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Something that has been brought to my attention about interacting with men lately has been the old saying, “You get a lot further with honey than vinegar.” It’s another way of saying, tap your feminine wiles when dealing with a man.

Now the concept of feminine wiles is often regarded with scorn, as if they are either a sign of weakness or some dishonest way to manipulate men. And when employed for the wrong reasons, they certainly can be. But feminine wiles can also be used in a positive way, to improve communication and understanding with your mate, and that’s the way I am discussing them here.

Modern women, myself included, tend to use a very direct communication style with men. They say (or worse demand) what they want. Thing is, it doesn’t work very well, and often shuts a man down even if the request itself is a good or constructive one — the tone and the manner presented can create a situation where he is more likely to resist —  no matter what is being said. You could be shouting at him that he needs to go and buy that new red Cobra Mustang RIGHT NOW OR ELSE and he’d likely say, “No way.”

A friend of mine was sharing some stories of struggles in her marriage yesterday and it occurred to me it wasn’t what she was saying that was the problem, it was how she was saying it. And while I am not as brash as her, it’s a mistake I have to admit I have made myself both recently and in the past.

When I suggested a more indirect, buttered up, sugar on top, asking not telling approach to getting her husband’s cooperation, she literally bristled. And I think many women today do the same. “Why that’s weakness, that’s handing him the power, that’s not how it works anymore, I may as well be a doormat” etc. she sputtered. Even though what she’s doing is clearly not working, she stubbornly wanted to double down, increase the volume, and keep on doing exactly the same. And sadly, despite my advice, she likely will. Not good.

Yet for some reason she cannot see her actions are in many ways creating the very situation she is trying to resolve. She wants to feel closer to her husband, be happier, feel connected, have a good marriage. Harping at him or demanding that or listing all the ways he isn’t pleasing her or doing it right ain’t going to get her there, guaranteed.

I know I may be accused of being misogynist, but what she’d be wiser to do is tap her feminine wiles. Be gentle. Be nice. Ask instead of tell. Butter him up. Turn up the charisma. Give him a foot rub or better yet some good lovin’. Bat her eyes. Fuss over him. Dress pretty. Make sure he has a full belly and is otherwise content first before making any requests. Snuggle up to his side and say it softly. Approach him with respect, seeking his help and guidance in solving her issue. It’s called being submissive, and while it has fallen out of fashion, I’m telling you, it works like a charm. And it for sure works a whole lot better than coming at him like a shrieking, harpie shrew.

Unfortunately when emotions run high, it’s also all too easy to forget. In the heat of the moment you might win the occasional battle, but you’ll surely lose the war.

Sometimes it’s easier to show than tell. Classic movies made prior to the late 1960s offer plenty of examples of women using their feminine wiles, or indirect power. It’s not groveling, demeaning, powerlessness. Nor is it scheming, manipulative, or intended to do harm. It’s subtle, non-confrontational, and demure. It’s cooperation, not competition. And as the movies also show, it can make the strongest of men melt.

Or keep doing what doesn’t work. The “modern” way. But don’t be surprised to keep getting the same non-results. And if so, you can’t say I didn’t try to tell ya.

Tell you what, if you don’t believe me, why not try it? Just for fun? See what happens? I’ll do it too. Pinky swear?

Let those who have ears hear.

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