Can you imagine how fun this series is in attempting to walk in the shoes of a bloke for a month? It sure is mind boggling when you can’t see as many shades of colour, talk half as much, struggle to put feelings into words and often incredibly frustrated when your woman doesn’t seem to want to put out as much as you’d like her to.
I do hope however, you’ve benefitted from this series in realising our uniqueness. These stereotypical behaviours do not apply to everyone – you are you! Some women display more masculine behaviours than others and vice versa.
Meanwhile in the counselling room and as put forward on my social media, there certainly are some recurrent themes. Today, I contemplate, “Why do women always interpret the worst of what men are trying to say and not just assume the best one?”
“Trying to say” is the important phrase here. I can’t count the number of times brave blokes have turned up for counselling rather ill-equipped to reveal what’s really going on for them and even worse, attempt to talk about the “f” word – feelings.
I do wonder how much socialisation has created this stoicism and repression of feelings that contribute to men leaving the “relationship stuff” to the women. Men are not the “feelingless” gender – they’re in there. If many Australian blokes haven’t traditionally been encouraged to speak about matters of the heart coupled with their brain that tends to internalise, why would they expressively reveal their emotions to openly communicate the way women want and create that connection we all long for in our relationships.
We absolutely need to appreciate the differences in the emotional centre of our brains. Women have a stronger left amygdala that facilitates recall of emotional experiences in more detail. Men are stronger on the right side, providing them to focus on the big picture in a more practical and orderly way versus the emotional memories. Guys are fortunate to have a slightly smaller prefrontal cortex which allows them to get to the point a lot quicker with reason and logic.
A woman’s amygdala is more easily activated by emotions compared to their man’s action-orientated and practical approach more alert to danger and wired for protecting. You threaten them and then they’ll exhibit more emotion! This practical, external focus explains why he always wants to fix it without the need for long talks into the night as we may go in circles with no apparent point. Simply put, his brain circuits aren’t wired to retain information in the detailed and emotional way that a woman’s is. How on earth are they then expected to communicate in the same way we do?
It’s also worth noting if based on previous experience, do:
- some women could already have labelled their man with certain traits that then filter in the worst-case scenario?
- we also incorporate “catastrophic” thinking into our relationships that then translates to lack of trust and looking for the negative in all situations?
- we attempt to mind-read in making weird and wonderful assumptions instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt?
- we allow comparison to steal the joy from hearing the positives in our man’s communication as compared to what we hear other men say to their partner? Do we assume all other men say all the right things and forget the positive traits and words he does get right in a different way?
I whole-heartedly agree that many men could share the “relationship load” in facilitating emotional attentiveness. Could same ladies, however remove any high expectations and the “shoulds”. Could we shift the blame to a more collaborative approach in enjoying your incredible differences in how we communicate and play the catch them doing it well game for a change?
Next week, the most common question: Why don’t women desire sexual intimacy as much as we do?
Joanne Wilson is a neuropsychotherapist, relationship specialist, radio co-host, workshop facilitator, guest speaker and weekly columnist for the Sunshine Coast Daily.
Contact Jo at www.theconfidantecounselling.com or via email. Listen in to her podcast discussing these articles and more, "Is This Love?"
Throughout Audacious August, I’m bravely journeying the world of an aussie male.
Peruse the most recent articles on this blog for some of the mysteries I seek to unveil about men, particularly those in relationship with a woman. Today I investigate why we find men’s lack of communication so troubling?
Thank you for your overwhelming response to last week’s article. Here are more contemplations based on your contributions, Why:
Firstly, let’s point out the amazing similarity between men and women - we all long to be loved! Yes, we might look different, sound different and go about getting love in a different way however all the PHd’ers out there keep coming back to more similarities than differences.
Whilst I’ve covered fascinating facts about our variances in brain structure over previous articles, one important point is we are miraculously designed to complement each other. When you think about it, there isn’t one kind of man and one kind female – most of the stereotypes just don’t fit! You are unique.
I’ll now address the talking conundrum with a joke from the late American journalist, Helen Rowland, "Before marriage, a man declares that he would lay down his life to serve you; after marriage, he won't even lay down his newspaper to talk to you."
