No More Mr. Fix-It

No More Mr. Fix-It Dr. Abby Medcalf Relationship Therapist

Not sure if you’re aware or not, but you guys are known for the ”fixing.” This is one of the inherent differences between men and women and it tends to cause a lot of issues in relationships. Women talk, process and share while men “fix.”  Let me give you an example. Your woman is complaining about gaining some weight. Maybe she just hasn’t been able to take off the baby weight or maybe she’s put on a few pounds because she’s not putting her fork down when she should. Regardless, she complains about it. You then offer “helpful” suggestions about all the ways she could lose weight: “You could come with me to the gym,” “You just need to eat a little less at each meal,” “It would help if you stopped eating after 8:00pm” or “Start taking the stairs at your office and park farther away when you grocery shop.”

Now, these are all excellent ideas, but you need to shut up. Yes, I said it, you need to put a cork in it and stop offering suggestions.Here’s the deal: women like to process and discuss and it doesn’t mean that they want you to come up with an answer to their problem. They just want you to listen and be sympathetic. The issue is that you guys don’t”share” like this unless you want some solutions and to fix the problem, so you assume that your woman is sharing because she wants your help fixing her issue. Bad assumption, my friends. First of all, if you’re with a woman who can’t figure out how to lose weight on her own, then you have bigger problems than my little blog can handle. I mean, really, you think she doesn’t know to eat less and exercise more? You think she’s not beating herself up ALL DAY LONG about that cookie she ate or that she had four tablespoons of salad dressing instead of two? Yes, this is how women think and, trust me, she’s been obsessed about her food and body all day. She’s stared at her butt in your full length mirror for way too long and is basically critical of herself with no help from you.You offering suggestions does two things, and two things only: 1) it makes her resentful and angry that you’re not listening and now you’re “nagging” her, and 2) it makes you frustrated and angry that she’s complaining (again) about her weight and not consistently doing anything about it (despite your awesome recommendations). I mean, haven’t you already noticed that you’ve given these suggestions before and nothing changed?

Now, maybe your partner isn’t complaining about her weight – maybe it’s about that bitch, Barbara, at the office, or how long she has to wait in line when she’s grocery shopping (yes, your suggestion that she go at a different time was ignored – see what I mean?). It doesn’t matter the complaint, it only matters about your response. Your response needs to be sympathetic without being condescending. The trick is to speak to the feeling or ask a question. So, you might say, “I’m sorry you’re not feeling good about your weight.” If you want to get laid sometime before she loses that 20 pounds, you’ll need to throw in, “I’m turned on by you all the time, so it doesn’t matter to me, but I’m here if you want me to help you in any way.” Or, you could just ask the question, “Is there anything I can do to help you?” These are your only responses, gentlemen! No recommendations, suggestions, offerings, great ideas or proposals.

When it comes to body image, especially, women will avoid sex if they think that you think they’re too fat or that their tits are too saggy. Like I said, we women are generally scrutinizing ourselves every day anyway – we need to feel confident that you want to bed us. So, if you don’t want to wait until your partner is at her”perfect weight” to have sex again, start with the sincere compliments.

Now, let’s say you really have noticed that your woman is getting chubbier and it is becoming an issue with you feeling attracted. Well, then your job is to get to work without criticizing or telling her exactly that. Instead, offer to grocery shop with her or look at low-cal recipes, and maybe even cook some meals. Tell her you want to lose weight or get in better shape yourself and ask if she’ll help you. Invite her for a romantic bike ride/picnic where you pack the basket with healthy snacks. You get the idea? There are ways to support her and steer her in the right direction, without telling her she’s fat and you’re turned off. And, for those of you thinking this is manipulative and relationships should be based on honesty and directness I would argue that this supportive route is honest and it’s also kind. It puts you together as partners, instead of it being her problem that she needs to fix. It’s all about perspective.

Kate Rufener