Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Men Are Simple--UPDATED

An odd thing happened after my April Fools post about How To Keep A Relationship Hot; guys agreed with it. My intention was to do essentially "opposite day" and put the exact opposite thing that a woman would like and post it. And I received responses like this:

My god!! do you live in my brain or something. I firmly agree with all ten points but have never run across another woman that felt that way. I can assure that my wife of 35 years feels the exact opposite on each of those points. I sometimes wonder what it would be like to be married to a woman that believed in those 10 points. I bet if you took a poll you would find that very few woman do. You are exceptional.
Not only did I hear things like this from readers, but guy friends of mine enthusiastically supported most of the ten points. What the hell?

I have been flummoxed for the last week about what to say in response to emails like this. First, an admission. I'm not a "typical" girl, whatever that is. I like sports. I like Sci Fi. I read fantasy novels. I enjoy politics. Arguing doesn't bother me. Ground acquisition sports and military strategy interests me. I hated taking ballet when I was forced to do it. I hated being a cheerleader for one year (also forced to do it.) I hate shopping. I dislike fussing over clothes. I try to be presentable, basically, because it's socially expected. Otherwise, a pony tail, shorts and a t-shirt would be fine. Displays of emotion should be reserved for important things like death and loss and sorrow (although, I must admit that when I'm pregnant and since I've had kids, touching commercials can get to me and that's so annoying). I like to eat. I like to laugh out loud. I don't like to discuss diaper rash and "isn't he cute" and "he was crawling at eight months". Blech.

In addition, I enjoy the company of men. They are simple. If I say, which I have said on one occasion, "You're being an asshole. Knock it off.", to a guy friend. They either say, "No, I'm not" or "Yeah, I am" and that's that. They don't write me off their friend's list for months. I don't get the silent treatment. It's just "whatever" and move along. Likewise, they'll say what they think, usually. I don't have to guess. They like the food, they say through a full mouth,"This is good!" They like the game, they cheer. They want to go hunting. They say, "I want to go hunting." When you ask them what they're thinking, as Jeff Foxworthy says, and they say, "Nothing." They're telling the truth. There's nothing going on up there.

Now, these are generalizations, of course. There are some metrosexual men, effeminate men, passive men, sensitive men, immature men, insecure men, etc. And some of the toughest guys I know, bar-fighting he men, are tender souls underneath the muscle. So, just because men are simple, doesn't mean that they're one-dimensional, or non-thinking, or non-sensient. When women reduce men to clichés and eye rolls, I find it deeply offensive. I find it as offensive as when women are reduced in a similar ways. The gender wars suck and it needs to stop.

Women might rightly be wondering why advice like I put forth the other day might ring true to men. I think it comes down to this: For men, women feel like a moving target. It can be a challenge and downright exasperating when the goal posts change. A man wants a few simple things to be happy. Guessing what makes someone else happy is not one of the things that makes him happy.

So, here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to translate the 10 Pieces of Advice for women. They were mystified and a little insulted at the advice. Maybe understanding the underlying message will help:

1. Keep the mystery alive--Translation: I don't like feeling like I'm on a leash.

2. Call rarely--Translation: I'm busy. Unless the house is on fire, it's not important enough to call. Do you realize that I have to listen to Billy Bob blab on all day? Too many words.

3. Retreat from conflict--Translation: Yelling doesn't make it better. Maybe we should step back and think.

4. Don't expect your spouse to meet your sexual needs--Translation: Between kids, work, high blood pressure and your gut, it's just not happening as much. I'm trying to deal with it.

5. Spend time cultivating interests that don't include your spouse--Translation: I don't want to go shopping with you. I don't want to talk about your shoes. Call your friend or go do something fun and don't expect me to entertain you all the time.

6. Don't change--Translation: Why did you marry me, if you didn't like me for who I am?

7 Don't apologize--Translation: It's not all my fault. You can be wrong, too. Why does it always seem like I'm the only one saying "sorry"?

8. Don't give tokens of affection--Translation: I don't know what you want. I don't have the money to buy the really cool stuff. Isn't money for the house, cars, clothes, kids, enough?

9. Ignore special dates--Translation: There is too much pressure on these days. I ran out of ideas ten years ago. What do you want me to do?

10. Stop saying "I love you"--I am here. I am with you. I clean the garage. I change the tires. I play ball with the kids. I don't kill your mother. What other proof do you need that I love you?


Now, I'm guessing here with the translations. The guys can feel absolutely free to correct me if I'm totally wrong. But I do think that men are not thinking what women are thinking along these lines. So, let's get practical. What can a woman do to keep a guy happy?

  1. Food--Keep food around. Cooking every once in a while is a bonus.
  2. Work--Let the man work in peace. Support his work. Encourage him about work.
  3. Sex--Act like you want and enjoy it. Weekly or more, if possible.
  4. R&R--Facilitate hobbies and hanging with friends.
  5. Peace--Foster a peaceful home environment--not necessarily quiet, just not filled with strife.
That's it. Happy man. Again, if the guys think I've forgotten something, let me know.

And don't think you're getting off easy fellas. Tomorrow, I'm going to translate those 10 from a woman's point of view. The points were offensive to women for a reason. And, if you want to have that happy, peaceful, food and sex-filled home, you might want to do a little work to get it. Ever heard the saying, "Ain't mama happy, ain't nobody happy"? Yeah, well, you can do some things to help mama get happy.

