“Explain your anger instead of expressing it, and you will find solutions instead of arguments.” ~ Unknown
The men we love are not mind readers.
They don’t know that often times we say the opposite of how we are feeling, out of our own inability to own what it is we are actually processing in that moment.
We have been conditioned to play coy—to be so subtly passive-aggressive that at times our tone is sharper than a knife cutting through our love, until we are both left bleeding because of it. Yet, there is a better way—but first that means we have to decide to be real. We have to make the choice to not play games.
Often times, these statements are one-liners that we as women are famous for. They are the instigators for blazes of arguments that create unhealthy patterns of behavior, and which can ultimately lead to the foundation of our relationship becoming unstable.
But instead of saying something that we don’t mean, why not try saying exactly what it is that we do mean—and in the process, see how much stronger our communication and relationship can ultimately become.
This is perhaps our most famous one-liner—but the truth is, we are most definitely not fine.
It might not even be the man we love who has upset or triggered us, but we shut down and utter this phrase in an attempt to create one of two situations.
The first being that we hope the man we love will drag it out of us by pleading to know what is wrong. Not only is this unhealthy, but it is also immature. We can’t expect someone to guess why we are upset, or to think that it’s a big deal, unless we actually make the choice to discuss what it is we are feeling.
The second is that we’re overwhelmed and not yet in a place to discuss whatever’s bothering us. This is an okay way to feel, but it’s not helpful to simply say, “I’m fine,” when we’re not.
We have to talk to our lovers with the same openness and honesty that we expect from them. In a sense, how we treat and talk to them becomes the lesson for how we want to be talked to.
If the man in your life did something to upset you, then just tell him. Not in a passive-aggressive way, but by stating specifically what it is he did—regardless of whether it’s because he forgot to empty the dishwasher, pick up milk on the way home, or because he stayed out too late and didn’t call or text.
Just simply say why it is you’re upset—not in an accusatory way, but instead by saying: I’m feeling frustrated because (insert reason). But, if you’re not ready to discuss it, then say: Yes, I am having some feelings about (insert reason), but I’m just not in the place to talk about it yet. But I will let you know when I am.
This opens the lines for communication, and also lets our partner know that we trust him with what we are feeling, and that we aren’t looking for him to engage in an argument, but rather to talk about it rationally so that a mutual understanding can be found.
“I don’t care.”
You do care—a lot.
When we say we don’t care, it comes across as being flippant or not really having an opinion on the matter.
Whether he’s asking what you want to get for take-out, which movie you want to see, or letting you know he’s planned a guy’s night—state your opinion.
Don’t just try to go with the flow or let him decide all the time. Speak up.
He wouldn’t be with you if he wanted just a female version of himself. He’s with you because he values and respects you, and that means he cares about your preferences and opinions.
By ceasing to say “I don’t care” in any situation, we are opening the gates of communication even further, so we both can realize that sometimes we will have the same opinions—and other times, we won’t.
And that’s alright too, because two people who are in love aren’t supposed to agree on everything—but it’s how we navigate that channel of the in-between that determines what our relationship will be able to grow into.
“Do whatever you want.”
This one should have flaming red sirens around it with the word “abort.”
We only take this one out of our arsenal when we are so mad or irritated, we can’t even say one more word about whatever it is that’s upset us—so we simply tell him to do whatever he wants.
What we are really saying is that he should know (and want) to do what we want him to do—and if he doesn’t, then he’d better run for cover because it’s on.
We don’t really want him to do whatever he wants—so why not try simply saying exactly what it is you do want him to do?
If you want him to cancel his plans to go to the game so he can accompany you to your best friend’s wedding, then simply ask him. If you want him to help more around the house, then ask him if he could do specific things.
And if he asks a question you think he should already know the answer to—then cut him a little bit of slack, and remind him of exactly what that is.
Our men don’t always know what they should be doing to make us happy, so we owe it to them (and ourselves) to simply speak up and ask for it.
Because the truth is, unless we do—we will only have ourselves to blame if they don’t.
“Do you think she’s pretty?”
I’ll save you some trouble here—yes, he thinks she’s pretty.
But if he wants to be sleeping next to you in bed, and not on the couch, he won’t ever say yes.
This type of question falls under the same category as “Ugh, does it look like I’ve gained weight?”—or “Does this dress make my butt look big?” These questions aren’t really questions, but our insecurities looking for external validation from the man that we love.
In mindful authentic love, it’s not our lover’s place to validate us, because the reality is we should be doing that for ourselves.
Sure, she might be pretty—and she might have some amazing curves on her—but it’s you he’s with, it’s you he’s chosen, and it’s you he wants to go home with.
We are all humans, and whether we are on our first date or we’ve been married for 30 years, we are still going to notice people we think are attractive. Does that mean he’d rather be with her than you? No.
So to compare yourself to another woman isn’t only futile to the relationship, but it’s disrespectful to yourself. Because the reality is, he could have chosen anyone—but he chose you. Don’t forget that.
“Why do I always have to spell it out for you?”
The reason we have to spell it out for the men in our lives is that they don’t live in our heads.
Stop expecting him to know exactly what you want, need, or are thinking.
He’s not pretending he doesn’t know—he honestly doesn’t know.
Not because he doesn’t pay attention or because he doesn’t care about you, but because he’s different from you; he’s the man that we love and care about, not because he knows what we are thinking every minute, but because somehow, he makes our lives better.
It’s easy to lose sight of that in love, especially when life creeps in with work, children, playdates, soccer, family engagements…the list can go on and on.
It can feel frustrating when we think that he should already know something—whether it’s what we want to do on a Friday night or how to juggle the week’s schedule.
But he’s here with us in this life to be our partner, and that means talking to him just like you want to be talked to.
It’s giving him patience, and just a little bit of slack, because we are all busy; we all have our own lives and agendas, and the truth is, sometimes we really do have to spell it out if we want him to know exactly what it is we need.
We must stop thinking that his not knowing is a reflection upon how much he cares—because it’s not.
All of these ones-liners are easy to use, but difficult to recover from.
It’s not easy being accountable in a relationship, and it’s not always comfortable to speak from a place of honesty—but if we love him, then we need to make the effort.
Because we all know, we don’t love him because he’s perfect. So we need to stop expecting him to act like he is.
Author: Kate Rose
Image: Flickr/Peter Pham
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina