What Women Want From Their Partner (Hint: it is not to be rescued)
When couples come to me for guidance in their relationship, the topic of unmet needs is bound to come up. We could spend hours pointing fingers, and making “I feel” statements, and talking specifics, but at the heart of the matter is something else. Those unmet needs are a symptom of disconnect in the relationship, and what a woman wants from her partner is to feel that he is present and connected to her.
When a woman’s partner is distracted, distant, or not connected to her heart, she knows it. She will hold back love, and feel tension within. Naturally, the man will sense this tension and try to fix things. If his attempts are unsuccessful, he himself will turn away, hurt, and defeated. This leads to her losing trust in his ability to connect with her.
She will continue to test his presence and connection. But each time the man hides, reacts defensively, or tries to fix the wrong thing, she pulls back further, and the dance continues. This unconscious, reactive dance can last for years when the other person is not meeting your needs.
He is a Tree, She is the Wind
Each person has their role in the relationship, but I want to focus on masculine energy specifically. In most heterosexual relationships, this is likely to be the man in the relationship; however, these principles can be applied in all types of relationships.
When discussing unconscious reactions and behaviors, it can help to find a real-world parallel. Imagine the feminine as the wind and the masculine as a tree. The wind may blow through the tree’s branches and leaves gently, or push through in great gusts to test the tree's strength. If the wind blows and the tree breaks or collapses, then the lack of stability is clear.
In a relationship, the feminine will test the strength of the masculine. The woman needs to know that the man is strong and grounded in their relationship, and in his connection to her. But when the man is not grounded in his masculine energy and collapses or falters, the woman sees that he is not connected with her.
How to Respond to the Tests
It takes two people to create this situation, but it takes only one to change it. When the feminine pushes and tests the masculine, the man has a choice in his reaction:
Turn away, and seek outlets where he feels less tense and more appreciated. This may be in work, a hobby, the children, or another person. All of this creates more distance and disconnection, making the situation worse.
See it as an opportunity to grow personally and strengthen the relationship.
When you choose to see an opportunity in the face of challenge, the masculine is more likely to withstand the storm with strength. Taking personal responsibility for your part in the “relationship dance” requires mindfulness and action so that you can be aware of the need for change and then do something different to break the old pattern.
Strengthening the Masculine Energy in Your Relationship
Get out of your head. It is easy for us to overthink situations. Our big, beautiful brains serve us well to think through problems. But we are more than just our brains, and we must also connect with our hearts. Take time to feel her in your heart. Overthinking what is happening will take you out of the moment, and away from your awareness of her.
Embrace the tree metaphor. The strength of a tree comes from its center of support, the trunk, but also the deep roots grounding it into the earth. Ground yourself! Put roots deep into your relationship, and allow her to feel your strength. Being strong doesn’t mean you lack feelings; it means you aren’t uprooted by challenges that come your way.
Prepare to be tested. She will test your attempts to change. When you try to react or do things in a different way, don’t count on it being a magic solution to a longstanding negative cycle. It will take practice. In the meantime, she will test your strength: “Has he changed? Can I count on him?” These are the questions she may be asking herself, so she will unconsciously do things that will test your presence with her. If she pushes you and you fall, she will confirm her fear that she can't trust you. But if you hold your new position and remind her that you’ve got her, she will soon soften and open up to you more.
Don't take her attacks personally. When she lets the wind blow, move with her, and maintain your roots. Listen to her, and try to determine what is at the core. What is she feeling or needing behind her words? Even if they feel like attacks, can you hear through it all? I see couples so stuck in this negative cycle of attack-defend that it is hard not to be in a blame space. I also know that one person can stop their part in that cycle to convince the other to stop going there.
I don’t believe it is your sole responsibility to change your relationship; however, it is your responsibility to change your part. That is all you can control, and more likely than not, you can improve. We all have room to grow; now imagine what things could be like when your relationship grows with you.