Men, Women, communication and silence…

Lately… it’s been blog articles that have inspired my writing… “my writing”. There’s something I never thought I ever hear myself say.

I read an article this morning while sipping on my coffee and chatting with a few good friends (http://www.tickld.com/x/the-difference-between-men-and-women). How many times have we read this kind of parody on non-verbal interplay between a man and a woman? It’s a fairly common stereotype and sadly, there’s a significant amount of truth to the story.  The truth underneath this article is I think, all too prevalent in our relationships.

Before I get into this, I want to say that I don’t necessarily buy into the gender stereotypes presented in this scenario though I do know that they do exist. I see it far more often than I should and that’s a sad statement. Of course, not all women or men are like the characters in the story, but there is a certain thread of truth to their reactions and thought processes.

At face value, we could conclude that this is just the way it is between men and women, because of what and how we value and how we process. Women value relationship and are connection oriented. Men also value relationship but are compartmental and task oriented. Again… these are generalizations which I think are for the most part… nonsense. I think it is rude and assumptive to lump the behavioural patterns of individuals within their gender set because of their gender alone! While men are generally task focused, we’re not always that way… neither too are women brooding ninnies who constantly postulate scenarios because of a single spoken word or sentence. It’s preposterous and dismissive!

What I found very true about the article though was what happened because of silence and lack of communication. Fred’s silence or apparent lack of interested (in Martha’s view) spawned a dizzying array of scenarios in Martha’s mind, based assumptions which were based on a single word response! Let’s do away with the female stereotype for a moment and ask ourselves what’s wrong with this picture…

Was Fred wrong for answering as he did? Was Martha wrong for reacting as she did? Maybe and maybe not. This phenomenon is all too common and it’s based on one thing… our willingness to face truth. To be truly honest with ourselves and with those that mean the most to us.

Why is it that we have trouble expressing ourselves on topics that matter most to us? Clearly, relationship was very important and valuable to Martha. I would say it was a core value to her. That isn’t to say that it’s not also for Fred, but in this scenario, Martha is clearly thinking about moving to the next level in their relationship. Why then does she not pick a time to talk to Fred about it? Why not just be direct,  willing to face reality and ask? I know… I’m blowing this scenario out of proportion, but honestly, why do we let ourselves live in limbo? If the truth is that Fred would rather eat Doritos and watch re-runs of sporting events than share his life with someone, that is what he’s going to do and there is nothing that Martha can do to change it. It’s is what it is… that is simply the truth of the situation.

Martha clearly values Fred and feels that he’s a good match for her., but is he really?  Instead of respecting her values and engaging in a conversation with Fred about her hopes and the reality of their future though, she allows the situation to end in a cloud of uncertainty. Even worse, she further proceeds to play out scenarios by talking with people who can’t possibly hold any of the answers she seeks. I’m not suggesting that we do not seek the wise counsel of friends, but those conversations should be about us, our character and conduct, not what the other person should do or might be thinking.   If we truly find ourselves in a good and healthy relationship, we should be able to share the truth and be accepted and respected for it.  The subject may be difficult, but that doesn’t change reality!  It doesn’t change the truth that must be faced.

Why do we fear the truth? It’s just the truth. It’s reality. We have no control over what someone else will do. We may have a small amount of influence here and there, but honestly, we have no control!

The answer to this riddle is not at all complex. It’s simply based in truth and a willingness to hear, understand, accept and live in it! Martha can “suppose” all she wants to with her friends, but the truth she seeks lies in the heart and mind of Fred. Hopefully, he has enough integrity in himself and respect for Martha to answer with equal honesty.

This by the way, this isn’t limited to intimate relationships. It is applicable in all of our relationships… We could be wondering about the conduct of our child at school, a relationship at work or the status of our current position at our workplace. We could be wondering about our relationship with our neighbour… there’s no end. In the end, the truth exists and it exists in the honesty and minds of the people involved. The honesty shared between two people creates the truth in any situation.

Martha could have just as easily asked Fred “Wow… Six months… I’m glad to be here… how do you feel about the next six?” Fred could answer in many ways, but in the end, Martha knows what she values and if Fred does not share her values, then Martha’s reality becomes one of choice. Does she respect her values or does she compromise them? I could write a book on this scenario, but I think you can guess what I’m getting at. We must be willing to explore the truth and reflect it against what we believe and value because that is our truth. You can’t make an apple be an orange no matter how promising it may look to be. If Martha hopes to be married one day, to have children and live out her life sharing it in a family, then that is her truth. If Fred is not quite ready for that scenario and can’t say when he will be, then Martha has some thinking to do. She can do nothing of course, but then where does that lead? To more indecision and angst!

These choices are not always easy because of the promise that we may see in a situation, but it is far better to let go of what merely looks good and promising to us and instead seek something or someone who will value and accept us for who we are and what we value. A wise friend once said to me “it’s better to be single than wish you were”. Truer words were never spoken.

I’m sure that Martha and Fred are kind and wonderful people, but they may not be wonderful for one another. The only way for them to find that out is to be honest and open with each other. If they are unable to do that in the early stages… what might the rest of their relationship look like long term?

Being willing to accept and value who we are and then to accept someone opposite us is based in truth. The ability to be honest about who we are, what we value and what our goals are. It’s not rocket science. We just make it more difficult by not being willing to face and accept the truth of a situation. Phone a friend? Guessing? Will those bring direct answers or truth? Sometimes but mostly not. Ask about and face the truth with those directly involved and also be willing to share what you know to be your truth. You may not find the outcome you seek in that particular situation, but it will probably lead you to a much happier and grounded life.

Of course, this is just my opinion and you are welcome to challenge it, but do you have one on this subject or have you asked yourself… how do I feel about this?  If you don’t have an opinion then I challenge you to ask yourself to make one.  Please consider this… we’re depending on your truth.

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4 thoughts on “Men, Women, communication and silence…”

  1. my comment to the martha story is…. sometimes it’s exactly the other way around — just sayin’.
    and you are right – why do we fear the truth? i think sometimes because a) it’s just easier NOT to, and b) sometimes it’s more about the fear of what will happen AFTER you face the truth.
    … interesting article + response.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Kristina. I agree with you completely. Sometimes the roles are reversed which is why I’m not a big fan of promoting stereotypical behaviour… even if it’s a socially accepted form of humour… some stereotypes just need to die off.

  2. I enjoyed reading your blog and boy do I completely understood what you are saying. I did not feel like you were stereotyping just telling a story. As you stated this could be all aspects of life ( job, relationship, parenting etc) We all at some point go through it.
    As for the couple and values I personally do not think you need to be alike. Compare the major values that mean a lot to either of you yes communicate 🙂 As you stated sometime people just do not mesh and it is okay. You can not force or should never force it just because they may be a nice person does not mean you need to settle. No Settling!! If my better half is never found I am okay with that. I am a peace with who I am, who I have become and I like her 🙂

  3. I learned once that a relationship is not the sum of two people. It is a “spiritual child” born in the meeting place between them. Both remain individuals but it is what they put into that space between them that determines the health of their relationship.

    She could have brought it to the open with, “You seem really distracted right now. Is it something you can talk about?”

    He could have just said, “Sorry if I am a bit distracted tonight. My motorcycle didn’t start and I needed to take a cab home from work. My mind is stuck on the problem of it not starting.”

    If either had chosen to address this particular situation, the potential of caring for their relationship through this moment could have been raised.

    This goes back to the idea of appearance and expectations. That she is thinking what she is indicates that this may be an ongoing pattern of trying to keep possible conflicts under the rug

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