Straight Talk, No Chaser, p.17Gena D. Lutz
And then blow his mind: tell him you agree that he should have more—more time to himself, more time with his boys, more time in the bedroom with you—and that you’re willing to give him all those things if he agrees to do a few things for you. Now, you’ll have his undivided attention because he’s going to smell “payoff.” That’s when you can lay on him what you need. Maybe you’d be happier if you had a little more time to yourself, or maybe you need more help with the kids or the housework. Maybe you want him to be better about helping with the morning routine, or being more proactive when it comes to planning and taking you out for date nights. Whatever it is you need, come prepared to talk about it in a nonjudgmental way.
Once he’s given his list and you’ve given yours, you’ve made the exchange. Now, both of you are clear about what you can offer in order to get some of what each of you need—the compromise you’ll be willing to make. That’s when you strike the deal.
Marjorie and I practice this even when we’re on vacation. Just this past spring, we went to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico, just the two of us, so that we could get in some quality time together. But we made very clear to each other that we needed some much-needed me-time, too. Though she can’t stand the smell of them, Marjorie knows how much I enjoy a good cigar; it relaxes me like nothing else can. I pull the cigar smoke into my mouth and hold it right there while I breathe in and out, careful not to let the smoke go down into my lungs. And then I blow it out and take another puff. If it’s a fine cigar—one that’s not bitter, that has a smooth taste—I’m satisfied, happy. Knowing this, Marjorie kept my cigars ordered and made sure that I had plenty on hand so that I could be fully relaxed. In exchange, I made sure she had strawberries and her favorite drink replenished every time she got low, because that fruit and drink relaxed her. We both made a deal, too, to give each other space; she gave me the okay to go golfing, and in exchange, I let her spend a day by herself at the spa. When we came back together our time was enhanced, electric. In other words, we had the conversation, we made the exchange, we struck the deals, and we saw big-time results in our relationship.
You don’t have to go to Cabo, order up expensive cigars, or keep fancy drinks flowing to get what you need from your man. All you have to do is practice the art of the deal, negotiate diplomatically. Take some cues from these specific discussions to help kick off some important deals of your own.
THE CONVERSATION: You know honey, I get that you’re not a fan of reading bedtime stories to the kids and tucking them in. After a long day of doing so much for everyone else—dealing with the boss, taking that long ride home, running to the grocery store to pick up the milk—it’s hard to come home and do anything but fall into the most comfortable chair you can find and zone out. I totally get that. At the same time, I wish there were a way for me to take a quiet bath in the evening, even if it’s just for a couple nights during the week, just so that I could unwind from my long days at work, the commute, dinner prep, and homework assistance.
THE EXCHANGE: If you take over the bedtime routine with the kids for two nights a week—get them into their pajamas, read them a story, and tuck them into bed—I can run some bathwater and light some candles and have myself a glass of wine and relax. I can do the same for you on the other nights when you come in from work, so that you can enjoy some quiet time by yourself before you turn in for the evening.
THE DEAL: The more time I get to unwind and relax and get in some quiet time without having to get the kids down, the higher the chances that I’ll be in the mood to spend some quality time with you.
THE RESULT: You’ll get a break from the kids; your husband will get more cookie.
THE CONVERSATION: Babe, we spend an awful lot of time with each other yet when we have time with our friends, we come back renewed from that time and look forward to each other’s company. Wouldn’t it be nice if we got to bond with the other people in our lives that we love? You know the saying: Absence makes the heart grown fonder.
THE EXCHANGE: If you let me go out with my girls on one Friday night out of the month, I’ll let you hang with your boys one Saturday night out of the month, and on Sundays, we can spend quality time together—just me and you.
THE DEAL: The more time each of us gets to spend bonding with our friends and finding some joy away from each other, the more we’ll be able to connect when we come back together again.
THE RESULT: The two of you will ultimately enjoy spending time together.
THE CONVERSATION: You know, we spend so much of our money on bills and the mortgage and the car notes and all the other things we have to pay to keep our lives running, we don’t have anything left over for ourselves. Wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy the fruits of our labor every once in a while?
THE EXCHANGE: If I focus on paying off one of our credit cards, and you take your lunch to work more often and take the train to the city instead of driving our gas guzzler to work, we could save a good three hundred dollars a month in food expenses and credit card bill interest.
THE DEAL: We can divvy up the savings—a quarter of it you can spend the way you see fit; a quarter of it I can spend on anything I want, and we can save the rest to get something special for the two of us.
