Saturday, April 4, 2009

Part Two, For You

You ever have an argument with your significant other and it seems like y'all are speaking two different languages?

You're laying out a point-by-point breakdown of the problems you have with your lover's behavior, and your main squeeze is complaining about your tone of voice. Or, your spouse tells you that she doesn't feel loved, you explain all the things you do that show your love, and she says those things don't count. It's both baffling and infuriating.

Welcome to the logic and emotion divide.

This topic is a dangerous one, mainly because many of my beliefs about relationships are tinged with chauvinism. See, how easily I admitted that? Do I get brownie points for admitting up front that I have a totally "male" view on the world, and believe many stereotypes and generalizations about women because my personal history has borne them out? Or, does that just make me an idiot.

Oh well.

I issued that disclaimer because my honest assessment is that men tend to use more logic in relationships, and women tend to follow their emotions. I know this isn't 100 percent true in every relationship, so those of y'all firing up that angry and obvious response can fall back. There are far too many variables in relationships for anything to be 100 percent, but I feel confident in making the argument that men like things to make sense, while women like things to make them happy.

And that creates conflict.

Look, I know men also want to be happy in relationships. That's why we dominate the remote control and why many of us fall asleep shortly after putting in our time in the bedroom. These things make us happy. But, it seems like we understand better that our happiness does not have the power to change facts, while women seem immune to this reality of life.

For example, ladies, if you cook a nice meal and your man eats it and compliments you on it, then just move on. Don't ask him how it compares to the meal y'all had at his momma's last weekend. Because you might not like the response. Your man is probably going to respond honestly that your meatballs were nice, but his momma's made him do a happy dance. He's going to tell you he appreciated your effort, but that his momma also makes garlic bread topped with Parmesan cheese when she cooks pasta. And, ultimately, you're going to be pissed. See, logically and factually, your meal wasn't as good as his momma's meal and he let you know. But, emotionally, he should have known that telling you the absolute truth was a pretty stupid decision, and he could have protected your feelings.

That's how men and women differ. Unfortunately, men don't tend to filter reality through our emotions as often as women do. Something either happened, or it didn't happen. That's it. But, for a lot of women, whether or not something happened is not as important as how they felt when that thing happened. Men figure that buying flowers for a women that likes flowers is a good look no matter what. But, women believe that the flowers only count if you thought of them yourself, and they were the right color and type. If a man only bought flowers because his women kept asking for them, and he got roses instead of tulips, well he might as well have saved his money.

It's not that men don't have emotions, and it's not that women don't use logic. Like I said, dealing in absolutes is idiotic whenever you're talking about human beings. Men have lots of emotions, but most of us have been taught since youth to suppress those emotions and focus on the realities of life if we want to be successful. On the other hand, women have been encouraged to express their feelings and they've been told those feelings are important since they were children. Consequently, the two genders have vastly different worldviews.

Brief Tangent
Some of this is due to what I call the Daddy Complex. My friends and I have discovered that many women have been thoroughly misguided about the realities of marriage and relationships because of the well-meaning love showered on them by their daddies. (That's not even accounting for the women that have a host of issues because their daddies weren't around.) Anyway, Daddy's Little Girl typically has been treated like a princess by her father since birth, and in many ways she's been able to avoid facing the hard realities of adulthood.

When she encounters a nice young man, she's taken aback at all the expectations this young man has regarding her behavior. See, she has lots of expectations about what a man should bring to a relationship, but she hasn't spent much time thinking about what her "duties" might be. This leads to many fights when her man confronts her with the realities of life, and she talks about the depths of her feelings.

Damn those Daddys.

Tangent Finished

It's imperative for us to understand the difference in how men and women view the world if we want to have successful and enduring relationships. For men, that means understanding that just because you prove your case logically, sometimes logic isn't as important as the way your partner feels about your actions. As many relationship experts have noted, if you "win" every argument with your spouse, you will eventually lose the war. For women, this means understanding that men like things to make sense, outside of what you "feel." That means that when you have a beef with your man, you should distill your disagreement into easily digestible points that are not tied to subjective feelings. Your feelings are important, but so are the facts.

What say you Lunatics?



Intrepidblackman said...

All my male friends subscribe to the logic v. emotion contrast that you put forth, I don't however. First when men make the logic v. emotion distinction, we invariably take the position that emotional thinking is "less than" logical thinking. There is no future in this.

Also what men interpret as emotional thinking, is logical to women. It just follows a different pattern than how we think. What actually dooms a lot of relationship is thinking that your way (men or women) of approaching the world is better than your partners.

Eleven years into my relationship, this has been the big lesson learned.

Dave said...

Big Man,

Amusing that you bring up the "chauvinism" bit. It's seemed to me that in a lot of relationships the women tend to be just as chauvinistic, just in a different way. My theory is that the uncomplimenting view of male femnale relationships on TV and in humour does us no favours. "The woman is always right" BS really chafes. Combine those beliefs with the idea that there's always an aggressor and a victim, instead of recognizing the grey area of life, and you've got a relationship going nowhere fast. Take your flowers and meal example. The guy is honest, he's dissing his woman. He's wrong. But what about the flowers example. Dude bought flowers, but she doesn't appreciate them because they're not the RIGHT flowers? How is that any different from the garlic toast being missing?

Of course, guys are exactly the same, and it all comes down to a self-centered viewpoint. Both men and women are logical and emotional, it's all in how we interpret our decisions. Guys tend to see their decisions in term of them being logical - which they are in their own minds (though usually not as emotionless as we like to think) - while girls see decisions in terms of fairness, right and wrong - which tends to forget that fairness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

A little patience and understanding can go a long way in any relationship.

