Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Thirteen Things a Man Wants From a Woman

In a comment on an earlier post of mine, Bellezza suggested that we each try to create Thursday Thirteen lists, from our own personal perspectives, of what we wished for or expected from our significant others in relationships. So, my list will be from a male perspective and hers from a female’s, but each will be personal and therefore subjective. I have no idea who else might join us in this endeavour, but it would be fun and interesting to see lists created by as many other participants as possible.

So, without further ado, here is my own list. It is culled from the marriages and relationships that have taken up the adult life of a 61 year old man, plus distillations of conversations I have had with numerous other men on the topic over the years. Also, I am a people watcher. I notice things. In my list, there are both 'do's' and 'don'ts.' In my personal experience, the presence of things that are real irritants is sometimes harder to take than the absence of things that please.

The Atavist's Thirteen Things that men want from women:
  1. Respect us: Our opinions and actions count, even if we don’t think quite like you do, and even if we act or react differently than you.
  2. Don’t criticize us: Especially, don’t use terms like “you always” or “you never” in a negative way.
  3. Don’t dredge up the past: What we said on May 13, 1987 or did on November 22, 1993, is irrelevant today. It’s history. We’re still together aren’t we? Doesn’t that mean that whatever it was that upset you has been forgiven and forgotten?
  4. If we are grappling with a personal or work-related issue, please understand that not everything needs to be analyzed to death. If we don’t want to talk about something, leave us alone. We handle our problems more privately than women. If you offer us unsolicited advice, it puts us in a very awkward position of being seen as ignoring or undervaluing your opinion if we choose to address the problem our way. Discussions of things that affect both of us or our children directly are, of course, another matter.
  5. Don’t push. Say it once, that’s enough. Harping on anything on your gripe list will guarantee pretty much the opposite of what you would like. You might think that “You never bring me flowers,” is a good way to get us to correct our oversight. Instead, to men, that observation of yours is tantamount to an order to get you some damn flowers, or else. We don’t follow orders well.
  6. Lose the sarcasm. Curb that acid tongue of yours. Do you seriously think that skewering everyone and everything in your path is going to result in harmonious relationships, especially with your mate?
  7. Don’t embarrass us in public. If you have a problem with something we do or say, wait until we get home to discuss it, and then bring it up in as neutral a way as possible. Don't raise your voice, don't cry, don't walk around with that 'look' on your face. It's embarrassing to us and should be embarrassing to you too.
  8. Let's have a united front in dealing with children. They are our kids too. We are just as likely to be correct as you are in how we handle our kids. Support and enforce our decisions. We'll do the same for you.
  9. Women appear to have some sort of secret rule book about what they expect of a mate or lover. If you’re going to use the rule book, you have to give us a copy. Men often have no clue why their spouse is upset about something. If men are to be judged like this, at least let us know what is expected of us. If it is reasonable, we will be happy to comply. If it is unreasonable, at least we will be able to tell you so, and relieve you of any unrealistic expectation that we might ever act the way you wish us to.
  10. Don’t tell us how to drive or how to get to where we’re going. We knew how to start the car, get out of the driveway, drive across town and across the country long before we ever met you. Why do we suddenly need detailed instructions?
  11. Many of our hobbies, interests, dreams and aspirations are different from yours. So what? We go with you to craft shows and to see chick flics. If it pleases us to have you accompany us to a monster truck rally or an action movie, put on your coat, smile sweetly, and come with us. Be happy that we want to spend time with you.
  12. Recognize that we are very visual beings. We like to look. Just because we admire a nice set of boobs or a perfect derriere on another woman doesn't mean that we don't love you. We're with you, aren't we? Don't make an issue of something trivial. Don't point out to us that her breasts are probably plastic and that she is probably as stupid as a stump. It demeans you much more than the woman you are insulting. In return, we will promise to be circumspect and not to embarrass you by being overtly lecherous.
  13. Recognize that we are also very physical beings. We need lots and lots of physical attention. We are much more likely to be helpful and co-operative and sympathetic and even-tempered, and to take you to the theatre and buy you flowers and give you the emotional closeness you crave, if we get lots of physical attention, with lots of variety and in a spirit of fun.
There. It's an imperfect list, but all I have time for. And... all my female friends, if you think my list is too harsh and one-sided, please replay in your mind the conversations you have had with your best friend, or sister or mother, about your husband or boyfriend. Still think my comments are harsh? Chances are you used some rather strong language in those conversations and called the offending male some really nasty names. If you are a female who truly and honestly doesn't recognize herself in even a few of the points above, you are one in a million. Your mate should bow down before you and treat you like a queen, or at least run off to the flower store to get you some daisies or something. Tell him I said so.

By the way, I fully expect the women who visit here to be as honest about what they expect from men as I have been about what men expect from women. After all, that's my real name up there on my blog sidebar and I haven't pulled any punches, so tell us what you really think! My wife and I have discussed the male/female dynamic many times and even she doesn't agree with me all of the time. Also, she knows my blog address and visits regularly, so I have to be real careful to get it right.

