Have you heard this story?
An elderly man was stopped by the police around 2 a.m. and was asked where he was going at that time of night.
The man replied, “I’m on my way to a lecture about alcohol abuse and the effects it has on the human body, as well as smoking and staying out late.”
The officer then asked, “Really? Who’s giving that lecture at this time of night?”
The man replied, “That would be my wife.”
It’s an old joke that smacks of stereotypical truth and may answer the question about why men pull away or shut down and tune you out, retreat into their man cave way too often for your taste?
Of course, that’s not me. I don’t want to be his mother! He’s already got one.
So what’s this Mother thing all about?
Mothers are usually the fixers, helpers, decision makers, and the true domestic engineers who want and need to teach, forgive and give advice. Being needed feels so wonderful!
Here are some Mother traits that may surprise you. Mothers:
- have an attitude that says, “I know best. I’m right. My way is better,” even if they don’t say so.
- may think and say – “We’re a team after all you should listen to what I have to say — hear – “You should do or at least try it my way, which is so much better.”
- express strong opinions and point out shortcomings and mistakes, not because they’re mean, or even think he’s not doing it right, but because they feel that as a team with their partner they want and need to “help.”
- may be the over-functioning perfectly organized powerhouse multi-tasker who has everything under control, including her man? She makes all the plans, pride herself on having the family enterprise humming like a fine-tuned spiffy engine, being available for everyone – although deep down she’s probably starting to feel some resentment and guilt.
- have a daily planner that looks like the CEO of a successful organization. Giving, giving, giving and maybe even getting lost in the shuffle.
- remind him of things and then forgive him for not knowing any better. “It’s okay, honey, I know you didn’t know.”
- give lessons and advice with a helpful indulgent smile. “My dad always did it this way. Wanna see how easy it is to do it like this?” It’s all teamwork, remember?
- speak with a voice of authority because they have accomplished a lot
Here’s a little known secret that women often ignore about men. Men usually do not need or want our unsolicited advice. They probably learned from a dad, too, or another buddy and have their way of doing things which has always works for them. We know you’re accomplished and awesome with some terrific ideas but said in the wrong way it can sound like you’re competing. However, if and when they do want your input or help, they’ll ask you because they really do value what you have to say as long as they are sure you won’t respond like their mother!
The bottom line is all of this is really negative masculine energy in the disguise of helpfulness and forgiveness.
When you’re too eager to be helpful and pleasing, you’re unconsciously stepping into the masculine role of suggesting, giving advice and all with the best of intentions. To your man, however, it may very well sound like a mother nagging him.
That’s the booby trap of “The People Pleaser Syndrome.” If I just help, suggest, support, make myself available and be a team member everyone will like me.
Eventually it all backfires! What the heck happened? You thought you’ve been doing it all right! You’ve got his back. You’re only thinking of him!
Do you recognize yourself mothering him and other people? What are some of the things you say and do that sound a lot like his mother? If so, that’s good news. Awareness is your first step in creating sustainable change. We’d love to hear your comments!
Stay tuned for Part 2 where I’ll tell you how to talk to him like his lover.
If you sound a bit too much like a mother or spend too much time in The People Pleaser Syndrome, I can tell you exactly what’s going on and give you some strategies for changing in less than 60 minutes. My online Compatibility Index Assessment pinpoints where that kind of talk is coming from and what needs to happen to change your conversation style so you feel confident expressing yourself without ever feeling guilty again.
Photo Courtesy of Ed Yourdon Flickr Creative Commons