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There’s no doubt about it, relationships are hard work. And after many years of trying, many women find themselves in unhappy relationships. There are many factors which influence this, but understanding the physical differences in men and women’s brains may help explain why so many couples find temselves in an unhappy relationship.

There is a whole field of science that studies the brain, but we won’t go in to that much depth here. To explain it simply, human brains are made up of grey and white matter. Think of the grey matter as something like computers and the white matter like the cables that connect them. Research shows that men have more grey matter (‘computers’) and women have more white matter (‘connecting cables’). This means men and women – quite literally – think and process information differently.

The research also shows that in relationships, men generally tend to hunt, gather, provide and protect while women want to care for and nurture others.

Little has changed in this respect since humans’ earliest socialisation and it’s universally accepted today that men and women think, feel and act differently. Related to this, we also have quite different expectations of relationships.

This helps explain why it’s so common for women to feel unsatisfied in their relationship. A first step to improving this, may be for women to stop expecting men to think, feel and act the same ways as they do. They literally don’t. They cook differently, mind kids differently and behave in and understand relationships differently.

Here are a few reasons why a woman may feel her man no longer appreciates her:

He doesn’t: 
• say thank you.
• check with you before making plans
• do his share around the house.
• make an effort for special occasions.
• ask about your day or consider your feelings.
• Stay faithful.

Sound familiar?

The good news is that it’s absolutely possible for men and women to work together towards a relationship where both feel satisfied. As it’s usually the woman who wants things to change, it may fall to us to point this out to our partner. As men are wired differently, they need to be told.

And now that I have said all that, and that men are different, it doesn’t mean that they can’t make an effort if they are in an unhappy relationship. The question is how? Most of us know from experience that persistent nagging, angry outbursts or the silent treatment don’t work. Luckily, there’s an alternative.

5 tips for improving your unhappy relationship

#1. Stop criticising

Many men take criticism very hard. And while you may think criticising him is going to motivate him to change and love you more, it won’t. Criticism and accusations usually make a man retreat into his shell. You’ll get the opposite of what you want. More often than not, a man won’t talk unless he feels safe.

#2. Talk to your partner, even though it may feel uncomfortable.

He’s not a mind reader. Gently explain what’s going on for you, and how it’s affecting you and the relationship. For the best outcomes, make sure you choose a time when you’re both calm and won’t be interrupted.

#3. Spell it out, be specific.

Use assertive communication and be prepared to practice ahead of your talk. Think about the behaviour you don’t like, how it makes you feel and what you would like him to do differently.
Here’s are some examples:

“When you come home and don’t greet me, I feel sad and what I’d like is for you to say hi!”

“When you’re on your phone each night, I feel lonely and what I’d like is to spend more time with you.”

While it’s natural for women to feel, it’s natural for men to do. Remember, your man needs to know how he can do things differently.

#4. Understand he may react negatively.

No matter how well you set up the conversation, be aware your partner may reactive negatively. He may feel threatened and it won’t help if you react in turn. Understand that he may need time to think about what you’ve said. Allow him that time.

#5. Fill your own emotional tank.

Make sure you’re taking care of your own emotional wellbeing. Your partner can’t possibly do that for you. What do you need to feel good? Is it time with your friends? Time away from the kids? Take action to care for yourself.

Feeling unhappy in your relationship can be extremely stressful. You don’t have to work things out by yourself, there is support available. Sessions with a counsellor can be a worthwhile investment in your wellbeing and can help you develop strategies to improve your unhappy relationship.

Please get in touch today to talk about how I can help you improve your relationship: Phone 0419 641805 or email: contact@honnihaytoncounselling.com.au 

Read here how counselling helped Zoe and Nathan improve their loveless relationship.