Why Work Wins

Recently one of you asked, “Why does work win?”

Why does he choose work over his wife and family? Why would he rather be at work than be home? Why does he work from home into the early morning?

Man working at 2 AM © ArtFamily | dollarphotoclub.com

For most men marriage is not the same way. They don’t understand their wife or what she wants. Doing the same things four times results in three different results. It seems effort is not rewarded, or is only rewarded sometimes, and there seems to be no correlation between how hard he works at the marriage and how much he is rewarded.

Some of this is about gender differences and misunderstanding. In some marriages, some of it is because there are no solid rules, and no sure “reward” for effort. How much of each is at play in your marriage is for you to figure out. If you have ever not told him something “because he should know” please understand you are causing problems. He’s not a woman and he doesn’t understand many things your girlfriends get intuitively. His not knowing isn’t a sign he doesn’t care, it’s a sign he’s not female.

Most men want to bless their wives. They want to give her what she wants and needs, and they want her to feel happy and secure. Give a man a solid plan for making those things reality and he will attack it with gusto. Encourage him and give him constructive feedback, and he’ll keep at it. Just be blunt and clear; assume he is deaf to hints and unable to discern nuance.

Related: Chris over at The Forgiven Wife has a great post on this – Do You Let Your Emotional Wounds Fester? 

~ Paul – I’m XY, and women baffle me at times.

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11 Comments on “Why Work Wins

  1. My husband is an amazing man. Intelligent, full of “street smarts”, a strong leader at work and at home. And yet, the most obvious of hints go right over his head. It’s infuriating.

    Sometimes, because he is so good at everything he does, and so good at figuring out how to fix almost anything, I am sure he is playing games with me. Like you mention in your post, he claims he so very much wants to make me happy. But I was raised not to be demanding or forward and ask for things. I figure he will do and give what he wants to do and give. He says he wants what I want. I try to help him by giving him 1001 hints, but as I said – zoom – they all go right over his head.

    I’m pretty sure because he’s either not paying attention, or it’s just not all that important to him.

    • There was this really great Tim Allen scene on Home Improvement where he was telling Wilson how baffled he was at Jill and how she was all upset that she wasn’t catching on to hints for something-something (I don’t remember). And Wilson asked him what sound a car engine made if X went wrong with it, and then about what sound a transmission made, and then what sound his lawn mower made. And then he asked Tim Allen how he knew what all those similar-but-different sounds were, and Tim said it was because he listened — and then he was shocked and upset because his wife was right and he wasn’t listening.

      I understand that guys are not women and I cannot expect my husband to “catch on” the way that my best friend or my mom would. (I’m not saying I always act like I get it or react emotionally like I get it, but I do get it, intellectually.) But I really wish he’d at least treat me the way he treats his coworkers.

      • @sunny-dee – Listening is certainly needed, but men may not have the ear for some of what women say. I think it can be learned to a degree, and I try to teach men how to do that. However, there are limits. I’m much better at it than the vast majority of men, and I still miss things Lori gets without any effort when we talk to other couples.
        As for treating you like co-workers, I agree. I some men treated their co-workers the way they treat their family they would find themselves out of a job!
        Paul Byerly recently posted…Because it Matters to HerMy Profile

    • @Me – I have men come to me to try and figure out what on earth their wife wants. I figure any man willing to do that is not playing games or ignoring his wife – he really wants to know. Most men see hints as playing games. It’s not how we talk to each other, and it’s certainly not how we talk at work.
      Of course I don’t know your husband or your marriage, but from what I do know odds are he really has no clue.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Because it Matters to HerMy Profile

  2. I think there is more to consider here than gender differences. To me, this is about growing up:
    Honor our partner’s differences (gender, family of origin issues, birth order, MyersBriggs, etc.)
    Take responsibility for our own happiness by having reasonable expectations of our partner and ourselves and by drawing healthy boundaries
    Trust our partner’s good will and extend grace
    Appreciate the significant contributions our partner makes to your life together
    Say what we mean, mean what we say, but don’t say it “mean”

    I’m a bit troubled by using the term “reward.” We shouldn’t expect our spouses to do certain things for us to receive certain things from us, should we? When we love one another in grown up way, we want our spouses to be responsible for their own happiness AND we want to further contribute to that happiness. Not so much earning rewards, but rather making a difference and having some influence.

    I wonder if in the example about the Home Improvement episode, the sounds of lawn mowers and engines consistently mean the same thing. That could be very different from the hints a woman gives: one day I could be crying because I’m so tired and on another day I could be giggling deliriously because I’m so tired. Two different behaviors mean the same thing. Or the same behavior can mean different things at different times.

    I think for a self-assured, content woman, a bit of unpredictability can be attractive and intriguing. But when our SOP is complaining about not having our needs met, we become unattractive.

    And Paul, FWIW, I baffle myself sometimes! :-)

    • @IntimacySeeker – I did put reward in quotes! ;-) The “reward” proves you got it right, which is important.
      You are right on the consistency issue, and a lot of men get really frustrated by this. On their side it’s the reality they live in, and they need to do all the can to figure it out. On her side, throw him a rope!

      “Say what we mean, mean what we say, but don’t say it “mean””
      I like that!
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Because it Matters to HerMy Profile

      • Just looking over your comments where you use the term “reward.” I think you are saying he feels the game is rigged–his efforts do not make a difference, or worse, they have a negative impact. He longs for affirmation that his efforts contribute to her happiness. Not that she is training him to do the right things to earn her affection.

  3. It’s not that hard. The other day I was stressed out of my mind and really unhappy about everything. I told him I was super stressed, to the point of feeling ill at the thought of food, trouble sleeping, sore neck, shoulder and arms. He looked kind of distressed when I told him that. He asked what he can do. I told him exactly how I wanted the evening to go and what he should do. He perked up instantly. He did the things, and I thanked him for helping me feel better.

    • @alchemist
      1) He asked what he can do.
      2) I told him exactly how I wanted the evening to go and what he should do.
      3) He perked up instantly.
      4) He did the things
      5) I thanked him for helping me feel better.

      There is a great lesson there for those who will see and apply it.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Be The Change: Letting GoMy Profile

      • Paul, if blogs like yours had existed in our early years of marriage the learning curve would have been shortened!
        I think it was Bonnie Burns I heard a few weeks tell about a time she shared a problem with her husband, but first told him that she didn’t want him to fix it, but to listen, and then hold her—then if he had a solution, come back in an hour and share it. Along the lines of what alchemist shared, it takes the guesswork out of it for our dear men with the bonus of allowing our needs to be met. So many women could avoid feeling neglected if they would just pay attention to what you tell us!

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