Perhaps it is due to the confined intimacy of recent Covid lockdowns, but this issue is coming up more frequently in sessions for couples and would-be couples. A source of frustration for many is that the person with the more feminine essence (often the woman) is sick of tidying up after her partner with the more masculine essence (often the man). And frustrated that he doesn’t seem to listen to her. She thinks he just doesn’t care about her needs and it all escalates into conflict. Let me tell you why he doesn’t see the dirty socks and she does.
While he easily strides through the messy lounge room as he heads straight for the home office, the workshop or the shed, she can’t not notice the clutter, plus the forgotten lunchbox that will need sorting, the dishwasher that needs emptying, his dirty socks, the friend who needs a consoling phone call …. her list is endless. While he is focused on the one thing at the top of his list.
He wonders what she is worrying about
This causes conflict as she asks him again and again to tidy up, clean up, put things away, attend to the domestic details so she doesn’t have to pick up the slack. She feels she has to “do it all”. He wonders what she is worrying about, why is she so upset over nothing. He will do it later, he says. He does not understand her, thinks she is ‘nagging’ him, and either grudgingly complies or withdraws and resents her. She takes it personally without knowing why he doesn’t see the dirty socks. She can even think he is being childish.
This is not true of all couples, but it is common. And it can even affect their intimacy, as she doesn’t want to have sex, angry at him for not doing his share.
The masculine is wired to be focused
When I explain the different modes of masculine and feminine it is very helpful. As the masculine brain and energy is wired to be a ‘hunter’, he will ignore details and conserve calories, focusing on the moment of the hunt and the required extreme exertion of energy. So, in modern times he is focused on his next main mission and can easily ignore other things that are not immediately relevant to the goal or task. He is clear on his direction, and dirty socks will not be an issue until there are no clean ones. And he has a plan that on the weekend, he’ll get to that.
In general he will be happier with a short to-do list he can cross off (physical or mental) when he makes time for it – on a regular schedule. He will do the washing once a week, not every second day. he just doesn’t want to be bothered with things not on his purpose.
The feminine has a more diffused awareness
She on the other hand is wired to ‘gather’ food, to support the family and the tribe by knowing where the berries are in the fields, what foods grow where and in what seasons, to vigilantly scan the environment for details and changes. She has a more diffused awareness that struggles to ignore what is around her. She also prioritises other people’s needs. She will drop the lovingly prepared forgotten lunchbox off at school, while he wants a quick call to organise lunch money.
She can learn that ignoring some details lets her be freer and more creative, more ‘big picture’ focused. She can attend to things later. She can kick the dirty socks in the cupboard and her child will be ok with lunch money.
These differences are not always gender based – it is the masculine/feminine wiring that creates this polarity.
Understanding your partner’s difference is helpful, it stops you puzzling why they can’t just be more like you. It creates compassion and a willingness to shift to accommodate their needs too.
He is not trying to hurt her when he heads for this mission, he is just about to kill the lion. And she is not trying to distract and nag him, she is aware that the berries are a source of nourishment too.
He will put his socks away if she lets him see how it makes her feel, how it burdens her when he doesn’t attend to life’s details. He can plan ahead so she can relax.
When you love someone, you want to make them happy, so you shift and adjust from your default pattern. As best you can.