Advice to Women About Men, or

JR Uses Your Wristwatch to Tell You the Time

By John Ross

Copyright 2004 by John Ross. Electronic reproduction of this article freely permitted provided it is reproduced in its entirety with attribution given.

I have received a large number of emails in the past months from women. The following arrived yesterday and is typical of the genre:

Dear Mr. Ross,

I liked your article on the "rules" for men. I got it from the TIH link. [I have no idea what link she's referring to.]

It seems you don't shoot any BS, so I was wondering if you would tell me what is a wife to do? Since so many women will read these rules, we want to know what MEN like. You won't let us lead you around by the nose, and you said it gets tiring having a lovesick puppy around. What's a girl/wife to do?

Yours, A.J.

Dear A.J.:

For the most part men will respond well to many of the things that I explained women like.

Tease your mate. Be intelligently challenging. When a man does the things I talked about in my previous columns, it's GAME ON! Well, when the woman ups the ante in the game with the same teasing, in-your-face behavior, it gets even better, for both parties.

As to what men want that differs from women's needs, my observations and experiences are with successful (i.e. moneyed) men and their wives/girlfriends. What I am about to say may bear no relationship to your situation, if you're married to someone you're supporting while he gets one more degree, tries to "find himself," or otherwise waits for his ship to come in.

Women want men to show that they're thinking about them (bring them flowers, etc.) and may overlook large deficiencies (like his gambling addiction or not having a steady job) if he does these little things.

Men are just the opposite. Few men care much about all the little cards-and-flowers things that you find so important; we mainly want to avoid big negatives, like money problems and a lousy sex life.

Understand this: Any healthy, intelligent, single man can have his finances in order and have a good sex life. Those two things are EXTREMELY important to men. If you want to make us happy, just avoid taking away those two things, and we won't care if we never get another card, present, cake, or gourmet dinner from you for the rest of our lives. We won't care whether or not the dishes shine or if the colors of our clothes are the brightest they could be.

Avoid being an economic sinkhole. When we pay for all household expenses, all vacations, insurance, tuition, etc., give you a monthly stipend to spend on anything you want, and never ask you to contribute a nickel of your earnings from your job, we absolutely DESPISE finding out that you have no savings, you've run up $20,000 worth of credit card debt in the last three months buying clothes, and we need to bail you out again. As one friend told me, "Being married to a woman who cannot control her spending is like being married to an arsonist. You never know when you're going to come home and find out she's burnt another place down that you now have to pay for."

On the sex issue, a recent magazine piece on sexless marriages put it very succinctly: There is no lonelier feeling in the world than having the woman who you've vowed to protect and care for show no interest in sex with you.

The easiest fix for this is for women to have a paradigm shift on the way they view sex. Start thinking of sex with your husband as equivalent to comforting your children over mild injuries (skinned knee, etc.) You wouldn't dream of blowing off your child's need for you just because you were tired, would you? You'd never act like your child with the skinned knee was being a nuisance, would you? Don't do it with your husband about sex, either. Ever. Not even once.

Another big difference you need to consider is that women talk about things, while men think about them. Women talk just to be talking. Men don't talk unless conveying the information is important, such as when they're trying to figure out what to do about something. Men don't want sympathy and understanding, they want a solution. Remember this the next time you start to open your mouth to talk about how the houses in a different neighborhood are so nice. You might think you are just making conversation. You aren't. You are telling him the home he's provided for your family isn't good enough. Camille Paglia has written that American women have the unpleasant tendency to focus on the negative. They complain if anything in their lives is not absolutely perfect. Guess what? Nothing's EVER perfect.

Successful men focus on the positive. The memories we pull out and dust off for renewed enjoyment are all pleasant ones: The time when I was 17 and saw Spider Sabich on the mountain, challenged him to a race, and he skiied just slowly enough so that I "won." My first safari. Going skydiving in college with my buddies. Getting the world's best birthday present from twin sisters. Singing with the Glee Club in 12 foreign countries including Monaco. Shooting with Elmer Keith. Seeing the smile on my daughter's face when we fly together.

Women tend to get their emotional fixes from negative memories, perhaps because they are more powerful. Time and again they bring up how they've been snubbed at work, been slighted by their girlfriends, been driven crazy by their mothers, been passed over at the audition, been swamped with bills they can't pay, or gotten fat.

Talking about these kinds of things may bring women some kind of comfort (which we men cannot even begin to fathom) but you need to realize it has a side effect you may not have considered: Here your husband was daydreaming about something that makes him feel good, and you've just wrenched him out of his pleasant reverie and reminded him that he's got a fat-assed wife who brings a lot of baggage to wherever she plunks that fat ass down.

