Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A GIANT step toward understanding each other!

I am a blessed gal! I have a husband who is (good looking) sensitive and whose job it is to research, facilitate, and teach about marriage and family life! So when I saw these two books show up at our door, I knew we were about to dive into some good stuff. David and I have a unusually high affinity for learning about and teaching about the differences between men and women (maybe because we are DESPERATELY trying to understand each other).

It's a known fact that 1) men and women are EXTREMELY different and 2) We have to figure out how to get along somehow if the species is to survive, and most importantly 3) that God knew this when he made us male and female...

So no preaching here, I just have to say that if I had a bunch of money I would give these books away by the thousands (well, first I would pay off that blasted student loan) and THEN I would give these books away by the thousands. 

What's so special about them? They are written by a husband/wife team and was all started because the author (the wife) was researching how men think in an effort to enrich a character in a novel that she was writing. It lead to an all-out research project where thousands of men (and subsequently women) were interviewed to get a better idea of how men (then women) think. 

Here's what we've done: David and I read our books. Next we switched and read the other's book about our own gender, and highlighted what spoke to us most deeply about ourselves individually. (This would be the reason why I'm not loaning out our copies to you, so don't ask :).  Then we're rereading the book and discussing the findings in a sort of extended conversation we call a dialogue (part of our commitments for Domestic Church). It's not an efficient way to do this, but it has been so so fruitful and enriching...

I don't want to tell you EVERYTHING that's blown me away, but I'll give a teaser or two:
  • Basically ALL men desire to be RESPECTED more than they desire to FEEL LOVED- This gives me MANY opportunities to show him that I do (or don't) respect him- at home, in public, in front of others, etc. So, like, fussing at a my husband to stop and ask directions gives him the message that I don't trust him to get us where we're trying to go. I can choose to take a deep breath and wait for him to figure it out... because in a man's brain, it's actually an adventure to figure it out... who knew?
  • MOST men loves their wives and find them beautiful despite what extra pounds have been added on. As it turns out, though, they feel like our effort/lack thereof to exercise for more energy/get back in shape/lose weight speaks to them that they are WORTH the effort (or not). AND most men will do WHATEVER it takes to help us to do what needs to be done to help us with this. 
  • When your husband sees you looking really beautiful, his VERY NEXT THOUGHT (regardless of how timely it may or may not be) is to ... uh... do something about it. He's not a creep or a fanatic... it's how his brain is wired (in other words, the same part of the brain that lights up when he sees a buffet lights up when he sees you... what he DOES about it is an act of his will, of course). So I need to be sensitive and understanding in my responses.
Ok, maybe more than two... just in case you never buy these books...
  • Women's brains are wired like a computer (not a big shocker to most readers) , but the analogy was the best part... it's like a bunch of windows are open all at once (if even some are minimized) and pop-us and adds are constantly coming on the screen, making sticking to one task incredibly difficult. The advice to men is to help us close some of those windows out to be able to focus. LOVE IT!
  • When we see our husbands all dressed up fancy-like... that same part of the brain does NOT light up, which is why our response is not the same- Our brains are wired different (all windows open, remember? So we're constantly trying to connect all pieces of the puzzle).
  • My husband (and most husbands) believe that because we're married... we're good. An argument/disagreement does not bring that up for questioning, whereas when the same instance occurs, I'm CONSTANTLY wondering if "we're good" or if things are ok between us. That's why I'm such a nagger... "how are you feeling now?" "What are you thinking?" "Are we good?" UGH... I'm so annoying.
  • MEN HAVE A NOTHING BOX. They can actually pull out this box at will!! So when you ask your man, "Whatcha thinkin' about?" and he says, "Nothing"... he's actually thinking about NOTHING!! Amazing...
So what has this little book-reading exercise done for us? It has taught us SO much about each other and encourages and challenges us to take bold steps toward living better for each other, not out of blind obedience, but out of loving understanding. We are still praying, discussing, and discerning about why God made us this way and what we can do about it. It's opened up a lot of opportunities to TALK about our differences with each other... what a great step!

We are a mystery to the other, which does NOT mean that we won't ever understand the other. It simply means that the answers will NEVER be exhausted. What an awesome realization! 

(A word of caution: The authors do not seem to be coming from a mindset that utilizes natural family planning, so in one chapter in particular, be aware that this element is missing the ebb and flow of NFP.)