January 1, 2011

I overheard a scornful conversation the other day where two women were discussing a daughter's speech entitled "Why women don't need men". A friend and I happened to be standing right behind these two women, and we couldn't help but overhear and giggle at the humour of the speech's title. Woman number one continued on with a commendation of her daughters' good sense so young in life, with woman number two nodding vehemently and inserting a "darn right" here and a "men are useless" there. "Men NEED women, but women don't need men" was the last thing I heard as the 4 of us parted ways.

Such is the sad state of affairs in our society. On my ride home I had some serious revelations.

Ok, on a certain, very limited physical level, it's true that women do not need men - say - to breathe, sleep or eat, watch tv, or to make sure their pancreas keeps their blood sugar levels on an even keel.

But in order to be a well-rounded person... well... women need men and men need women for the GIFTS their differences are to each other. (I can hear the collective gasp of women everywhere)

Have you ever noticed the things about which men generally deride women? They take too long to get ready to go out, they nag, they run men's lives and the only place a man can 'get away' is in his garage or his 'man room' somewhere doing all the things he's not 'allowed' to do. And what about us women? (Oh where to begin?) Men are lazy, stupid little boys unwilling to help and cannot, if their lives depended on it, get anything "right" because they don't listen or accept direction.

Well, it occurred to me that some of these issues that come up between the sexes might be due to misunderstanding the other's gifts.

It seems to me that men are gifted with intense focus. When they concentrate on something, they have eyes for nothing else, so it's usually one thing at a time for them. (unlike us women who can do one thing with each appendage - while standing on our heads with our eyes closed). So wouldn't it seem to us women that a man who is focussing ONLY on one thing might look like he's stupid, lazy or is choosing not to listen? I know my husband can be so intense on something like doing the dishes that I could be yammering away while he has no idea what I'm saying...because he's washing the dishes. Oh and he is usually pondering something important when he walks in the door and inevitably leaves his keys anywhere but the neat little dish at the door - and they're usually left IN the lock on the outside of the door. I am the one who monitors his keys, wallet, glasses, watch and anything else small-ish that can be left somewhere.

Now I'm not saying that men in general aren't lazy - they struggle with the same vices and weaknesses as everyone else. I'm merely pointing out that their gifts could be misunderstood. I, for one, am so pleased that I am needed by my husband...I've often asked him where his wallet would be if I wasn't around. (Yeah, it'd be at Staples or Home Depot or stuck in the glove compartment shoved way back behind all the papers, that's where!)

And in the same vein this gift of intense focus is helpful for a man when choosing one woman to devote his life to, someone with whom he can build a family and on whom he can concentrate all of his creative energy and love.

I suppose when we women see that men have different abilities than us, it can be a tad frustrating and vice versa for men as well. (ie. my husband has lost his watch...again...for the fifth time...in two weeks...but I'm not counting). So we tend to want our men to be more like us, and heretofore enters the Nag. The Nag can only see the wrong in everything a male attempts to do, and she treats men quite like children, keeping tabs on "unwanted" behaviour and/or scolding them for breaking "the rules".

And for men, this frustration with our differences might look like impatience with their gals when they spend the time to prettify themselves (usually for their guys, funnily enough). I think the total bathroom time for my husband is about 2 minutes and 23 seconds...enough time to look in the mirror and maybe swish a toothbrush around. Or that frustration might take the form of protestation when women suggest health changes or make the effort to better their living habits - and the men no longer have free access to their guilty pleasures. I am almost always reading one health guru's book or another in order to get rid of cholesterol or increase vitamin D in our diet. But it usually means significant changes which my husband isn't fond of.

And this brings me to my other revelation. We, as men and women living together, attempt to better each other just by being who we are...and neither of us LIKE IT! Just take a look at the classic difference in gender communication. Generally, women are the communicators, speaking an average of 20,000 words per day, whereas men speak an average of 7,000. And while women are sometimes disdained for their gift of the gab, communication is an essential key to any good and lifelong marriage. Men must learn to communicate well with their wives and with the world around them in order to be happy and fulfilled in life.

On the other hand, we women must understand that our men do not always, always, always have to be communicating, emoting and otherwise in touch with their feelings when we are around. They usually need time, space and quiet every day and especially after particularly tough days, and we have to allow silence to pervade our souls during those times as well. All of us need to learn to communicate and all of us need to learn to be silent. The handy thing is that we have built-in teachers right in front of our noses. We can teach and learn these virtues to and from each other.

Oscar Wilde once wrote: "To look at a thing is very different than seeing a thing. One does not see anything until one sees it's beauty". We have come to a place in our society where we are just looking, we are not seeing. We do not recognize the beauty and gift before us in the opposite sex.

As a woman, I challenge all you ladies out there to start recognizing, allowing, and calling men on in their strengths (and this is not only for dating and married women; this is for all women who have male influences in their lives or who come into contact with men). Those strengths are God's gift to us and they help us grow in wisdom and grace. We would do well to thank God for each gender's strengths and pray for the grace to be patient with the weaknesses.

1 comment:

  1. It's such a breath of fresh air to hear about how the different genders contribute to each other rather than all the run of the mill tearing down that seems to happen these days. A breathtaking book, if you can get your hands on a copy now that it's no longer in print, is Dietrich Von Hilderbrand's book called 'Man, Woman and the Meaning of Intimacy. This book gave me such an appreciation for the priceless contribution that each gender provides when we take the time to 'see' and not just 'look'.



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