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Acknowledge the big picture and postive qualities your man exhibits

before asking for a change.


(Oprah.com) -- Here's a closely guarded secret: Women have more
influence over men than they think. Psychologist Jay Carter talks to
Michelle Burford about male self-esteem, the criticism that could
demolish a man and what male intimacy is really about.
Twenty-six years of counseling men and couples have given Jay Carter
an unusually clear window into men's hearts and minds. Carter's
observations are so eye-opening that we asked him about everything
from finding the key to a man's inner life to the best way to chew him
out when you're mad:
Michelle Burford: You've written that most women have no idea of their
power to wound men. Where does this power originate?
Jay Carter: During a boy's most important developmental period -- his
first five years -- he usually gets his self-esteem from his mother. I
think some of Freud's theories are hogwash, but I believe he was right
about at least one: Whereas a girl might choose to grow up to become
like her mother in certain ways, a boy tries to be becoming to his
mother -- to make her proud.
Years later, when he meets someone he wants to spend his life with,
he unconsciously gives her what I call his "jujube doll" -- a kind of
voodoo-like name I have for the part of a man's self-esteem that's
vulnerable to a woman's opinion of him. If she sticks a pin in his doll,
he recoils. Most women I talk with don't realize what kind of influence
they have over men.
Burford: Doesn't a woman likewise hand over part of her power to the
most significant man in her life?
Carter: Yes, but she does it by sharing her most private feelings. The
seat of a woman's soul is her emotions. A woman usually believes you
know her when you know what she feels. But the seat of a man's soul
is his intent or purpose.
That's why when a woman bares her soul by disclosing her feelings, a
man often doesn't recognize that as significant. He's been socialized to
discount feelings.
For him, baring the soul means sharing his hopes and dreams. He may
say things that seem boring, silly or outlandish: "You know what I'd do
if I had $20,000? I'd invest it in lotto." But if a woman really listens,
he'll share more.
After a failure, a man might express his intentions by saying, "I know
I've messed up, but here's what I wanted for our family." When a
woman understands this, she can begin to share her own intentions as
a way of drawing him closer. Men respect hopes and dreams. That's a
language they speak.
Burford: In your book "Nasty Women," you state that men are more
word-oriented. But aren't women considered more verbal?
Carter: Yes, but research on gender differences has proven that men
tend to take words more literally and to hear them in more sweeping
terms.
Let's say a woman asks her husband to pick up a half-gallon of orange
juice after work. When he arrives home empty-handed, she's irritated.
She might offhandedly say, "You are so irresponsible." All he hears is
the word irresponsible. He believes she's saying he's irresponsible in
general. He thinks, "What about all the months I paid the mortgage?
Does one slipup erase all my effort? And why is she overreacting?"
With his self-esteem wounded, he may launch into a defense about
what it means to be responsible. She gets frustrated because he's so
caught up in words that he doesn't acknowledge her feelings -- and
that's usually because he doesn't remember how important feelings
are to her.
Oprah.com: How well do you know your partner? Take the quiz to find
out
Burford: What if the man really is irresponsible? How do you
communicate that without inciting a gender missile crisis?
Carter: If you decide you want to keep the man around, don't use the
word irresponsible. You can call him a jerk or even an ass and it won't
devastate him, because what is a jerk? That's not concretely definable.
But what a man feels when you call him irresponsible is what a woman
feels when you call her a bitch. It's the ultimate insult. So if you're
angry at a man, just call him a bitch.
Burford: Suppose a woman tunes in to her partner's intentions but he
doesn't reciprocate by hearing her needs. How can she convey her
frustration without becoming a nag or know-it-all?
Carter: She can get his attention through action. If a man leaves his
pajamas on the floor, a woman might get so upset that she'll accuse
him of disregarding her feelings. Then for two days, he'll pick up the PS
to avoid an emotional outburst.
But if two men were living together, one would simply say to the other,
"Do you think you could put away your smelly pajamas before my
girlfriend gets here?" The other agrees -- but still leaves his PJs out. So
his roommate finally says with a grin, "The next time you leave your
pajamas out, I'm gonad burn 'elm in the backyard." He does. When the
other guy looks for his PJs, he finds a smoldering pile of cloth.
That's how men operate. They don't call each other irresponsible or
accuse each other of not caring about feelings; they simply burn the
damn pajamas. For a woman to get a man's attention without bruising
his jujube doll, she has to show rather than tell.
Burford: You've written that when a woman begins to care deeply for a
man, he becomes her home-improvement project. Why?
Carter:A woman often marries a man for his potential. If women
married men for who they actually were, there would be far fewer
marriages. When a woman loves a man, she says to herself, 'I could
improve him. Once we're together, things will be different.'
Since I began my practice in 1977, I've heard this refrain hundreds of
times. I try to get it across to the woman that what she sees is what
she gets. This is him. If he's drinking every Friday and Saturday night,
look forward to a lifetime of weekend alcoholism. He may cut out
Friday, but he'll still be a drinker.
Men tend to resist change. In fact, one of the most prized
characteristics of a man's friendship with other men is total
acceptance. When a woman begins to encourage a man to live up to
his potential, he misunderstands that as her overall dissatisfaction with
him. What he feels is tantamount to what women feel when men don't
hear and respond to what they say they need.
Burford: How might the relationship unravel when she expresses her
disappointment?
Carter:The man may initially improve according to her
recommendations -- remember, he has a lot invested in what she
thinks of him. But over time, he becomes slower to respond. The
there's the day when she inadvertently steps on his jujube doll with a
spiked heel, and it's so painful that he snatches his self-esteem back.
That's the day she loses significant influence. He tries to make himself
not care what she thinks, which is why she begins to feel he's
emotionally distant. He stops connecting. He doesn't look her in the
eyes unless he's angry. When the marriage is on the brink of breakup,
the woman drags him into my office. That's when I hear what almost
any therapist can tell you is the most repeated phrase among men:
"No matter what I do, I can never please this woman."
While she's been genuinely trying to improve him with the best of
intentions, he's been feeling her efforts as a shot to his self-esteem.
After all the work she has put into him -- he finally eats with his mouth
closed, he doesn't say ignorant things -- he may run off with another
woman.
That's often because he's looking for someone who will think the world
of him -- someone who will see him as he thinks his wife once did.
What he doesn't know is that he's bound to repeat the cycle because
he hasn't done the work of understanding himself, the woman in his
life, and the differences in how they communicate. He thinks his new
woman is looking enraptured because he's the greatest, but what she's
actually thinking is, "Wow -- what potential."
Oprah.com: How men really feel about their bodies
Burford: Once a man has snatched away his "jujube doll," can a woman
ever get it back?
Carter: Yes. She can sit down with him and say something like 'It
wasn't my intention to hurt you, but I have. I really do think you're a
wonderful man.' He may never admit that there are heel marks all over
his doll, but if she approaches him this way, he'll slowly open up again.
Burford: How can a woman encourage her partner to reach his full
potential without hurting his self-esteem?
A: By stroking the jujube doll before bringing the hammer down. Let's
say a man leaves his McDonald's wrappers all over the car. The woman
is angry that he's inconsiderate of her desire to drive without bits of
cheese, pickles, and dried ketchup stuck to the steering wheel. What
should she say?
"I see how organized you are by the way you keep your desk, which is
why I'm a bit surprised about the wreck our car is." Because she has
first acknowledged the big picture -- "I know you're a neat guy" -- the
criticism doesn't sting. And if she keeps the whole thing light, she'll get
a laugh out of him before he heads out to clean the car.
I'm not suggesting that women spend their lives enabling and
patronizing. This is not about telling a man he has the brightest gold
chain or the biggest penis. Emphasizing a man's positive qualities is
acknowledging the complete picture of who he is and what he has
already done right.
Burford: After nearly three decades of counseling men, do you think
most really want to please women?
Carter: Oh, yes! And I believe that a man will feel even more motivated
to please a woman he loves if he knows that, in general, she already
thinks the world of him. Once a woman tells a man how responsible
and caring he is, he'll usually do all he can to live up to that image. Just
to make her proud, he'll rise up and move mountains.
Oprah.com: An instructional guide to dealing with men
Thing about men.... Written by some lady. Typical.

