Surprising Your Spouse With Understanding The art of surprise begins with understanding the way we are biologically. BY DR. NEIL FIORE
There's more than one way to surprise your spouse-try not to fix things.
Why do I always get the same reactions from my spouse?
For some wonderful and maddening reason, nature has decided that women and men excel in having different attitudes when perceiving the world; women, in general, are better at listening (auditory skills), while men are better at seeing (visual skills). These differences, no doubt, contribute to the survival of the species, but can lead to predictable frustrations with your spouse unless you are willing to learn how to surprise him or her.
Simply put, most women want to be heard, listened to and have their ideas, concerns and emotions validated rather than fixed. Most men, on the other hand, want to give and receive advice about how to fix, change or remove bothersome problems or feelings. Men want to be seen and appreciated for taking out the garbage and not have it taken for granted. They instinctively feel it’s their job to know and be right about the laws of nature, the universe and the oil levels in the car.
Women are better at hearing and noticing subtle changes in voice, face and emotions. This ability may have something to do with a mother’s sensitivity to her baby’s health and safety and to the mood of other women. Men, in general, are better at seeing and noticing gross movements. Noticing the movements of lions, for example, ten thousand years ago helped preserve this ability in the genes of our ancestors, but may have made modern men less able to "get" subtle hints or emotional shifts.
Give and Take: Surprise Your Spouse Today
Our male-female differences are not necessarily the problem. They are simply a fact. Get over it and stop asking, "But why are they like that? Why do they always do that?" They are like that and they do do that! It’s just a fact of life that probably has survival value.
For Men: To sweep a woman off her feet—or at least to surprise her—listen to her without arguing or trying to fix her and tell her, "You know honey, you’re right."
When she is emotional about something, look her in the eye, nod your head, and say, "Yes, of course you’re upset. That’s very understandable. Who wouldn’t be upset?" And then get ready to catch her before she faints.
For Women: To shock a man, instead of telling him what he didn’t take care of, notice what he actually did and tell him, "Honey that was terrific. I really appreciate how you took care of that for me." To paraphrase The One Minute Manager, catch him doing something right.
Bring listening, respect and safety into your relationship and you’ll sweep your spouse off their feet.
Dr. Neil Fiore is a psychologist practicing in Berkeley, CA. He is a coach, a speaker, and author of Awaken Strongest Self: Break Free of Stress, Inner Conflict, and Self-Sabotage [McGraw-Hill, 2006]. His bestselling guide to overcoming procrastination, The Now Habit [Putnam, 2007], is revised and available on iTunes under "Audio books," and at www.audible.com under "Self-Development." You can find Dr. Fiore's "Free Articles & Tips" at www.neilfiore.com.