Why Men Stop Helping — What (Some) Women Say — Part 1 of 3

© 2007 VisionsofAmerica.com/Joe Sohm.  All Rights Reserved. (800) SOHM-USA (764-6872)

© 2007 VisionsofAmerica.com/Joe Sohm.

Women, I have questions for you. Do you think (maybe secretly?) that men are lazy? Do they avoid helping you? In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. But in my consulting practice, female clients sometimes share with me that their husband or male partner doesn’t them help enough. My clients’ frustrations, however, seem mild compared to what I found researching the subject on the internet. (Prepare yourself…)   At the top of my Google search was a female writer declaring that lazy men are simply too comfortable in their relationships. She figured they had likely worn themselves out in their attempt to “get us.” She went on to say that men probably feel they have “done their bit” at the beginning of the relationship, and will happily sit back and bathe in the emotional nurturing that you give them. For her finale, she listed 14 things that lazy men expect from you and what to do about it. Oh dear.  Good grief.  Heaven help us. I took a deep breath and ventured on. The next female advice-giver gave 8 ways to deal with a lazy man.  She started with #8 and worked her way to #1 which was “Don’t yell to get what you want.”  I nearly fell off my chair.  I’m not sure if I was laughing or crying. This was on a site with 99,500 followers, mind you. Frankly, that was all I could handle.  I decided to stop researching. But with my mouse clicker poised to close the web page, I noticed something.

Could Things Get Any Worse?

Apparently!
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Copyright Joe Sohm/Visions of America. Posted with permission.

How? Well, some very unhappy women chimed in about the advice from the writers. What they said was printed in neat little text boxes to the right of the article. I figured it couldn’t hurt to read a few. Said one woman, “I have been married for 25 yrs.  Hate to tell ya this but fixing lazy is like trying to fix stupid.  It’s not going to happen. Another said (and for the record, I quote the misspellings, grammar goofs, lack of punctuation, and all…) “I would rather live alone, struggle financially then deal with theses parasites called husband.  I say parasites because if you ever dealt with annoying fleas, there is so much simularity. Why do you keep them around for the money?  Is that it? And finally (and again, an exact quote), “my husband lies on the couch while i do everything i ask him to take the trash out he says yes in the morning i have to take it bad knee bad back it seems he doesnt give a shit about me at all.” I stopped reading. I had to get up from my desk.

So What’s The Deal Here?

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Copyright Joe Sohm/Visions of America. Posted with permission.

Maybe there’s more going on than meets the eye. What is driving these women to express (spew) these (awful) things about men? What’s clear:
  • Three women (who undoubtedly represent thousands (?) of other women) aren’t getting what they need.
  • Three women have no idea how to get what they need from men (just like many other women.)
  • Do the women want to change their situation?  I don’t know.  Not so obvious.
  • Do they get energy from being right while putting someone else down?  Again, no way to tell.
  • The kicker, the pivot point, the big hairy deal:  All three women point the finger at men and not at themselves.  They place  responsibility for the outcome outside themselves.
Finger pointing is not exactly a power move, is it? Blame is a choice that states (well, screams) “I’m a victim here.  I can’t do this, you do it.  You fix this problem.”

Was It Something I Said?

Maybe it’s our English language. Lera Boroditsky, an expert in linguistic-cultural connections, notes that in English, we’ll often say that someone broke a vase even if it was an accident, while Spanish and Japanese speakers tend to describe it as “the vase broke itself.”  She goes on to site a study in which English speakers who watched a video were much more likely to recall who accidentally popped balloons, broke eggs, or spilled drinks than Spanish or Japanese speakers. Isn’t that interesting? Boroditsky also makes a connection between the English language and our criminal-justice bent toward punishing transgressors rather than attempting to help them. But which comes first, thought or language?  Doesn’t thought create language?  We turn our thinking into words and concepts? So that doesn’t really let us off the hook… Maybe we adopt blame because it’s easier.  Maybe it’s a habit.  Maybe it’s something we learn and then practice.

A Question For You

So I ask you, why would a woman — ever in a million years — point the finger at someone else, and put herself in a position where she essentially claims no power to make a change for the better? Readers, what say you?  I’d love to hear your personal experience or something you’ve witnessed about the above question.  Thank you in advance for posting your comments below. Next Week:  Why Men Stop Helping — What YOU Said — Part 2 of 3

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Terri Crosby

Helping you create life-affirming, ever-evolving, happier relationships with those you love. Follow me on twitter at@TerriCrosby or read myblog.

Comments (12)

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    Moonbeam

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    It’s never a simple single cause … culture and language do shape how we think and even the colors we see (e.g. an African culture that only has words for and sees about 8 colors). We could play chicken/egg about thought/language and nature/nurture without resolve. My sense is that it is really an issue of [the individual’s] perception.

