If a man has been feeling quite disrespected, he may be particularly sensitive to a woman’s unsolicited advice and suggestions. When a man feels truly respected, he is usually much more open to a woman’s ideas, but women may want to learn how to share their suggestions at the right time and in ways that feel respectful to their particular guys. (This post is particularly for women who tend to be outspoken, Type A, take charge, and very helpful.)
MEN AND WOMEN THINK SO DIFFERENTLY
Women often give suggestions and unsolicited advice to others because we believe that is the loving, helpful thing to do. We don’t usually intend to communicate that we think the other person is incompetent, we want to share ideas so that our friends can have all the possible options and solutions available. We also often jump in to help others without being asked because we believe that is the loving thing to do. If a friend is washing the dishes and trying to calm a crying baby, many of us would say, “Hey, I’ll handle the dishes, you go take care of the baby,” and our friend would probably appreciate us stepping in to help when she was feeling overwhelmed.
Men don’t tend to give unsolicited advice or suggestions to others out of respect for them. (Gentlemen, you are welcome to expand on this for us, whether you agree or disagree – although, I am not able to publish comments from the manosphere, per my husband’s request.) They often respect that others can handle things themselves unless they ask for help. For a man to swoop in and take over when someone didn’t ask for help would be to imply that he thinks the person is incompetent and unable to handle the situation. A man waits until someone asks him to help or until someone asks him for his expertise and advice. Then he is happy to help.
THIS ONE ISSUE CAUSES A LOT OF MISUNDERSTANDINGS
When a woman is feeling overwhelmed and juggling too many chores and responsibilities, she may expect her man to jump in and help her without her having to ask for help. She may assume that he is unloving and uncaring if he sits and watches TV while she struggles to get everything done around the house. Meanwhile, her guy is treating her with respect, trusting that she is able to handle things herself and that if she cannot handle things, she will ask for his help. If she doesn’t ask for help, he assumes she wants to handle everything herself and may be completely shocked when she is angry that he didn’t help her because she never asked him for help.
What Dr. Emerson Eggerichs says in “Love and Respect” is that sometimes women think they are being loving and helpful, but their men may interpret their motives, words, and behavior as disrespectful. And men may treat their women respectfully, but their women may interpret the respect as a lack of love. This is what helps us to get on the “Crazy Cycle,” where a woman’s disrespect fuels her man’s lack of love, and his lack of love fuels his her disrespect.
We can get back on the “Motivating Cycle” by ladies purposely doing things that feel respectful to our men or by men purposely doing things that feel loving to their women. Then her respect motivates his love and his love motivates her respect.
A HELPFUL TEST FOR WOMEN
Before saying something to your guy – giving an idea or jumping in to help – consider whether you would be appreciative or offended if the most controlling woman in your life did the same for you?
You are working intently on a project for work when your (rather controlling) mother pops by unannounced for a visit. She looks at your apartment and says, “Oh my! You really should have done your dishes last night. This stuff will never come off your dishes now. You need to stop what you are doing right now and clean up”
- How would you feel about this particular suggestion from this particular person?
- Can you hear how she is undermining your ability to keep your house clean and that she is disrespecting you?
- Does this suggestion (criticism) make you feel loved and supported by your mom or resentful and angry?
- Would you appreciate her allowing you to assess the situation and take care of the dishes yourself before she criticizes your parenting or jumps in to make suggestions?
- Is there another way she could have offered help that would have felt a lot more loving and respectful to you?
This is how men often feel when women jump in and say things like, “Well, did you test the car battery to see if it is dead? I bet that is the problem.” – when the car won’t crank. (Especially if he is good at fixing things and knows what he is doing with cars.) Many men would very much appreciate us giving them time to work through a problem themselves – this feels respectful to them – unless they ask us for our suggestions. Men are not generally attracted to an angry mom figure. This is probably true at work and church in our interactions with men, as well!
Then when they DO work through the problems, we can thank them and show our appreciation for being the hero!
The most important thing is to learn about your particular man and what feels most respectful and disrespectful to him.