A reader once commented in response to a post of mine that I sounded bitter. Far from it. I see humour in everything. I treat everything in life as an adventure and try to learn from it. Bad things happen to people sometimes, including me. But, and this is important to remember, unless I specifically say that I experienced something, I might be writing about the travails of a friend or acquaintance. I have seen many examples of truly dreadful behaviour of one sex to the other. Men are as apt to be jerks as are women, just in different ways.

The rotten tomatoes are in the big barrel over there. Before you start lobbing them at me, I think I'll go hide until this blows over.


  1. Ah, my friend, you do not disappoint me. It is early in the morrning, and I am rushing off to school, so I do not have time to comment lucidly right now. Plus, I like to mull over your words before I enter into conversation. But, on the first reading, I have these two brief observations: 1.) I agree with each point that you made. NO ONE wants to be scolded, harangued, or beaten down. 2.) I could relate to those points not because I have a wife, but because I have a mother! No one wants to be mothered, do they? That's what I think of as I consider your list; many points address an overly critical woman, a shrew shall we say? And that can never lead to fulfillment for either party.

    I'll be back.

  2. Okay. Well, I gave it a shot. :) Managed to come up with thirteen. LOL

    What do you suppose makes that "secret code book"? I've always wondered about that as well since I wasn't issued a copy at birth. And I don't mean that only men have them or only women have them. It seems everyone has them! :)



  3. I've not really considered that, Chani, but on reflection I think you're right. We men do have our own version of a 'secret code book.'

    Maybe all it is is that we all expect things from each other, but are afraid to articulate what we want, in case we are refused or ridiculed. If our expectations aren't met, we put an 'x' in the negative column and our partner will never know why.

    I guess you were right when in an earlier comment somewhere you stressed that everything is about communication. The problem is men and women in a relationship really don't know how to communicate with each other.

  4. Bellezza, 'shrew' is a one of those words that says it all, in one nice, concise syllable. My own mother was a much more positive and supportive woman, so I suppose it would make sense that when I observe shrewish behaviour in other women I find it repugnant. Good call.

  5. What a wonderful list Sieg! Thanks for shing it. I can relate to it, not because of my wife, but because of my mom! She's been doign that to my dad for 25 years, and making both of their lives miserable in the process.

  6. Perfect, Atavist. I try to act accordingly in my relationship, much in accordance to what you have written here.

    9. - I gave him mine, early on. I asked for his.. he wrote it on a slip of paper. lol

    12. I acknowledge this. I accept it. I am also visual. I think that in keeping a romantic flair about you, you must be. But, it has it's time and place and there are somethings you just don't share.

    Number 1. I think this one is very important and though I assumed I would always do this, I found myself taking serious mental note of it, when reading it just now. I will try to keep more aware of this one.

    Also, #4 is a great reminder for an analyzer such as myself.

    Great list, Atavist.

    I've been thinking of mine all day. Will try to put it together, if I can find the time.

    Much appreciated.

  7. I really liked your list. I can relate to several of them.

  8. Thanks, all! I'm looking for more participants, even beyond the Thursday Thirteen meme context. Men and women are at loggerheads so much that any attempt to help us understand each other has got to be useful in some small way.

  9. Loved your list. Respect is a big thing for both sides. I've noticed over the last several years that men are the target for a lot of disrespectful comments, both in the media and in real life. As women, we didn't appreciate the 'wife jokes', but we don't consider that when we dis on men. I think there are some generalities about both sexes that are humorous, but they should never be used specifically to put anyone down.

    About #9 - my husband gave me a truly marvelous gift after we had been married for several years. One day he told me he didn't know what to do when I got in certain moods and he asked me what he should do. The next time I was in a mood he wrapped his arms around me and told me he loved me. I beserkly screamed at him that he was just saying that because I told him to. He said, "That's right. You told me what would help and I love you enough to do it." Since that time I've learned that he can't read my mind, he doesn't know the code, and it's helpful to him if I let me know in a gentle fashion what it is I need. (A secret: I don't understand the code myself and I don't think any woman does!)

  10. Atavist, I hate to say it, but I see myself in the woman you say not to be. Not the self I am now, but I person I was in my first marriage. My expectations were so unrealistically high, that out of a deep and never-possible-to-meet need I am sure that I acted a complete shrew to my husband. And of course, instead of alleviating the problem, my behavior only exacerbated it. Soon we were spiralling into a blame game of "You don't meet my needs" vs. "No one could meet your needs so I'm not even going to try." I regret that he died before I could ever make it up to him.

    Now I know better. I know that no one is perfect, most of all me. I know that I must meet my needs, and not expect anyone else to. If they do, it's an added bonus. But, goodness sakes, it took me so long to grow up.

  11. Booklogged: "You told me what would help and I love you enough to do it." That quote is absolutely priceless, and your husband is quite the guy. It is nice that you and your husband were able to communicate in that fashion and that it works for both of you. In many marriages, the end result after a blowup of some sort is the inevitable reconciliation and understanding, but only after a long, twisted journey of anger, recrimination and frustration. Wouldn't it be nice if we could just skip to the conclusion, without all of the drama?