THE RESULT: Both of you get a little extra spending money in your separate accounts, and get to work together toward a mutual goal.
See? Everybody wins. Keep this one thing in mind, though: you can’t strike the deal and renege. We men are sticklers for the “but you said you would” demands, so you cannot walk away having gotten what you wanted without giving him what he wants. Of course, the same is true for us men. In order for the deal to work, both parties have to hold up their end of the bargain; there must be accountability. This is where your standards and requirements—the ones I wrote about in Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man—come into play. Just like you did when you were dating and letting your man know up front what you wanted, needed, and expected out of your relationship, all the things that you required of a man in order for him to win your time, attention, and affection, you will have to require your man to live up to the agreement he’s made. You can’t let him put the kids to bed a couple days every week for three weeks, and sit passively back as he cuts back to once a week for the next two weeks, and then stops helping with the kids’ routine altogether, while you’re still pulling out the Saturday night bells and whistles and the monkey show on a Tuesday. No monkeys need to be coming out unless he keeps up the end of the deal he struck. Otherwise, you’ll both be right back to the frustration you were feeling before you learned to negotiate.
You deserve better.
For Ladies Only . . .
Using the Art of the Deal to Maintain Standards and Requirements in a Relationship
In the beginning of your relationship, you weren’t passing out the cookie to a man who wasn’t treating you right; you gave it to him based on his meeting your standards and requirements and doing nice things for you. But as you get deeper into the relationship, your man will slowly pull back on the tactics, treats, and attention he used to win you over. It’s just what we do; capturing you was hard work and once we have you, we get comfortable putting in less work on the romantic side of things because we’re busy providing for and protecting you and we soon find out that even if we don’t break a sweat meeting your standards and requirements in the bedroom, you don’t usually complain. You give based on your emotions, not your mate’s actions. And so he chills. He’s not rubbing your feet anymore and he hasn’t licked your back since 1979, but he’s still over there requiring you give him your all—and that leads to frustration, chiefly, yours.
How do you get him back on board? Talk. Men are not mind readers, and we will continue on as is if you don’t tap us on the shoulder and make clear what you want—just like you did when we first approached you. You simply cannot afford to let your guard down if you want to be happy. Open the conversation with a co
Seal the deal by telling him what you would love to show him in exchange for getting some of that spark back. Now, he’s saying to himself, “If I do this, I’ll get that. Where do I sign?” It’s the reward system—works every time, even in the romance side of your life. You can’t walk into this thing saying, “You don’t hold me anymore, you don’t look at me like you did before!” because what you’ll get back is, “Oh yeah? Well, you’re only half cooking, you haven’t worn a thong in twenty years, and all your underwear has lint balls on it. Who wants a part of that?”
This is my way of saying, use your feminine wiles in a way that benefits you, even after you’ve got him.
Questions and Commandments
More Quick Answers to the Burning Questions You’ve Always Wanted to Ask
When Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man was published, I traveled all across the country talking to women about the ways of men, and at each event, I invited my audience to submit the burning questions they have about the opposite sex. Here, I give quick and candid answers to the queries that repeatedly found their way into the mix.
1. DO MEN BELIEVE IN LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT?
SH: Yes, we do believe in love at first sight, but it’s based purely on the sight. We’re just in love with what we see initially. But that love can easily go away—you can start out winning and slowly lose this guy once he gets to know you. He may decide in his mind you don’t sound like you look, you don’t think like you look, you don’t act like you look, and you don’t have what you look like you have. That’s what kills the romance. False advertisement. And sometimes, we just change our minds about it, and it’s no fault of your own.
2. WHAT ARE THE TOP TEN PLACES TO MEET MEN?
SH: I can’t tell you that because there is no one set place. You can meet a man anywhere. I knew a man who married the woman he rear-ended in a car accident. I know another man who married his divorce lawyer. Another one of my friends remarried his first wife, and another one married the woman his son was dating. You can meet and fall in love with anyone anywhere, and it’s ridiculous to limit yourself to a few places. This is why I say in the “Presentation Is Everything” chapter that you have to be prepared; if you’re going to the ice cream store, the Laundromat, the hospital, the park, the gym, there might be a man there just for you. Be open to anything, anywhere.
3. IS IT A TURNOFF FOR MEN TO DATE DIVORCED WOMEN?
SH: No. Nothing is a turnoff if we’re attracted to you. No matter what, if he likes you, he’s going to approach you and see where the encounter leads.
