Don’t just chalk up wife’s concerns to Venus
Dear Carolyn: Why do women expect men to be mind readers? My wife has been grousing around lately. She finally erupted, “Just once I’d like to come home and find you made the salad for dinner!”
“You want a salad? Call/ text/e-mail and it’s yours!”
To which she replied those killer words, “I shouldn’t have to!”
It’s the same with gifts. She won’t tell me what she wants except, “Jewelry is always nice,” but she never wears the jewelry I buy her.
I know this is a Mars/Venus question, but we are well-educated, professional people. All I ask is that she tell me what she wants, and she expects me to read her mind. If she really wants compromise, then she can’t adhere to her impossible expectations. So, again, why do women expect men to be mind readers?
Dear Northwest: Why do people attribute to an entire sex the behavior of one person?
Calling this “Mars/Venus” undercuts your professed goal of reaching compromise, be- cause it defines your wife upfront as “other.”
It would be more productive to see her as a person, like you, who has wants, needs, doubts, and who makes choices (both thoughtful and reflexive) based on those motivations.
And just like many, male and female, your wife has an idea of the way a romantic relationship is supposed to look. Apparently, she believes a loving mate will study her wants and needs, then step up wordlessly to satisfy those needs.
While we all like to think we’re creating something unique, newcomers to relationships — and veterans without mentors — tend to follow scripts based on observed behavior. Thus flowers at the doorstep, proposals on bended knee, declarations of “You don’t know me!”
It’s also not uncommon for such a clunky romantic template to go unchallenged well into a marriage, if there’s little flexibility and cooperation between your parents; no good premarital education or skilled couples counseling; no eye-opening trauma; no maturity leap from either of you.
If you’d like your wife to chuck her script and talk from her heart, then you have to chuck yours. No more playing the sensible, put-upon Mars to her irrational Venus.
From now on, these are the only players: your needs, her needs, your feelings, her feelings, your frailties, her frailties, honesty (even when it scares you) and your mutual humanity. “You should have made a salad” offers no remedy, so ask her what the salad thing is really about — feelings, not food. “I feel discouraged/frustrated/lonely, and here’s why” invites you into each other’s thoughts. That’s what intimacy is about.