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Face to Face
Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a bunch of newspapers in southeastern Ontario. Here's this week's!

It all started with Sesame Street. Learning used to be something we did systematically, with the aid of books, a straight-laced teacher wearing horn-rimmed glasses, and a ruler across the knuckles if all else failed.

But Sesame Street promised to make learning fun! Letters danced and sparkled. Numbers exploded! Cool.

Thus learning became entertainment, and soon entertainment became everything. Our society is addicted to entertainment, and not the kind that was once derived from sitting out on the wrap-around porch with your neighbours and a bunch of banjos, if such a culture ever really existed. No, it’s the entertainment you experience on the new iPhone I bought my husband last Christmas, which not only makes calls and plays YouTube videos; it also has its own fake “lighter” application, should you ever find yourself at an impromptu concert. How fun is that?

And while men are busy with their new gadgets, women are typing frantically, finding new ways to keep up with friends in 140 characters or less. Technology is now our entertainment and our social outlet.

Unfortunately, technology got women all wrong. We may broadcast on Twitter to everyone we’ve ever known, including some guy we dated for three weeks in grade eleven, that last night’s extra cheese pizza gave us heartburn, but that doesn’t build the connections we really need. You can’t cry on someone’s shoulder on Facebook. You can’t pat someone’s hand on a blog. Most of all, you can’t look someone eye to eye and read the heart, because there is no face to face.

We women need that face to face, which is why we get so ticked off when we’re trying to talk to the men in our lives and they don’t look up from the video game. We like scrutinizing our loved one’s faces, watching their laugh lines, even seeing ourselves reflected in our guy’s eyes. When we see eyeballs, we figure ears are listening, too. Without eyeballs, we figure we’re being tuned out. And since we’re missing the face to face in the rest of our frantic lives, we especially need it from relationships.

Men aren’t built for relationship in quite the same way. A man can watch a football game with a buddy and come away feeling that they have experienced something together. A woman watches a movie with her guy and, while she may have had fun, she often feels somewhat unfulfilled.

Men operate side by side; as long as they are experiencing something with someone else, they tend to feel empowered. It hearkens back to the days when men were hunters, trekking out with their buddies. Requiring eye contact to have real conversation would have been a huge drawback when a sabre toothed tiger approached. Men had to be able to scan the horizon while still debating about whose campfire was bigger last night.

Yet though men are comfortable side by side, it is with women that they experience the true intimacy of face to face. Just because that’s the potential of relationships, though, doesn’t mean we’ll always achieve it. Humans are intrinsically lazy, and it’s all too easy to ignore our deepest needs and focus instead on the immediate, the flashy, and the fun, even if it’s shallow. With all these new gadgets, we’re filling our lives with pseudo-relationship and pseudo-intimacy.

So here’s a little pointer if you’re wondering why you’re not getting anywhere in your relationships. Put the iPhones away and go for a coffee. Sit at a table and look into someone’s eyes, whether it’s your spouse, your child, your sister, your friend. Then just talk. It doesn’t even matter what you talk about! Just spend some time not being entertained by anything except another’s stories. That’s a special kind of fun, and it doesn’t need batteries.

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At 4:04 PM , Blogger trish adams said… true..great post! Love it! I think I will do just that tonight with my family!!


At 4:06 PM , Blogger Sheila said…

Thanks, Trish! Hope they like it!


At 6:23 PM , Blogger Pickle said…

We realized that in my house some time ago. Our TV is in a box in the garage. We spend time together over coffee, dinner, tea or whatever we can come up with. If we do watch any TV it's from our laptop. It requires us to be right next to each other. It's a different experience that way.

We don't care for the way media disconnects us.


At 7:21 PM , Blogger Tessa said…

Wow, I am totally going to read this to my hubby. He already has a basic understanding of what I need but I really like the way you describe how I need more than just his ears to feel like he's actually listening. I've been begging him for monthly coffee dates for ages! He's gotten better over time but we've still got a long way to go. I LOVE dinner and breakfast time when we sit across the table from eachother and just catch up on eachothers lives :D

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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