As boys, we challenge each other in order to grow and discover our edge. “Let’s see who can hold their breath the longest underwater.” or “I bet I can eat more chimichangas than you without getting sick.” With sports, competition and rivalry challenge us to become better for the team, filter out weaker competitors and promote fraternity. Boys learn quickly to challenge. Over time, challenge becomes part of an unspoken male language. Within moments, most men know their standing in a group and whether another man is a threat or potential friend. While this language of provocation is often effective for inspiring certain aspects of the masculine, it does not nurture what we find most appealing in women.
Positive relationships have a harmonious synthesis between masculine and feminine energies. This is true regardless of orientation or sexual identity. By challenging your woman, only her masculine side will grow. Her feminine grows through nurturing and praise. When she is feeling down about her weight don’t talk to her like you would a male friend. Telling her to get off her ass and run is a first class way to lose respect and trust. Instead use positive reinforcement. Tell her how attractive she looks when she sweats or give subtle gifts or make tasty treats that allow her to associate working out with pleasure instead of discomfort. If you like working out with a partner, invite her to work out together.
Uplifting the feminine requires nurturing and kindness. “You have a beautiful smile” is much more warm and effective than “You’d be pretty…if you would only smile.” These if/then phrases are common among men and most women hate them and see them for what they are. The first statement indicates that you find her and her smile attractive regardless if she feels up or down. It is uplifting, accepting and encourages her to smile. The second statement is a challenge to smile. It tells her that she is only pretty IF she smiles and your approval is highly conditional. It also implies that it is her job to keep you happy through compliant behavior. Phrases like this are common with men between each other. Our language is a little different. But the average woman will take this seemingly benign provocation as a threat and rightfully establish you as a source of emotional anxiety.
Praise What you Wish to Change
Whatever aspect of her life you wish to increase that is what you should praise. For most men, this is a difficult practice. It goes against our early training. But you must praise the qualities you find less than praiseworthy above all, if you want them to change for the better. If you find yourself thinking critical of your partner, be genuine and find something you do like, no matter how small and praise her daily without need for reciprocation. Once a month is not good enough. No matter how actualized, a person needs consistent reinforcement. Another tactic to avoid is bombarding her with information. Telling her to not drink so much because it causes premature aging will only cause her to dig in and possibly resent you unless it is coupled with love and encouragement. Treat your relationship like a living organism. Just as food, water, sunshine and exercise are essential to the body, praise and encouragement are essential for the feminine.
Consider however to always encourage her for her needs and not your own insecurities. If she is healthy and happy working long hours away from home or feels content living in a cluttered, messy house and you do not, then you should evaluate your own needs and desires. Your opinion of your partner will affect your relationship if you tolerate behavior you do not find becoming. In other words, be honest with what you can tolerate and be true to your own needs as well.
Just as too much challenge breeds low self esteem, insecurity and resentment toward the challenger, too much nurturing, especially unfounded and without merit creates complacency, laziness and stifles self reliance. Over time, the more you pay attention to her moods and explore her needs you will get the balance right.