Men and Women

Recently, a friend of mine posted a link to a blog post that got me thinking about the dynamic between married men and women. I offer an opposing view to Denise’s position on the lack of effort put out by married men.

Denise makes a long point to highlight the efforts she, and most women, put forth in a family relationship. She also points out that despite the faults of her husband, he does things that she appreciates. As a married man myself, I can’t emphasize how much that last part goes a long way.

While much smarter people than I have written plenty on this, it bears repeating: Men and Women are different. There is no escaping that women excel at things men statistically do not, and vice versa. Embracing this difference is key to a successful relationship.

This speaks to the nature of any successful relationship – Empathy. While my wife does a number of things that drive me crazy, I get nowhere with her if I don’t first recognize why she’s being the way she is. She feels the way she does for a reason. Making the effort to understand is like opening the door before entering the house.

I bring this up, because while Denise mentions how her husband is still good to have around, the bulk of comments on her page suggest otherwise. Most comments on her page are women ranting about the worthlessness of their husbands. One even offers divorce as motivation. I take offense to this. While plenty of men could use a lesson in gumption, the majority of men I know do not

I don’t recall seeing anything detailing a typical married man’s frustrations. So, here’s a few things I’d answer these women with.

I’m a man, so I don’t multi-task well (as well pointed out by other posts). My day however, consists of quite a lot of that. I have to do plenty of that at work. When I get home, I have to do even more.

Switching between the demands of employees and employers, and the demands of a wife and twin kids is difficult. Quite often it highlights the inadequacies that I’m terrified define who I am. Reading the comments of these women hits me between the eyes: I am not enough, I am never enough, I have never been enough.

There are so many indirect assaults on the fears of male inadequacies in American culture it’s difficult to even start to complain about it. Between jokes about male sexual failures, the lack of efforts put forth in family life, and jokes about a husbands mechanical abilities. All of these common jokes in society only tell men one thing: You are not enough.

The way men respond (typically) to these messages, is withdrawal. If you’re wondering why your husband doesn’t help with certain things around the house, it’s likely because he doesn’t feel he’s doing it right. Think of the last time you were told how badly you were doing something. It didn’t encourage you to try harder, did it?

I’m sure there are plenty of similar messages our culture sends women. I think there’s quite a lot more documentation of those complaints though.

Ladies: If you want more from your men, encourage him. Berating him will get you nowhere.

  • Marisela

    I totally understand what you’re saying. My husband withdraws this way, too. And then I become more frustrated. It’s a vicious cycle. If you are feeling inadequate, guess what…we women/mothers are too. For the record, I don’t berate because I *know* it gets me nowhere. My husband responds positively with words dripping with honey and sometimes in my frustration, the honey is in short supply. It goes both ways, though. I would be encouraged if my husband took the initiative and did his share without honey do lists and reminders and requests. Just do it.
     

  • Anonymous

    Marisela,

    I don’t doubt that women are put in a number of difficult situations. I think the feminist movement, while noble in cause, has had some unintended consequences. Women are quite free to be just as unhappy as men have become.
    I’d argue there’s been a mascularization of women, and a feminization of men that’s occurred over the last 100 years. Niether role is a natural fit for the other. The result is being pushed into things that don’t feel intuitive.

    Many would argue differently however. Some women excel at things typically championed by men. Some men are accomplished in traditionally feminine tasks. Therefore there are those that would argue there are no natural gender roles.

    I don’t believe that’s true.

    I’m the father of twins. I have a daughter and a son. They have had almost zero social gender assignment. They share a room together, and they share a mix of girl/boy toys. My son, without preemption typically (not always) leans towards trucks, balls, and anything more physical. My daughter ALWAYS reads books, plays with babies, or colors. 

    It just seems clear to me: Boys will be boys, and girls will be girls.

    So, asking a man to perform house-chores isn’t something that will come naturally to him. Asking him to find dinner, or fix the car is (typically) more up his alley. Conversely, if I were to ask my wife to shoot dinner, so that we might live, or ask her to defend me from an attacker, it would be unnatural for her.

    Everyone who does something that feels unnatural, does it with insecurity (even if they do it relatively well). Because it doesn’t feel like something you’d be doing correctly, you’ll feel wrong about it. That constant feeling of wrong translates to a feeling of *BEING* wrong. 

    Add to this constant feeling of wrong, the other messages bombarding folks in industrialized cultures. Media outlets routinely parade beautiful and  rich stars as normal people. 

    I don’t look like Brad Pitt or Ryan Reynolds. I also don’t do the laundry well. I’m not allowed to shoot dinner, and cars don’t really allow me to fix them. This is the essence of being male in 2011. 

  • http://www.britishfooddepot.com Mondal124

    You made some good points there. I did a search on the topic and
    found most people will agree with your blog. Thanks!

    British Food

  • John Doe

    I agree great ideas.  I think more communication helps, as long as it is open and honest and shared.  It seems strange to use communication and sharing in the same sentence, but sometimes we communicate through other ways that are not shared, or perceived as what was intended.

  • http://corycollier.com corycollier

    Reading this 3 years later, a lot of this still rings true. Having said that however, there is significant truth to what Denise describes in her original post.

    Since this was written, I have divorced. Looking back, I didn’t put enough effort into my marriage. I should have done more to help around the house. I shouldn’t have withdrawn because I felt bad for myself when my ex complained to me.

    That’s a tough lesson to learn, but I have definitely learned it.

    Still though, encouragement is always going to be the best way to coerce someone into doing something you want them to do. Complaining is only going to activate defenses, and so begins the “power struggle”.