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Do I Really Have to Read This?A Man's Guide to a Healthy Relationship
By Richard Caplan
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2009 Richard Caplan MSW, MPH
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIN THE BEGINNING
Women fall in love with the little boy that lives inside of each man. This is where women find the child that they wish to nurture (at least until they have a real child, but more on that later). Once they've established connection with the child, they then get busy looking for the man who surrounds him. This is extremely important for a woman because, in my experience, a woman cannot love a man she doesn't respect.
If, while looking for the man, a woman finds an adolescent boy, then things are not destined to work out well. A woman might still marry this man thinking that she will change him (woman's problem #1) but she will soon learn that an adolescent man remains an adolescent man until he is forced by some force of nature to change.
Men, fall in love with what is in front of them. Consciously, they are not looking for anything more complicated than that.
The old adage is very true: Women fall in love with a man believing he will change. Men fall in love with a woman believing she will not.
The best place to start in any relationship is with communication.Without effective communication, nothing can be resolved, and I am certain there are always things that need to be resolved.
As you most likely know, and will read more about in the next chapter, there are major biological as well as psychological differences between men and women. This is especially true not only in HOW men and women communicate differently but also in WHY we communicate. It's probably a good idea to accept these differences as fundamental truths. Like gravity, you can't touch it or smell it or see it but if you've ever fallen on your face, you know it's there.
In order to help you understand what is actually going on, I am going to outline some major communication differences in a way that might help you understand what your woman does or does not want from you and why you seem to be in trouble most of the time.
1) MOST WOMEN ENJOY TALKING
It's not actually the talking they enjoy, it's the relating. Women are built for relationships. Let me demonstrate with this example:
If you watch a little girl of say, four years old playing, they might be having a pretend tea party or a pretend birthday party for one of their stuffed animals. Naturally, they would have invited the rest of their stuffed animals to this party. Each stuffed animal would have a name and a personality and there is always some interaction going on. Now, the drama. Snuffy the snake doesn't like Barry the beaver because Barry wasn't nice to Snuffy's friend Gloria the gorilla. So, the little girl will (hopefully) have Snuffy and Barry work it out so they can be friends. Barry will apologize to Gloria and then everyone will be happy again and get back to the pretend party. The little girl will feel good because she helped her stuffed animals work through a potential crisis.
Now let's take a look at a four year old boy at play. In his right hand there is the dreaded T-Rex. In his left hand there is the ever dangerous raptor. They see each other and they prepare for combat. They growl and hiss and then the inevitable happens, they rush at each other with teeth and claws and basic mayhem as they fight to the death.
In other words: girls relate, boys dominate.
So gentlemen, we have been at a disadvantage from the very beginning. So just remember, it's not your fault and it doesn't mean you're a bad person. You're just a man.
So let's get back to difference #1. There you are, minding your own business, wondering if the NFL should expand their season when your woman comes in and starts to talk to you. Now, you may be wondering (if you're listening at all):
Why is she telling me all this? Is there some problem I need to take care of? Do I need to do something? That's not the way I would have handled it.
Congratulations! You are responding like a true man. You are built for action, for solutions. The time for talking is over; the time for doing is now. You begin, in your manly way, to explain to your woman exactly what she did wrong and how she needs to do it the way you would have done it. You offer suggestions, solutions and sound manly advice. But does she appreciate that? No she doesn't! Instead she gives you that look that you have seen so often and shakes her head mumbling something like, "Why do I bother even trying to talk to you?" and she leaves.
And you, yes you. You sit there and wonder what exactly just happened.
Later, when she explains it to you (again!) you will simply wonder why she gets so upset. Well, I'll explain it to you.
The first thing you should know is, SHE DOESN'T NEED YOUR HELP! She knows exactly what to do in order to resolve whatever she needs to resolve. There is nothing wrong, nothing to fix. She just wants you to listen. If she needs your help figuring something out SHE WILL ASK YOU!
Yes, she has told you this how many times? The fact that she has to keep telling you means that you do not listen to her. And this brings us to the second part in communication with your woman
2) WOMAN WANT YOU TO LISTEN
I realize this is a tough one, so I better explain what listening is. Maybe I should start with what listening is not.
Listening is NOT getting ready to talk. Listening is NOT trying to get your two cents in. Listening is NOT sitting there thinking "When is she ever going to stop." Listening is NOT thinking about how you can ever so slyly take a peak at the Red Sox game to see what the score is. Listening is NOT feeling like you have to defend yourself.
Listening is no more complicated that the word. It simply means you are paying attention.
So let's look at an example where your woman comes home and she is relating her day to you. Listening means being interested in what your woman is telling you. Maybe even asking a question. Believe me when I tell you, your woman listens to every story you tell. She remembers the names of the people you talk about and what it was you were doing with them.
