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Dead Stop: An Extremely Useful Action

Not long ago, I came home from work tired and hungry, and my wife hadn’t started dinner yet, even though I thought it was her turn to cook. I began to complain and rag on her. And I kept at it while she was fixing the meal. Our 15-year-old daughter was doing her homework at the dining room table. Finally my wife said, “Are you just going to keep complaining?” I was about to answer in the affirmative when my daughter looked at me and said, “Stop, Dad!”

stop signI stopped dead in my tracks. A dead stop.

(By way of information: a dead stop can be an extremely useful action, especially when you are heading for a precipice!)

I realized I had been behaving offensively; I apologized to my wife, and she apologized for getting a late start on the meal.

But that wasn’t all.

A little later, I told my daughter that I had an appreciation for her (she loves appreciations). I told her how grateful I was that she felt safe to call me on my behavior. I told her how glad I was that she spoke up to me when she didn’t like what I was doing. And I told her that I had this powerful realization that she would always be willing to speak up in situations when she needed to do so, and I was so very proud of her.

By the way, complaining, besides being whining and offensive, is not an effective strategy for getting one’s needs met. As far as I can tell, I didn’t get my dinner one minute sooner, and I am very thankful that my wife is not a person who likes to throw things.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

How To Get Your Needs Met Without Asking

Since men learn in “Guy School” to think that they don’t have any needs and to be needy is weak, but men really do have needs for affection and nurturing and connection – we have a situation!

Most women are trained in “Girl School” (Oh yes, there is a school for girls, too) to take care of this problem for men. They are trained to put men’s needs and wants before their own. They see the needy, hurt, little boy side of the man that they fall in love with as well as the strong, capable, needless side and may move right in to take care of us.

Red Alert!

Unless a man has done or is doing his work of becoming conscious of his needs and feelings and is taking responsibility for them, she may be stepping into a trap. She has to meet his needs without him asking or implying or stating that he is needy! And heaven help her if she says anything about him taking responsibility for his needs, asking for what he needs or even asking her about her needs.

couple with kidsThe reality is that it’s OK to have needs; to be needy at times is to come to recognize that men and women alike are vulnerable, as well being strong and capable. The sooner we accept the fullness of our humanity, the better.

Share your opinion: Do you feel men need to take more responsibility for their feelings and asking for what they need?

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

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