Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a variety of papers. For some strange reason, I forgot to post last week's, so here it is! Tomorrow I'll post this week's. Hope you like it! It ties in well with yesterday's Wifey Wednesday post.
It is a commonly known fact in our family that Grandpa cries at everything. He cries at piano recitals. He cries at baptisms. He cries whenever the kids get an award, give a speech, or get super dressed up. Other times he’s gruff and he barks and he complains, but we know he’s a softie, and tears can flow, especially when the Detroit Red Wings lose the Stanley Cup. His boys inherited his tear ducts, too. And we women just love it when our men cry.
We’re just really crabby when they stop. The men have now proven they have a sensitive side, so we figure they’ll go read to the kids or run us a bubble bath. But instead they’re back riding the lawn mower, or figuring out the bills, and the moment has passed.
Now my husband has actually taken sensitivity to such an extent that his brothers worry about his testosterone level, but he knows that it bears great dividends in our marriage that they don’t see. Many men, though, struggle with taking that sensitivity into all areas of their lives.
It’s like Bill and Pam Farrell’s book, Men and Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti. Men, like waffles, are compartmentalized. They live their lives in separate boxes. They see something touching, they cry, and then they switch to something new. To women, everything is intertwined, just like a big plate of pasta.
My husband and I speak at marriage conferences, and sometimes we’re teamed up with hockey legend Paul Henderson and his wife Eleanor. Paul often relates the story of a rip-roaring fight he and Eleanor once had. They were arguing in the living room, when Eleanor made the mistake of retreating into the bedroom. He followed her, and his hands began to wander. She swatted them away. "What are you doing?! We're fighting!" And he retorted, "We were in the fighting room. Now we're in the bedroom. I thought we had moved on!"
This compartmentalization makes women really nervous, especially when it comes to navigating the work/family balance. We’re afraid you’ll start to believe that when you’re at work, you work, and when you’re at home, you don’t. After all, we work wherever we are. We write grocery lists on sticky notes while we’re on the phone with clients, and we play chauffeur while we plan our next meeting. We want you to work in the family, too, and not just at cutting grass, but at relationships.
It’s easy to believe that the workplace, which involves measurable goals and specific tasks, is more akin to these male waffle people than home is, since home involves things like communicating and feeling and is all messy and tangled up. It’s a spaghetti heaven.
Perhaps, though, home does not have to be only for spaghetti types. Think about it this way. At work you likely plan. You need to know where the firm is going, and when your next salary increase will be. You compile charts and lists.
Why not do the same thing on the home front? What do you want your family to look like in five years? What values do you want your children or grandchildren to exhibit? What about your marriage? Are you on the right road to meet those goals?
If not, what are you going to change?
If you want to make your mate smile this summer, here’s my advice. Take her out to dinner, notebook in hand, and do some strategic planning with her about the upcoming year. Show her that you have goals for the family, too. Then go home and watch your wedding video. And bring a hanky.
Labels: columns, marriage