DISCLAIMER: In this post I generalise about men and women in almost every sentence. While the science behind it is solid, every individual has their own version of ‘normal’. In fact I subscribe to the fact that if no one is normal then normal doesn’t really exist. However, the generalisations in this newsletter are made to help you understand the difference between the sexes better and to help you be happier. My hope is that there is something here that resonates with you or that you see in your partner and you can then use to understand them better. Please feel free to ask me any questions you have about any of this content privately via email or in the safe space of our members group.
Why marriage feels hard
When you’re dating a man he does little things to make you happy and make you love him. Once you’re married he stops doing little things because the motivation is over – he has you already. He is now doing the big things – providing an income, house etc. However, most women still want those little things to feel secure and be reminded that he still loves her.
The other major stress in a marriage is the constant change in circumstances. You go from two young people with two incomes and so much time to spend together, to three or more people in the family unit, changes to incomes, changes to home duties and almost no time to spend together. It’s no wonder marriage feels hard.
We don’t always have the right information or motivation to know what our partner needs. Most people actually have no idea what their partner needs most of the time. We take a guess and then do our best. We need to remember that our partner is likely taking the same approach. They want to meet your needs, but they’re not sure what they are, so they are making a guess and doing their best.
The biology of sex
On any given day, at any given time, men usually have 10 times more testosterone than women. Women usually have 10 times more oestrogen than men.
However in order to feel romantic towards a woman a man needs to have 20 – 40 times more testosterone than her at that time. In order to have an orgasm a woman needs to have 20 times more oestrogen than the man at that time. So for either of these things to happen, hormone levels much change, or be changed.
Love and being in love produces oestrogen in both partners. When oestrogen increases in a male, his testosterone decreases. Therefore testosterone typically decreases after marriage. Yes, this is why sex often decreases in marriage as the years go by.
Stress reduces a females ability to produce oestrogen which reduces our libido, or desire for sex. See where I’m going with this – he gets happy and loved, she gets stressed and no one gets any sex.
So what is the solution?
Increase the testosterone levels in the man – give him problems to solve, give him things to fix, let him achieve his goals, give him some alone time (think man cave or camping with his mates) which allows him to detach from the loving and understanding and compassionate place he has built with you, and create more testosterone. As I said, this can be a small window of time (eg. fixing something around the house) or a longer window of time (eg. weekend away), but the result is the same.
Increase oestrogen levels in you – to achieve this, you need to feel heard, understood, protected and cared for. Of course, this is most commonly done by your partner, but as you both get busier and he is focussed on the bigger jobs (think earning money, providing for you, fixing things etc), women often feel this practice is reduced. However, being heard and understood does not have to be done by your partner, call a friend and debrief with them. This way, your oestrogen levels can increase because you’ve been heard and understood and so can his testosterone levels because he has been able to do his own thing for a while. Of course, ideally he will still listen and understand you at times when that is necessary, but if you can take some of that burden off him, you both win.
How to complain better
It is a scientific fact that women become emotionally upset over little things because we have increased sensitivity while men become emotionally upset over the big things. Therefore, when women get upset over the little things, men always think we are overreacting, but we are having a completely normal female reaction. Think not putting things back where they belong, not putting their dirty clothes in the correct basket. Men don’t understand how these things can upset us as much as they do. However, the problem doesn’t stop there.
As women we often bottle up our ‘complaints’ until we can sit him down and explain them to him properly, and this makes it feel like a big problem to him which makes him get very worried and overreact himself. His body immediately starts thinking “flight or flight” and either reacts defensively or he gets up and goes to another room or worse, gets in the car and drives away to calm down.
So how should you do it?
Start by saying “this is not a big deal, I don’t need anything from you, I know you do your best, but I need to tell you this”.
When you are vulnerable and he is present, everyone gets what they need. You get off your chest what is bugging you and churning you up inside, so you feel better and when he sees that you feel better and he feels like he helped, he feels like he fixed something which increases his testosterone levels. Men aren’t mind readers (as my husband often reminds me) so we owe it to them to tell them what is upsetting so they have the opportunity to rectify the situation.
Be aware that women can think and feel at the same time but men can only think so when you’ve opened up to them about how you’re feeling or what you need in your relationship, they can’t immediately respond. We get all emotional but can keep explaining things (yes, even through the tears). Men need to detach from the situation to think about it. Quite often during a discussion women feel this detachment and get more upset because we think they have nothing to contribute or don’t have anything to say, or worse, don’t care. However, we just need to give them time and they can come back to us. Truth be told, we don’t always need a reply, just someone to listen.
How to be happier
Every problem is caused by two people. Ask yourself the question – how did I contribute to this situation?
