Dear Neil: Since reading your column concerning rules for male partners that appeared in print awhile back, I would like to know if you could print a set of rules for female partners?
Dear Hopeful: Actually the list of rules is almost the same for women and for men. But since I have received hundreds of requests for a comparable list for women, and since I have only published a list for men, here is a revised list of “rules” for women who want a happy, heartful, soulful, connected relationship with the man in their lives:
- Men want to feel acknowledged—for what they do, for how their efforts, labor, time and money are appreciated, and for how they are contributing to the relationship and/or family.
- Ask for what you want in clear, concrete, specific, non-hostile terms, and give up whining, manipulating, pouting, punishing, withholding or withdrawing in order to get your way.
- Ask these questions of your partner at least monthly: “How am I doing as your partner/mate/wife? Are there ways I can improve? Are your needs getting met in our relationship? If not, what would you like me to do differently?”
- The key to creating the best relationship you possibly can is to learn how to take your wall down and to open up your heart—and keep it open. The hardest thing to do in a relationship is to hang in there with a truly open heart over time—even in the face of our partner’s insensitivity, withdrawal, unkind words, inconsistency, defensiveness, anger or reactivity.
- Always be a lover in training. Always be a “student” wife—constantly being willing to learn or take feedback about how you could be better.
- If you want a happy, long-term intimate relationship, learn good communication, problem solving, negotiating, conflict resolution, anger management and compromising skills—and apply them often. So frequently, we expect our relationships to be positive, loving and responsive while we act upset, angry, rude or demanding.
- Learn the art of emotional gift giving. I’m not talking about the giving of gifts such as a tie or a stereo system. I’m talking about the giving of kindness, understanding, benefit of doubt and responsiveness to what he says is important to him.
- You can deliver your messages with honey or with vinegar. But a message delivered with vinegar is hard to swallow and even harder to grant, whereas a message delivered with honey is easier to hear and therefore more likely to be honored.
- Adopt this motto: The only purpose of this relationship is for me to learn how to become a more loving partner.
- Thank the man in your life for all he has contributed to you. Do this right now—go over to him—or call him up—and let him know how he has made a difference in your life, what you appreciate him for and how your life is enriched because of him. Learn this art and practice the habit of saying “thank you” to him on a regular, ongoing frequent basis.