Relationship Conflicts as perceived by a woman - Dr Kamal Khurana
Updated: Jul 8
I thought of sharing this post because i see a common pattern with almost all of the woman clients who approach me for their relationship issues. It is important to keep in mind that only those couples seek help who are facing difficulty in relationships - Right ?. This means that there are plenty of people (both men and women) who naturally know how to relate to each other's emotions and needs. And if you are reading this blog, most probably you too must be seeking some help. The intention behind this blog is to help men have the needed awareness about how a woman feels when her man is unable to comprehend her pain. It doesn't mean that the man doesn't have his challenges. Certainly he does !. Women too are unable to express their deeper emotions in a way that the man understands. Just that he is unable to sense the gravity of her feelings. He has his own set of survival mechanisms and defense mechanisms, which work for him. But that's not the case with her. The only remedy to this conflict is 'understanding' - Under Standing or Standing Under. I mean that for a while, if a man can park his concepts aside, and acknowledges her emotions while assuring her that he will support her with his best capacity, he can crack a solution. He too needs to share his perspective without blaming her and yes he too needs to seek support. Only when he acknowledges her emotions, he can express his concern and seek support. Since all of us communicate with our partners in the styles and biases that we have observed & learned in our childhood, we are unable to see flaws in our own communication.
Here is an opportunity for men to comprehend what a woman feels. Following are her challenges as she faces them -
1. Difficulty in handling his emotions
The first challenge is that she is clueless on how to handle his emotion, how to understand him. This happens because she is aware that he is also going through emotional challenges but he chooses not to own them or express them. She is constantly struggling with the question - "How do I bring him to a level where both can unite as a team and make resolve everything? "
She then tries a whole lot of ways and tries to convince him that there are issues between them. She forwards articles or videos related to the concerns trying to prove that they are valid issues which need resolution. But mostly he finds them impractical because it is difficult for him to take inputs. It is not his fault when if he finds them rubbish because he is unable to comprehend and says why is she making a big fuss about such small things. He doesn't realize that it's not about making him bend. Yet when he takes it all personally there is way out.
2. Difficulty in managing his reactions.
Despite all her efforts, she is unable to sort out things on time. She can foresee that with passing time, all the negative experiences get piled up and form a void which goes on increasing. On one hand, she is aware that he too wants peace and love, but when he is unable to she uses all the different way like communicating nicely, pleading, crying, allowing anger outburst and loving too much as well. And then she gets confused when nothing works. She is unable to understand him, because whenever she shares some emotion he finds it as a blame or perceives it as his failure and then he defends. She goes into the loop of following questions -
How to break his defense mechanism ?
Why does he get in denial mode ?
Why does he operate from ego - and puts conditions - My way or highway ?
Why does he talk one sided ?
Why does he not to work like a team ?
How to make it work with him ?
How to make myself so well equipped that he becomes willing to deal with conflicts ?
Why does even physical intimacy not work with him ?
3. Difficulty responding to his back and forth attitude towards the relationship.
The man goes back and forth from operating from ego position and suddenly expressing his willingness to care for the woman. It's seems to her, that he has two personalities. It's like a fight that he is having in his own mind - a fight between the heart and the head. He is struggling between the logic (his beliefs regarding what's right and what's wrong) and his need to have the love of his woman. Following are the two sides of him that the woman faces -
When there's an argument he doesn’t speak anything for some days(thinking that it's better to avoid confrontation imagining that everything will subside on its own).
Someday his vulnerable side bursts out and he says "nobody understands me".
He thinks his woman judges him, and she doesn't look at his positive side and positive actions towards her.
He doesn’t know how to communicate and that reflects in his expressions.
He doesn’t know how to deal yet he assures that everything will get sorted with time.
Sometimes he says that these all are minor issues which should be ignored.
He mentions that he can't take females who are dominating and are not ready to understand.
Within himself he does want to solve things but finds it as never ending emotional struggle which he feels like running away from.
He sometimes makes attempts to express his care and concern, but the moment she wants to initiate the discussion, he gets frustrated and reacts. And his reaction sometimes reaches an extreme.
With all the back and forth she sees her trust and respect for him going and moves her to walk off.
Her helplessness is perceived as her ego and unnecessary exaggeration.
4. Dilemma of the woman
A day comes when she gathers courage and thinks of taking a break without having any strong urge to end the relationship. She continues to have hope till the end that may be someday he will understand. At the same time she deals with an insecurity that if she goes back will it become good. She has a unable to curb her desire to resolve issues and make her attempts by responding to his calls thinking that the gap of few days would have given him a chance to realize his part. She goes through following doubts that keep on running in her mind -
I could have dealt the situation with a little more maturity and composure
Could i have addressed his set of complaints which majorly is about 'talking politely and respectfully' ?
Should I initiate the communication ?
If i initiate the communication, will he value me less and think that it's my need and i am desperate ?
Should I have been a little less loud because he can't take criticism ?
When he asks me to come back, should i trust his words that he will handle the issue and meet my needs ?
