I love when I learn from clients. So many of my clients are lifetime learners, alert to growth opportunities from multiple sources. And delightfully, they often share some of those insights and snippets of knowledge with me.
In the past couple of weeks I have learned two valuable pieces of wisdom regarding relationships.
- The woman must set the physical boundaries in a relationship, and a man must set the emotional boundaries in a relationship.
Yes, I know that this is a generalization, but I have found that it is largely true. Men will usually press for as much physical connection as the woman will allow. It is his nature. Good men are aware that this aspect of his temperament must be controlled, but it is still very difficult for him, and a woman must lead in this area. It is a good thing that he has a strong sexual desire because it is a motivation to form relational bonds. But out of control it will create relational chaos.
For most women, containing her emotional quantity and intensity is her challenge. Her desire for relational connection and “face to face” time will often overwhelm a man when she is unrestrained. So it becomes necessary for a man to set a limit on how much intimate connection he is able to absorb without becoming emotionally flooded. When he is over his limit, the message he will give off (usually through body language) will often be interpreted as not caring or not interested in what the woman is saying. It isn’t usually true, it’s just that he is emotionally saturated and shutting down.
The second thing I have learned this week also concerns relationships.
- When a man feels disrespected he will often stop fighting FOR the relationship and start fighting AGAINST it.
And we know that men can fight both aggressively and passively (or become passive aggressive). He will detach from the relationship by either becoming angry and pushing the partner away, or by withdrawing from intimate or significant connection. Either way he is creating emotional distance as a way to protect himself from the disrespect that he is feeling.
I am not necessarily placing the blame on the woman here. Men can do lots of things to contribute to the destruction of a relationship. They can certainly make it difficult for a woman to respect him. The point here is that if a woman desires for a man to fight for relational restoration and closeness between them, then her best strategy is to show respect even if she is not feeling it at the moment. As Emerson Eggerichs asks in “Love and Respect”, do you believe that he is, at his core, a good-willed man? If so, then he is worthy of your respect.
Both of these insights came from women who wanted me to understand the power that women can have in relationships when they understand the different natures of men and women. I really do appreciate the vulnerability that this kind of sharing requires and I cherish it.