I work with couples in my Atlanta couples counseling office…a lot. And I love it. It’s so much fun to hear about how your relationships started, how you fight over small things, how you’ve gone to bat for eachother.
And then there’s the other stuff. I love helping you figure out how you could improve on your communication. How you could work to really see and really know eachother intimately. How you can heal from past hurts.
I’ve learned a few things along the way, and I’ve decided to share some of them in articles.
If you’re the guy in the relationship, there are a few things you should know.
Before you get all defensive, know that this Atlanta couples counselor plans on writing one for the ladies too. But, this one’s for you. Because, I’ve seen some stereotypical patterns amongst the men that come to my office for couples counseling. I mention stereotypes because I know it can seem unfair to generalize here, and for the sake of writing this article, I have done that. So, I know one size does not fit all. You are unique. You have your own story, your own tendencies, and your own issues. And, honestly women struggle with this stuff too. We all have our stuff! So, take what you need and leave the rest.
- Validation goes a long way! I know you’re not into feelings. You’d rather solve a problem than wallow in it. You view feelings as weak or unimportant. But women aren’t wired quite the same. And, probably about 80% (I’m making this number up) of the things we share with you don’t need to be fixed. We just want you to understand and validate our feelings.Here’s what it looks like on a practical level: Her: “Honey, I had such a rough day. The kids wouldn’t stop arguing and I haven’t been able to cook dinner yet. I’m just exhausted. Him: “I’m sure that’s been tough on you today babe. I know that would be overwhelming for me.”That’s all. Guess/name the feeling (mirroring back what she said) and give the sense that that it makes sense she feels that way.
- Ask the one beautiful question that’s so healing.
Okay so you’ve validated her feelings. If you want to go a step further, instead of offering a solution, ask the magic question.Here it is: “How can I help?”The magic in this question is that you’re giving her the opportunity to ask for what she really needs. She might ask you to cook dinner, or ask for a hug, or ask for encouragement.
- Generally, sex does not equal love for women. Many men feel loved when they have sex. Many women need to feel loved in order to have sex. So, feeding her love tank (making her feel loved in ways that work for her), validating her, getting close to her…all of these things will promote her feeling loved which will promote sex, which will promote you feeling loved.
- The things that turn you on don’t necessarily turn her on. If she’s not turned on she may not want to have sex. The more you can talk about this and make effort to meet her needs, the more likely you will have meaningful and pleasurable sex. So, outside of the bedroom, try and ask her. What gets you in the mood? Is there anything you would like me to do more of? Is there anything you would like me to do less of? Is there any way I can set things up so that you would be more likely to enjoy yourself once things get started? Explore things openly and outside of the moment, so that during the moment you both can enjoy the experience. Her body doesn’t work like yours necessarily. Her brain needs to be in the right place. Her emotions need to be taken care of. She needs a lot of warmup. Try to figure out her needs.
- Boundaries protect you both. It’s easy for us to be selfish in relationships. It’s easy to want to be lazy and do what you want to do. But, know this: when she expresses a need, when she sets a boundary, when she asks you to do or not to do something….most of the time complying helps your relationship. Sometimes it can be helpful to consider a person’s intent or reason for asking. If she’s asking you not to drink as much, it’s most likely not because she doesn’t want you to have fun. Maybe she’s fearful you will get hurt or sick, because she loves you. Or, she knows you get reckless when you drink and she’s scared you’ll drive and hurt someone else or get a DUI and she’s protecting you. Try to comply with loving and realistic requests.
These are just a few ideas for you. Naturally, I could probably make a whole list of things that you need to know, but we’ll start with 5.