Maybe I’m just going through a mid life crisis, but even after surviving almost 35 years of marriage, there are still times when I don’t understand what my wife wants! There have been times when I thought that a near death experience like Mel Gibson had in “What Women Want” would have been worth the risk to find out! The fact is, relationships only work when we work at them, whether it is between husbands and wives, or parents and children. The differences between men and women only complicates this process! So where do we start?
Listen! Hear both what is said AND what is left unsaid. If you don’t understand ASK for clarification. It is no accident that we have two ears and only one mouth, so we should listen twice as much as we talk.
Emotion not just information! The male tendency is to focus on the facts and forget the feelings. Women don’t want to know how we can fix their problems, just that we care and can show empathy.
Accept differences! No matter what the form of the team, men and women are not in competition but in cooperation. This applies as much to marriage as to the workplace. That may mean dispensing with the standard stereo types.
Respect! Honour and mutual respect seem to have fallen off the bottom of the modern priority list, but in an era of equity and diversity it is more necessary than ever. So don’t forget the common courtesies of “please” and “thank you” even when you don’t have to.
Needs! Open your eyes to see not just your needs but the needs of those around you. Be open to the fact that others may be really struggling with things that you have never noticed. Be sensitive and ask what you can do.
The only trouble with writing these ponderings is that it is much easier to write about it than do it! No, I don’t always know what women want, but I am continually seeking to LEARN, which sometimes gets me off the hook!
Chaplain Ian Whitley