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I never cease to be amazed at the number of e-mails I receive that were written after midnight. Why aren't these people in bed, I wonder? Has intimacy gone out the window? Is sleep nonexistent? Given a choice between writing about lack of sex or lack of sleep, I think we'll put the sleep article on hold for now. While we'd all agree that lack of sleep doesn't make for a great sex life and lack of sex may not make for a great night's sleep, there seem to be many other factors at work here. From what I see in the office, it all comes down to the fact that men and women are different, and many a relationship suffers because we neglect this fact.
Take this short quiz. You live in a two-story house. You are downstairs and just realized that you left the book you need upstairs. On the bottom step is the laundry basket with folded, clean laundry inside. When you head upstairs, do you: a) simply head up the stairs, grab the book and come down; b) grab the laundry basket, plunk it upstairs somewhere and then grab the book and come down; or c) climb carefully over the laundry basket, curse perhaps a bit at whoever may have chosen such an inconvenient spot for a laundry basket, grab the book and come down?
Stupid question, maybe, but the average woman chooses b), and men almost always choose a) or c). Does it really matter? You bet it does, because women then think that men don't care, don't offer to help, go out of their way to be spiteful - and the list goes on. A woman might very well feel unloved, all because the man in her life didn't care or help with the laundry. If she feels unloved, undervalued or unappreciated, she may not be in the mood to be intimate tonight.
The moral of the story: Doing laundry is part of foreplay. Women often feel overburdened and need to feel that men care and are willing to take on more responsibility at home. And a little bit of romance wouldn't hurt, either.
Men also need to be appreciated and feel needed. How often does it seem to them that they give you well-meaning advice and you simply ignore it? You complain about a problem, a person, your work or something else, he provides a solution, and you do what you want.
If you are too tired for sex, you might just need to look inward and ask yourself why. Are you angry? Hubby feels that being intimate is a sign you care about him. If you show you care about him, then he, in turn, is more likely to show you how much he loves you. He might even offer to help with the laundry.
Which comes first, the chicken or the egg - the sex or the help? Here are just a few suggestions:
1) Offer to help or be there in ways that women can truly appreciate. A simple "What can I do to help?" is worth much more than a new piece of jewelry.
2) Try and just listen. Remember, most women are really looking for a "wife" in disguise. You can nod you head, sympathize and even ask concerned questions. Don't feel you need to provide a solution unless asked, and don't be offended if not asked for advice. Chatting, processing, communicating and analyzing are all essential in her moving forward with a problem.
1) Recognize that men process differently. In truth, if he went upstairs to get the book, that was his sole purpose. He never gave the laundry basket a second thought, except when he almost tripped over it. Men usually don't multitask. He wasn't out to make your life more difficult. If you want the laundry basket to go up, you need to ask him. Don't expect him to read your mind - in the living room or the bedroom.
2) Learn to ask if you want something. Don't nag! While you may think that if you don't nag, or at least remind him four times, it won't get done, be honest - has this helped in the past? A genuine comment such as, "Honey, I would really appreciate it if you could do x, before â€¦," or, "It's very important to me that â€¦," might help. Men and women interpret the same words differently. This sensitivity often puts a snag on communication, as men feel women are bossy and controlling.
This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of better communication. A nice dinner out or a quiet walk together may enable you both to work on improving how you can work together for success.
One final comment: Men often think that if they just "have sex" it will solve the argument and all will be forgotten. That is usually the last thing women want. In the middle of the argument, women want to talk, be listened to and hear something from the man other than snoring. Alternatively, don't mumble, "What did you say?" or pretend to be listening if you're not. She can recite in great detail what you long ago forgot. She will only be happy when you sit up and pay attention.
Now, after the argument is resolved - well, that's a different story...
Dr. Batya L. Ludman is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Ra'anana. Send correspondence to email@example.com or visit her Web site at http://go.to/drbatyaludman.