IN DEFENSE OF MR. FIX-IT AND THE HOME-IMPROVEMENT COMMITTEE
In pointing out these two major mistakes I do not mean that everything is wrong with Mr. Fix-It or the home-improvement committee. These are very positive Martian and Venusian attributes. The mistakes are only in timing and approach. A woman greatly appreciates Mr. Fix-It, as long as he doesn't come out when she is upset. Men need to remember that when women seem upset and talk about problems is not the time to offer solutions; instead she needs to be heard, and gradually she will feel better on her own. She does not need to be fixed. A man greatly appreciates the home-improvement committee, as long as it is requested. Women need to remember that unsolicited advice or criticism especially if he has made a mistake-make him feel unloved and controlled. He needs her acceptance more than her advice, in order to learn from his mistakes. When a man feels that a woman is not trying to improve him, he is much more likely to ask for her feedback and advice. Understanding these differences makes it easier to respect our partner's sensitivities and be more supportive. In addition we recognize that when our partner resists us it is probably because we have made a mistake in our timing or approach. Let's explore this in greater detail. WHEN A WOMAN RESISTS A MAN'S SOLUTIONS When a woman resists a man's solutions he feels his competence is being questioned. As a result he feels mistrusted, unappreciated, and stops caring. His willingness to listen understandably lessens. By remembering that women are from Venus, a man at such times can instead understand why she is resisting him. He can reflect and discover how he was probably offering solutions at a time when she was needing empathy and nurturing.
Here are some brief examples of ways a man might mistakenly invalidate feelings and perceptions or offer unwanted solutions. See if you can recognize why she would resist: 1. "You shouldn't worry so much." 2. "But that is not what I said." 3. "It's not such a big deal." 4. "OK, I'm sorry. Now can we just forget it." 5. "Why don't you just do it?" 6. "But we do talk." 7. "You shouldn't feel hurt, that's not what I meant." 8. "So what are you trying to say?" 9. "But you shouldn't feel that way." 10. "How can you say that? Last week I spent the whole day with you. We had a great time." 11. " OK, then just forget it." 12. "All right, I'll dean up the backyard. Does that make you happy?" 13. "1 got it. This is what you should do." 14. "Look, there's nothing we can do about it." 15. "If you are going to complain about doing it, then don't do it." 16. "Why do you let people treat you that way? Forget them." 17. "If you're not happy then we should just get a divorce." 18. "All right, then you can do it from now on." 19. "From now on, I will handle it." 20. "Of course I care about you. That's ridiculous." 21. "Would you get to the point?" 22. "All we have to do is... 23. "That's not at all what happened."
Each of these statements either Invalidates or attempts to explain upset feelings or offers a solution designed suddenly to change her negative feelings to positive feelings. The first step a
man can take to change this pattern is simply to stop making the above comments (we explore this topic more fully in chapter 5). To practice listening without offering any invalidating comments or solutions is, however, a big step. By clearly understanding that his timing and delivery are being rejected and not his solutions, a man can handle a woman's resistance much better. He doesn't take it so personally. By learning to listen, gradually he will experience that she will appreciate him more even when at first she is upset with him. WHEN A MAN RESISTS THE HOME-IMPROVEMENT COMMITTEE When a man resists a woman's suggestions she feels as though he doesn't care; she feels her needs are not being respected. As a result she understandably feels unsupported and stops trusting him. At such times, by remembering that men are from Mars, she can instead correctly understand why he is resisting her. She can reflect and discover how she was probably giving him unsolicited advice or criticism rather than simply sharing her needs, providing information, or making a request. Here are some brief examples of ways a woman might unknowingly annoy a man by offering advice or seemingly harmless criticism. As you explore this list, remember that these little things can add up to create big walls of resistance and resentment. In some of the statements the advice or criticism is hidden. See if you can recognize why he might feel controlled. 1. "How can you think of buying that? You already have one." 2. "Those dishes are still wet. They'll dry with spots" 3. "Your hair is getting kind of long, isn't it?" 4. "There's a parking spot over there, turn [the car] around." 5. "You want to spend time with your friends, what about me?" 6. "You shouldn't work so hard. Take a day off." 7. "Don't put that there. It will get lost." 8. "You should call a plumber. He'll know what to do." 9. "Why are we waiting for a table? Didn't you make reservations? " 10. "You should spend more time with the kids. They miss you. " 11. "Your office is still a mess. How can you think in here? When are you going to clean it up> " 12. "You forgot to bring it home again. Maybe you could put it in a special place where you can remember it."
13. "You're driving too fast. Slow down or you'll get a ticket." 14. "Next time we should read the movie reviews." 15. "I didn't know where you were." (You should have called.) 16. "Somebody drank from the juice bottle." 17. "Don't eat with your fingers. You're setting a bad example." 18. "Those potato chips are too greasy. They're not good for your heart." 19. "You are not leaving yourself enough time." 20. "You should give me more [advance] notice. I can't just drop everything and go to lunch with you." 21. "Your shirt doesn't match your pants." 22. "Bill called for the third time. When are you going to call him back?" 23. "Your toolbox is such a mess. I can't find anything. You should organize it." When a woman does not know how to directly ask a man for support (chapter 12) or constructively share a difference of opinion (chapter 9), she may feel powerless to get what she needs without giving unsolicited advice or criticism (again, we explore this topic more fully later on). To practice giving acceptance and not giving advice and criticism is, however, a big step. By clearly understanding he is rejecting not her needs but the way she is approaching him, she can take his rejection less personally and explore more supportive ways of communicating her needs. Gradually she will realize that a man wants to make improvements when he feels he is being approached as the solution to a problem rather than as the problem itself. If you are a woman, I suggest that for the next week practice restraining from giving any unsolicited advice or criticism. The men in your life not only will appreciate it but also will be more attentive and responsive to you. If you are a man, I suggest that for the next week you practice listening whenever a woman speaks, with the sole intention of respectfully understanding what she is going through. Practice biting your tongue whenever you get the urge to offer a solution or change how she is feeling. You will be surprised when you experience how much she appreciates you.