Christian Pedersen describes two simple steps that separate you from connecting with a partner who is distancing herself.
Recently I had a very common conversation with a man who came to me for “woman coaching.” He was having a hard time with his new bride. He’s a great man, trying his damnedest to do the right thing with his new family.
He would take initiatives to have their relationship work out better, like coming up with mutual agreements, or sitting down to plan the vacation, or talking about how he could best be of support for her with her teenage kids. And I’ll tell you, it’s admirable that he was taking the lead on difficult topics like these. Many women out there would die for a man to do that!
But when this man did it, his wife would either get angry and go off at him, or withdraw and “get busy” elsewhere—with the kids or the kitchen, or some other practical chore.
He also told me about his new wife, that she’d come out of a marriage with a man who “wasn’t all there,” meaning he was hardly ever home, and she was left to take care of everything concerning kids, family, house, food, school, basically everything except for work and money.
Bust most of all, he loved his new wife strongly. He was willing to do anything to make it work, anything to make her happy.
He just didn’t know what.
Here’s where to start in a situation like that. First, he needed to know some woman basics.
Here’s what I told him: When your wife, or any woman in a similar situation, has been accustomed to taking care of everything and everyone, she has been forced to step into her own masculine. The masculine side of her is what is activated when she needs to deal with three different kids and their schedules, get to their appointments on time, while coordinating doctors visits, making sure there’s food enough in the house and set aside time to cook it, while dealing with her mom who need help in her house, while …. She’s in “getting-it-done” mode, “taking-care-of-business” mode.
When a woman has to reside so long in her masculine—perhaps never getting to let go and rest into her feminine side—it has some pretty significant side effects. In our seminars, when we ask women what happens when they have to step into masculine, they use words like, “I have to close my heart,” “I harden myself to get things done,” “I put on my armor,” “I disconnect from my softness”.
A woman who’s aware of this balance, and who lives with a present powerful man, can freely move in and out of feminine and masculine whenever appropriate or desired. But a woman who’s lived with a “not all there” kind of man, never gets to relax into softness, femininity or vulnerability.
So, back to our friend, the newlywed man. I told him to do just two simple things:
1. Make your presence tangible for her.
That means, many times during the day, go up to her and hold her shoulders, or put your arms around her and look her directly and lovingly in the eyes. Say, “Hi honey. I’m right here. You don’t have to do everything yourself. I’m here for you,” or simply, “Ooh, you are so beautiful! I love you!”
Doesn’t have to take more than 10 seconds, but she will feel your presence.
2. When she goes off at you about something, don’t take it personally and start explaining, discussing or defending.
“But how do I not take it personal when she’s talking about me?” was naturally his next question. Don’t interact with the content of her words, just consider it a stream of emotion or energy she needs to release. It’s just emotion, nothing else. Don’t interact with it. Just remain totally present with her, don’t leave the room because you don’t like the content of her words. Never mind the content of her words. There are other times for that.
When she’s going off, just remain powerfully present while she spews. Pretend you’re the cliff the ocean is throwing its waves at. It keeps throwing water at you, but you remain rock-solidly present, unfazed, unalarmed.
That’s it for now. Try it out, and let me know how it worked and what you think!
[photo: via Ed Yourdon on flickr]