I mentioned last week that constructive emotional disclosure discussions support closeness. I get the impression that aside from the closeness part, this seems most unappealing to men. One helpful male wrote in this week with this helpful perspective, “The masculine in all of us, men and women is covert by nature and thus reluctant to open itself up to scrutiny. Many men, especially those who have yet to recognise the power of their own feminine essence, simply have not exercised this channel for connection with another human being.”
Furthermore, neuroscience reveals that females are extremely accomplished at detecting when they’re being listened to – or not. It influences our sense of self-worth. We will catch you out! Female brains have an amazing capacity to group sounds and analyse them versus the male brain which listens for a specific focussed purpose.
Here’s an exert from Dr Caroline Leaf’s book, “He said, she said”.
“A husband may find it a challenge to keep up with his wife as she zig-zags her way through all the various adventures of her day, constantly inserting random factoids and minutiae. There’s a reason she knows where she’s going even when he’s completely lost and beginning to lose interest. Her girlfriends love all the extra details she gives when she’s telling a story—her husband’s wondering, “What does this have to do with that?”
As I regularly highlight in couple’s therapy, ladies, save some of your words for your gal pals and reduce any extravagant body movements to minimise distraction! Fellas, hang in there with us. Keep eye-contact, reassure, ask questions and practise attentive listening for as long as you can. Start pondering the footy scores or other bouncy things – we see it all over your face!
Next week I’m supporting blokes for when she sees “puce” and you see brown. She sees “relaxed khaki” and you see green.
So fellas, email me your burning questions for support during Audacious August. Bewildered ladies, feel free to forward any contemplations you find unsettling for this series too! You can remain anonymous!
Joanne Wilson is a neuropsychotherapist, relationship specialist, radio co-host, workshop facilitator and guest speaker. Contact www.theconfidantecounselling.com or via email. Look out for my new podcast discussing these articles and more, "Is This Love?"
Food, glorious food! It’s the Noosa Food and Wine Festival next week and I’ll be there with bells on! The festival will play host to over 200 chefs, producers, winemakers and journalists with a passion for gourmet food and wine. We will be able to taste unique ingredients, watch demonstrations by leading chefs and take part in beach BBQ’s and the festival’s annual beach party. Bring it on, let’s UTF – Unite Through Food.
It got me thinking! Food is one of the wonderful necessities of life. We eat throughout our marriage and relationships and well, every part of our lives. Does Australian culture use this shared experience to strengthen our relationships, say like the Italians?
You may well have done the exciting and romantic dates in the early days at your favourite restaurants or on the beach as you gazed hopefully and lovingly into each other’s eyes. What about the every-day upkeep of our relationships?
Some of the best conversations you’ll have will be over a meal. It’s universally acknowledged as a great time to discuss a variety of topics, even difficult ones. Don’t underestimate the psychological and emotional benefits, namely social connection, intellectual stimulation, relaxation and romance.
Here’s my top tips for curating culinary cohesion for couples:
Give up multi-tasking. Hands up who eats in front of the TV or accompanied by a screen? Thought so. The trap of living under an unnecessary sense of urgency to be entertained, work and of course be ever present on social media can put you in chronic toxic stress and make you sick, including terrible indigestion! Turn off the screens and allow meals to be the perfect time to talk about your highs and lows. It will also slow you down and eat less.
Invest the time in home cooking. Savour the satisfaction of creating a dish and likewise having your partner prepare something for you is something you can put loving care and effort into. (Hello husband, I hope you’re reading.) Sure, it’s still a meal, but when it’s made with love, it’s super special and tastes oh so much better! It’s like a tiny, tasty gift at the end of a long day.
Can’t cook? Try learning. This is the perfect joint activity. There are awesome options to do this together here on the Sunshine Coast. Putting in the effort to improve yourself for the sake of your relationship shows a great deal of love and dedication.
Create the mood: Arty and bright or warm and dark tonight? Use those funky little string lights, draw something, use aromatic candles and swoon to the music. Want to feel sophisticated? Throw on some classical. Tweak the atmosphere in your house and bang - date night is on.
