He tried to remember when he first began to think she suffered something that had an outsized force in her life, that made it harder for her to work, to get along, to enjoy what good things exist. Early on it was clear at least she had that chemistry of mood he’d come to see as characteristically feminine, if only for the way it gets reflected. Like most men who profit from understanding and adaptation, he’d long ago formulated a set of relatively simplistic guiding principles for it: That women allow for feelings, though it was sometimes only their own feelings. That one has to attend to these, even if they show them in ways that are sometimes quite elusive. That good outcomes depend on being able to attend to them in a very particular and unvarying manner, with interest and empathy, though these things too have a very particular nature in this context. That one must very forcefully resist the impulse to respond with anything that could be seen as problem solving. As incomprehensible as this is for men, it isn’t what women desire–they prefer solving problems for themselves. 

Finally but most crucially, one must never tell a woman that what she is feeling is crazy, no matter how strong the evidence for this.

The Italian Novel

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