“Somewhere out there is the man you’re supposed to marry and if you don’t get him first, somebody else will…and then, you’ll have to spend the rest of your life thinking that somebody else is married to your husband. “ – When Harry Met Sally
Nearly 20 years ago, a brave soul by the name of John Gray published a book that finally admitted that men and women were just not the same. We don’t think alike, we don’t act alike, we have different values, different outlooks, different ways of understanding things, and most especially, different ways of communicating. His book, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” flew off the shelves in those days, as we all realized it was ok to admit that we just don’t “get” each other.
If you’ll forgive my gross over-generalizations here, men tend to be black-and-white, making choices and decisions based on practicality or what they believe to be simply right or wrong. We women tend to make our choices and decisions based more on emotions and feelings. We are very different beings – and yet we are attracted and drawn to each other like the proverbial moth to a flame.
Even though we are well aware of how different we are, we still spend a whole lot of time and energy trying to “figure each other out.” At least we women do. Let’s face it, ladies, one of our favorite, most common topics is men. We talk about the men in our lives, the ones not in our lives, the ones we wish were in our lives, and the ones we are glad are no longer in our lives. We even have terms for the discussions…. If it is good stuff, it is “dishing.” If it is bad stuff, it is “bashing.” We can devote entire social gatherings to this – generally known as Chick’s Nights, with alcohol in hand.
Yet let’s not fool ourselves – the men are venting about us too. They just tend to not do it in such a gregarious, social way. They are more apt to complain about our “emotional irrationality” with buddies on the golf course, while watching a game, or possibly over a beer with one close friend.
And yet, for all that complaining and not “getting it”, we keep doing it. We personify the line “can’t live with them, can’t live without them.” Or, as I have altered it at certain moments of frustration to: “Men. Can’t live with them, can’t leave them by the curb….’cause no one will pick them up.”
I will never pretend to be a marital expert, but I’ve had my share of experiences over the years, and I’ve done lots of observing and talking with others. And each stage of relationship has its features and benefits. I was at a high school graduation party recently, and watching the teenagers reminded me of those early flirty days at young ages when we were completely bewildered by each other, but our hormones were calling the shots and making some often poor choices for us.
As we matured, we entered into more serious relationships… and we started to see that our beloved heart-throbs actually had some flaws – shockingly, they were not perfect. There was drama, there was heartbreak, there was growth….and each time we learned some very important things about ourselves .
Then, at some point, we latched onto a guy who was “the one”, or at least he “could be the one.” This is the guy who despite his flaws and issues, we stick with long enough, for enough years, to realize that we are in it for the “long haul.” We fall in love, maybe even get married. This is where the real education begins. When we are together for very long periods of time, we get to a level of understanding that just can’t be reached with short-term relationships. In this relationship, we realize the importance of all the lessons we learned leading up to this “one.” We have grown old enough to be clearer about what is important to us, what we will put up with and what we won’t. And have hopefully developed a vitally important sense of humor to cope with some of those flaws we find in each other along the way.
The challenge, of course, is that it is impossible to predict the future and know what either you, or your partner, will be like in 10, 20, 30 years from when you first met. The lucky ones grow alongside each other, keeping enough in common to truly last for that long haul. We take the bad stuff in stride because the good stuff is just that good, and it is worth it. We look forward to the years ahead, of experiencing life’s milestones together. Others of course may not make it that far…perhaps our life changes are too great, we no longer see eye to eye on anything, and we part company. Of course it is painful, but I really don’t believe the end of a relationship should be seen as failure. Just yet another chapter in life we somehow survive, it makes us stronger, and we move on.
Isn’t it funny that with all this experience we put ourselves through, all the interactions we have with a variety of men, we can still get so confused and bewildered by them, and vice versa? Men can seem to be such simple creatures, yet we can still get together with our girlfriends, have several glasses of wine, participate in major philosophical discussions, and at the end of the evening still just end up shaking our heads and saying “I just don’t get it.”
One thing is for sure. Every step of the way, we gain more material for discussions, for crying and for laughing, and for each of us to get smarter and stronger. So carry on, Real Women. Be brave, be that moth flying to the flame. Just be sure to take notes along the way so we can dish later.