OETKB
with our fast evolving pop culture, it's a miracle a guy and girl have
much in common much less know what to expect of each other. seeing
that wild and crazy "interest" last 12 to 18 months, both have to move
fast to figure each other out let things start to peter out, no pun
intended. if you have ... more
with our fast evolving pop culture, it's a miracle a guy and girl have
much in common much less know what to expect of each other. seeing
that wild and crazy "interest" last 12 to 18 months, both have to move
fast to figure each other out let things start to peter out, no pun
intended. if you have to work at it, it ain't working out. move on. less
52 minutes ago | Like | Report abuse
NorthropP61
Dear Psychologist Jay Carter, don't let this hurt your tender ego, but
the women in your couples counseling were short-changed.
2 hours ago | Like (5) | Report abuse
CrowTRobot
spoken like a typical chick--"it's not enough about ME"...and your last
post--you know it's women who typically read way more into a
conversation than a man? Men are much more straight-forward in the
their talking---they say exactly what they mean. Women just choose to
interpret it to mean a thous... more
spoken like a typical chick--"it's not enough about ME"...and your last
post--you know it's women who typically read way more into a
conversation than a man? Men are much more straight-forward in the
their talking---they say exactly what they mean. Women just choose to
interpret it to mean a thousand other emotional things that have
nothing to do with it. Men are easy to please, women are not. less
32 minutes ago | Like | Report abuse
miminef
I am a woman. I don't understand how it's possible that women want to
'improve' men. I learned ages ago (from a Jeff Foxworthy joke) that
men are exactly what they seem. They are not as complex as women
seem to want them to be. They don't want to discuss their feelings;
they want to fix things. ... more
I am a woman. I don't understand how it's possible that women want to
'improve' men.