Now before you get all defensive let me give you an example. A woman is frustrated because her husband never helps clean up the kitchen after dinner. She lets her anger grow inside her until one day she breaks down crying and when he asks her what’s wrong she lets fly with how he never helps her do anything. So how did she contribute to this? Did she ask for his help? Did she just do the kitchen herself every night and not complain so he thought she liked cleaning up the kitchen?
I know, I know, one of the worst things men can say to us is “you should have just asked me to help you and I would’ve” because as women that infuriates us even more and we are thinking (or screaming) “why should I have to ask for your help?” Let me explain it. Men are trained (genetically and environmentally) to think that making money in a family gets them love and that’s enough. Of course, this depends on what their family was like growing and up and who took on what responsibilities. If you know his family well enough by now, you can work out where he learnt to be the way he currently is.
However, these days much has changed. Most women rejoin the workforce sometime after having children, so we believe (and rightfully so) that once the income earning is being shared again, so should the other duties around the house. So, at some stage it’s not enough that he earns an income and then leaves other things like looking after the children and the housework, then it’s our job to teach them a different way of thinking. So instead of the above, sit him down when you’re feeling calm and say “this is not a big deal, I know you do your best, but once the kids are asleep I have to clean the kitchen, get the washing on and make lunches and I need your help to get these things done.” They really do want to please us, they want us to be happy, but they need us to calmly spell out how to make that happen. As I said before if we can do this when we are calm, we stop them going into “fight or flight mode” so we’re more likely to get that change we need.
If you’re not feeling loved, you need to look inward. You are in charge of how you feel. It’s not your husband’s job to make you happy, it’s their job to make you happier. About 80% of your happiness should come from you and your partner can top up that last 20%. Therefore, if they’re not doing so well at adding that 20%, you are still 80% happy. If all of your happiness (or even most of it) is dependent on someone else, you will never feel happy, or that happiness can easily be taken away from you.
Conclusion: The two most common things women want more from their partners are help with the little jobs around the house and a deeper feeling of connection. The only way for you to get those things that will contribute to topping up that last 20% of your happiness is by asking for them. Calmly and with love.
What do men need and why
Men can’t always be in the loving and “touchy feely” world that women live in. When they are in this state it increases their oestrogen levels. Therefore, they need time to do testosterone building activities which usually involves something they are good at. It could be competitive sports, fixing something around the house, time in his man cave on his own or solving problems. Especially after a talk with ‘the wife’ about their feelings, men will need to go somewhere and detach from this to rebuild their testosterone levels.
What do women need most to keep our hormones balanced – connection with other people, including our partners.
What do men need most to keep their hormones balanced – they need to feel successful in providing for you what you need. So if you’re happy, they’re happy.
Men need love just as much as women, and women need sex just as much as men. However, men need sex to feel loved, while women need to feel loved to be interested in sex. Two different paths to the same end but it is easy to see why we don’t often get there at the same time.
5 tips to improve your relationship
1. Who is in charge?
What is he in charge of at home? These days women are more commonly spending their days in the workplace where they are highly competent and competing in a ‘man’s world’. They are often accustomed to being in charge of things and when they’re back home that tends to continue – they decide what is for dinner, they run the house etc. All of these activities increase the testosterone levels in a woman, leaving little space for oestrogen which she needs to feel love towards her partner. In the same line, men need to feel like they are competent around the house to increase their testosterone levels. So, what are they in charge of?
2. Vent your feelings to someone else
When your anger is boiling up inside of you, schedule a coffee with a girlfriend or get on the phone to someone you can download all your emotions to. You need to be heard and understood and it is better if it is by someone who is not going to feel blamed and get defensive.
3. Make him feel useful
Give him jobs to do for you – the more dirty, dangerous or difficult the better. Praise him for accomplishing these jobs.
Be careful how and what you criticise. The worst way to shut down a man is to correct him in bed. If you need to change anything mid-action, use noises or single words only. The worst way for a man to shut down a woman is to dismiss her feelings by saying something like “don’t worry about it, it will be fine” when you’ve just told him how worried you are about something. I repeat – talk to your friends about these concerns and when you need to talk to him about something make it clear it isn’t a big deal but he needs to hear you out.
5. Reduce your stress
You ladies all know that is what my entire business is based on – making your life happier and easier. If you reduce your stress, your oestrogen levels increase which allows you to be more open to your partner. If he can help you reduce that stress, he will feel like part of the solution which will increase his testosterone levels – win win!
So where to from here?
If you would like some further help with your relationships and need that extra nudge to focus on your happiness please contact me about setting up an appointment. I have many different levels of consultations available and one that would suit your budget. If there is anything you wish to discuss further please join us in our private members group where many safe conversations take place.