The Post-Marriage Paradox
When it comes to winning the affections of a woman, most men think of flowers, jewellery, romantic dinners, and copious amounts of admiring comments about her looks. It works pretty well most of the time… until they get married and start a family. Now, these same gestures can sometimes, to his utter dismay, provoke resentment and contempt.
Instead of playfully delighting in his attentions, she accuses him of being insensitive and selfish. What worked like a charm in their early relationship now backfires with regular monotony. So what happened? When a relationship becomes ‘committed’ – whether it’s marriage or cohabitation – a woman understands that it is an agreement to share the responsibilities of their common life. Whether it’s children, housework or home maintenance – for a woman, commitment translates as him buying in to her values and standards.
She expects him to care about these responsibilities with equal enthusiasm. He may not spend as much time as she does actually carrying them out, but it’s important to her to know that he values them. And if he doesn’t, she feels overwhelmed by her responsibilities and starts to resent him, as he himself now becomes another chore for which she’s responsible. She switches into survival mode and none of his old romantic gestures will work.
In contrast, when she is confident that he is as invested in the home and family as she is, a woman relaxes. She feels valued and affirmed; ‘her’ responsibilities are clearly ‘our’ responsibilities. As a result she has the mental space to receive his romantic gestures… and enjoy them. Without resorting to stereotypes, for most wives, when they feel their husbands don’t value what is important to them, no romantic gesture will hit the mark, no matter how genuine or well intentioned. So, some advice for our sometimes-confused husbands: if you want to seduce your wife, try donning an apron and vacuuming the lounge!