What I Wish I Once Knew About Women

Men Can Grow Up

I don't know how it happened, but I grew up. I'm not perfect, but more and more my imperfect moments are accompanied by an understanding of my own mistakes. I've never been a stereotypical "guy" in some ways: I like reading and writing fiction, I'm not too much of a drinker, I don't drive particularly fast on residential roads. I've never even been to a Hooters restaurant, and I don't really care.

Sometimes, though, I wonder if I'm more typical than I think. I do share qualities with most other men I know: I love sports, I love steak, I love my country. I get frustrated with people who constantly make excuses for themselves, and I can sit for strangely long periods of time without saying a word. I also once had that other shared trait with virtually every other man on the planet; I once couldn't understand women. At all, really. Oh, I understood a man's image of a woman, but that's all wrong. It took a long time to figure out that everything I had figured out about women was nonsense. That was me growing up.

Women Don't Need Fixing

Most men who grow up discover that they've been mistakenly trying to fix everything. I still have a hard time not seeing the world in terms of what needs fixing: the baseboard in the dining room, the cracked cellar window, the conversation with my wife. The whole world is a big ball of broken stuff to many men. Our roles often revolve around mending our homes and our families, and it's sometimes hard to turn that off. Just now, for instance, I remembered that I forgot to get my truck washed on the way home. Yeah, it's nagging at me. That's a typically male thought.

Most women, on the other hand, don't speak simply to get to a solution. There are always exceptions to every rule, I know, but based on my experience, women often talk just to share and connect. When my wife would call to tell me she was lost and driving around a random neighborhood five towns over, I used to respond with "did you bring the GPS?" or "well, why didn't you give yourself more time?" I was an idiot. What my wife wanted to hear was "I'm sorry...that must be really frustrating," followed by "is there anything I can do to help?" The majority of the time, my wife wanted to hear that regardless of where she was, I was emotionally right beside her.

That's such a tough lesson for men. Most men, myself included, don't think about emotions all that much. We might have emotions, but we don't think about them much. They come and go, and when they leave they leave. I used to think that being there for my wife involved fixing her problems, but my version of "fixing" wasn't hers. I have honestly never called someone because I needed to feel like he/she were emotionally beside me, so it took a long time to understand that such a solution could even exist.

Listening For Real

Another by-product of growing up is that a man loses his earplugs. Men too often fail miserably in the listening department. A lot of men who know that they don't listen well still don't listen. This applies to listening to other men as well as women, but honestly, because of the difference in styles of communication, many men have a vastly harder time listening to women talk. This doesn't apply to a brand new relationship, of course; a new girlfriend requires an investment that most men understand. After a few months, though, too many men slip away into a world with no sound. She'll discuss her day while you're watching Monday Night Football, and you'll nod and "uh-huh" and hope for the best. Sometimes she'll notice, but she probably doesn't understand just how much you weren't listening. You really haven't heard a thing.

Listening to a woman is the equivalent of foreplay. If men were taught this early on, they'd hang on every word. Listening, without interruption, might be the single kindest thing a man can do for a woman, and yet, so few do it. I figured out that there's no fighting some elements of my nature; if my wife wants to talk, I pause what I'm watching. I put down my book, I turn off the radio. If my wife wants to talk, I can't also work on my laptop. There's no room for distractions if my wife needs me, so I don't put myself in that position anymore. The more I've listened, the easier it's gotten. As simple as that sounds, making the conscious choice of stopping an unimportant activity to listen to the woman he loves takes some maturity on a man's part.

All Things Are Equal

Young men in particular are often convinced of their own faultlessness. They believe that nothing they care about should ever deserve disdain; they feel determined to value their own judgments above all others. Too often, they feel driven to diminish any idea that might challenge their own, and this often comes out as condescension. This trait can be found in both genders of all ages, of course, but I think overall, young men are the worst offenders. Because of this, many men enter into relationships with a skewed notion of what's valuable. I used to think that a new jig-saw would always be more valuable than an evening out, for example. I was most definitely wrong.

Women often value material things that provide shared time or memories between people. This is why women want big weddings much more often than men; this is why my wife pressed us to go to Disney World with the kids when I thought we should fix the roof. While I still think we probably should have fixed the roof (it's hard to shake that!), I have to admit that if we lived by my instincts, we'd have a pretty empty life. A new roof doesn't enthrall my children, just as a new jig-saw does nothing to reinvigorate romance with my wife. If I always went with my gut reaction, so much of the joy in my life would be replaced with cold functionality.