UPDATE: Want to know what women want? The other side of the story, here.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think the explanation for #1 belongs on #2. The last 3 all go together: basically, from a guy's point of view, the less importance placed on "symbolic" actions and dates, the better. Guys don't have much patience with symbolism. They prefer to be simple and direct in their relationships. Want your man to know you love him? There are three things to do: Be (1) Agreeable, (2) Companionable, and (3) Available (enthusiastically, if possible). That's all a guy needs! (Even food is overrated.) Now, if women could put THEIR needs into simple, straightforward, concrete terms, we'll be getting somewhere! :-)

Melissa Clouthier said...

Anon,

You said to be 1) Agreeable--what if we don't agree?

seriously? said...

act like you want or enjoy sex? ACT like you want or enjoy sex. seriously? i feel so sorry for you.

David Marcoe said...

"You said to be 1) Agreeable--what if we don't agree?"

Then respect our point of view, try to see it our way, and present a calm, logical answer.

The way I see it, above all things, it is my responsibility to see to the happiness of my wife (hypothetically; I'm not married), before my own ever enters my mind. It is my job to bare as much suffering as possible to protect her from it. That isn't to say I become a door mat or coddle her, but the man who sits around complaining what his wife is or isn't doing is not acting as a proper husband. (Saying this to other men) Our ancestors bore far more hardship with far more grace than we are ever likely to see, so man up, stand up, and shoulder your load.

Oh, and if I say "nothing," it's likely I am thinking about too many things at once to give a proper account.

Justin Hoffer said...

I agreed with your translations more than the original article. I guess that's a failing on my part (go Asperger Syndrome!).

Frankly, though, there's some more things I would like to add:

Don't doll yourself up every day. Most guys actually quite hate it how a woman spends an hour or more in the bathroom getting dressed up on a daily basis. If we liked you for the makeup, we'd buy it ourselves and put it on a blow up doll. We think you are attractive without the makeup.

Don't wear high heels on a daily basis. I have yet to meet a man that actually thinks high heels are sexy. Fact is, they were originally worn by men. Then, we realized how uncomfortable they were, and got rid of them. When I see a woman wearing high heels every day, I can't help but feel intellectually superior.

I can't speak for all guys, but I personally think you are at your sexiest when you are covered in sweat after going on a jog/run with me.

Anonymous said...

meet my needs!= divorce

Melissa Clouthier said...

David Marcoe,

There was a reason I said there are some things you can do to "help" a person be happy. No one can make anyone else happy. We can try. We can do everything in our power, but the other person must decide to be happy--or not.

Christopher Taylor said...

Extraordinarily fine work, and unusually insightful for a woman. Men are simple, women are not. The problem for women understanding men is that they expect complications where there aren't any. They look for the byzantine, incomprehensible, and irrational way they view life in how men do, and not finding it, they consider men mysterious.

Women need plausible deniability to protect themselves I didn't really mean that. Men come at you straight, typically able to protect themselves from what comes at them. Except emotionally, from which we use silence, rage, and distance to protect ourselves.

It's not that tough to work out men. We are what we say. We say what we mean - until you train us with rage, confusion, hurt, and punishment to do otherwise. Then you get mad at us for lying.

Oze said...

I would add this:

Either tell me how you want it done, or leave me alone to do it my way.

Don't complain if, when I do it my way, you don't like it and would have done it differently.

Then, you should have done it yourself in the first place!

Melissa Clouthier said...

Christopher Taylor,

"Extraordinarily fine work for a woman"....

That made me laugh out loud.

Oze,

I think that's good advice both ways. Nothing like getting something done and then having it reverse engineered by a "helpful" spouse.

doctorfixit said...

1.Keep the mystery alive = please stop asking so many damned questions.
2. Call rarely = I need to watch the road when I'm driving.
3. Retreat from conflict = I can not win arguing with you.
4. Don't expect your spouse to meet your sexual needs = Discussing sex is a minefield I don't want to get into.
5. Spend more time on interests that don't include your spouse = less time for disagreements.
6. Don't change = take it or leave it, but stop trying to fix me.
7. Don't apologize = watch for an opening to let me make amends.
8. Don't give tokens of affection = stop inventing new ways to make me feel guilty.
9. Ignore special dates = what is so special about the passing of an arbitrary amount of time????
10. Stop saying I love you = actions speak louder than words.

Anonymous said...

One of the things a man needs is approval.
Not fainting or swooning over how the dishwasher works again, but a nod of well done now and then.
The reason we men build (pay for) stuff is so that women will enjoy them and grant us approval vis a vie sex or a look of 'wow that's cool how he did that'.
The other thing a man needs is a motherly 'there there' once in a while. I think its akin to returning to the corner of the boxer's ring and having someone look after your cuts and gouges.
Provide those things for me, and no privation, no hardship, no discomfort will stop me from wading in to get the job (make cave woman happy) done. I may posture in front of the fire, but that itself is a manifestation of thank you.
Long story short:
Sex, food and approval will purchase maximum effort with a good attitude.

Christopher Taylor said...

That made me laugh out loud.

I hope so. I didn't mean it sexist, I meant "you did great understanding men as a woman" just as any man would be amazing to write an equally insightful version about women.

After all, I didn't say
"extraordinarily fine work for a woman." like you quoted.

If it sounded sexist, I meant it as a compliment. But then, this is a perfect example of the reason men and women fight, eh?

Anonymous said...

christopher taylor, no, but you did say: "unusually insightful for a woman." This seems to imply that normally the men are more insightful. If that was implied, than it is a sexist statement to make.

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