Relax and enjoy yourselves! Just because you switched off technology doesn’t mean you need to be super formal. Sit back, relax and chill. Why not kick back on the floor whilst eating for a change? If there are little munchkins in the house, they’ll love a snackable spread on a blanket. Plenty of other cultures do it.
Make it habitual: It’s all wonderful to now decide to “eat together more often.” Why not hand write a specific goal, ie “Eat together as a family at the table three times per week on a Tuesday…”. Paste this up on the fridge for ALL to see and practice, practice, practice. Keep each other accountable and after 30 days, it’ll be the start of the norm of UTF for you!
Just another heads up for your calendar! There’s the inaugural The Curated Plate culinary festival between 8-11 August so head online to grab your tickets.
See you on Noosa beach next weekend! I’ll be the one with the empty plate.
Joanne Wilson is the weekly columnist for the Sunshine Coast Daily Weekend magazine, weekly radio guest on Salt106.5, professional relationship counsellor and certified neuropsychotherapy practitioner of TheConfidante Counselling. She is based on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland - Australia. You can contact her at: www.theconfidantecounselling.com or email HERE.
Back by popular demand from my 2018 Australia Day Slang for Dating Couples featured here, this is your up to date Romance Communication guide. It is particularly useful for newcomers to our great southern land, or those just needing to brush up on how to get a fair crack of the whip for that perfect local catch.
Bogan: Some refer to this great Australian as unsophisticated. They’re often found in flannelette shirt, tracky dacks and thongs accompanied by a durry and a tinnie. Male names always end with an “o” such as Davo or Stevo. You can easily search the web for the latest list of Aussie bogan names for any possible offspring they may have.
Bottle-O: Your bogan date is sure to chuck a U-ey just to get there as an essential detour to your dating destination such as Maccas, the Servo for a pie or Bunnings for a sausage sizzle.
Buggered: If you can’t be, then you’re probably not that into them.
Cark it: This could be something like your relationship, the cat, your car. It means to die or stop working and requires attention.
Carrying on like a pork chop: Behaviour like this is sure to turn off any possible romance. Try to dial down your crazy silly talk, take a few deep breaths and have another go. You don’t want them to think you have a few roos loose in the top paddock.
Chockers: What a great date that would be. Otherwise known as full as a goog, satisfied, watered and well fed!
Chuck a sickie: If the surfs up or your hot new beau is in town, you’re calling in sick without feeling crook. You avoid being seen on social media at all costs.
Chunder: A dreadful outcome from first date nervous swilling, guaranteed to turn off any chance of a snog at the end of your romantic interlude.
Fair shake of the sauce bottle: Whilst first impressions count, and you totally want to suss them out. It is worth however, giving your date a fair chance at impressing you before you write them off as a tosser.
Fix you up: Unless it’s guaranteed they’re frothing at the bit to see you again, be wary if this is mentioned on your first date. You don’t want them to go walkabout after some furphy they’ve promised to cough up or otherwise known as pay you back.
Hard yakka: A person with an honest, good work ethic is someone you want to hook up with. They’ll be a great provider and will contribute to the household income.
Knackered: Use this is you want a quick exit from your date. You’re exclaiming fatigue before you bid “Hoooroo”.
Loose cannon: Your mates will be sure to let you know if your new partner is one of this type. It denotes lack of self-control in public places and they’re concerned for your well-being and long-term happiness.
Nah, yeah: This means “Yes” versus the antonym, “Yeah, nah”. Be careful your “No” does mean no or you’ll find yourself in a right pickle.
Ridgey-didge: Another catch you want to hang on to. You new friend is the real deal, they’re authentic and honest. Strewth, you’re lucky to find this.
She’ll be right: You’ve got to be stoked with a reassuring partner saying all will be ok. There’s nothing better than an Australian buddy who will not only take the mickey out of you when you’re feeling down, slap your butt and shout you a drink.
Straight to the pool room: This is where all your best selfie shots will be hung on the wall next to stuffed marlin, rods and footy trophies.
Tell him he’s dreamin’: A handy phrase for the ladies when your date is progressing a little too fast with unrealistic expectations. You might be ok with a cheeseburger, but you’re not offering the lot.