4. WHAT DO MEN NEED AFTER MARRIAGE TO STAY SEXUALLY INTERESTED?
SH: We need variety and spontaneity. There isn’t a guy living who doesn’t like that. If you don’t know this about your man, it’s because he hasn’t told you yet. But keep doing the same thing and you’ll see how that affects your love life. Wouldn’t you be bored if, after years of being together, your man was still bringing the same flowers and playing the same songs and saying the same things he brought, played, and said when he first met you? Wouldn’t you just love it if, out of the blue, he did something different and special for you? Well, men are no different. If you want to get him sexually interested, toss a sombrero, some high heels, and roses on the nightstand and scribble the words, “Anywhere, Anytime” on a piece of paper. That’ll get him interested, I promise you that. Meet him in the garage and get something going before he even gets out of his car. Get in some loving in a store’s dressing room. Just be different. He’ll respond every time.
5. WHEN A MAN SAYS “IT’S NOT YOU, IT’S ME” OR “I’M NOT READY FOR YOU” AS AN EXCUSE FOR BREAKING OFF A RELATIONSHIP, IS HE JUST SPORT FISHING?
SH: Not necessarily. Sometimes a guy is being honest. Sometimes he’s not willing or simply cannot give you what you want, and honorable guys will tell women that. If he says, “I’m not for you, you deserve better,” take his words as a blessing. Some women stay there, trying to force the issue, or continue to invest in a man who’s clearly told her he’s not ready for a serious relationship. Obviously, you can’t be committed to making the relationship work by yourself. So be smart about it: thank him, tell him you appreciate his honesty, and go on about your business.
6. FOR SINGLE MOTHERS RAISING BOYS, WHAT IS THE NUMBER ONE THING WE CAN TEACH THEM TO HELP THEM FORM HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE OPPOSITE SEX?
SH: Avoid sharing with your young sons the reasons you and your man aren’t together. Doing this accomplishes little more than dumping information onto a person who is too young to process it. Instead, talk to him constantly about how you like to be treated—what makes you feel good as a woman and a mother. He’ll remember that you like to have doors opened for you, chairs pulled out, a person who listens respectfully when you’re talking, and who tells the truth when he’s asked questions—all things big and small that he’ll need to remember and practice when he gets into his own relationships with women. The best thing you can do for your sons, though, is get them strong male role models they can emulate—men who can supplement the incredible job single moms everywhere are doing with their boys.
7. WHY DO MEN CONTINUE TO LIE, EVEN AFTER THEY’VE BEEN CAUGHT AND CONFRONTED, AND ESPECIALLY WHEN THE TRUTH WILL DO?
SH: Because we know the truth will absolutely not do anything for us except get us deeper into trouble and hurt your feelings more. What you need to understand is that sometimes that lie, that withholding of all the information, is his way of protecting you from getting more mad, scornful, and resentful than you already are when you suspect we’ve done something wrong. Our lie, in effect, is really about damage control; we’re not giving the whole truth because doing so would add more fuel to the fire. You’re already fired up with the information you have. It doesn’t make sense to give you more information. No man is going to do that. Feel how you want to feel about it, but really, he’s trying to have some decency about his mess. You may know about three indiscretions, but do you think he’s really going to disclose to you that there were thirty more? No way. Because your response will only intensify. We’re sparing your feelings and keeping ourselves out of deeper trouble.
8. WHY DO MEN STOP CALLING WITHOUT ANY EXPLANATION FOR WHY THEY’RE NOT COMMUNICATING ANYMORE?
SH: Because we’re done. You need closure, but men don’t; we just need it to be over. We don’t need to know why it didn’t work, we don’t want to consider trying it again; we don’t question the rationale behind our decision. We didn’t like talking while we were together; we’re not about to become the Great Communicator now that we’ve broken up. So women would do themselves well to let it go. It’s over—move on.
9. WHY ARE MEN SO UNCOMFORTABLE SHOWING THEIR FEELINGS?
SH: Because from boyhood through our journey to manhood, we were never taught to express our feelings. Our parents, our extended families, our teachers, our friends—everyone tells boys not to emote like girls, to be men, to stop all that crying. We are raised to hold in and hide our emotions. And so we learn to be silent and keep our emotions in check. Once we get into a relationship with a woman we’re deficient in the art of communicating with women because we’ve never been expressive in our lives. Women learn and express themselve
10. HOW DO I GET MY MAN TO BE MORE SPONTANEOUS?
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