I learned ages ago (from a Jeff Foxworthy joke) that men are exactly
what they seem. They are not as complex as women seem to want
them to be. They don't want to discuss their feelings; they want to fix
things.

If you go into a relationship looking to fix him or hoping he'll change,


you will be disappointed. If you can't accept him as he is RIGHT NOW,
then move on to the next one.

Love isn't good enough a reason to stick with someone who isn't right
for you. You can love anyone, if you make up your mind to do it. less
3 hours ago | Like (8) | Report abuse
I liked this article. Of course you can't paint an entire gender with a
single brush, I can relate to some of the things mentioned in this
article. I had a bf that when I said I didn't like something he did, he
would take my words and interpret them in the worst possible way. If I
was saying some... more
I liked this article. Of course you can't paint an entire gender with a
single brush, I can relate to some of the things mentioned in this
article. I had a bf that when I said I didn't like something he did, he
would take my words and interpret them in the worst possible way. If I
was saying something specific to a situation, he would hear that I was
generalizing. Mind you, to be fair, women should aspire to grow along
with their men. I like the advice at the end about being careful about
how you phrase things when bringing up something about your partner
that you don't like. less
3 hours ago | Like (2) | Report abuse
Funny, I've ever dated these inconsiderate fast-food-wrapper-tossing
man-children that the media likes to portray as the modern American
male. Maybe they're too busy dating the shopaholic emotionally
unstable Oprah-addicted women that we're all supposed to be.
3 hours ago | Like (9) | Report abuse
my husband and i have it pretty easy. we are altruistic with each other,
works for us. i pretty much recognized this article in males, growing up
with them. married and raising two boys. i thought this was a fun, good
article and something positive for people to discuss and interact. i have
alw... more
my husband and i have it pretty easy. we are altruistic with each other,
works for us. i pretty much recognized this article in males, growing up
with them. married and raising two boys. i thought this was a fun, good
article and something positive for people to discuss and interact. i have
always known there is a power women have that can cut a man to the
core. i have felt a HUGE responsibility with that with the boys and men
in my life emotionally dependent on me. because males repress
emotion, i know they have a greater need for woman and her ability to
embrace emotion. he isnt showing his, but he is a part of it, being
cared for. that man leaves himself open. i understand there are women
that abuse this responsibility.

men also have a patriarchal entitlement, privilege over women, too.


one of the reasons i respect my husband so much, is he sees the
societal conditioning of this and we dont have it in our home. my boys
are not being raised with it. that, too, is a great responsibility for men.
and so many men abuse that responsibility today. i thank my hubby
regularly for this as our sons grow thru teenage years and are doing
such a good job.

what i am really disappointed in, seeing so many men on these replies


so angry at women, blaming women, the evil of women, such
contempt.

understand men, when reading this article, so often women are told
how difficult emotion and communicating is for men. how we are
suppose to change and adapt all of who we are, in order to coddle the
male ego, stroke the male ego, so we can be heard, and he is not hurt
or offended or tunes out. i can understand. i can appreciate. but
guys.... this is not all a one way street. it really would not hurt for you,
that recognize this, to say, you know... now that i better understand, i
might make this whole adventure a little easier for wife. not take it so
personally. not let it cut to core. work on some of the societal
conditioning.

instead i hear a whole lot of hate. and this fun article isnt so fun
anymore.

so i will go back to my cozy little environment where our goal is to be


good to each other, and not bother with the play in this article. best of
luck to you. breaks my heart there are so many unhappy, angry people
with each other, that are suppose to be connected, bonded, content.
less
4 hours ago | Like (14) | Report abuse
No discussion about the male personality that is passive-aggressive. I
worked in a predominantly male environment and my speech patterns
are more male than female. When I say something it is what I mean. If
he wants something done and I say No then I mean No. If it is that
important to him then ... more
No discussion about the male personality that is passive-aggressive. I
worked in a predominantly male environment and my speech patterns
are more male than female. When I say something it is what I mean. If
he wants something done and I say No then I mean No. If it is that
important to him then he can do it but no.... he goes on and on and on
and on about the issue. He'll say he will do something but then never
do it. If he had just said he didn`t want to do it then fine I would hire
someone to do it or when we were younger just do it myself. Of course,
when do that then I am the bad person. He thinks he is funny when he
says that when he dies I can go out and find someone else who does a
better job ..... I say don`t worry your brain about it. I won`t ever invest
in a relationship again. Easier to live on my own and just do everything
myself..... no disappointment when what he really wanted was not a
partner but a person to take care of him and the house. less
6 hours ago | Like (1) | Report abuse
Lady, you sound pretty unhappy and I respect that, but life's too short
to be bitter. If it's really that bad, and you really do say what you
mean, then you have everything it takes to get this problem taken care
of. Otherwise you can't claim to be communicating very effectively
with your man, now... more
Lady, you sound pretty unhappy and I respect that, but life's too short
to be bitter. If it's really that bad, and you really do say what you
mean, then you have everything it takes to get this problem taken care
of. Otherwise you can't claim to be communicating very effectively
with your man, now can you? less
4 hours ago | Like (3) | Report abuse