He May Be Simple, But He Isn’t Dumb
Apr 1, 2012 - 10:15:41 AM
(HealthNewsDigest.com) - When I counsel couples and the guy feels trapped or against the wall, he will frequently say in his defense, “Hey, I’m just a simple guy. I don’t know what you want.” I would like to interject here, because it seems that when a guy says this in my office, his partner becomes suddenly irate. She will actually go into a long litany of things he “should have known.” I usually stay silent here, because this part of their story is very telling. They are telling me their expectations of one another, their sadness, disappointment, and how they are resolving the issues. I could ask for this written nicely on a sheet of paper, but it wouldn’t be as helpful to them or to me as their counselor.
When a guy uses this simple clause, he is using something that has been passed on from man to man, generation to generation. The truth is, guys aren’t simple. They have fewer words to use than women, but they are NOT simple. In fact, I believe men are more emotional and complicated than any women married to them could imagine. The simple clause is beneficial to them, because it helps them avoid dealing with emotional issues that they feel overwhelmed by. Part of the reasoning for this, could be that men are wired to react to stress quicker, and take longer for the reactions to return to normal. A woman can get upset; her heart rate, blood pressure and respiration will speed up, but she returns to a normal pace much quicker than her man. His not getting engaged or worked up about an issue may be a safety mechanism for his health.
Women who have difficulty with men who claim to be simple or not knowing, many times have difficulty saying what they want, what they mean, or expressing themselves in an assertive manner. If you feel embarrassed about saying what you need, or you act passive because you believe that’s what women do, then to a certain extent your man will be “clueless.” His admitting defeat at not knowing what you wanted is spot on. No one could possibly know what you want, unless you communicate it directly. The inability of couples to express themselves directly creates tension in the marriage, and those marriages usually don’t last.
If you live with a man who claims simplicity and not knowing what you want, it is a wonderful opportunity for you to begin setting aside each day to talk with him. These talks would not be focused on what you want, so much as they would be focused on the vision you have for your marriage. Men are problem solvers, and if there is a goal, a man will most likely achieve it with a straighter, more linear course than a woman (the woman will seek to understand the process more…usually). Assigning homework for the couple shows interesting results. Eight times out of ten it is the man who will complete the assignment. The woman will have wonderful excuses why she couldn’t, and I will even believe some of those, but the message it is giving her husband and I is that the marriage is not a priority or the homework is not important (she usually does not directly say why she didn’t do the homework, so the guy who should have known why, doesn’t).
If you believe you live with a simple man, it may be due to his total frustration at not knowing what to do, how to please you, and his feelings that he can no longer do anything without you criticizing him. I am going to offer these suggestions as a “can do” process for you to find the genius in your man.
1. Guys, telling your partner that “You are simple and didn’t know” won’t work for long and maybe not at all. A more fitting comeback when you feel trapped or accused may be, “I feel confused and upset, but I do love you (if you still do), and want to resolve this and move on.” She will not be able to discount this line, and it reflects honesty with a sense of taking responsibility for your own feelings.
2. Ladies, be direct. If you are hinting and making subtle remarks, don’t expect your partner or anyone else to understand what you want. Many women are afraid to be direct because they think men won’t like them as much. Do you want to be “liked” or respected? Many times women, who are respected, respect others and are consequentially liked.
3. We teach the people we live with how to treat us. If your partner is afraid of talking about how they really feel, there is a problem in the relationship. A healthy marriage or relationship is healthy because both people believe how they feel matters to the other person. If your partner isn’t opening up and telling you how they feel, or what they want, you may need to step back a bit, and make the environment safer for him or her to be vulnerable. No one likes to get attacked; no one opens up and shares in that sort of environment. If you want to know the heart of the man or woman you sleep with, you need to encourage their talking about their feelings even when they aren’t positive toward you.
For you guys who say this phrase, “I’m a simple guy, and didn’t know,” I want you to know that when a woman who loves you hears this, she may “give up” inside and no longer try to make it better. She hears these words, “I’m a simple guy….and I don’t want to engage with you further.” At that point, she feels defeated in having the romantic or emotionally connected relationship she imagined she could have with you. If you want to create a great marriage or relationship, you have to quit making excuses for yourself. I talk with many guys each day….on one hand I can actually count the “simple ones” and most of the time they were not dumb (in this case, being dumb is being unwilling to grow, evolve, re-think a situation and change, not for your wife, but for your marriage). –Mary Jo Rapini
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