The Thing About Men
The Female Urge to Understand Men
For centuries, women have been passionate about their desire to understand men. Let me say up front that I have no quarrel with women. I find comfort in the possibility that their undying quest to understand us is a testament to our magnificent greatness. Historically speaking, there is evidence to suggest that women see men as mysterious creatures of the most desirable kind. I can find no reason to argue.
So women start their lives with this built-in urge to understand their men. Which arouses unease in men because they see no reason to be understood when all that matters is right here right now. I've heard mutterings in the taverns and poker rooms of the nation where men express the suspicion that women are on a mission to change us. They feel that the campaign to "understand" us is just a smoke screen to cover their real intentions. Which, of course, sets up barriers to any meaningful exchange and makes the ladies' goal of understanding men that much harder to reach.
Some women get frustrated easily and too quickly buy into the opinion that men are rowdy ruffians with no potential for genteel communication. So, nursing the pain of their failure at getting those masculine innards out on the carpet, they retreat into a commune for women to seek the comfort of a gentler place. There, they spend their days exploring their true feelings and generally getting into the groove of understanding and being understood.
Which is wonderful healing experience for the girls. As far as I can see, they have a deep need for sincere, meaningful conversations, a need to truly explore feelings, relationships, and other such emotional supernovae. They say they rarely find these things in their relationships with men.
Men, on the other hand, are not nearly as keen about revealing their deepest secrets to other persons. In fact, they do everything within their power to avoid getting trapped in the unnervingly intense discussions that women find so attractive. A budget tip here for ya, ladies: the "No Men Allowed" sign at the front gate of your commune is an unnecessary expense.
Being male, I appreciate that ladies are likely to view my objectivity with an eye of caution - perhaps even cynicism in the odd extreme case. Nevertheless, I will go out on a limb and offer a postulation. I will postulate thusly: It is a woman's perception that men are less sincere than women in the pursuit of true love.
That being said, I may need a few minutes to check for evidence that I am still alive. Men who postulate about women are in grave danger of a premature encounter with the dreaded sickle. Curiously, studies have shown that women have an instinctual affinity for wielding sickles.
So, if my postulation is anywhere near true, the quest for true love is what motivates women to persist in trying to understand men. Which makes things complicated because men have very practical ideas about true love that require almost no understanding at all.
Let's take conversation for example. Women want to discuss every conceivable parameter of an issue. Men just want to get to an agreement - any agreement - so the world can get back to critically important things like the basball game on TV.
Maybe it's the idea of agreement that's at the root of the problem. Hey, maybe we've stumbled upon something here! All that emotional spontaneous combustion for which we get blamed? Is it possible? We agree too easily? ... okay, maybe not.
Anyway, back on subject, a man attempting to converse with a woman is like a civilian taking an evening stroll through a minefield. He doesn't know where those deadly little bombs are, but the law of averages says he's bound to step on one eventually. Allow me to illustrate with an example from my personal life. We enter midway through an evening meal.
"Do you like your dinner?"
"Is your meat cooked the way you like it?"
"Is it cooked too much?"
"Oh no, it's just great."
"Are you sure?"
"Oh yeah, it's great."
"I'm sorry about the peas. I took them out of the freezer and warmed then in the microwave. You think I'm a really lazy wife, don't you?"
"Oh no, everything's great."
(I glance up just as a tear trickles down her cheek. Too late I try to duck down... she catches my eye.)
"You didn't even say thank you for the nice meal I made you."
"I said I liked it."
"But I had to ask. It's not the same."
"You don't love me anymore. I KNEW it!"
Defeated, I get up from my half-finished dinner and slink away to my basement office. Sitting at my computer, I open a graphics program, select a greeting card template and begin frantically pasting together a document I hope will somehow morph into a peace treaty.
I find some old pictures from our honeymoon and past one on the cover. I open up my online thesaurus and choose a bunch of embarrassingly sappy adjectives which I sprinkle around the inside page in a sequence that I hope will rhyme. I hastily print out a full colour copy, sign it with an even sappier comment and tiptoe up to the living room to see if I might have regained my right to live.
There was my sweet wife sitting ever so martyr-like on the sofa, still wiping her eyes and sniffling into a tissue. I meekly handed her the card and quietly slid away to a chair in a far corner of the room.
I watched out of the corner of my eye as she looked at the card's cover. She read the inside, then placed the card in her lap and stared into space. An eternity later, she picked up the card, read it again, then turned to face me... I froze.
"Do you mean that?" she asked softly, her eyes glistening.
"Oh yes!" I lied, praying she wouldn't challenge me with a pop quiz on the card's actual contents. "I meant every word!"
And I was thereby committed to sacrificing the completion of my next Hub in exchange for an evening of connubial bliss. She prattled on for two and a half hours straight while I nodded, smiled, frowned, and raised my eyebrows at points where I gambled it was the right thing to do.
"Isn't it wonderful when we can communicate like this?" she cooed sweetly as we prepared for bed. And we ended our day with the ritual approved by clergy for tithe-paying couples who have promised to tolerate each other until one of them dies.
Later I lay there thinking about my good fortune in having had those card templates.
The next day I overheard Wifey on the phone with one of her girlfriends telling her about the meaningful conversation we'd had, declaring how fortunate she felt that she had true love in her marriage, and opining that maybe men weren't such beasts after all.