Sherry Katz, LCSW has practiced social work for 27 years, and currently practices family therapy in Ridgewood, NJ. She has both a broad range of social work, clinical, and consulting experience in various older adult settings, as well as advanced clinical training in couples and family therapy. If you have questions or an interest in Ms. Katz’s work, contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or in her office, 201.445.4770.
Q. How do men explain what they want without hurting their partner?
Start by asking yourself why stating what you want from your partner will feel hurtful to her. Anyone reading this section already has a sense of empathy for their partner; the difficulty is learning to rely on your natural empathy tool to state your needs in a considerate way.
Many of the beliefs which men were raised to consider as plain truths, are actually not valid or useful in many relationships; “provide and protect”, “talking about feelings is for girls”, “if you’re hurt, keep it to yourself and move on” for example.
Perhaps the best kept therapist’s secret is that the highest priority of women who feel frustrated with their partners, is their frequent statement that, “he never talks to me”. Because the majority of women are raised to reflect in great detail about their relationships, there is a great potential for enhancing, not hurting your female partner, by allowing her to hear what truly is important to you. Give yourself the chance to find out!
2. I want to take care of her; how do I figure out what she wants?
The simple and complex answer is, “ask her”. A direct question is always the clearest way to state what someone wants to know. And for most men, the Prince Charming, adventure/hero, and stories of rescuing beautiful damsels in distress drive relationship logic until examined for personal pertinence. Perhaps she prefers stating her wishes rather than dreaming of magic fulfillment. You may be burdening yourself through imagining your partner’s desires, which she may be very willing to disclose, if asked.
3. “I love my partner and want to have sex with her every night; why isn’t she
Sexually pleasing your partner probably does satisfy her, but more so when she feels as though she’s pleased you in ways that she values. Women generally cannot separate their emotions from how open they will be sexually. Her sexual interest will increase when she feels accepted by you emotionally, usually shown through engaged listening and dialogue, partnering in shared activities. Initiating and participating in household or routine matters is a way to give of yourself in ways that will be appreciated, show that you care, which in turn will open doors for mutually enriched sexual activity.
These brief answers are built upon complex ways of self-understanding, gender beliefs and social expectations. To create effective and lasting change requires detailed understanding and practice of new behaviors.
Utilize a therapist for this purpose: your efforts to reflect and redesign systems of thinking and interacting require confidentiality, supportive reflection, and guidance, from a professional who has many times walked alongside the road of a client who is changing their personal mindset and dynamics.