Today is the first day of classes at my college. Since I am retired, I don't get to feel that excitement and energy any longer. I miss it those first days of classes. So I decided to discuss something leftover from classes I used to teach.
For so many years now we have been highlighting the differences between men and women. Men are from Mars? Women are from Venus? What a nice tidy way of dealing with miscommunication. Things not working out? That’s okay....we’re from different planets! TaDa! We can't work things out! *slapping the dust off our hands and moving on*
What a bunch of bunk. Yeah yeah I know. Men and women have different communication styles....men and women have different ways of approaching things. But the fact is, we all have the same goals and desires in this life. Just read all the books and articles on goals in life (okay, don’t try to read them all in one setting. It might be too much) and you can see that we are all searching for the same things: love, understanding, answers, fulfillment, happiness.
Although, it can sometimes seem as if we are of different species. I once read a humorous essay I believe Santa is a Woman, which said, “Surely, if he were a man, everyone in the universe would wake up Christmas morning to find a rotating musical Chia Pet under the tree, still in the bag.” I dated a man once who lived the saying, “Brevity is good.” When I wanted to rehear those sweet words, “I love you,” he would look at me in wonder and reply, “What have I done to make you think I feel any differently?” *rolling my eyes*
A friend once told me this scenario: Her husband had sold a truck to a man down the street and one day she and her husband were driving by his house. The man was pushing a wheel barrel from behind the house toward a pile of sand out front. The truck was beside the sand. The man looked up and waved and my friend and her husband slowed down. The husband rolled down his window and yelled, “Sand!” while pointing to the pile of sand. The man grinned and gave the husband the “thumbs-up” sign. They both nodded and smiled and the couple drove off. Her husband said to her, “That’s great!” She was confused and asked him what had just taken place. He replied, “Great sale! The truck is running well and he is able to do what he wants with it.” She was flabbergasted! How did he get all that from this “conversation”?? If it were reversed, the woman would have stopped, got out of the car and walked over to the truck, discussed how it was running, asked how the rear axle had felt as she drove to and from the sand place, talked about the loading, the sale, and the return trip, how it felt along the drive, moved on to how the family was doing, how the kids were feeling and if the other’s mother was getting better....
And I have no problem understanding how women can talk for hours and hours and hours about their relationships, itemizing every gift and word and glance and that the men in their lives can’t remember how many gifts were even given. That’s what we do--women talk about this stuff, reflect and dissect every nuance and glance, every sigh and vocal intonation change. And men, well men don’t. Look at the remote control/TV thing! Men hold the remote and sweep through 158 channels in about two minutes...click: no...click: no...click: no....while women do it this way: click..hmmmm hmmmm: no...click...hmmmm hmmmm: no...and it takes them about two hours to get through the same 158 channels. Same results...same goals...just a little different approach :)
Yeah yeah yeah we all know this...I hear people say, “I just can’t talk to men (women)!” Well...think about this more carefully. Can’t we easily talk to 99% of the men or women in our lives? We have no problem communicating with the gas station attendant (okay okay. Most of you probably don’t have any gas station attendants hanging around, but we do here in Oregon and they do out in New Jersey :). We have no problem talking with the sales clerks. So the real problem is that we “can’t talk” to those significant men or women in our lives.
I think all this focus on those differences men and women have in their communication is harmful. I really do. The Mars/Venus idea allows people to stay in their own communication styles and expect that they will not be understood. I have heard men say things like, “I like to crawl into my cave...I’m a man, dammit” and women say, “I am a much better communicator because I am a woman and he has to learn how to open up to me more.” It allows us to never change what we are doing because “this is the way I am! I am a woman/man dammit!” It doesn't matter if it is not working, we now have proof that we are as we are. It doesn't help us to move on to the next step--the So-What-Now step. Instead we say, “Well, that’s okay! We’re from different planets! TaDa! We can't work things out!” *slapping the dust off our hands and moving on*
Do you realize that gay and lesbian couples have the same basic problems with communication? Maybe it isn’t really a male/female communication problem but relational communication problem. Hmmmmmm
So we gotta face the truth. Men are from Earth. Women are from Earth. Deal with it.