My friend is married for 4 years. Her hubby, a businessman is busy making money that he just never takes note of what’s happening with his wife. Though appreciative about his business acumen, his constant selective blindness to things puzzles her. She confides in me on a regular basis expecting some reliable answers because of her awareness that I’ve read umpteen “How to be the wife of a happy husband” kind of books. Little does she know that real-world problems don’t have practical, straightforward, textbook answers. Hardly am I surprised by her complaints and misgivings for I am married for 12 long years and I knew pretty well that men are grown up boys, nothing more, nothing less.
When I could easily spot every little thing about him, be it a blackhead on his face, a loose button on his shirt or a fallen eyelash on his nose, my hubby had always kept his cool after my short visits from a hair salon or from an hour long shopping spree. Ten years later I came to understand that if my hubby had missed anything, it is not that he disregarded anything at all. But what comment could he ever conjure up when I sported the same crew cut for a decade? Or when I bought myself only khakhi colored pants and jeans available in all brands? Or when I spent money on things that only made us think hard about ways and means to put them to use?
Most men notice things but never say anything. And I convinced my buddy that her hubby’s attitude is quite natural and this is a common grouse that women across continents have against their spouses or boyfriends. May be it is the difference in ‘wiring’ between male and female brains that makes them perceive things around them differently. Perhaps if we try to understand this, the classic tussle between hearts and minds will come to an end. After a few minutes of reasoning out I suggested that my buddy keep changing her hairstyle, hair color or their living room set up or anything worthy, thinking she might get busy with all of these and forget about comments and reviews from her man. To some extent, it worked for a day or so.
One evening standing at her doorstep, I heard her defiant hubby yelling,” yes, yes, I know. I saw it. So what, if I didn’t say anything? Should I blabber something every time?” The two words, “so” and “what” made sense. I rang the doorbell as I didn’t want to look like one eavesdropper. My buddy opened the door sporting a slick hairstyle that was strikingly different from her usual hastily done pleated hair. I was quick enough to compliment her and she looked rather peeved. There are theories and imaginative answers about men from Mars that partially succeed in demystifying the enigma. Meanwhile nothing seems to have changed and arguments continue until women of all nationalities and ethnicities take things in their stride with a cool shrug whispering, “So, what”. Yes, so what, if you don’t receive a compliment! So what, if you couldn’t make it for the last Women’s Day Out only because you were busy arguing with him about his callousness over that six month old faulty AC ? So what, if he wasn’t there on your Birthday for he was very much available at least on your Big Day? So what, if He doesn’t remember your mom’s name or favorite color or dish? Instead of nagging him about his so-called weakness, try being appreciative of his cricket or soccer memory and his capability of being a life-long watcher of re-runs on star sports or ESPN.
Still, if we force men to deliver words, it will be another ritual, completely robbed of all meaning and essence because most men are known for their communicating skills that they spend their lifetime deliberating, “How much should be said”, “Why say it and when”. Of course, we care for the way our spouse think and feel about us. But attitudes or different ways of communicating shouldn’t ruffle either a man or a wife.
Today my buddy is quite happy about her man who has convinced her to the best of his ability that he prioritizes productivity and efficiency in his daily life. He has also made her aware of the fact that talking too much, which means talking about everything and nothing promotes chronic diseases thereby silencing her a bit.
Don’t ever try persuading men to view us in the manner we would like them to. After all marriage is a unit comprising two individuals who are different genetically, physically, psychologically and emotionally.
In the end, let no one play the victim by effectively holding the other one at sword point in defense of a particular idea of “Being the perfect” spouse. Such swordplay will only import hell on earth. Let us all wish ourselves some courage, strength and sense of humor too as we walk the tightrope of life.
By Dr. Elsa Lycias Joel