Way Out for a Man
1. Understand & respect her emotion
Indeed she goes through all of the above, but there is a need to understand a man's mind as well. He is continuously looking at solutions instead of looking at the cause. And he is unable to understand how can an emotional experience be a cause big enough. As per him what has happened in the past should be forgotten and forgiven. He thinks one should move on. He actually can't cry long for a lost watch for long. But for a woman it's about her emotions connected to the watch. The funny thing is that if it was him who had gifted her that watch on some occasion, she values the feeling about the watch more than the anything. If he says forget it, why are you crying on that watch, i will get you a new one, she would perceive this as not valuing her emotions. His mind looks more at a logical level instead of understanding and acknowledging woman's emotions. Sometimes it's not about what's wrong and what's right. She just wants to listen - "Yeah i understand, I am with you. Let's see what best we can do for this." So in the example of the watch if he can actually feel that losing that very watch is a loss of memories, he can win heart. And he can't fake it. He needs to actually see similar situations in his own life as well. For an example if he works hard for a project and his boss doesn't give him any credit and says that it is a part of his responsibility (which logically is), then what forces him to look for job outside. Despite good positions why so many people resign. There is some x-factor (which is certainly emotion driven) that makes a man resign even when he is paid well as per the role.
It is actually very simple to care for her emotions, but at the same time it's difficult for him to get over his own obstinacy of how can he be wrong. The best part is that logically he is right and she knows it. Both men and women are unaware of the cognitive biases that both of them possess. Yet there's a fundamental difference in thinking style. She wants her emotions to be acknowledged instead of being rejected and instead of being told that this all is unnecessary drama over a negligible thing that can be ignored.
On the other hand a man expects that things can be sorted with being emotional. He then expects his logic to be accepted without realizing that it may not be the case every time.
2. Be there for her and take a stand for her
At a logical level she may be incorrect in her approach, in her expectation, but if the man stands for her at that very point, he can gain her trust. This way he creates an opportunity to share his view as well. An old saying, it's better to lose the battle than losing the war. She needs support at that very moment, and she wants to stand tall with her man backing her up. Instead of winning the argument, if the man supports her, he can win her. But yeah most men who get stuck at the intellectual level are never able to relish relationships. Relationships are way more about giving than asking. Lots of schools of psychology talk about respecting the self and needs of own self. But where is it written that your partner is not a part of your own self. It is inclusion that works with woman. And those men who look at them being included first or operate from logical level, learn it later. It is more of how the cycle than measuring who does more and who does less. And the cycle starts from man caring for his woman's emotions which results in her supporting him and so on the cycle goes on.
3. Pamper her like a child
However matured she may appear on her career front, she is a child at heart. She expects to be treated withe care, sensitivity and affection. Be hard with her, however correct you are, you lose her. On the other hand take care of her like a baby and she will start depending on you more. It is only love gestures that she longs for, even in the middle of any argument or difficulty. A man may argue that he needs to be cared as well. But that is a reward for his actions. Care for him comes as a consequence of his sensitivity. There are a lot of articles around concept of masculine and feminine energies. It's like a chicken and egg question. But whatever is said, it has been always expected from a man to take the lead to care for her. And what's wrong about it when it is the only way. I get across many men who question me - why should men only every time say sorry or care ? And then i answer to them that why should sun shine first and give the light and be the power source for all the planets. And then the planets revolve around the sun because of its unconditional spreading of light. Every human has a right to exercise his / her choice. Eventually there are consequences. A wise is one who learns and is open to inputs. The way there are laws of nature, the same way if you want love for a woman, pamper her like a baby instead of justifying, defending, arguing or proving her wrong and see the results. And as always i will say that you can't have a negative image of her and do things for the heck of it. She can always sense that you are faking it.
What can a woman do from her end
1. She needs to attempt talking in bullet points
Since his brain looks for solutions and acts at task level, she needs to give him bullet points around what she wants. He needs practical - doable one liner tasks that are within his reach. If a woman tells him, i am not happy, she expects him to know what she wants. And that's where he becomes handicapped and finally frustrated.
2. She needs to talk only when she is composed
He creates his dream world where it is all about winning and being confident and never being vulnerable. Look at all the motivation videos from the business world, don't they promote "Go do it" approach, Never cry on failure, You have to win anyhow". Do you ever see any motivational video talking about being sensitive. What are they consuming all the time - success, strength, courage, victory - Isn't it ?
So most man when they see her woman crying for long, those who are unaware what to do, tend to run away or negate the emotional aspect of the problem.
3. She needs to explain the logic behind what she wants firmly yet respectfully
Indeed you need to explain the logic behind what you want. And you need to share the logic with confidence while being firm and respectful at the same time. In most cases, when a man sees that a woman is not giving the logic behind and not stressing the validity of that logic for her, he finds it irrelevant.
If you are a man and reading this article, a piece of really valuable advice.
Please don't call your woman and ask her to read her part. She still will find it very hard to express logical steps to you and it's only you who has to decipher her needs. It is like hatching of an egg. You can't be in a hurry. You need to give the needed warmth and then life comes out on it's own. You need to be there for her acknowledging her emotions and after some time she will give you the hints to what she wants. Just go on following the thread and you will win for sure. Trust me.
To conclude be it a man or woman. those who are open to inputs and have a sense of collaboration create opportunities to form a team.