While shopping, I noticed a man with his fingers laced into the small hand of his daughter. She looked to be about five. She was talking to him the whole time he wended his through the people before, beside and behind him. Her hair was beautifully braided and she wore a pink skirt and a t-shirt with a tele-tubby bear grinning happily on the front. Her father, carrying her red, helium-filled balloon, was weaving his way along the the pavement while she was telling him something of incredible interest and importance! I loved the way he would listen at the same time as negotiating the crowds, throwing out comments now and then. She would pay attention, nod her head and then would break again into her unstoppable chatter. Pulling him to a halt, her elfin face looked up at him. “But Dad, don’t you see…..”
He crouched down so that he was nearer her height and listened to her bubbly recitation. She finished and drew a breath. He said something to her and she burst out laughing and said: “You are saying that because you think differently to me. You’re a man!”
Placing both hands on his cheeks, she kissed him. Then taking his hand once more she skipped along beside him singing: “Suikerbossie will jou hê, suikerbossie wil jou hê……”
I wish that I had been able to hear more of their conversation. I loved his easy accessibility to her. He never appeared to talk down to her. He listened and responded as he would to a friend. And she treated him in exactly the same manner. I laughed to myself as I thought back on her final comment to him: “You are saying that because you think differently to me. You’re a man!”
Men and women do think differently. Men and women are totally different beings.
Women communicate in a much freer, easier way than men. They can talk through issues, focus on how to create solutions that work for an entire group, use non-verbal cues such as tone, emotion and empathy. Men on the other hand, tend to be more task oriented, less talkative and more isolated. Men have a hard time understanding emotions that are not spoken, while women tend to intuit emotions and emotional cues. These differences clearly explain why men and women sometimes have difficulty in communication and why men-to-men friendships look different from friendships among women.
I remember having a deep conversation with a man about the break up of mutual friends of ours. But I couldn’t seem to get through to him. I felt like I spoke a completely different language to his. In actual fact, I did. Men are different to women. Women need to vocalise the majority of their emotions. They then stand a far better chance at properly communicating with a man. I remember Dad asking Mum if anything was wrong. The fact that she had just had her hair cut and highlighted and he hadn’t noticed was besides the point!
“Nothing’s wrong”, my Mother said slamming his plate of food down before him. Behind Mum’s back, Liz, Megs and I made mad mimetic gestures at our hair to Dad until finally realisation dawned.
“Thought I’d wait until the food was served before I said how great your hair looks!” my Dad came out with eventually. Three children were glared at accusingly. “I didn’t say anything because you always look beautiful!” Women need to know that unless they are fairly vocal with their feelings, a lot is going to pass a man by!
It has been proved that men process better in the left hemisphere of the brain while women tend to process equally well between the two hemispheres. Men are stronger with left brain activities. They approach problem solving from a task oriented perspective. Men think in the following manner: “In order to solve this problem, I will need to get this done first, then this other thing, then this and then they all fit into place and it will all work very well!”
Multitasking does not even enter into the male vocabulary. This explains why men get irritated when their wives are doing two other things as well as having a discussion with them about something fairly important. ‘Why doesn’t she concentrate on our discussion? This is important’, they will fume. The thing is, their wife is concentrating on the discussion as well as doing two other things. Women are made that way.
For men, what demonstrates a solid relationship is quite different from that of most women. Men feel closer and validated through shared activities. Things like sports, competition, outdoor activities or sexual activities that are decidedly active and physical. Women, on the other hand, feel closer through communication, dialogue and intimate sharing of experience, emotional content and personal perspectives. Many men tend to find such sharing and involvement uncomfortable, if not, overwhelming.
Every person has female and male sides within themselves. I love sitting chatting to David, a friend who has a strong female side. I am not saying that he is effeminate. No, don’t get me wrong. He is a gorgeous, butch male. It is just that David has a strong female side and is able to sit and chat and share quite easily.
When men seek to understand and appreciate that which is feminine, they come to a deeper understanding of their softer side -that it’s ok to show emotion; it’s ok to cry. And when a women seeks to understand that which is masculine in men, they come to appreciate that it’s fine to want to be successful. They shouldn’t feel guilty about having career aspirations rather than being the perfect housewife.
It is important for men and women to learn to accept their differences. They should acknowledge them and make an attempt at compromising whenever they reach a mutual block. Compromise is something that I battle with. I think it is because I am single and basically I like pleasing myself. That is so wrong. Life should be made up of compromise.
The idea that one gender can think and feel like the other if they truly loved each is absurd. Sure, a man or women could act in consideration of the other’s needs, but this would not necessarily be rewarding and honest. Holding the benefit of another above our own is rewarding. But for most of us, it is important to be ourselves and to be accepted, and not to be the source of distress and disappointment in the lives of people we love.
“You are saying that because you think differently to me. You’re a man!” said my five year old girl to her father.
Out of the mouths of babes!