Thursday, November 3, 2022

Loving Men


Are men, really, “a lot of trouble?”

A friend recently quoted a woman he knows as saying that. She was trying to explain why an eligible older fellow might have difficulty finding an interested new female partner.

When I began to check it out, I discovered that a surprising number of unattached women have quit on men. They like the freedom of living alone. Housekeeping for one.

Men, they say, require “double the work.”

One woman said men turn into “old geezers” the day after they get married. “They expect women to work hard at staying attractive, but they don’t bother about themselves.”

A friend in real life (IRL) pointed out, “All the older ones want is a ‘nurse with a purse.’” And she made a face.

This is a very sad state of affairs.

But I think it may say more about their experience in marriage than it does about men.

We Boomers were set afloat in our youth on waters roiled by change.

Women rose up, stepped away from their mothers’ Miltowns and afternoon gin, and began to surf the power that resides in assertion. We crested successive waves of it, each one larger and larger until the curl came to tower above our heads.

Has it crashed, yet?

Today, a man begins comfortably to impart his knowledge about something to his lady and he’s shocked to be accused of “mansplaining.”

He didn’t ask if she needed an explanation before launching into one.

He didn’t notice launch pad cues—the expression in her eyes and her body language as he began to talk.

I’m not sure men are particularly alert to cues. Most of them haven’t been raised that way.

Is it fair to nurture anger and disappointment against a whole group of people because of something that was missing from their childhood? Something they can’t help.

Can they help it?

I love men. I also like them. I think a man often possesses a carefully buffered, tender heart and that women are much tougher, emotionally.

At the core of every man lives the little boy he was.

Many of the negatives the women express are trappings that our culture has draped across the men. Trappings and traps.

Left out are two of the best things men do, and like to do. That is, help and protect.

Think of daily life. Think of the chores a husband or partner usually performs around the house. Think of the security the presence of a good man conveys to the deepest part of a woman’s being.

These things matter. And they promote happiness if the man understands the perils of making assumptions.

Here’s where things get complicated.

If a man assumes a woman needs help with something and steps in—and she doesn’t want that help—many times she’ll respond with sharp words.

Ouch. He steps back, stung. He has absorbed a lesson, probably the wrong one. Because, afterwards, he waits to be asked.

And she begins to marinate a resentment to the effect that he “never helps.”

What if the transaction goes smoothly and he performs all the duties they’ve agreed on? Still, the woman can become irritated because she is left with the minutiae of domestic planning—children’s scheduling, and so on. She works, too, doesn’t she?

A man might find all this rather confusing.

I had a very happy marriage, it’s true. Neither of us wanted to make the other person uncomfortable. Where we diverged, we compromised. And many times I didn’t realize a compromise had been made.

I have only lately realized that’s because he was the one who made it.

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