Building Bridges

Issue # 31 of 43 

David LeClaire
By: David LeClaire

A Little Effort Goes A Long Way

The saying goes, "A little sensitivity goes a long way." Men don't need to become Joe Sensitive and begin to wear tights or act like they're part of a Harlequin romance novel. Yet there are times where a certain degree of sensitivity to what the woman in their life wants can be well worth the effort that a man may put forth.

While birthdays, anniversaries, and other special events such as holidays may not be a big deal to some men, often they are to a woman. When this is the case, men would do well to be sensitive to the importance and significance that their partner places on the occasion. By making the effort to honor her feelings and interests, a man does not compromise his masculinity but instead shows a depth to his personality and presence.

Recently I was having dinner in a nice, quiet restaurant. A couple was sitting at the table next to me. The man was taking his wife out for her birthday. After dinner, she wanted a specific dessert which was not on the menu, and was hoping he would take her to a place that she knew offered it. Unfortunately her partner was tired and unenthusiastic. I heard her say, "Come on, the night is still young." I thought to myself, "Go for it! It's her birthday! Be the hero, take care of her, make her proud of you. She'll love the fact that you want her night to be perfect!"

Many women have told me they don't want an overly sensitive man, yet would like their partner to not just be a typical guy. They'd like it if he was occasionally romantic, expressive, and interesting. Consider how many men are predictable come Valentine's Day. They may give flowers or chocolates, a card, and maybe take their partner out to dinner. A man doesn't need to be Shakespeare to write a personal note inside the card that expresses his appreciation and respect for the woman in his life. He can go the extra mile by having a nice bottle of wine and flowers at the table prior to their arrival at the restaurant. Or he could get a baby-sitter for the children and cook her a meal himself. Regardless of what he does, by going a little beyond the call of duty a man can express that his partner means a lot to him and he wanted to show it.

Since women are often more emotional than their partner, they tend to naturally get more interested, more involved, and more excited about holidays and significant milepost events. When men are blind to this reality or simply ignore this aspect of their partner, they make significant withdrawals from the "emotional bank account." While this may be unintentional, it isn't unavoidable.

Many men invalidate their woman's feelings by telling her she makes too big of a deal out of birthdays, anniversaries, etc., thus justifying his lack of effort and consideration. While it may just seem like another day to some men, it may not be to his partner. By accusing her of over-reacting, some men make their partner wrong for being so excited about a special occasion. When men do this they may be able to appear right, and maybe get off the hook for not doing anything special or considerate. But it is clearly not a "win." It's really more of a loss in the long run, because they lost a chance to make a major deposit. Although all women are not romantics at heart, many are, and many appreciate it when a man honors that part of them. When it's her birthday, she appreciates it when the man in her life does more than just the minimum to get by and save face. By showing some effort around special occasions it will pay a man back ten fold in the long run because of the goodwill and appreciation she will have for him.

Sometimes the connection between a couple slowly leaks out as does the helium in a balloon over a few days. Couples may be left wondering, "Where did it go? What happened to us?" What they usually can't put their finger on is the source of their loss of passion and enthusiasm. Yet hundreds of times little withdrawals were made, little wounds were inflicted, and their lack of effort and focus over time allowed the feelings of being loved and appreciated to diminish.

Relationships don't end just because one person is not as excited and involved in a special event as their partner. But how we go through these special occasions does make an impact, positive or negative, that can build or deteriorate the connection between two people. If it's important to your partner, put in the extra effort. You may even learn how to make it fun for yourself in the process. It's easy to create an average or typical relationship in which one or both partners put in minimal efforts and simply get by. But to have a passionate partnership, both partners can't be lazy but instead must be more involved, put in more energy, and consistently generate surprise and interest by being unpredictable.

If you were just beginning to date you would probably show more effort than you currently do. If you already do a good job in this area, congratulations! Many of the secrets of keeping your love alive are in the little things. Why not make your next special occasion together memorable and have fun with it? Besides, it makes you more interesting and more lovable. After all, isn't life meant to be enjoyed? Get creative and make the time to express that you still care and that your partner is still your priority in life! (As a side-note, Kris and I have an on-going agreement that when it's your birthday, you get to be right all day, no matter what! You might want to try it, it can provide a lot of laughs!)

David LeClaire has spent much of his time teaching at community college and private school, and lead communications training for Fortune 500 companies. Now a popular and active Seattle area sommelier, this graduate of Central Michigan University led seminars for a wide variety of organizations. LeClaire is the author of "Bridges To A Passionate Partnership." He can be reached at

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Text © 1998, David LeClaire. Part of the original Sideroad.
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