I’ve been working with couples for almost 25 years and while the majority of couples WANT to support their partner and their relationship, most of them don’t really know what that MEANS or how to do it!
One key distinction to keep in mind in supporting your partner is that different tactics are required in supporting growth when dealing with the masculine and the feminine. As a reminder, all of us, male and female have an inner masculine and an inner feminine, though usually one energy typically is stronger and dominates our reactions. And since I’m a huge believer in the 80/20 Rule (see my article, Does The 80/20 Rule Apply To Relationships? ), I would suggest that 80 percent of females are driven by the inner feminine and 80 percent of males are driven by their inner masculine. And of course, part of our growth and evolvement involves developing both aspects more fully in our lives.
The qualities of the masculine are consciousness, focus, emptiness. The qualities of the feminine are embodiment, creativity, fullness. As such the masculine requires certain “stimulation” for growth as does the feminine.
The distinctions came to me the other day while doing cardio at the gym. I’m often creatively inspired while in that endorphin flooded state. If the analogy I’m about to suggest doesn’t appeal to you, blame it on the cardio 😉
It occurred to me, that in the dance of weight loss/health improvement, the masculine responds best to challenge and even to criticism! Think of the Army Boot Camps! They “beat” us into shape. “Run that extra mile you losers, you fat f**ks! We’re going to get your sorry asses into shape!” And for better or worse, that’s the kind of self-talk that gets ME up in the morning and into the gym, when I’d rather be sleeping in.
Now that approach USUALLY doesn’t work with the feminine. How many women respond well to their partners shaming them into the gym? It’s grounds for divorce in 49 states!
No, the feminine responds to PRAISE! It responds to mirroring, validation and empathy, those qualities that we psychotherapist learn during out Psych 101 classes. “Honey, I admire you and love you so much for getting up and going to the gym. You look so sexy coming back to sweaty, you are the best!”
That was my epiphany during my cardio routine this week and now I’m sharing it with you.
Masculine Support: Challenge, Criticism.
Feminine Support: Praise, Mirroring.
This paradigm extends beyond exercise, of course, so I’d encourage you to start supporting your partner and keep this model in mind. Warning: don’t go over the top here and be abusive in supporting the masculine or condescending in supporting the feminine.
And, never forget that when all else fails, communication is the key. You can always ASK your partner how they would like you to support their goals and efforts.
I would LOVE to hear your thoughts and comments on this approach on how to support your partner, please comment below.
Thanks so much,
Dr. Adam Sheck
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