by Jay Johansen | Aug 21, 2021
Every now and then someone publishes an article with advice for women on how to have a good relationship with her boyfriend or husband. And when they do, if there's any way for readers to post feedback, you can count on someone saying, (a) How dare you tell women how they can improve their marriages! Why aren't you telling men how to improve the marriage? Why is it all on her? And/or (b) She shouldn't have to do anything. He should love her just the way she is. And/or (c) You can't make someone love you.
These responses are simply wrong.
Who sid it was?
If someone is offering advice to women, presumably the woman knows what she wants her man to do. She doesn't need anyone to tell her that. What she wants to know is how to get him to do it. That is, what she can do to improve her relationship?
(If she doesn't know what she wants, if she has some vague feeling that she's not satisfied but she's not sure why, that's a different problem.)
If someone actually said, "It's all up to her. Her husband should just sit back and do nothing and she should do all the work", I'd say, yeah, that's one-sided, unfair, and frankly unrealistic. But if someone is giving advice to a woman, it makes sense that he or she ... gives advice to a woman. I certainly think that people should also give advice to men on how to improve their relationships. But that's a different audience and therefore typically a different article.
Yes, you could write an article with section 1, advice to men, and section 2, advice to women. But that would just be two articles addressed to totally different audiences slapped together. A man might read the section for women, or a woman might read the section for men, out of curiosity or to see if they agree with it, but it would not serve any practical value. It would be as practical as writing an article with section 1, how to repair automobile fuel injectors, and section 2, an inspiring story about how my dog saved my life.
Really? No matter what she is doing? Would you say that in reverse, that a woman should love her husband just the way he is, no matter what? Suppose a man said, "Sure I regularly gamble away all of our money so we have nothing left for the rent or groceries. I like to gamble. And sometimes when I get drunk I beat her up. It helps me blow off steam. But she should love me just the way I am." Would you agree with that? I'd say that's nonsense. If he was really doing that, he has serious problems that he needs to fix. Even if it's something less dramatic, like a woman says, "I wish my husband would tell me that he loves me every day", wouldn't it be reasonable to say to her husband, "Surely you can do this. It would make your wife happy, and what would it cost you?" rather than "You should tell her to shut up and quit nagging you. She should love you just the way you are."
Likewise there are things, big and small, that a woman could do to make her husband happy. Why not do them? Okay, maybe some things he wants her to do are unreasonable demands or beyond her ability. But what if the things he asks for are quite modest and easily done?
None of us is perfect. We could all improve. Including when it comes to making a romantic partner happy.
That's true, of course, you can't force someone to love you. But you can entice someone to love you. There are pretty obviously things you could do to make it easier for someone to love you. If when your husband comes home from work you immediately start screaming obscenities at him, that's probably not going to encourage him to love you. If, on the other hand, you greet him at the door with hugs and kisses, that would at least have some hope of inspiring love and a positive response.
© 2021 by Jay Johansen
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