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6 Marriage Mistakes Men Make

Despite your best intentions, these habits may undermine your relationship.

4. Listening the wrong way.

Listening does not mean nodding along as your wife explains what is bothering her and you, all the while, are thinking up ways to fix the problem. "Men tend to analyze situations and generate options," Vanderhorst says. "That’s guaranteed to make your wife go ballistic."

What she most often wants is to talk things out, and she wants you to be actively engaged in the conversation, not by trying to be the hero and save the day but by demonstrating an interest in what she is saying and caring about what she is experiencing emotionally, Vanderhorst says.

"This is not passive," she says. "Listening to establish a connection is an active process."

5. Shelving your feelings.

Listening to your wife talk about her feelings is essential. So is talking about your own.

Many men, however, think they need to hide their feelings or risk being seen as weak. That’s a mistake.

Not sharing your emotions can be a real downer for your wife, Maslow says. "The woman feels like she’s missing a close connection that she wants with her husband. When he’s withdrawn, she feels like he is leaving her."

Maslow acknowledges that getting men to open up can be difficult. But he also says it shows strength. "Growing up, a man learns that he can’t let others know when he’s scared. But opening up is taking a risk, and that takes courage."

6. Going on a power trip.

Being a man does not mean being in charge. But many men don’t get that. "They try to get what they want by being dominant. But it’s not about making demands or trying to overpower her. Women will pull away from that," Maslow says.

Vanderhorst agrees. She says that the "power position" that men often put themselves in essentially negates the relationship, which must be reciprocal, supportive, and caring. "Our best selves emerge in the context of our relationships with others and not as an independent entity," she says.

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Reviewed on May 27, 2011

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