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Short and sweet? Or long and lame?

This week, my wife and I ventured out for a little change of scenery. We had in mind a certain destination, but we weren't sure how to get there. I asked a kind person I met on the way give me directions. He did so at length and with patience.

He explained that there are two paths that we can take to reach our destination. One of them is better, but the directions are complicated. The second one is longer, but the directions will be easier to follow. While he explained the shorter but more complicated path to me, he also recommended that I don't try it, that I might lose my way and my wife will get upset at me. He suggested I try the second option, which is less prone to failure, again, so that my wife shouldn't lost her patience and get angry at me.

He seems to know the role of the wife in the event that her husband gets confused and messes up. He knows this process well, obviously. What's really the problem here, and how can we solve it?


One of the characteristics of men is that they have to "know"; they must have knowing. If they don't know something, their honor takes a hit. (Apparently this is part of the esoteric aspect of netzach, eternity, on the right side, which is the masculine side, which shares the same root as the word for winning, nitzachon.) Generally, women identify less with this characteristic as it's a male trait.

The message to women is give your husband the feeling that he knows, that it's the essence of his being: he is one who knows, the one who understands, who succeeds. Above all, he succeeds in making you happy, giving you pleasure, and bringing you to anything pleasurable that you desire.

Here the wife may assert: he really doesn't succeed! He doesn't even try! I have often encountered a more painful assertion: it seems that he is trying precisely the opposite, to make me sad! Certainly not to please!

My response to these assertions and feelings is that if you, the wife, want him to try and work hard at pleasing you, then the only way is to give him an experience of success. Enable him to have a strong feeling that he managed to make his wife happy.

If he doesn't try, then he probably tried in the past, but didn't have an experience of success, probably because you were disappointed or annoyed in some way, or maybe you even told him that his efforts were not successful. That's as little as it takes for him to continue to be unsuccessful. He can also become very successful at being unsuccessful, even unintentionally, in the same way that someone who is not relied upon will eventually become unreliable.

Again, convey to him that he is successful and also manages to make you happy. Your proof that it is so will then show up, and not just once but many times. In the end, you will see that he can and will provide a lot of happiness.

My message to men is that sometimes this issue of having to "know" the way turns into our greatest lesson. We want to feel that we know, we're successful. But we should think about it. Maybe we really are wrong? Maybe we don't know. Maybe we should ask someone for directions or advice, and maybe should also take another route that's easier for us to reach and be successful. Nothing bad will happen by doing so!

We should also look at what we as men are really good at. Ask yourself, what's positive about me? You certainly have many good qualities! If we pay attention to our strengths — really claim them as our own — we can still make mistakes from time to time. This isn't so terrible, and it doesn't destroy our masculinity.

The message to all of us is that this dynamic in which a man makes a mistake and his wife gets angry should be foreign to us. It's saying that he must be the one who knows, and if he doesn't know, she appropriates his duty, as if their relationship is some kind of arena with fighters on either side, each grappling for victory.

This is not the way it should be! Men and women are together. They should always work together as they go through experiences together. When the man gets confused and gets into trouble, then both of you, together, are confused and must get involved. The wife "feels" her husband and is with him. He doesn't have to know how to get there! "Knowing" is not his job description. Therefore, the entanglement or challenge belongs to both of you. When you get angry about the challenge, get angry together. When there are two of you in it together, the experience is easier, as we know. Her message shouldn't be, "You have to get me there." Rather, we want to try to reach our destination together — to try, together.

You, the husband, can not only broadcast this message but say it in words, to reduce the "I know how" and the need to win. You can say, "Let's try to get there. I hope we succeed. I think I know the way, but I'm going to need your help as I always need your help." Consult with your wife. Ask her if she thinks you're going in the right direction. "What do you think?"

If and when he doesn't succeed, you, the wife, can participate in his disappointment instead of being disappointed with him: "This way is really very complicated. It's hard to get there this way." We! You can also both be annoyed and smile at each other. Let it be clear that your husband is not the annoying one, rather the path and its challenges are annoying.

If by chance he manages to arrive at the destination, you have the opportunity to indulge him in the experience of being successful in your eyes.

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