The #1 Type of Relationship Problem Today
(and How to Resolve It)

If my work as an author and a relationship coach has taught me anything, it’s that modern marriages and relationships all have the same basic problem. The circumstances may vary, but the underlying dilemma is the same: the man is too passive, and the woman hates it.

In a best-case scenario, the man is your average Joe who’s competent and proactive at work; but at home with his woman, he changes his tune. There, all he wants is peace. So if his wife is a go-getter, he sits back and lets her rule the roost.

In the worst-case scenario, the man has all but given up trying to be productive at all—he’s so passive he borders on being useless—because his wife makes significantly more money than he does. And when that happens, all bets are off. Her lack of respect or even contempt for him becomes palpable, and the sex dies.

At which point the woman will ask this question: Was her man always so passive, or did he change along the way? And what about her? Does she have a role to play? Who’s at fault for this unhealthy dynamic?

But these questions, which amount to blame, aren’t helpful. What is helpful is for women to learn some basic facts about men. When you understand and accept them—the acceptance part is key—the relationship will fall into place. If you fight it, nothing will change.

  1. Men are highly responsive to women. Have you ever wondered why the same guy will treat one woman one way and another woman a different way? That’s because women inspire men to react in a certain way. A man’s reaction to a woman is almost always a direct response to something she said or did, or to the energy she puts forth. (In the dating world, for example, a strong sexual energy will produce a different result than a classy feminine energy.) Women motivate men to react positively or poorly, and this is just as true in marriage. A man’s reaction to being told what to do by his wife is to do the exact opposite. The wife who asks nicely will get a completely different response.
  2. Men don’t like emotional warfare. Men retreat or retaliate when confronted by a woman who’s upset with him. If he smells a fight, he will not excitedly step into the argument the way she will. Rather, he becomes overwhelmed by her emotions. Only by appealing to a man’s desire for peace and softness will a woman get what she needs. Affection, admiration, and a gentle spirit work wonders on a man. It is, quite literally, the only thing he’ll respond to.
  3. A man’s work is his identity. Just as women bring something unique to the table—the ability to give birth, and to feed and nurture babies—men like to know they bring something unique as well: the ability to protect and provide for the child. A woman’s receptivity to this desire will emboldens him. If it’s rejected, he loses his drive to achieve. That’s why relationships in which the woman out-earns the man by a significant amount tend to fail. In doing so, she undermines his manhood. Two people cannot drive the same car: there must be one driver and one navigator. When the woman is in the driver’s seat, the man has no choice but to become more passive. If you want him to be active rather than passive, then you need to get out of his way.

Men and women are not mirror images of one another. They have dramatically different wants and needs and proclivities that are designed, biologically, to work in tandem. Together, they work like magic.

The only thing keeping such a relationship at bay is women’s refusal to accept it.

Suzanne Venker

Suzanne is an author, columnist and relationship coach committed to helping women let go of cultural beliefs that undermine their happiness in life and in love.

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