Christian Clifton has a surefire way for men to better understand women. So why isn’t it more popular?
Standing in line waiting to checkout at the grocery store can be a stunningly boring task, so it’s no wonder they put all those impulse buy items right there. Waiting there, surrounded by things that only under the most desperate of situations would be considered needed, my eyes often wander to scan the latest magazine selections. Cosmopolitan, GQ, Oprah, a few different Something Digest’s, and Maxim wallpaper one side of the tight alley opposite the Slim-Jims and prepaid phone cards.
Skimming the covers and titles of articles held inside my eyes seem to find a few articles that are related. Several of the articles are focused on a subject that most people would love to become experts in; understanding the opposite sex. Both the men’s and women’s magazines seem to love running pieces about this very topic because they know there will be plenty of people who let their curiosity do the purchasing.
The same thing seems prevalent on TV as well. Almost every day I’ll see a commercial for some talk show advertising that the solution to understanding your significant other will be provided if you watch.
The media knows we are preoccupied with trying to understand the opposite sex, always wanting to know more about how they think and act. There isn’t anything unhealthy about this desire for knowledge, having a better grasp on someone as fundamentally different from us as the opposite gender can be a very powerful thing. It can and will make relationships better, both romantic and platonic, and can help to balance a person out. As men, the question isn’t whether we should learn more about the women, it’s how should we go about doing it.
There is a “simple trick” to women but it isn’t something that tabloids and gossip channels would have you believe. The trick lies in doing one thing over and over. Ask questions. There simply isn’t some way that you can learn to figure her out without ever talking to her.
I know we are all obsessed with getting immediate results and anything that takes longer than “right now” infuriates us. As a society we have grown impatient to the point that if it isn’t easy, it isn’t for us. Guys, this thinking cannot follow us into relationships if we want them to have any substance.
Most of us have heard or voiced the complaint ourselves at times about how hard women can be to understand. They think differently from us, talk differently, and behave in ways that can leave us speechless but that doesn’t mean we can never figure out something about them. We can figure out plenty about just one by living in relationship with her and following the simple rule from above.
My wife is not always like most women I know. For this I am thankful, but there are times when she will behave in the ways that become lampooned by sitcoms and guys nights alike. There are days when she will throw out the dreaded “fine” response to a question about how she is doing or how she is feeling about something I did. As many men know this one word can bring about more fear than any Freddy or Jason.
It is in the moments when I can tell that my wife is upset that I have a choice to make, the same choice every other man has to make when his significant other is upset. Do I leave it alone or pursue her. It isn’t easy but most of the time it is far better to pursue and get to the bottom of what is going on. This is only accomplished by asking questions and being genuine in a desire for responses beyond “fine”.
It is by asking questions in moments like this that I learn what upsets her whether it was something I did or not. This knowledge allows me to love her better. It also allows me to not make the same mistake again and avoid another uncomfortable conversation, so there can be a little bit of selfishness in it.
The same thing needs to apply to times of joy. Ask questions about how, why, what, when, who and so on. Finding out what makes her happy is just as important as finding out how to avoid pissing her off. Taking an interest in her is one of the easiest ways to make your wife/girlfriend happy.
There is a small asterisk next to the “one” in our one rule, it also includes being willing to answer when questions are asked. This applies to both men and women, neither one of us is allowed to get away with “fine” as a response to a question (unless you say it with some gusto when she asks how she looks in a new dress, just don’t be blasé with your delivery). I know that these one word responses are almost instinct, but the habit needs to be broken.
Men, when she asks how your day was you have to tell her more than “fine” or “good”. Tell her why it was good, what made it special. Alternatively if it was bad, don’t grunt at her as you walk in the door. If she is asking most likely she wants to know details, and will feel left out if you only share one word of them.
Women also have to be willing to avoid saying “fine”. When we guys ask a question give us a straight answer. We can be pretty rash sometimes and need a little bit more than body language and glances to understand a situation. We want to love you better and to make you happy but you have to help us out sometimes.
We as guys must also learn to practice a little humility in all this. If something feels out do no immediately start trying to figure it out in your head. Don’t start racing your mind trying to think about what made her mad, why she is crying, who is making her smile so much, potentially making her or others the villain when no such blame should be placed. If you don’t know, ASK; if you need help, ASK. I know it goes against most of our instincts as guys but getting the real answer will be better than the hearsay game we play in our minds.
It might seem simple a task to just start asking more questions but it can be very difficult. I will not play the role of a magazine editor and try to trick you into believing that after reading this article your life will be a thousand times better. No, in fact when you really start to get to know someone else your life tends to have a few more difficulties in it. The reality is that by asking questions and learning about her, you will become closer to your significant other and closeness with people is often messy.
Don’t be afraid of betting messy because when you are doing it with someone you really like or even love it can be one of the most rewarding things in life. Dig deep and show her you really care about stuff she cares about, that you really want to know what is going on in her life. If you need a little more encouragement to consider taking up this task remember that the more loved and cared for your significant other feels the more she will want to love and care for you. So don’t think that doing this won’t bring any good to you, because it will in some pretty awesome ways.
Photo: theo / flickr