Quick question. Do you remember the names of ANY of the people your woman talks about?
I didn't think so.
You don't have to care about your woman's coworkers, you just have to care that your woman wants to tell you about them. You know how, when you want to talk about some work issue, how important it feels to you and how much of your emotional self is tied up in the story? Well, your woman feels the same way when she talks about her work or home life.
3) WOMEN DON'T GET OVER THINGS AS QUICKLY AS MEN
When you're a guy and you're with your guy friends and someone insults you, you insult them back. If the insult is any good, the rest of the guys might join in as an appreciative audience. The insults can go on throughout the night (or until you run out of beer). This is all forgotten the next day and you're all best friends again ready to at it on the next boy's night out.
Women don't do this. If you insult a woman, she actually gets her feelings hurt. The next day she is not all that forgiving and she may be waiting for some kind of acknowledgement on your part that you made a mistake (also known as an apology). Your tendency will be to try to minimize the insult (Oh come on, it wasn't that bad.). Or you may try to deflect it (You know you've said worse things to me.) Or you may want to go on the attack (I think you just take things way too personally.) Or you may go right for the jugular (You're just like your mother).
Any of these responses will land you in the doghouse for days at a time.
If you inadvertently insult your woman (and what man in his right mind would do it on purpose), then you will need to "undo" your error. Without recognition and ownership of the insult, you will cause your woman to think you really don't care. And if your woman believes you don't care then she will end up wondering why she should care. And you know where that leads. Before this can happen you will need to apologize. Try this; "Honey, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings."
Go ahead, try it. One word at a time. Practice it while you're driving home from work. And try to mean it when you say it. Women know when men are lying and it just insults them even more.
Chapter ThreeTEN MAJOR DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN
OK, so far, so good. You're still reading (or pretending to) and that's a good sign. There is hope for you yet.
I now want to tell you something that you already know and that's been pounded into you since the printing press was invented.
MEN AND WOMEN ARE DIFFERENT
But we need to put this into terms that you, the lowly man, can truly understand. Let's begin:
DIFFERENCE #1) WOMEN REMEMBER EVERYTHING
Unlike you, oh forgetful one, if you tell a woman something she will remember it for the rest of her life. This means you have to pay attention to the things you tell your woman because if you ever contradict yourself later on, you're screwed. Let me give you an example:
Let's say you and your friend Sam decide to go to a strip club one night after work but you don't want to tell your women (figuring that they might have some opinion about it and not a good one). So, instead of telling your women where you're really going, the two of you come up with a story about how you went to the local March-of-Dimes golf tournament to help those poor unfortunate kids by raising money for research. (You may burn in hell for that.) And let's say your woman not only buys it but you score major man points along the way.
Now, fast forward about fifteen years. You and Sam and your women are at a barbeque having a good time when Sam turns to you and says something like, "You know, we ought to try a golf tournament some day. I hear they're a blast."
The two women look at each other and one of them finally says, "I thought you two did the March-of-dimes tournament."
Now, let's stop the movie right there because you and Sam are nailed. First of all, you have no idea what your woman is talking about because you forgot that story about ten minutes after you congratulated yourself on how clever you were. Second of all, you now know you forgot it but somehow you have to come up with a convincing second lie that will cover the first lie.
"Oh, yea, the March-of-Dimes tournament" you hear yourself saying. And Sam chimes in, "But that was different." "Yea, that was different." You and Sam nod at each other thinking that you could now focus on your cooking but even the ribs are now shaking their heads at you whispering, "You're dog meat big man."
"How was that different?" one of the women might ask.
Yes, my friend, how was that different and what are you going to say now that could possibly get you off the hook?
Next time just save yourself a lot of grief. Tell her the truth. She may not like it but at least you didn't lie to her.
DIFFERENCE #2) WOMEN LIKE TO PROCESS
What does this actually mean?
Let me explain.
"Process" is another word for "talk". And as I've already explained, women love to talk. So, let's say you've just come from a nice party with your neighbors during which time you had a few beverages consisting of fermented fruits and grains. You were having a good old time. You talked about the weather, about baseball, about the stock market, about your dog, your kids ... whatever it was, you were there, engaged and present. You thought the party was pretty good (and you got to sneak away with some of the guys and catch the second half of the Celtics and Lakers game).
On the way home your woman starts to tell you about her experience of the night. It seems that Joanne, Bill's woman told her that they were having problems in their marriage and started seeing a couple's counselor, and Mary, Sam's woman, told her Sam might get laid off and they're worried about keeping the house. And also, Sue, Ken's woman told her their son was struggling in school and they might have to take him out and find a new school for him. Then she asks you how the men were feeling about all this.
