She cheats and he walks. He cheats and she wants to talk. When she starts, he wants to walk. The sexes differ greatly when infidelity rears its head. The same natural differences exist and govern behavior with other issues, so I broaden this spotlight to include whatever falls under the wifely concept of needful relationship maintenance.
Husbands and wives don’t see the same problems nor recognize them as described by the other. Consequently, when any negative issue first comes up, specific things happen automatically and quickly. Without considering consequences, the couple immediately shifts from the cooperation arena to the competition ring. As one lady states, describing a marital problem causes “more fire than peace.”
Wife thinks offensively with these thoughts: Husband should listen to her and take seriously that he is expected to help resolve their issues. She uses this technique, but it isn’t enough: Without expressing it directly or by accepting blame herself, she expects him to face up to some problem that she identifies as needful for him to fix or assist her. He’s surprised. To him, relationships don’t need to be managed. If he were cheating, she shouldn’t know about it. So, what’s likely his response when she first complains or explains?
He gets defensive at the sound of round one in the competition ring. His immediate defensive reactions include these: He dislikes himself for being caught off guard. As we all do, his next action is to makes him feel good about himself. But, he runs into an internal debate. His sense of guilt rises for having let his marriage sour, if true as wife says. Even if well-intentioned, wife’s inquiries morph into accusations that conflict with his innate sense of independence. (He didn’t have to listen to sour and surprising complaints when he didn’t have a wife, or so his nature keeps him persuaded.)
Women wonder. Don’t husbands know when their relationships need work? Don’t they have the ability that women have to detect, repair, or at least talk about issues? The answer is: No, they are naturally different but trainable before wife brings up relationship issues. After that, wife loses the ability to train husband. Why? Bringing up issues shifts her into the competitive ring, and his nature requires that he not lose to a competitor if he can possibly avoid it.
Moreover, men don’t talk about issues such as infidelity, trust, and money. They are producers, providers, protectors, and problem solvers. They focus on action and depend upon themselves to make the most out of life and marriage. Talking isn’t their forte; that’s the way of women and heaven forbid a guy would initiate such a thing unless he’s asking for help.
Or, perhaps men do know and decide to remain quiet? Usually, husbands don’t know, at least the way wife sees it. If he marries her, in his mind the future is solidly problem free. He knows he won’t be changing, expects that she might or will, and therefore any marital problems arise from her becoming a different person than he married. Moreover, men don’t like surprises, especially the marital kind. IOW, he expects harmony without even trying very hard and dislikes disharmony for fear he caused it and for fear of losing any debate to his wife.
Nevertheless, women don’t know better. Their nature pushes them to force the issue; they have to encourage dialogue. Men know they can’t win against someone who can pinpoint their every fault, real or imagined. After arguing to see how complete is the wife’s picture of his faults, at some point husbands discontinue, retreat, and finally withdraw. Better that than lose to her. No sense staying where a man can never win.
Remember, all of the above is built on a couple’s instinctive but diverse natures. I describe what’s behind the default setting of the male heart when the need for relationship management is brought up by wife. Neither is right, neither is wrong, but women are in charge. They either initiate the talk or swallow pride and manage the relationship with other female skills. Dialogue works the fastest but it’s also the easiest to drive husband away. Silence, indirectness, patience, and other female skills work the slowest but also work the best to keep husband around for many years.
NOTE: This article was triggered by Her Highness Princess, the lady mentioned above. She acknowledged and I confirmed that men “don’t have the ability women have to detect and repair” relationship issues.