–Jerry Hancock

Why do men always seem to need to “fix” things in a relationship? This is especially true in a marriage or in an intimate relationship.

What seemed to have happened:

John comes home from work and Joan is frustrated. The kids have been a challenge, the car pool was late and she has done nothing about planning for next week’s vacation. When John comes in, she unloads, “I can’t understand why I’m expected to do every single thing involving the kids, while you’re just watching TV or planning your golf weekend.”

The suggested approach:

Whoa! What was that? Well…we’ve all been there. And the temptation is to “fix” it for her by saying something like, “Well, why don’t you get the kids up earlier and make them help you get some things done.”  Dude, that is not the thing to say!

The Language to use:

Why not try something like this: “Wow, it sounds like you have had a tough day. That must be very frustrating for you. I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with all that.” (Offering a good hug about here can help a lot!)

The skinny (what’s really going on here):

We are wired differently from women….and that is good! But we are conditioned from the cradle to be the “fixer” of whatever is happening. Sometimes that is helpful, but on relationship issues, it is often worthless. What she really needs from you is EMPATHY–something we don’t typically excel in. It’s not something we’re taught to exhibit….it’s even sometimes seen as “feminine.” (That’s probably an idea you should get rid of.) EVERYBODY needs empathy, including you. Likely you expect it from your spouse or partner, and seldom think of giving it.  Learn to give it at at home and at work as well (not the place we typically think of showing feelings that can be seen as a sign of weakness and certainly not feminine).

What to work on this week:

This week listen for chances to express empathy, instead of jumping in with solutions–both at work and at home. Sure we can fix things, we have great suggestions and we are born analysts (of others!). Maybe a fix will be helpful, but first show empathy and caring about the person. If you must fix something, fix the relationship, then the problem! And remember, far from showing weakness, it shows real strength!