Imhotep said...

Big Man, I disagree with just about everything you wrote, correction, everything you wrote. How do you come to measure that men are more logical than women? In the case of logic v. feelings, who decided to assign logic the higher value? In a male dominated society, the men decide values, morals and priorities. Big Man, your logic (I'm being generous) reeks with male privilege.

You proudly proclaim to be a chauvinist, now what? That's like a racist acknowledging being a racist, but opting to embrace their racism, kinda like one of your recent visitors. Like a racist, a chauvinist is proud of an outcome of which they played no part. What role did you play in being born male?

Big may says "For example, ladies, if you cook a nice meal and your man eats it and compliments you on it, then just move on. Don't ask him how it compares to the meal y'all had at his momma's last weekend."

What's the difference between that question and a man asking a woman if he is the best lover she ever had? both questions are grounded in feelings and have nothing to do with logic. Seems we all want to feel good about ourselves. It's not a woman thing.

Where is the logic when a male goes out and buy a car he can't afford, or spend money he does not have in an attempt to impress. Where is the logic? Or is the man acting on his feelings?

Big says "I feel confident in making the argument that men like things to make sense, while women like things to make them happy".

I think you want to confine that statement to your experience. Cause the women in my circle will not tolerate foolishness, and illogical arguments. I've got a 3.5month old daughter, as she gets older, I believe that at the very least, that she will be the intellectual equal of anyone she enters into relationship with, without having to sacrifice feelings. Besides, we need to stop defining women through the prism of men.

Deacon Blue said...

When it comes to big-time arguments with Mrs. Blue, it's not that I sometimes feel like we speak different languages but that we are totally different species.

I think there are a lot of nuggets of truth in this post about the GENERAL male-female approach.

The thing is that it isn't so much that one gender relies solely on either logic or emotion but that typically, I think, we LEAN more on one of those crutches or the other.

And, at time, it may be that each member of the marriage uses "gender-opposite" stereotypes in their approach. I think that thing is that in most marriages that are built on anything worthwhile, one spouse is going to trend in one direction and the other spouse is going to trend in the other. You need to have enough common ground to connect most of the time, but at the same time, I think that if we didn't trend counter to each other in the emotion vs. logic approach, we wouldn't be very good at balancing each other out.

I think what is most important in a heated discussion or all out argument is that both partners need to really, really LISTEN to each other, and that's really damn hard. Because where the breakdown usually occurs is when one person begins to THINK that the other person is saying something/doing something/acting in some way and in fact, that person had NO SUCH INTENTION.

Because the moment we fix our minds on the idea that the other person won't see our side of things and that they are somehow doing something mean, we listen even less, and thing degenerate FAST.

aegil said...

Hey Big Man,

Here's my two cents. Having been married through 27 years (good, bad, horrible, and now very tight as we both fight for my life now that I have stage 4 cancer).
Here is what helps me. Validate my feelings. I don't want something solved sometimes - I know you can't - tell me you know it sucks. Sometimes that's all I want. Tell me you hurt too if that's the case. Hug me. Be angry, sad, happy, with me/for me. Simple short sentences that are the truth work. It is hard to do, but it is very satisfying to me. Don't minimize, try to make me feel better. Acknowledge that something is rotten.
If you search your heart and you are wrong - here is something I read that is the perfect apology - no flowers or dinner needed here:
1. I am sorry.
2. I was wrong (or it was my fault). No excuses. This is EXTREMELY HARD to do- I have done it, and you have to bite your tongue continuously not to defend yourself.
3. What can I do to make things right? (Many times step 2 is it).
I did not make this up. It works, though. Hope this helps. My husband and I are two people drifting in a storm of chaos from my rare cancer right now, and we are doing the best we can to keep the boat upright. You'd be amazed what doesn't
matter any more. He has become my hero. Good luck to you and yours, sweetheart.

Big Man said...

Thanks for the intelligent responses everyone.

Big Man said...

Particularly you Imhotep since you really ripped me a new one. But your points were well-made and very valid.

I agree with everyone who said that there is a grey area. I tried to acknowledge that, but obviously I fell short.

Imhotep said...

Big Man, I've much respect for what you stand for, and what you strive to be. I apologize if it came accross as a personal attach.

Big Man said...


Naw, it didn't seem personal at all.

Just seemed like you were pissed and wanted to set the record strsight. I appreciate that, and I like it when people see some sloppy reasoning on my part and call me out on it. That only makes me think better the next time.

Keep disagreeing when the mood hits you.

Everybody here keeps me honest.

Deacon Blue said...

I felt that same way in my relationship-related post, recently, Big that I hadn't made some points nearly clear enough, and left myself wide open.

Of course, on the bright side, it livened up the comments section.

MacDaddy said...

This is why I come to this blog. You lay it down, Big Man.

the uppity negro said...

Well, seeing as how this is SUCH a topic that just happened to me this weekend:

My girl, well my friend who I've known for some years now, we're kinda in that courting stage. She wants a relationship, I said let's just keep it friends for now, what she heard was we were in an open relationship.

I told her that I wish more people would comment on my blog posts, she heard "oh so you want me to comment on your blog."

This went on for the whole weekend of her visit.

Although I understand what Imhotep said, and I more or less agree with him as far as who determines what is considered logical, but damn, my girl was acting completely ILLOGICAL, she was putting words in my mouth. I couldn't help but think she was operating off of emotions rather than logic.

Although I will say, women sometimes use their "emotions" as a copout for certain reactions that they display.

Intrepidblackman said...

I think we should define logic and emotions for this discussion to progress.

Raving Black Lunatic