I seriously hesitated in writing this blog because I could foresee controversy and some taking offense to these words. It gave me pause when I first listened to Rabbi Aryeh Pamensky’s lecture, but then I interviewed thousands of my male clients, who seemed to agree with the Rabbi. Of course nothing here is fact – only information I present to you as a result of my learnings, research, and experience with my own clients. There are outliers. Please make your own conclusions.
In the first blog about marriages/relationships, we learned that women need to be the guide in the marriage. We discussed her need for Undivided Attention and Connection. We discussed her need to feel like she is the most important person to you in the world. We indentified women as, ‘Relationships beings’ and men as, ‘Not’. In this blog, we’re going to discuss what women need to know about men, and how to be in a relationship with a ‘Not’. Here’s the part that made me a bit squeamish so hold on to your seats. Rabbi Pamensky describes every man as a giant ego with legs. Shocked? Offended? Still there? Shall I go on? Assuming this to be true, he then asks what an ego needs to survive? Stroking. When? ALL THE TIME! But especially when he does his job. We’re not talking here about his work outside of the home. We’re talking about his job at home – to make his wife happy. When he gives her the twenty minutes of Undivided Attention, when he takes out the garbage without being asked, when he turns to his wife and says, “You just sit an relax. I’ll clean up the dishes,” or “Stay in bed. I’ll take care of the kids this morning.” When he does his job, you must stroke his ego.
So, what does an ego stroke look like? One example Pamensky offers I really like is a situation in which your wife is the only woman left on the planet, and she is required to choose a man. Despite all the choices, she STILL chooses you. That, is an ego stroke. Another example is leaving a sticky note on the windshield of his car that say, ‘HERO!’ You have to make him feel like he is your hero. Generally speaking men have two primary needs: 1. He needs to feel that you respect him as a man, as he is. 2. He has to feel that you are working together successfully in the bedroom. Don’t take my word for it. I’m a woman. Ask your partner whether these things are important to him. Even if you believe your ego stroking is not sincere all the time, do it anyway because that’s how much he needs it.
Another important point you need to understand is that your husband/partner will never truly understand you. You need to make the relationship work within those parameters. The truth is, women are incredibly complicated. We know this. They know this. When you get upset with him about taking out the garbage, and he questions you as to why you’re getting so irate about ‘garbage’, what he doesn’t understand is that for you the ‘garbage’ represents everything that is wrong in your relationship. He thinks garbage is just garbage. He doesn’t understand you. His brain does not work the same way yours does. Whether it’s the garbage, or changing a light bulb, or leaving dishes in the sink, it is about the relationship. For her, everything represents everything in the relationship. It’s incredibly confusing for him. So, you must give him a break sometimes when he doesn’t do his job. When he gets his ego stroked for doing his job, and you don’t nag him consistently when he doesn’t do his job, he will do his job more.
Your homework for this week is to continue providing twenty minutes of Undivided Attention to your wife/partner, and to provide ego stroking to your husband when he does his job. Good luck! And don’t forget to talk to your spouse/partner about what’s working well and what’s not working. Tweak the exercises so they work for you. Next week, we’ll start to discuss tools for Communication.
Lots of love!
Jaime Saibil, Psychotherapist