Thomas Ferreira, North San Diego County divorce lawyer and mediator here. As I said in my last post, this job has given me an insider’s view into the cause of marital breakdown. And marital breakdown is a heartache whether or not there are are children involved.
Have you ever had arguments with your husband or wife, and wondered, sometimes aloud, “what on earth does he/she want from me?”
I can answer that question. I’m on my third marriage (1 death and one divorce) and I’ve read just about everything on making marriage work. After having worked for years in this field and seeing hundreds of divorcing couple, I can at last answer that nagging question, “what does he/she want from me?”.
WHAT EVERY MAN WANTS:
I’ll start with the men, because it’s easier to explain. In marriages and relationships men crave the respect and admiration of their spouse/significant other. That’s it, you ask? Yup, that’s about it.
Consider the guy who gets up early for that trip to the office, and doesn’t get home until late at night He neglects his hobbies and pastimes, to say nothing of his family. What drives this seemingly irrational behavior?
If you said money or status, that could be it. It could be that he’s just a workaholic.
But in my experience, that’s usually not it, or not the whole picture. Usually a man craves to be a hero to his wife and his kids. Your man is likely thinking, “I’m the one that sacrifices his desires, his hobbies and often his health to bring home the bacon.” Ladies, more than sex, more than a home-cooked meal, more even than peace and a good ball game, your man craves the reward of appreciation. He wants his kids’ gratitude and veneration. He wants his woman to see him as her night in shining armor.
But here’s what often happens in marriages. The man is dreaming of coming home to his wife, after a triumphant but exhausting day at the office. His main need is respect and admiration. But she’s been home all day, or at her own job, and she has needs of her own. Maybe she craves attention or has some stories to tell about her day. When he’s not an attentive or can’t muster the romance she’s been craving, she gets frustrated and becomes critical. As the couple does their dance of conflict, she will often say something that strikes at the heart of his self-image as a father, husband and provider.
I’ve seen this over and over again with couples I have worked with, and thought, if these two could just give the other what the other needs, they wouldn’t be in my office.
WHAT EVERY WOMAN WANTS:
Guys, here’s what the ladies are looking for: a man they can respect. What is it that a woman wants in her man? Start with honesty and integrity. She wants someone who leads his family, not in the “go get me a beer” sense, but who shows forth his integrity, his courage, his wisdom and willingness to sacrifice for the benefit of his wife and kids.
Guys, take the time to discipline your kids, and don’t leave that task to your wife. Make sure, above all, that your sons and daughters show respect to their mother. If you both have had a hard day, go into curiosity mode with your bride, asking her to elaborate on what she just said, listening patiently until she finishes her tale. Show your wife that you’re willing to sacrifice materially for the family and don’t always insist on getting your own way.
By doing this, you’ll be the hero that she craves. In the words of Rudyard Kipling,
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise…
This is the essence of the manhood that women crave.
BUT HE/SHE WON’T KEEP HIS/HER SIDE OF THE BARGAIN:
It doesn’t matter. Someone has to start. Ladies, if you hold out high expectations and make him feel like your hero for just 5 minutes, he’ll jump down a dragon’s throat for you. Men, if you shoulder your burdens without complaint and sacrifice self to care for her, you’ll win her back, or at least make her think twice about leaving such and outstanding husband and father.
Divorce is easy compared to making your marriage work. But your marriage is the key to a meaningful and satisfying family life. Here’s hoping you never have to come see me or any other divorce lawyer.
Love your family,
Protect your finances, and
Reach for your future!