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May 18, 2011 20:05
In my seminars when I explain aout caves and dragons, women want to know how they can shorten the time men spend in their caves. At this point I ask the men to answer, and they generally say that the more women try to get them to talk or come out, the longer it takes.
Another common comment by men is "It is hard to come out of the cave when I feel my mate disapprove of the time I spend in the cave." To make a man feel wrong for going into his cave has the effect of pushing him back into the cave even when he wants to come out.
When a man goes into his cave he is generally wouldd or stressed and is trying to solve his problem alone. To give him support that a woman would want is counterproductive. There are basically six ways to support him when he goes into his cave.(Giving him this support will also shorten the time he needs to spend alone.)
How to Support a Man in His Cave
1.Don't disapprove of his need for withdrawing.
2.Don't try to help him solve his problem by offering solutions.
3.Don't try to nurture him by asking questions abouthis feelings.
4.Don't sit next to the door of the cave and wait for him to come out.
5.Don't worry about him or feel sorry for him.
6.Do something that makes you happy.
If you need to "talk", write him a letter to be read later when he is out, and if you need to be nurtured, talk to a friend. Don't make him the sole source of your fulfillment.
A man wants his favorite Venusian to trust that he can handle what is bothering him. To be trusted that he can handle his problems is very important to his honor, pride, and self-esteem.
Not worrying about his is difficult for her. Worrying for others is one way women express their love and caring. It is a way of showing love. For a woman, being happy when the person you love is upset just doesn't seem right. He certainly doesn't want her to be happy because he is upset, but he does want her to be hapy. He wants her to be hapy so that he has one less problem to worry about. In addition he wants her to be happy because it helps him to feel loved by her. When a woman is happy and free from worry, it is easier for him to come out.
Ironically men show their love by not worrying. A man questions "How ca you worry about someone whom you admire and trust?" Men commonly support one another by saying phrases such as "Don't wory, you can handle it" or "That's their problem, not yours"or "I'm sure it will work out" Men support one another by not worrying or minmizing their troubles.
It took me years to understand that my wife actually wanted me to worry about for her when she was upset. Without this awareness of our different needs, I would minimize the importance of her concerns. This only made her more upset.
When a man goes into his cave he is generally trying to solve a problem. If his mate is happy or not needy at this time, then he has one less problem to solve before coming out. Knowing that she is happy with him also gives him more strength to deal with his problem while in the cave.
Anything that distracts her or helps her to feel good wil be helpful to him. These are some examples:
Read a book Call a girlfriend for a good chat
Listen to music Write in a journal
Work in the garden Go shopping
Exercise Pray or meditate
Get a massage Go for a walk
Listen to self-improvement tapes Take a bubble bath
Treat yourself to See a therapist
something delicious Watch TV or a video
The Martians also reommended that the Venusians do something enjoyable. It was hard to conceive of being happy when a friend was hurting, but the Venusians did find a way. Ever time their favorite Martian went into his cave, they would go shopping or out on some other pleasing excursion. Venusians love to shop. My wife, Bonnie, sometimes uses this technique. When she sees I am in my cave, she goes shopping. I never feel like I have to apologize for my Martian side. When she can take care of herself I feel OK taking care of myself and going into my cave. She trusts that I will come back and be more loving.
She knows that when I go into my cave is not the right time to talk. When I begin showing signs of interest in her, she recognizes that I am coming out of the cave, and it is then a time to talk. Sometims she will casually say,"When you feel like talking, I would like to spend some time together. Would you let me know when?" In this way she can test the waters without being pushy or demanding.
Even when they are out of the cave men want to be trusted. They don't like unsolicited advice or empathy. They need to prove themselves. Being able to accomplish things without the help of others is a feather in their cap.(While for a woman, when someone assists her, having a supportive relationship is a feather in her cap.) A man feels supportd when a woman communicates in a way that says "I trust you to handle things unless you directly ask for help."
Learning to support men in this way can be very difficult in the beginning. Many women feel that the only way they can get what they need in a relationship is to criticize a man when he makes mistakes and to offer unsolicited advice. Without a role model of a mother who knew how to receive support from a man, it does not occur to women that they can encourgae a man to give more by directly asking for support-without being critical or offering advice. In addition, if he behaves in a manner that she does not like she can simply and directly tel him that she doesn't like hsi behavior, without casting judgment that he is wrong or bad.
How to Approach a Man with Criticism or Advice
Withoust an understanding of how they are turning men off with unsolicited advice and criticism, many women feel powerless to get what they need and want from a man. Nancy was frustrated in her relationships. She said, "I still don't know to appproach a man with criticism and advice. What if hsi table manners are atrocious or he dresses realy, really badly? What if he's a nice guy but you see he's got a pattrn of behaving with people in a way that makes him lok like a jerk and that's causing him trouble in relationships with others? What should I do? No matter how I tell him, he gets angry or defensive or just ignores me."
The answer is that she should definitely not offer criticism or advice unless he asks. Instead, she should try giving him loving acceptance. This is what he needs, not lectures. As he begins to feel her acceptance, he will begin to ask what she thinks. If, however, he detects her demanding that he change, he wil not ask for advice or suggestions. Especially in an intimate relationship, men need to feel very secure before they open up and ask for support.
In addition to patiently trusting her partner to grow and change, if a woman is not getting what she needs and wants, she can and should share her feelings and make requests(but again without giving advice or criticism). This is an art that requires caring and creativity. These are four possible approaches:
1. A woman can tell a man that she doesn't like the way he dreses without giving him a lecture on how to dres. She could say casually as he is getting dressed "I don't like that shirt on you. Would you wear another one tonight?" If he is annoyed by that comment, thenshe should respect his sensitivities and apologize. She could say "I'm sorry-I didn't mean to tell you how to dress."
2.If he is that sensitive-and some men are-then she could try talking about it at another time. She could say "Remember that blue shirt you wore with the green slacks? I didn't like that combinaion. Would you try wearing it with your gray slacks?"
3.She could directly ask " Would you let me take you shopping one day? I would love to pick out an outfit for you." If he says no, then she can be surethat he doesn't want any more mothering. If he says yes, be sure not to offer too much advice. Remember his sensitivities.
4.She could say "There is something I want to talk about but I don't know how to say it.[Pause.] I don't want to offend you , but I also really want to say it. Would you listen and then suggest to me a better way I could say it?" This helps him to prepare himself for the shock and then he happily discovers that it is not such a big deal.
Let's explore another example. If she doesn't like his table manners and they are alone, she could say(without a disapproving look)"Would you use your silverware?" or "Would you drink from our glass?" If, however, you are in front of others, it is wise to say nothing and ot even notice. Another day you could say "Would you use your silverware when we eat in front of the kids?" or "When you eat with your fingers, I hate it. I get so picky about these little things. When you eat with me, would you use your silverware?"
If he behaves in a way that embarrases you, wait for a time when no one else is around and then share your feelings. Don't tell him how he "should behave" or that he is wrong; instead share honest feelings in a loving and brief way. You could say "The other night at the party, I didn't like it when you were so loud. When I’m around, would you try to keep it down?" If he gets upset and doesn't like this comment, then simply apologize for being critical.
This art of giving negative feedback and asking for support is discussed thoroughly in chapter 9 and 12. I addition, the bet times for having these conversations is explored in the next chapter.