Realizing I was often wrong about the importance of things was a huge step. Men who grow up recognize that a woman's priorities, while sometimes different, are valuable. My wife has a natural ability to know what to feel in any given situation, but when I was younger I couldn't recognize the importance of this. I was too busy fixing things to understand why I was fixing them. I thought feelings were either extra or unnecessary, and even though I'd reassure her that I understood why she felt the way she did, I didn't. I couldn't. Back then, I'm not sure I had the capacity to get how right she had been all along. Genuine connections between human beings supercede anything else. I don't know why so many men fail to grasp this.

Never Too Late

I wish I had learned these things about women years earlier than I did. Not in a distant, academic sense, which is how so many men learn, but rather I wish I had absorbed them. I wish I had been open enough to recognize my own limitations, and to realize that there's never one version of right. I think of all those years when I didn't get it, and I wish I could take them back. Ah, well. I guess what I really wish is that I had known all these things about myself. I'll never be just like my wife, but that's a good thing, too; our differences keep us interested. I suppose if we were too much alike, we'd get sick of each other fast.

All right, then, I'm tired of listening to myself, so I've got to go. My brain's shifted gears. The game's on ESPN, and that truck's not going to wash itself.

More by this Author


Jane´s Pages profile image

JaneĀ“s Pages 5 years ago from New Mexico, USA

Hi, Shogan:

I am most delighted to come across you hub, you've been bless by gathering consciousness of so much understanding about the differences and up and downs couples go thru, before they mold each other concave-convex husband-wife relationship. Congratulations!

shogan profile image

shogan 5 years ago from New England Author

Thanks, Jane's Pages! I do feel like I've been blessed, both by having a wife who is as amazing as mine and by having the opportunity to share my thoughts here. I appreciate you reading! :)

DoItForHer 5 years ago

When you come back from Mamby-Pamby land, you let me know, OK? lol I'm just kidding!

How's that for a male-oriented response?

shogan profile image

shogan 5 years ago from New England Author

Yeah, so how's your love life?

That's what I figured! :) (Sorry, I couldn't help myself.)

Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

Maybe it's because a man's learning curve is very gradual, and a woman manages to get there almost in one bound.

I like the idea that a man thinks his main purpose in life is to fix things.

Great hub (and the e-mail hasn't been forgotten - I've been busy fixing things).

shogan profile image

shogan 5 years ago from New England Author

Yes, I think it takes a lot of fixing to stop thinking you should fix things.

No pressure on the e-mail, Ian. I figure you'll get around to it when you get a chance.

Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

I walked right into that with my stubborn eyes open, didn't I, my friend?

shogan profile image

shogan 5 years ago from New England Author

We're both male. We walk into everything with our eyes open!

Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

I should probably read this a dozen or more times


shogan profile image

shogan 5 years ago from New England Author

WTS, if you're like most of us, then, yeah, you probably should. In all seriousness, if I can help you learn this faster than you would otherwise, that's a good thing.

ajcor profile image

ajcor 5 years ago from NSW. Australia

This is a really lovely hub - I particularly enjoyed "The majority of the time, my wife wanted to hear that regardless of where she was, I was emotionally right beside her." thanks

pmccray profile image

pmccray 5 years ago from Utah

Your are typical and what's called a real man a leader and not a follower. What is shown on commercial and media are A-typical, immature, knuckle draggers who waste a life time growing up. I wish I knew then what I know now . . that the house with the white picket fence is a complete fallacy. Men should be judged from within not from the outside in, and scored by their hearts not the bank account amounts. Excellent hub from a man's perspective. Voted up and marked useful and awesome.

shogan profile image

shogan 5 years ago from New England Author

ajcor, your support means a lot to me. This was a different kind of article for me to write, so I'm pleased with the results.

shogan profile image

shogan 5 years ago from New England Author

pmccray, I can't tell you how much I appreciate your words. It's hard to navigate life, roles, and relationships, and I've tried to learn as much as possible in my years so far. My wife and I almost have a white picket fence existence...about as close as it gets, I figure.

kallini2010 profile image

kallini2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

I wish I knew so much more... I don't think I know anything about men or women for that matter.

One advice that I was given that seems to make sense - if relationship does not work, do not make it work (it is one of my weaknesses, to stay and try to make it work).