    Bellezza: If I started a list right now of all my faults, I would still be typing away at it in December. Santa would be compelled to pass me by, neighbours would laugh at me and children would throw stones. Or something like that. You're right: none of us is perfect, ever. I guess the only thing I really wish is that we were all able to cut each other a little slack and just be nice to each other. That's what second chnaces are all about right?

  12. 8, 9 and 11 would be my top ones. Nice idea for a post. I would think another one is to show your spouse affection and affirmation in front of children but that is for a strong relationship with kids, not just how to treat a spouse or want to be treated. Alot of things flow from that.

  13. Good point, motherpie. Strangely, that came up in a conversation with my son last night. How we treat our spouses sets an example for our kids, but we don't always get it right. Thanks for the reminder.

  14. I shared this wonderful list with all of my female friends, and needless to say, I got some mixed reactions :)

  15. Sylvain: I can imagine. Did the term 'Stepford Wives' come up? That could be a visceral reaction wherein an immediate response is uttered without thinking the issue through first. I believe that these things, among many others, are what women expect from the men in their life, but don't want to extend back in return.

  16. Bellezza told me I needed to read your list and I'm glad I did. It's great to read a male perspective. I had a funny thought about your #10, though. I was a mere 17 years old and so was my husband, when we met. So, he can't say he was driving a long time, on his own, before he met me! The reverse is also true, for the most part - my dad taught me to drive at 13, though, so I actually had a jump on hubby.

  17. Bookfool: I learned to drive at 12 years old, but it is not so much the experience of driving I was thinking about but the tendency some women seem to have to point out the obvious. I know a couple where the female is constantly going "turn here, slow down, watch for that car," etc. I refuse to go anywhere with them in their car anymore because it makes me crazy.

    But... men aren't perfect either, are they?

  18. My family and I laugh at Hyacinth in BBC's "Keeping Up Appearances." Do you know that show? When her husband is driving she shrilly instructs his every move: "Richard, mind the pedestrian." It's a great parody on women naggers. I mean men drivers. :)

  19. I'll have to watch for that program, Bellezza, I'm not familiar with it. Have fun on your holiday to Florida, when you go!

  20. Thanks, atavist. Is it just too selfish of me to say I wish it was Naples, Italy rather than Naples, Florida? (I have a really hard time watching the people parade their Bentleys and Rolls down Third Street as if they're somebody; somehow Europe never seems as pretentious to me. But, my parents are offering us a stay at their place, so it is a lovely opportunity. At least I can be by the ocean, which is one of my favorite things.)

  21. I haven't been in Naples, Florida for years, but I remember it as being pretty upscale. I've never been to Naples, Italy, ever. Wish I had the time to go to all the places still left on my mental 'list.'

    You'll have a great time with sun and sea and... seashells? Bellezza sorts seashells by the seashore?

  22. Well, it's very nice to meet you! I am the one who responded to Michael after he posted your TT13! I guess you saw my response in Michael's column and I'm glad that you were able to see the humor in it! That really is what I intended! Michael, who is my son-in-law, and I have constant discussions over "Man" jobs and "Woman" jobs and my response was just a continuation of that! Thank you for your comments and I have read through most of your blog here! I am adding you to my "Blogs worth reading" list!

  23. Hi, annb: Welcome to my corner of the world. I did some reading on your blog yesterday as well and applaud you for your Christian stance. In the face of all of the mockery and ridicule of Christians these days, it is nice to see someone who is unabashedly so anyway.

  24. Hi Atavist I realize this is an old blog that you have probably moved on from but I am new to the blogging world. I do not have a blog myself although I would like to. There is just not enough time in my life at the moment to do it. I enjoyed your list and was very gratified to find out that I am one-in-a-million! The one thing in your list that I have been most guilty of in the past is #3. I think I have that under control now...or at least I've learned to keep those dates to myself. I did want to point out that men and women are different (on so many levels) and by your list you express many of the male themes of freedom, respect, honour, leadership and sex. But the female behaviours you are decrying come from OUR themes of emotions, security, nurture, caring, love. The problem is that both sides seek to fulfill these needs imperfectly...often selfishly. So if a man expresses his need for freedom in a way that threatens her need for security...he is going to end up with the wife who checks on his whereabouts ten times a day. It is true that we "reap what we sow".

  25. Thanks, Shoni, for those comments. We are all imperfect beings and there is a lot of unnecessary posturing in the interaction between men and women. I guess basically what I'm trying to say is that there is (or should be) a balance in everything: tit for tat, ying and yang, you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours, etc. Maybe if there were less waiting for the other person to be perfect before we ourselves try to be so, things would work smoother.

    Thanks for dropping in!

  26. You seem like a real idiot

  27. Why, thank you, Anonymous!! You, on the other hand, appear to be intelligent and well-spoken in that you can express yourself succinctly and eloquently. I am so envious of your superior intellect and the grace in which you appear to live your life.