Here is a true exchange that occurred between people I know. See if you can learn something from it. It's bedtime and the couple is undressing for bed:

Wife, a former beauty pageant winner who had gained 80 pounds in the three years since marriage: "I'm sooo fat."

Husband, who had been hoping to get laid and is dismayed by this development: "You are terribly sexy. You've got great curves."

Wife, not letting it go: "Tell me: Am I the fattest woman you've ever fucked?" [Question for readers: What is the proper response to this? I can't imagine.]

Husband, wishing she would think about something else: "No, not even close."

Wife, who knows his two previous girlfriends had good figures: "WHO has been a lot fatter than me? Tell me the truth! Who?"

Husband, thinking the truth will be the best policy: "Well, there was this girl named Linda. I forget her last name. It was maybe ten years ago. She worked in the same office as my girlfriend at that time. My girlfriend said Linda hadn't had sex in several years because she was so fat no man wanted to. She asked if I'd have sex with Linda, you know, as a favor. Something nice you'd do for someone who needs cheering up."

Wife: "So, you had a date with her and then had sex?"

Husband: "No, she came over with my girlfriend, and the three of us had some wine and listened to music. Then my girlfriend said 'Why don't you two go into the bedroom?' So we did."

Wife: "And you had sex with her?"

Husband: "Yes."

Wife: "Did you like it?"

Husband: "I liked the fact that I was making her feel good."

Wife: "But you were repulsed by her weight?"

Husband, thinking back to that night and how it had made three people feel good about themselves: "Well, I tried not to think about what she looked like. The lights were low. My girlfriend looked kind of like Renee Russo, and I imagined I was with her, but with some big pillows squooshed around her."

Wife: "So you WERE disgusted by her weight!"

Husband: "Not the weight itself, exactly, but what it did to her. I mean, she had trouble walking, and that was painful to watch. And no way could she support herself on her hands and knees."

Wife: "Trouble WALKING? How fat WAS she?"

Husband: "According to my girlfriend, she stopped weighing herself when she got over four hundred pounds."

Wife, appalled: "So what other fat women have you had sex with?"

Husband, now utterly fed up and seeing no point in being tactful: "She got the gold. You get the silver."

In my opinion this man made a mistake by answering his wife's questions, but I'm not sure how I would have handled it differently. Refuse to speak? Pretend to have diarrhea and run to the bathroom? Feign an epileptic seizure?

A piece of advice: Ladies, save your angst for your girlfriends. Leave us out of it. Both of us will be much happier.

Give the men's way a try. Next time you want your husband to talk to you when he's got that contented look on his face with the unfocused gaze, don't say "What are you thinking?" He's probably thinking of some pleasant event in his past that has nothing to do with you, and now he has to stop thinking about it and dream up some bullshit answer that involves you, so your feelings won't be hurt. This is not the way to his heart.

Instead, be teasing and cocky and make him associate pleasant memories with you. Say, with a grin, "You've got that look on your face again. I bet I can guess what you're thinking. You're thinking about the time I pressed the elevator 'STOP' button in that high-rise so we could make out. No? Oh, I know, you're thinking about..." and you up the ante with an even more pleasant event from your past. If you keep escalating he will probably start laughing. This is what you want. He may then actually tell you what he was thinking. If it has nothing to do with you, such as a business success, it doesn't matter. That's what he was thinking about, but I guarantee that if he's laughing, what he's thinking about now are the things you've put in his head, and they make him happy and attracted to you. This was what you wanted, yes?

Here's another suggestion: To put things in perspective, make a list of how things would be different in your life if your husband/boyfriend, along with all the assets and liabilities he brought to your union, vanished into thin air. Which things about your life would be better? Which would be worse? Now imagine him doing the same exercise about you. How do you think your lists would compare?

If you've realized you'd be better off without him, break up with him right away.

If you see that he makes your life better, tell him. Be specific. Figure out A) what he likes and B) what he hates, offer to do A and avoid B, AND STICK TO IT.

You might say "I've never said this in so many words, but I've realized that if I hadn't met you, I never would have seen as much of life as I have, I wouldn't be living in such a nice place, and my children wouldn't be going to such a good school and have such a great Dad. I'd have a lot less security and a lot more anxiety about the future. You've made my life better. You deserve to have me make your life better, too. I'm ashamed of the times I've been cold to you and taken the fact that you take care of us for granted. From now on I'll never push you away in bed again, and as of today I'm declaring a three-year moratorium on any talk about more home remodeling or moving to a more expensive house."

Then stick to your promises.

You might be pleasantly surprised at the results you get.