I like to read on the subject. What makes me human? a woman? I forgot... LOL

shogan profile image

shogan 5 years ago from New England Author

Well, kallini2010, I think that all relationships are work. A solid connection doesn't tend to itself. The problem is when only one person's doing the work, which is what happens too often to women.

Puppyluv profile image

Puppyluv 5 years ago from Hanover, PA

As I woman I can say you really do understand women. :) I'm forwarding this hub to all of my male friends. :)

shogan profile image

shogan 5 years ago from New England Author

Puppyluv, that's about as strong as praise can be. Thank you for that.

DonDWest profile image

DonDWest 5 years ago from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

I agree with the first few paragraphs of the Hub: Picking and choosing your battles, listening, saying what she wants to hear. . .

But on the last paragraph you got absolutely whipped! One thing you'll learn growing up is that adults, both men and women, are nothing more than deteriorated children.

You should have put your foot down and said, "no money for Disneyland until the roof gets fixed." It's only common sense. As for the kids and your wife not being thrilled over the prospect of repairing the roof, I wonder if their perspectives would change once the roof starts leaking?

kallini2010 profile image

kallini2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

I agree. What woman would not dream of a man putting his foot down?

No wonder mutual understanding is so elusive...

Can I marry DDWest? No, wait, somebody has already proposed... with his foot put down. How poetic. How tragic.

shogan profile image

shogan 5 years ago from New England Author

DonDWest, I actually do appreciate you reading, but with all due respect, as soon as you mention "say what she wants to hear," I know you don't get the point of my article. It's not about saying what she wants to hear, it's about rethinking whether what I have to say has the universal importance I used to believe it had.

Your view of adults as deteriorated children explains why you think decisions in solid relationships should have anything to do with putting your foot down. They don't. That mindset leads to miscommunication. You have a good example of the resulting tension, in the comment following yours.

DonDWest profile image

DonDWest 5 years ago from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

kallini, I've always enjoyed reading the odd romantic tragedy.

shogan, I guess I view the "flaws of manhood" a little differently than you do. I view it as a balancing act. In relationships, women have always leaned bit more towards the romantic, and men have always leaned a bit more towards the practical. It's a gem craft that has worked for thousands of years. I'll agree that you shouldn't have to fix everything, but being practical doesn't necessarily involve being cruel.

I still think in the end the roof should have taken priority, and I'm sorry if anyone felt offended by the suggestion, to each their own I suppose. . .

kallini2010 profile image

kallini2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

I did not even wanted to start on "saying what she wants to hear.." Nobody knows what other party wants to hear.

I used to have long fights/discussions/arguments with my ex. First I express my opinion, he would fight it to death, then I get tired and say, "OK, you are right." He will get even madder because I was only agreeing to end the quarrel. Neither "yes", no "no" would be accepted. It was frustrating beyond description. Now he is putting his foot down with our son and the boy doesn't want to see his father. Is this the answer? I doubt it.

He was/is the type all about roofs. In fact, I always called him a contractor. I said "One day you will wake up and there will be no relationship." How it all ended - in ruins, emotional ruins.

An now there is another man who wants to take care of me in exchange of being in total control.

No, thank you so much.

All I need is understanding. Roofs are important, but we are not the kinds that live on the street. Material things are easier to take care of, emotional closeness is not. Happiness is not a material thing. It is not a thing to begin with. Basic needs form the foundation of the Happiness Pyramid, but they are not enough. Can you buy memories of happy moments?

"Most of us eventually learn that genuine happiness over time does not equate with anything as simple as more gadgets, a bigger car, or a full belly. Happiness is not merely the opposite of pain, sadness, or discomfort. Nor is genuine happiness simply a transient mood state."

from "Loneliness" by John T. Cacioppo & William Patrick

The answer? Why don't you find out?

For me - happiness is being understood. No feet. Only light and happy ones in dancing and only good partners. Pleeeeeeeeease.

izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest

shogan~ I've always appreciated your thoughtful comments on my hubs and I'm glad to have found this hub by you because it blows all my hubs about men out of the water. Also, I think a man writing about this topic is very valuable and can offer great insight.

Looks like you caught some flack about going to Disney instead of repairing the roof. Coming from someone who is 35 and still yearns to go to Disney, you're OK in my book. Actually I had some training in couples counseling and to solve couple's financial disputes abut what to spend money on what, the best advice is to take turns. Your wife wanted the Disney trip, then the next big purchase will be the roof- things like that. Common sense actually, but you'd be surprised at how many people fight about what's really important and that memory was important for your wife to have at Disney land with the family.

