Relationships 101 – The Challenge of the Sexes
True confession – I started out writing this about men, the care and feeding of. And then I thought, in all fairness, that women are no picnic either. So, for the sake of parity, I’m addressing a few eccentricities of both sides.
This is one area where I feel I am eminently qualified to give advice, having not just one, but two great marriages.
The first was to a man who I was predicted to meet by a psychic. Seriously.
I was living in west Texas, and was told about a man who had a “gift” for being able to see the future. And he really did. I sat quietly while he told me about my life and my current situation, not in vague generalities (you’ll go on a long voyage … yadda, yadda, yadda) but in very specific detail.
Then, he told me that I would meet the man I was destined to fall in love with, and described him in great detail. He told me that we would meet at a dance, we wouldn’t have gone there together but would meet by chance, and that we would fall head-over-heels in love – so much so that people would marvel at our relationship. We would marry, and in 2 to 5 years we would have a daughter.
I spent the next several months excitedly waiting for this inevitable meeting to happen, but as time went by I had pretty much forgotten about the prediction, even moved away to another town. Then, out of the blue, a friend who had written some songs asked me to perform them at a dance, and hired a couple of guys to record them.
I walked in. The recordist walked in. And it was love at first sight. We were married 3 months later, and 4 years after that our daughter was born.
And honest to God people did marvel over our relationship. We were like Bogie and Bacall, Barbie and Ken, peas and carrots. Then, after 28 years together, he punched his ticket and departed this world prematurely and unexpectedly. But damn, what a great 28 years it was!
I have since remarried to a wonderful guy – no fortune tellers this time, just great instincts. We’d known each other for 20 years, married just a few weeks after getting together, and we’re going on 9 years of happily wedded bliss.
But whether you’re with someone 5 or 30 or 90 years, everyone gets a burr in their bliss every now and then.
Men and women are equal, but vastly different, and when it comes to relationships our challenges with those differences are pretty darn similar. And having stood the test of time and lived to fight (and kiss and make up) another day, I wanted to pass along a thing or two or three that I’ve learned along the way.
Just because they forget doesn’t mean they don’t care
I read once that men don’t remember as many general events as women, but retain more of the specifics of the things they do remember. Women, on the other hand, remember more of the broad strokes of events but can be a bit fuzzy on the details. At least that’s how I remember it (but I may be a little fuzzy on the details).
Bottom line, as women we’ve all experienced some degree of irritation over the fact that our partners don’t remember the date for the dinner plans we made for next month, or the lengthy and profound discussion over painting the bathroom sky blue pink.
A friend summed up her frustration pretty well when she remarked to her husband, “Oh my God, you’re so oblivious!” No dear, he’s just a man.
Women, on the other hand, remember just about everything, and that can get really annoying too. Especially when we are relentless in telling our male counterpart that they’ve forgotten.
We could just pretend we never had the conversation. But we know, don’t we? We could get pissed off because they don’t remember such a significant event, but what good would that do?
After years of getting in wrong, I finally came up with seven magic words: “I don’t know if you remember but … “. Here’s what’s so magic about this —
First, it makes it okay that he’s forgotten – you’ve removed the expectation that he would or should remember.
Second, you don’t have to pretend it didn’t happen just to maintain harmony.
And third, you can now have the conversation you wanted to have without having to get past the pointless debate about how and why he forgot it.
Men are malleable
Like a piece of steel, men are capable of being shaped and molded without breaking. I’m sure this is true for women too, but right now we’re picking on (I mean talking about) men.
The male of the species has, for the most part, an incredible ability to be the way you see them.
My Big, Fat Greek Wedding wasn’t too far off when they said the man is the head of the family, but the woman is the neck that turns the head. And while women have plans and opinions that we’re happy to talk about on and on (and on and on and on, because women are more communicative than men), men sometimes need a little reassurance that they are the head, and that they’re doing a pretty good job of it.
Women can be hard on men. We may be the weaker sex, but we hold their masculinity in the palm of our hand, literally and figuratively. And that’s a pretty vulnerable position to be in.
The more you treat your guy like a king, the more you’ll be his queen. But give him time – it can be hard for him to get used to wearing all that armor.
Women ask stupid questions
Don’t ask the question if there’s no winning to be had in the answering thereof. Questions like –
“Does this make me look fat?” If you’re feeling insecure about something, don’t wear it. Don’t make him the bad guy. You’re a big girl – decide for yourself.
“Do you want to … (something you want to do)?” It seems obvious enough to us, but men just didn’t get the decoder ring. If you want to do something, just say so.
“Why did you do that?” Worst. Question. Ever. Don’t dive him deeper in the hole by trying to make him justify his mistake. A simple “Oops” would suffice.
Men love being treated like dogs (but only if you’re a dog lover)
We love our pets. We speak sweetly to them, pet them, scratch them behind the ears and give them treats. They give us loyalty and love and bark at the bad guys.
Doesn’t your guy deserve at least as much affection as your favorite pet?
I remember watching an older couple in the grocery store one day, and the poor guy couldn’t do anything right. Why did you get that brand? Don’t put it on the belt that way! That’s too many of those! Continual scolding. Jeez, even a broken clock is right twice a day (or once, depending on who you’re talking to).
We train our pets into wanted behavior with praise and treats. Just sayin’.
Bottom line; enjoy the heck out of each other, and don’t sweat the small stuff. In the end, love, respect, support, admiration, and a few laughs are all that really matter.
Much love and happiness to you!
Bonjour! Je suis Kelley
Hi, I’m Kelley – thrower of parties, drinker of wine, and lover of all things French. I hope you enjoy my Lessons in Becoming French!