Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I'm Not Bitter, But . . .

. . . It really is an act of God to get guys to grow up. I've always heard women say that, and I always knew what a great thing it is when two people decide to get married. But I've really um, internalized it or something over the last few weeks. It's a miracle for a man and a woman to "be on the same page" at the same time. Actually, the miracle is for a man to get his head on straight -- women are usually just waiting for that to happen because they're about 5 steps ahead anyway.

I'm not saying this out of anger -- it's just fact. Even "good guys" have a hard time making a marriage commitment. My brothers are no exceptions, and I love them a lot. See? No bitterness. :)

So now I'm even more happy about the people I know right now who have decided to get married. Congratulations to you all! (Or congratulations to the guy -- YAY! You did it! You decided to commit to the girl you love for the rest of your life!)

Thing I'm thankful for: the ability to read. I was thinking about that this morning, and I'm really glad my grandma began teaching me at age 4.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll admit that men have a hard time committing, but women often want to jump to the marriage part before going through the process of getting to know each other. It's not a decision to make lightly... a mistake made now could haunt you the rest of your life.

-a man

"Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing; a confusion of the real with the ideal never goes unpunished." -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

8:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Bigamy is having one wife too many. Monogamy is the same."
Oscar Wilde

8:53 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

Hm, thank you, anonymous man, for commenting. That mentality is part of what I'm talking about. It's true -- men and women need to make sure they know each other pretty well before getting married. But how long is long enough? Several months? A year? 2 Years? 5 years?

You can see how this "We need to get to know each other better" attitude can lead to a prolonging of a marriage commitment -- and all in the name of "making sure you get it right."

I think women move more quickly than men, not always out of a rush to be married, but out of a mature knowledge that you get to know someone as much as you can. But you can really only go so far. There will always be surprises and things you don't expect. But that's part of marriage -- you make a commitment in spite of faults and future mistakes and weird quirks and then stick with it.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

Well, of course Oscar Wilde would say that -- he was gay, wasn't he?

Biased comments don't count. :)

8:56 AM  
Blogger brian said...

I'll quickly agree that it's a miracle that people get together (whether an act of God or a miracle of patience from both parties).

Thing is, having talked with you on this subject previously and played the agreeable sort already, it's time to say it straight. I'm getting a bit sick of the guy bashing, especially now that it's being presented as an objective fact.

Mostly I'm getting frustrated by the overlooking of one simple fact: both women and men are responsible for the problems between them. Both sexes have trouble communicating with one another effectively, both sexes are prone to being immature at times, both sexes change their minds about things at moments that drive their partners crazy.

We're all people, and we all do stupid, irritating, and occasionally immature things. Each gender may tend toward a specific set of such things, but we're all responsible.

Men often have a hard time committing? Yes, it tends to come up often with men. I've been that guy. We hardly have a monopoly though. I've been on the other side of the problem, wondering why every step my girlfriend made toward committing was followed by three backward. I've got other friends that have learned they have a hard time committing and actually make a habit of warning off commitment-centered guys from the start.

Now to be especially obnoxious... won't we all get where we want to be more easily if rather than fuming at the ways guys or girls are screwed up, we learned to live with those things or found people that didn't have the faults that we just can't bear? If we're not willing to deal with other people's shortcomings, maybe we don't deserve to be with anyone.

Trying to find somebody can be hell. There's trouble at each step. (Can't find someone for interest/attraction mismatches. You find someone, then work with commitment problems, clinginess, standoffishness, too open, too closed, inattentive, codependent, stonewalling, overly dominant, overly submissive, every variety of personality difference. Then there's the things you learn when you actually live daily life together, have children together, deal with all the crazy things life hands out.)

It's enough to make me wonder sometimes why we go through this at all. But in the end, we all need the eggs, so back we go.

And one of these days we may just find that things worked out for us after all.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

Just so nobody gets confused:
1) I'm not fuming, here. Maybe you can't tell because it's in writing, but I'm not fuming . . .
2) I never said girls don't have problems, but since this particular problem with guys is the one I'm discussing, I'm only talking about it.
3) I'm sticking to my guns with this one. Yeah, there are guys who don't fall into this generalization -- like prophets and apostles . . . and sometimes "regular" guys. But it's a generalization and not one I'm just lightly throwing out there. I don't think it's unfounded. I've tried to disagree with myself, but I just can't seem to.

2:56 PM  
Blogger Jacki said...

You know, I think that women being more getting the ball rolling started with our first parents... Even Eve had to push Adam a little, or else they would still be in the garden frolicking with animals and such. That is just women's nature. I am happily married and I still need to push my husband to do things... Women are just pushy. Is it wrong to be pushy? Maybe. But if the hat fits... wear it!

4:10 PM  
Blogger brian said...

Sorry to take this as more angry than it is... it seemed angry to me ("act of God... miracle for man to get head on straight... yay, you did it" and such).