Definitely bookmarking this hub.

shogan profile image

shogan 5 years ago from New England Author

DonDWest, thanks for posting again. That shows character, and I appreciate it. Just so you know, I've had to work very hard all my life to be at all romantic. It doesn't come naturally to me.

It's not that I don't think the roof should come first; it's just that I've figured out that there are things in life and in a relationship that are so much more important than even a drippy roof. I feel like it's an accomplishment for me to say that, too.

shogan profile image

shogan 5 years ago from New England Author

kallini2010, I want you to know that there men in the world who understand what you're saying. But it's hard--it's hard for a man to stop "fixing" in his own sometimes brutal way. It's difficult for many men to let go of the only thing they think defines them, control. I did, though, and I'm so much better for it.

I'm grateful for your post in that it reaffirms for me that I have some idea of what I'm talking about. Thanks.

shogan profile image

shogan 5 years ago from New England Author

izzetl, thank you for the great compliment. I think it's hard for any of us to step outside our usual roles. I'm glad to offer any perspective, really.

My wife and I seem beyond the point when we'd feel the need to switch big purchases. Both of us would do anything for each other, so money issues work themselves out. (As far as Disney goes, truth be told, having her parents pay the bulk of the trip didn't hurt! ;) Yeah, I forgot to mention that earlier!)

Jasmine JellyBaby 5 years ago

I wish my ex read this before we parted. If men just listened, then half their problems will be solved but nooooo!!!

Nice one xx

shogan profile image

shogan 5 years ago from New England Author

Thanks, Jasmine JellyBaby! :) That's one heck of a name you've got there!

kallini2010 profile image

kallini2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

@DonDWest: "Terrorizing the world with my sinful, thorough and unorthodox articles. For those who don't understand exactly what they're reading, it's an acquired taste."

I am assuming you run into the same problem. Some people don't understand you. Whatever we say about others, speaks volumes about ourselves.

No conclusions or judgments. I don't have enough information to have an accurate opinion. The tone sounds condescending though, maybe only to me. Dismissing - garbage, bullshit, whatever. Right?

"The odd romantic tragedy". I am glad you enjoyed it. I almost cried.

I was not talking about romance. At all. Romance is entirely different matter. Marriage is all about practical matters - making it work - living together and being civil.

It is not two teams in soccer - us versus them. Women versus men. As far as practicality, logic, reasoning and intellect goes - rest assured, I have no problems in that department. I have Masters in Mechanical Engineering, which you might agree is not particularly fashionable among women. Or romantic. I've dealt with enough men and I prefer dealing with men than with women. Especially passive-aggressive, stubbing in the back women.

Reducing humanity to two stereotypes: men are like that and women are the opposite seems a little bit simplistic. What about poets and writers? Are they roof-fixers? What about depressed unhappy passive-aggressive men? Or good-for-nothing men? Who can't fix anything for the life of theirs? Same goes for women. Women can be more tyrannical than men. Controlling. It is not so clear-cut.

Frankly, it does not matter. I don't expect everyone to understand me - it is an acquired taste as well. I am only looking for meaningful connections. Same goes for everyone. What is meaningful to me is not meaningful to you. Things only exist in perception. My perception is ...


@Shogan: I think that the topic that is being discussed is very important, if not for me, I have sailed past it, but there are a lot of couples who struggle. Reaching understanding is difficult, yet manageable. And believe me the desire to fix (no, not the roof!) but the other party is all too common. It is not an exclusive male characteristic. We don't want to admit that the only "fixing" possible is fixing ourselves. We only have control over ourselves and when we try to change, we are shocked to find out how painful changing our ways is.

There are plenty unemotional, unromantic women.

It depends more on the personality type and our upbringing. Listening? It is the most difficult skill to master. We all have selective hearing. Men and women.

We all seem "to know all the answers" at any given point of time.

Good luck to us all,

"Mom, do you like that I am creative?"

"Yes, sweetie, I really do."

You are wondering what this has to do with mutual understanding? The fight has shifted, it is not between a man and a woman, mom and dad, it is now between dad and his son. It will be two men fighting, one putting his foot down... being emotionally deaf and creating so much unhappiness.