Tickets on yourself: I’m the first to promote a healthy sense of self, however a prospective partner with an inflated opinion of themselves is your red flag for possible lack of self of esteem lurking beneath their brag and all too confident facade.
Tradie, Truckie, Sparky, Chippy, Digger, Shrink, Doc, Copper, Desk Jockey, Bricky: These are all common terms for vocations. It’ll make wonderful conversation to ask further about how they make a crust.
Now you’re up to date with the true blue meaning of Australian romance to ensure you don’t stuff it up and look like a flaming galah! Happy Australia Day weekend and go easy on the turps.
I’ll be sure to return to a professional columnist with decorum next week!
Joanne Wilson is the weekly columnist for the Sunshine Coast Daily Weekend magazine, weekly radio guest, professional relationship counsellor and certified clinical neuropsychotherapy practitioner of TheConfidante Counselling. She is based on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland - Australia. You can contact her at: www.theconfidantecounselling.com or email HERE.
SOOOOO HOW ABOUT THE WEATHER?
What when when you’ve hooked up, got hitched, produced heirs and been together for what feels like a thousand years? The kids have left home, (well, for now?) you’re out for a nice dinner and suddenly; you have nothing to talk about!
You know why: for the last couple of decades, any nights out were spent talking about all the things your darling cherubs have been up to, their amazing attributes and how they drove your crazy. Did you see that cute family drawing little Benny made featuring our ginormous ears? What about the time Ashlee decided to use crayon art work on the walls to make the house look pretty? All too soon it was, how do we stop Franny using SnapChat in her bedroom talking to that Jane? Do you really think John Boy took $20 from my wallet?
Now they’re out of home you realise you’ve got not much more than...
So … how about the weather?
There are lots of reasons couples stop talking. The most common is that the longer you know someone, the easier it is to not bother to “lean-in”, enquire and basically – talk.
At the start of the relationship you’ve got a few decades of information to catch up on. You stay up all night talking and exploring each other’s pasts and histories. The love drug oxytocin is flowing, eye contact is high and finding out what they were doing prior to a date is fresh and exciting information.
Then it’s one, five, ten, or twenty years later and you realise you’ve run out of content. You’ve lost the drive to explore. You know what they were doing before the date; they were getting ready.
Because you were there.
Now in most cases, this lack of exploration isn’t actually about losing interest in the other person (and when it is … well, that’s a whole other article); it’s just that neither person can honestly think of what to ask. They just need a little push in the right direction.
So push I shall! Here are some tips for reigniting conversation when your communication has run dry and it’s about the past, present and future:
Revisit the Past
This might be your shared history, or your individual upbringings. Recall those vivid memories of your best moments; maybe it was a whirlwind holiday across multiple countries, or just the first time you curled up on the couch together during a thunderstorm and watch TV.
Why not pull out all the old photos from childhood and laugh at your ridiculous hairstyles and parent’s fashion choices from when you were 10 years old. That never gets old and it helps add a few bricks to your “safe relationship” house by sharing memories.
Discuss the little things
Don’t ever forget the small stuff. See something interesting? Point it out. See a puppy? Ask your partner if they know who the good boy is. Talk about why you never got a dog as a child or why you might like to be a wildlife volunteer one day.
Remember my previous article about the importance of acknowledging your spouse’s “bids” for emotional connection? It’s the little things in life that may not necessarily be the most profound conversation topic, but the most frequent. These momentary touches of connection have a greater impact than you realise.
Discuss Difficult Things
You know what everyone has at some stage? Fears, concerns, and perceived shortcomings. You know what’s great? Discussing them with your partner. It can be hugely mutually beneficial to not just air your worries, but get feedback and reassurance.
Honest feedback also goes under this umbrella. Nobody gets anywhere if you spend your relationship assuring each other that everything’s fine, when really you wished that the other person would just, for once, chew with their mouth closed. All you achieve is getting riled up and one day exploding in frustration.
Contemplate the Future
Is there a plan for your next five years of togetherness? Do you have interesting short-term personal goals to share?
