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?
- Food--Keep food around. Cooking every once in a while is a bonus.
- Work--Let the man work in peace. Support his work. Encourage him about work.
- Sex--Act like you want and enjoy it. Weekly or more, if possible.
- R&R--Facilitate hobbies and hanging with friends.
- Peace--Foster a peaceful home environment--not necessarily quiet, just not filled with strife.
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.