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THE ONE SIMPLE THING THAT MAKES EVERY WOMAN HAPPYPosted Monday, October 26, 2009, at 3:00 PM
An open letter to men:
We love you, we really do. We know you're different than we are, and we like it that way.
It's true we often ask you to act more like we do. But if we're honest, we know - and you know - that our differences make things more interesting and exciting.
People often assume that we're more complicated than you are. Our whirling, swirling thoughts and emotions probably feel like an ever-changing cocktail of both nuance and volatility. But there's one thing almost all of us want from you, and it's the exact same thing you want from us.
We want you to be happy.
When you're not happy, we feel unappreciated and unloved.
It's true: just as our mood affects you, your moods affect us.
But what makes us feel loved is different than what makes you feel loved.
If you don't care what makes women happy or you're sick of trying to figure out female emotions, you can quit reading now. But if you're like most men, you've probably spent the better part of your life frustrated by females, and if you knew there was one simple thing that would make your woman happy, you would do it.
Well there is.
I've been listening to women talk and reading their letters for more than a decade, and when you cut through all the clutter, a single theme has emerged.
Women want men to care. We don't want you to merely be willing to engage in the activities that are important to us, we want you to want to, especially when it comes to the kids.
We don't just want you to watch your children; we want you to want to watch them. We don't want you to begrudgingly take the family to the fair; we want you to be delighted. We don't want you to complain about going shopping for a washing machine; we want you to take it in stride as part of running the family.
It may seem like telling us how inconvenienced you are or how much effort you had to put in would make us appreciate you even more for participating. But it doesn't.
We don't expect you to be enthusiastic about playing Scrabble with Aunt Verna, but when you grumble about how hard it is to get home from work in time to tuck your children in, we interpret it to mean that you don't really want to do it in the first place, and that hurts.
You may think we're angry when we nag you to spend more time with your family, but we're actually sad.
After talking with literally thousands of women, especially mothers, I can tell you - every time a woman has to badger a man to become more engaged, a little piece of her heart breaks. When a man complains or seems to begrudge his own participation, the woman feels unloved. To us, reluctance to engage equals "I don't care."
I know I'm just presenting one side of this, but that's kind of the point. I'll leave to a man to explain the other side.
Here's the bottom line: women want men to be happy, and we desperately want participating in your family to be the thing that puts a big ole' smile on your face.
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I can't take any more. The economy is tanking, the election is endless, and now it looks like I might have to sell my blood if I want to keep my kids in mac 'n cheese. Oh, and did I mention that, thanks to falling house prices, I probably owe more on my home than it's actually worth? I want to go back to bed, pull the covers over my head and have somebody wake me up when my 401(k) bounces back. I don't know about you, but I'm finding myself so jittery about, well everything, that it's all I can do to surf the net. Kind of ironic, isn't it? I should be working more, but I'm so anxious about my finances that I'm actually working less. Alas, such is the world of grown-ups - stress, anxiety, depression. And to think that I wasted much of my childhood wishing I could be in charge of my own life. Why in the heck did I ever think that was a good idea? Give me a few cookies, a blankey and a nice place to lie down and I swear I'll never complain about an early bedtime again. These are tough times indeed. Even if you're still OK, you'd have to be one cold, hard, rich person to stay immune to all the angst in the air. So how do you cope? How do you get through today when you're so worried about tomorrow that you can't see straight? I overheard a news commentator say that people are thinking twice before they go out to eat or buy new clothes. I'm guessing that those are the people who still have jobs. Because the people without jobs aren't spending a nickel on anything except cheap carbs and keeping a roof over their heads. Yet as depressing as our collective and individual situations may be, the last thing we need to do is let our fear get the best of us. If you spend all day quaking and anxious, guess who wins? The fear. Yes, I know FDR had a roof over his head when he said "we have nothing to fear but fear itself," but he was right. Every moment you waste paralyzed with fear is a moment you could be doing something, or resting up so that you can do something tomorrow. It's been said that there are only two emotions, love and fear, and all the other emotions are derivatives of those. So I'd like to make a suggestion. Let's chose love. Let's decide to love each other and to love ourselves, no matter what happens. And if you're really a Pollyanna, perhaps you'll join me in deciding to love the fact that this crisis is serving as a call for us to become our better selves; a call for us to look within and rid ourselves of consumerism, greed and the need to keep up with the Jones; and a call for us to have more empathy for those who are struggling. Maybe this is a chance for all of us - and I include myself - to decide that we love our country and we love our fellow human beings more than we love our stuff. Yeah, I know it sounds hokey. But you don't change your circumstances until you change the thoughts that created them. Cowering under the covers in fear may feel safer. But in a crisis, the truly powerful response is love. (c) Copyright 2008, by Lisa Earle McLeod. All rights reserved. Lisa Earle McLeod is a keynote speaker, author and nationally syndicated columnist. Her books include "Forget Perfect" and "Finding Grace When You Can't Even Find Clean Underwear." Contact her at www.ForgetPerfect.com.
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