Any projections?

shogan profile image

shogan 5 years ago from New England Author

kallini2010, yes, there are plenty of types of personalities with both genders. I do think, however, that each has its typical pitfalls. Typically (not always, of course), men try to steamroll ahead, while women try to interact with the ride. There are no absolutes (I try to mention this in the article), but this is a common enough dynamic to warrant our discussion. If one is able to get past this dynamic, that's a healthy thing. I'm glad you feel you have.

I'm sorry, but you lost me at the end. Can you rephrase your question?

kallini2010 profile image

kallini2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Sorry, I was not clear enough. I was trying to make a point about - controlling type - submissive type relationships. They are not gender-specific.

My ex is controlling (putting his foot down), my son is submissive (it is hard not to be at seven). I am predicting trouble ahead. The father won't listen and no matter what outcome, it won't be good. I am not speaking as an engineer, I read a book on these psychological pairs. Inability to listen, unwillingness to listen, imposing your own will, molding children into desired shapes produce nothing but unhappiness and inability to handle life situations and are very damaging to current and future relationships.

But I cannot tell you everything that is there to tell in a comment. Even one book is not enough. For me, it was eye-opening, but I am not a master of psychology. That is where I got an advice from a professional - don't make it work if it doesn't. Recognize irreconcilable differences quickly enough and move on. The selection is key. That is after my 16-year marriage when we tried and we should not have.

Some might find it "odd romantic tragedy". I don't really care. I am interested in finding or establishing relationships that work rather than obsessing on the people who don't understand me. We all have the same predicament, but we go differently about it.

Maybe age matters as well. I'm not twenty-two, only on this picture. LOL

shogan profile image

shogan 5 years ago from New England Author

Ah, I see much more clearly now. I agree with you: there are some situations in which it just isn't going to work. I can't fairly evaluate your former relationship from such a distance, but it sounds like you have. Even if he has a very different perspective of what went on, it wouldn't matter. It only takes one to feel so strongly opposed to a relationship. I'm sorry that you went through such a difficult time.

kallini2010, my guess is that if your son is seven, you are at least roughly around my age. There's plenty of time left to find someone who accepts you and your son for who you are. A driving need to control catches some people (men, more so) in a loop of must-change-others-to-suit-what-I-think-is-right thinking. Stay away from that. There are usually tell-tale signs early on that a man is stuck in that mode.

kallini2010 profile image

kallini2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

My age is not a secret, I am forty. The tragic truth is not past relationships, but the principle of a life-trap. We are attracted to the very thing that is bad for us, so for me - I am attracted to controlling type. Chemistry is very high. I call it double C type - CC - caring and controlling.

I mentioned the book in one of my hubs "Lifetraps - The Irony of Repetition", but it is not a very good read (I mean my hub, not the book), it was the very beginning on HubPages and I was answering a question so on its own it does not even make that much sense. Since then I still have the intention to write about it, but when? I have other ideas and other pressing matters.

But one day I definitely will. Even though my current relationships are short and meaningless most of the time, I view them as a stage. I won't let anyone to fix me. There is nothing anybody can fix. Whether I will find someone or I won't, it is probably irrelevant at the moment. I don't need anyone to complete me. I am fine on my own.

We will see. But that is the whole point. Friends are no exception. Women or men. There was a turning point for me for seeing things differently. Everyone has to reach that stage of understanding sooner or later. Or not.

 5 years ago

Coool hub....

fantastic observation and description!


crystolite profile image

crystolite 5 years ago from Houston TX

Am very much pleased to come across your article.This another interesting article which really fascinated me a lot.kudos.

shogan profile image

shogan 5 years ago from New England Author

kallini2010, not letting anyone fix you can be a wonderful sense of liberation, but if it goes too far, it can also result in closing off. Just make sure you still allow others to know you. I've seen plenty of people who seal themselves in when their intention was simply to assert themselves.

shogan profile image

shogan 5 years ago from New England Author

crystolite, thanks again for reading. You always leave such positive comments!

sarclair profile image

sarclair 5 years ago

This is very nice. Most men really do find it hard to communicate with women. It is actually a fact. You sound like you are doing a good job :) Nice hub.

shogan profile image

shogan 5 years ago from New England Author

Thanks, sarclair, I'm trying. I'm so glad you enjoyed reading my article! :)

Justsilvie 5 years ago

Excellent Hub! Listening to a partner and not interrupting when they talk is a major accomplishment for both sexes. I love your positive messages of getting to really know what is important about and to our partner.

shogan profile image

shogan 5 years ago from New England Author

Justsilvie, if only we knew then what we know now, huh? Thanks so much for reading. :)

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