Thank you for #2, it makes clear that you're not just blaming guys for everything, but as you say, you want to focus.

I may have implied that I think the generalization that generally speaking, men are slower to commit than women is unfounded, and if so, that wasn't my intention. (I was actually trying to agree, citing myself as another perpetrator of the behavior, but that might have got buried by mentioning women I've known who had the same difficulties.)

There have been many studies on male social and sexual behavior that lead down a trajectory of "men are wired for passing on their genes, not sticking around for the results" (here's a recent if oblique sample).

Thing is, these always tend to leave me with a taste of "men can't help it, they're born that way," which I'm not especially big on. It feels like unduly absolving men from responsibility for their actions.

Studies showing that in various societies women tend to have a civilizing effect on men (in societies with only men, they exhibit more antisocial behavior, when women start pairing with them, men learn to behave) don't seem especially helpful either... more of the same "you're just more civilized than the guys, you're keeping society together, good luck" kind of thing.

(And if we want more evidence of women's superior handling of responsibility, just look at the success rates with microcredit programs that focus on providing capital to women compared to those that only served men... for a while some programs would only work with women.)

So there's plenty out there to support the idea that, speaking in general trends, women are more responsible, more likely to keep commitments, and (though this may be extrapolating from the studies a bit), quicker or more willing to make lasting commitments than men.

But where do we all go from there?

The way I've tended to look at gender is that each has virtues and weaknesses, and one of the great things about relationships between genders is the opportunity to learn from each other, but that doesn't just make it happen.

And I'm not sure how much help that idea is for marriage commitments. My observations are that this cross-pollenation of virtues really doesn't get going until you're in a committed relationship, so using it to get into that commitment presents a cart and horse problem.

Course, I'm probably just being stereotypically male and looking to solve a problem nobody was presenting for solution. A shame that. If I could figure out how to help guys make commitments more readily, I could probably make a lot of people happy.

And yes... sometimes we need to be pushed. It would really help if we learned to deal with it better though.

6:12 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

JACKI! You are so funny! You said what I meant, but in a funny, non-threatening kind of way. Niiiice.

Mommy and I were just talking about how quick-witted you are. And then I read this comment and laughed and laughed and laughed!

6:18 PM  
Blogger Lauren said...

Wow. Um, I'm going to refrain from writing a book here.

But I do want to say that, as someone who usually breaks it off with guys after about the third date, it's not commitment I fear but being with a guy that is all wrong for me. I think that maybe girls formulate and figure out what qualities they need in a husband while boys are still playing GI Joe. So maybe girls just recognize those qualities faster...

Another thing is that I feel like girls can MAKE themselves ready to marry a decent guy when one comes along. And I think there are alot of reasons for that, but I'll spare ya.

7:18 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

Lauren -- That's definitely true about girls making themselves like someone. A girl may not be "ready" to get married, but if she notices "marriageable" qualities in a man, she will be ready real quick.

Brian -- No, you didn't sound like you were disagreeing at all . . . It's okay if you were. I'm still right, though. HA! :) Also, I don't think that men can't help it. I think they definitely can, but most of the time they -- like most people, including girls -- tend to NOT do things they're uncomfortable with.

As far as a solution goes, there is more than one. Nike's "Just Do It" slogan would fit in nicely here. Take the plunge, guys. Just start dating, and be okay with the fact that "this girl" just may be the last one. Girls have commitment fears, too, I guess. But they get over it in about a minute and a half. So. Get over yourselves, and just do it. Yeah.

9:21 PM  
Blogger Ezra said...

Men and Women will NEVER be on the same page. In fact we will never be in the same book genre...ever. Keeps things very interesting.

Sara, did you forget to say what are you thankful for on this one?

6:20 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

Hm, yes, thank you, Ezra. Will do that straight away . . .

6:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the looking glass of a man I "quote" Hermen Melville's classic, Moby Dick; of course adding a few things as well. in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti [Tahiti, being women or the thought of having one all to yourself], full of peace and joy [love and all the good stuff that attracts us to them], but encompassed by all the horrors of the half known life [all the fears that keep us boys from committing]. God keep thee! Push not off from that isle, thou canst never return [once you find your isle, don't let it go, 'cause if you do you ain't goin' back. "God hath no furry like a woman scorned"]!

I bid thee farewll. Cast thine own sails until thy joy reaches the gunwales!

8:37 AM  
Blogger Nicole said...

I like Jackie's, Ezra's, and Brooks's funny remarks because I think that's the only way to take this. I agree, we can't be on the same page because we need the attributes that are different. I have noticed recently that if there are misunderstandings in a relationship or if you're not on the same page and embarassing things happen the way to deal with it is to laugh about it together, and then with a lighter heart try to explain what each really meant. I've had a whole lot of good laughs that way recently ;o) Makes me realize how silly I often am rather than just thinking the guy to be silly or rude or whatever.

1:04 PM  

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