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Monday, September 13, 2010

Men & Women

I'm in a position to interact with men from various walks of life. It's a blessing actually. I get to be in relationship with men of different age groups, men of different demographics, etc. Over time, I've noticed a couple of systemic truths about the differences between men and women. The irony is that men know these truths exist and we don't know quite what to do about it. Therefore, they become full blown dilemmas for both men and the women we are in relationship with.

For starters, women talk more. They use more words to process their thinking. The trouble is that they can sometimes speak more than men have the capacity to listen. The result is that women are frustrated. They think men don't listen. They assume that because he hasn't heard what she said that means he doesn't care. But of course, from a man's perspective, this is not true. She has simply spoken more words than he is inclined to hear.

Now a typical man can probably hear more than he's hearing. He could improve his listening skills ... by turning off the TV, getting up from the computer, and generally making a better effort to truly listen. It may not affect the outcome of the dialogue. But she will feel more valued if he can muster some better listening skills.

From a man's perspective, women sometimes communicate things that don't make sense to them. I spoke with a man this week. He described being in London (England) and having his wife phone him from the U.S. to tell him that the fish aquarium spilled dirty fish water all over the carpet as she was trying to clean it. He's on the other side of the world ... and wonder what she thinks he can do about it. "Why doesn't she just go ahead and deal with it?" What does she expect him to do when she phones him half way around the world?

Yet another man I spoke to this week mentioned the dilemma he finds when his wife is telling him of a problem. He'll propose a solution ... and then she gets mad. "What exactly have I said that makes you think I want you to solve this problem for me?" She's irate and sarcastic when he loving offers a solution to the problem she's been telling him about. It appears that she doesn't really want a solution. She just wants to talk about the problem. (Men would never do that!)

To be sure there are these differences between men and women and how we communicate. They often don't seem very funny, especially when we find ourselves in the middle of those differences.

Often when I blog and make observation of some dilemma of the human condition, I'll offer a solution. I like to take positions that lead mankind from the quagmire of his (or her) humble existence. Unfortunately, I don't think I can on this one. I've been married 26 years now, and see that the differences exist between my wife and I.

It feels like the human condition. And while frustrating at times, I suspect that the good Lord would have us show grace toward each other, forgiving and laughing it off when possible.

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