That’s it guys. Nothing more, nothing less. DO NOT get trapped into a debate about the bum. Just keep repeating this line, and make yourself scarce. If it does reduce into the dreaded tantrum, give her some space until she’s sobbing quietly, and then swing into listening-without-problem-solving mode.
Good luck!

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