Happy couples discuss their futures. Making sure you both have complementing plans can prevent a lot of drama.
“I thought we were travelling the world on a sailing boat?”
“But I always wanted to settle down on a farm!”
Might want to sort that.
So that’s just a start! There’s world events, community involvement, the environment, politics, sport and the arts. The key is emotional attentiveness – that is, turn toward your partner and make an effort! You just never know where a little communication lubrication might lead to.
You wouldn’t be the first couple to run out of content so there’s “something I prepared earlier” - Use these Conversation Starters for families or couples. Listen in for my fun chat with the breakfast radio team providing a preview on these weekly articles each Friday morning on Salt106.5 radio.
Joanne Wilson is a Sunshine Coast professional Counsellor and Neuropsychotherapist and feature relationships columnist for the Sunshine Coast Daily, weekly radio guest for Salt 106.5 and enjoys inspiring the community through guest speaking invitations and producing her own books, Pearls of Wisdom from the Thriving Thirties, The Relationship Rejuvenator E-Book.
Contact Jo on 0409 909 933 or email@example.com.
Christmas Day is approaching! A time of love, of compassion, of togetherness … and very often, of barely constrained arguments. The stress of getting everything organised is rising and the expectations to deliver a great day are high. It can be bad enough for people to deal with their own families some times, but throw in the partner’s family? That’s where the real nightmares can begin.
Despite Christmas being something most Australians celebrate, we all do so differently. Everyone has their own traditions, quirky rituals and beliefs. They become our culture since childhood, and for most people, these are the only traditions they know until adulthood.
Then you meet someone, fall in love, and spend Christmas with a completely different family for the first time.
Sometimes it’s fine.
Sometimes it’s fine for a few years then… it’s not.
It might be something small, like when the main meal of the day is, or when presents are unwrapped, or how to decorate. But it can also be big, cultural differences where the very nature of the day seems very strange and foreign.
Any challenge to our existing beliefs, whatever they may be, can be a bit hard to take. But Christmas? Christmas is one of the biggest events of the year! Being confronted by, and learning to accept, a completely alien way of celebrating can be a pretty big challenge.
Keep in mind, we’re not just talking about catching up with the in-laws for lunch or dinner. We’re talking about spending time with the whole family of eclectic people you'd never choose for your inner circle. It's also about being completely submerged in a different way of celebrating the big day.
So how do you survive? How do you make it out alive without starting an argument you’ll inevitably regret? Read on for my top tips for cheerful and harmonious festive season:
Ever had a conversation with someone you wish went differently? Ever avoided saying what you really feel because you’re afraid of how they will react?
I had the opportunity to present this “gutsy” topic to a College Leadership Group recently so here are our insights from the day.
Difficult conversations are conversations with other individuals where there may be differences of opinion or the topic is confronting and life changing. Feelings and emotions potentially run high, and the stakes are large.
Such difficult conversations are a natural part of life. It is likely that we will all encounter these situations multiple times during our lives so why not practise refining your approach NOW!
Difficult topics could be sex, sexual orientation, masturbation, drugs, alcohol, academic difficulties, mental challenges, getting pregnant or not getting pregnant, work and money.
Ways we often find ourselves dealing with Difficult Conversations are to:
What about secrets? People often keep secrets in fear, guilt or shame. These are things we hide and are afraid to have known. Secrets are different to seeking a trusted person to confide in for support.
The Disadvantages of keeping certain secrets and NOT having certain conversations that might be difficult are:
We are created “relational” beings, so have courage not to journey alone and take this thoughtful approach to your next Difficult Conversation.
Here’s my handy MAP to help to scroll down and navigate your journey to approach Difficult Conversations, entitled
“MAP TO BE FOOL PROOF on DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS” – Look forward to your feedback!
(Download the PDF from your mobile device or here below from your PC).
Joanne will be your Confidante, enabling you to speak freely in complete confidence and serenity. An integrated approach tailored to your specific needs will be utilised.
Pre-Pay your session here
Relationship Specialist for Individuals and Couples servicing areas including Caloundra, Noosa, Noosaville, Buderim, Mountain Creek, Gympie.