So, you review the evening in your mind and pick out the relevant pieces of information. You seem to remember the guys talking about work but nothing about their concerns (other then the typical bitchin' about their bosses). Then you remember the Celtics won and there were mixed feelings about that but nothing about anyone's kid. You also remember how that new wife (you forgot the name of the husband) was looking kind of hot and you were enjoying some kind of fantasy about her. There was really nothing else you can think of.
You do, however, remember that the food wasn't as good as it could have been but you decide not to share this with your woman because she may think that's trivial compared to the other things she's thinking about.
Finally, you have to confess that the guys really didn't talk about any of that stuff.
You notice how your woman seems to take that in as another confirmation of the lack of any interpersonal connection that men have with each other.
The final bit of processing occurs when your woman asks you, "What did you think of that new couple?"
OK, now bells and alarms should be going off all over the place in your head. You know instinctively that your woman is really asking you what you thought of the new woman. Armed with the knowledge that women remember everything and that when you're part of a couple there are no such things as "other women" (something you will hear more about in a later chapter), you have a couple of options.
Option #1: "The new couple? Yea, he seemed like a nice guy. I didn't really notice his wife that much, how was she?"
OK, this is not so bad. You covered the right points and gave your woman the impression that you might not actually be having intense sexual fantasies about the new woman.
Or how about this?
Option#2: "You mean, what did I think of the new woman in our little group?" You stop what you're doing, grab your woman passionately and plant a wet one right on her ruby reds. "Sweetie, as long as I have you, there is no other woman in the world that I would even give a second look to."
This is romance novel material. Your woman would probably give you a playful tap on the shoulder and mutter "sure, wise guy" but she will secretly love it.
But since you probably won't be doing option #2 at least you have option #1 to fall back on.
DIFFERENCE #3) WOMEN LIKE TO STAY IN CONTACT WITH THEIR FRIENDS AND FAMILY
This may seem like black magic to you but most women keep their relationships forever. They may still have conversations with other women they've known since birth. While you barely remember the names of the people you work with on a daily basis, your woman knows intimate details of her childhood friend who lives about three thousand miles away.
What this means to you is that, since we know how woman like to communicate, they will be spending time on the phone or on the computer with them. You will not understand this. It will be both mysterious and confusing. You will not understand how your woman (or anyone for that matter) could spend that amount of time maintaining relationships. You fail to see the value in that. (This will become clearer to you after you retire and you follow your woman around from morning to night because you don't know what to do with yourself and you never bothered to maintain any other relationships).
After your woman is done talking to her family or friends she will want to tell you all about it. Here's where the listening part comes in. You may not care. You may not even know these people but you will have to listen. And this brings us to the next major difference between men and women.
DIFFERENCE #4) WOMEN LIKE TO INVOLVE YOU IN THEIR LIVES
Your woman actually wants you to know what is going on for her. She would like you to know a lot of things about her. So before reading, you might want to take this brief little quiz that will let you know just how much you do know about your woman.
1) What are the sizes of any article of clothing your woman wears?
2) What is your woman's favorite author or actor or TV star?
3) How does your woman feel about her boss (or your boss if she doesn't have one)?
4) What is your woman's favorite color? Song? Article of clothing?
5) How does your woman feel about her brothers and sisters (if she has any)?
Excerpted from Do I Really Have to Read This? by Richard Caplan Copyright © 2009 by Richard Caplan MSW, MPH. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
THE COUPLED MAN'S CREED....................xiv
CHAPTER 1 IN THE BEGINNING....................1
CHAPTER 2 COMMUNICATION....................3
CHAPTER 3 TEN MAJOR DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN....................9
CHAPTER 4 THE TEN BIGGEST MISTAKES MEN MAKE AFTER THEY ARE IN A RELATIONSHIP....................21
CHAPTER 5 BECOMING A COUPLE....................29
CHAPTER 6 WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A COUPLE....................35
CHAPTER 7 THE ADOLESCENT MAN....................41
CHAPTER 8 THE DELICATE BALANCE OF INTER-DEPENDENT LIVING....................47
CHAPTER 9 LIVING WITH A WOMAN....................53
CHAPTER 10 HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU'RE IN TROUBLE?....................59
CHAPTER 11 THE HARDEST GAME TO PLAY....................63
CHAPTER 12 STAYING OUT OF TROUBLE....................65
CHAPTER 13 ARE WE MARRIED YET?....................69
CHAPTER 14 THE OTHER FAMILY....................73
CHAPTER 15 OTHER WOMEN....................81
CHAPTER 16 THE AFFAIR....................83
CHAPTER 17 SERIOUS PROBLEMS....................87
CHAPTER 18 SEX....................95
CHAPTER 19 YOU MEAN YOU'RE STILL MAD AT HER?....................99
CHAPTER 20 BECOMNG A PARENT....................101