    However, I do believe that thought creates experience; so how we think (and express) does shape our subsequent experience. And as a person changes their beliefs and expressions every other aspect of their lives will change, too (including the nature of their relationships).

    AND … I am truly hope this does not turn into a scenario where the woman is always at fault and the man is always right … glorifying and serving the patriarchal male and by simply ‘satisfying’ the woman.

    Reply

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      Terri Crosby

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      Thank you, Moonbeam. I love your comment about perception. Perception is everything.

      In response to your last statement, if I was working with a woman in a consulting session, I would work with her as if everything is in her lap. She’s the cause of everything. If I were working with a man in a consulting session, I would work with him as if everything is in his lap. He’s the cause of everything. There really is no glorifying anyone. It’s about perceptions, which governs what you see, what you decide, what you expect, and therefore what happens.

      Also, In my In Care of Relationships sessions or classes, I don’t work with the idea of fault or wrongness. We’ve all got enough of that going on, and putting either women or men at fault is unproductive.

      Thank you for joining the conversation and for bringing up more aspects to clarify.

      Reply

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    Debby Blackman

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    I have learned through time and experience that I can usually get what I need if I take responsibility. If I have communicated a need, such as needing the garbage emptied, I may ask remind my partner and he usually takes care of it. If that doesn’t work I will make a statement about how not having a place to put garbage affects my working in the kitchen and that I cannot clean or cook unless the garbage is removed. I think it helps to have married a reasonable man in the first place.

    Reply

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      Terri Crosby

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      Debby, thank you! Taking responsibility is a big deal. I can see why your relationship works. Regarding the garbage, you might try this tweak. There is one level of communication, which is to hand him the problem “I can’t clean or cook unless the garbage is removed.” Another level is to say what having the garbage removed does FOR you (instead of what you can’t do if it’s not taken out) which is even more in the spirit of appreciation. So check that out, and see if it makes a positive difference. In my relationship with Eric, appreciation always wins. In most any relationship, appreciation wins. In my relationships with others, the same is true — I respond more positively to appreciation.

      I especially LOVE your last line about being married to a reasonable man!!! Made me laugh out loud!

      Reply

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    Eric Russ

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    That part about English vs Spanish or Japanese is fascinating! It took me a lot of years to see the inefficiency in the blame game – I never knew it was even built into my language… Of course it works in both directions – women blaming their men and men returning the “favor.”

    Reply

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      Terri Crosby

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      I love that you understand the inefficiency of the blame game, and that’s one of the things I love about being with you! You’ve help me with that over the years, and I know I’ve helped you. Quite an exchange, huh?

      It’s one of the most amazing things about being with you — that we learn from one another. We actually WANT to! Ha!! You know, for some reason, I can hear input from you pretty easily (mostly!!). And vice versa. Sure, we run into each other like big rocks sometimes, but I love that we both step back and say, “Wow, we just ran into each other. I wonder what that’s about.” And then we talk.

      Thanks for being a great partner. I love you.

      Reply

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    Karel Bodamer

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    So much of conflict resolution has to do with a conflict of values in which there is no solution. It all comes down to finding a common ground and communicating what is important. Of course, COMMUNICATION is key to everything! Picking a time and place for this can set the stage for really good work!

    Reply

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      Terri Crosby

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      Karel, thank you for your comments! I appreciate you jumping into the conversation! I have a little different way of thinking about what you said. First, with enough flexibility and creativity, I think there is a solution to everything and anything that works for both people.

      And second, if we have to find common ground or be similar in order to be able to get along, I think we’re all in trouble. In certain areas in my relationship with Eric I would say there is no common ground, but guess what. That has nothing to do with getting along and cooperating.

      I love your point about communication, and finding a time and a place for it. Too often, we try to communicate on the run, with other things going on. Sometimes, you just gotta sit down and talk!

      Thank you for contributing your thoughts!

      Reply

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    Chris

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    I think it all relates to the level of communication you have achieved in your relationship. Knowing what is on each other’s plate. Knowing what helps your spouse. Sharing responsibility for what needs to be done.

    Reply

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      Terri Crosby

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      I agree. Being in a relationship can encourage a flowing, ever-changing, evolving sense of generosity and cooperation between two people who care deeply for each other. It’s a dance, and there is a lot of give and take, change along the way, and a sense of looking out for yourself while supporting the other person. Thanks, Chris!

      Reply

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    Silverlady

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    Maybe this is why, after three marriages (two divorces, one widowhood), I am single and intend to remain so. I can much more easily motivate myself to do what needs to be done (or not, as I choose) than to find ways to motivate a partner.

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      Terri Crosby

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      Thank you, Silverlady! I understand. Your comment speaks to the frustration that many feel about being in a relationship that doesn’t feel like a partnership. Thank you for your contribution to this conversation.

      Reply

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