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Carolyn Hax: She expects him to be a mind reader

Dear Carolyn: Why do women expect men to be mind readers?

My wife has been grousing around lately. She finally erupted, “Just once I’d like to come home and find you made the salad for dinner!”

“You want a salad? Call/text/e-mail and it’s yours!”

To which she replied those killer words, “I shouldn’t have to!”

I know this is a Mars/Venus question, but we are well-educated, professional people. All I ask is that she tell me what she wants, and she expects me to read her mind. Only one of those is possible, so why can’t she just tell me what she wants? – Northwest

Why do people attribute to an entire sex the behavior of one person?

Calling this “Mars/Venus” undercuts your professed goal of reaching compromise, because it defines your wife upfront as “other.”

It would be far more productive to see her as a person, just a person, like you. A person who has wants, needs, doubts, and who makes choices (both thoughtful and reflexive) based on those inner motivations.

And just like many, male and female, your wife has an idea of the way a romantic relationship is supposed to look. Apparently, she believes a loving mate will study her wants and needs, and then step up wordlessly to satisfy those needs.

If you’d like your wife to chuck her script and talk from her heart, then you have to chuck yours.

From now on, these are the only players: your needs, her needs, your feelings, her feelings, your frailties, her frailties, honesty (even when it scares you), and your mutual humanity. “You should have made a salad” offers no remedy, so ask her what the salad thing is really about – feelings, not food. “I feel discouraged/frustrated/ lonely, and here’s why” invites you into each other’s thoughts. That’s what intimacy is about.

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