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Who is the “Keeper” of Your Relationship?

By Karen Card

Have you ever wondered why women spend so much time talking about relationships, while men seem to rarely give it a thought? Often, it is the woman that is considered the “keeper or caretakers of the relationship. This happens naturally because women generally measure their own self-worth based on the strength of their personal relationships, whereas men will base their self-worth on their career status and their ability to “get the job done.” In addition to valuing themselves, women take pride in being known as a good wife, mother, girlfriend or daughter. Men take pride in knowing they have done a good job at work or completed a difficult project. Men are generally more project-oriented, where women are more relationship-oriented.

Because most women are relationship-oriented, they enjoy talking about their relationships - it makes them feel good. This is not always the case with men. It is not that men do not care about their relationships; it is just that it is not always their primary focus. Men have the ability to focus 100% on one project and not think about anything else. Because of this ability, they can go to work in the morning and not think about their personal relationship until they get home that evening. This is different for women. Women go to work in the morning and still think about their relationships many times during the day.

While women enjoy talking about their relationships, most men would prefer not to. It has nothing to do with how much men value their partner or the relationship; men like to apply the theory of “if it is not broken, don’t fix it.” Therefore, if he is happy with his partner and their relationship, he sees no reason to talk about it.

Understanding that we think differently about relationships helps us understand why our partner may be more or less focused on the relationship than we are. We need to remember this discrepancy is not personal; it is just one of the many differences between men and women.  Neither way is right or wrong, they are just different. To work out some of these differences, use the following tips for men and women.

Tips for Men:

  • When she wants to talk about your relationship, you need to let her talk - remember this is what makes her feel good about herself.

  • When she tells you “we need to talk” do not assume there is problem. Just let her talk and give her your attention – she wants you to listen and not interrupt until she is done.

  • Realize women talk all around an issue before drilling down to the specific point. It is just a difference between men and women. Give her plenty of time to make her point.

Tips for Women:

  • Do not be offended if he is not excited to talk about your relationship. Men equate talking about a relationship as needing to fix it and if he feels it is not broke, there is no need to fix it – so no need to talk about it.

  • When you have a problem or issue with him, try talking to your girlfriends first. This will help you blow off steam and then you can go to him with the specific issue. Men generally want to hear the direct point first, and then only the details if he asks for them.

  • When you need to ask him for a behavior change, use as few words as possible. This will help him to better hear your request. Try this, “It makes me happy when you ______” or “It makes me unhappy when you _________.” Only give him the reasons if he asks for them.

Understanding these differences allows men and women to make minor behavior changes to support each other, rather than inadvertently hurting each other. With knowledge of the differences of the opposite sex and some clear communication, men and women can have the happy, healthy relationship they desire.

Read other articles and learn more about Karen Card.

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