Men are all alike,” Callie seethed.
“That’s not fair,” her husband, Greg, insisted. “I’m not like every other man. I’m my own person.”
“But look how you act.”
“Sure, I act like a guy. That’s because I am a guy. That’s not all bad. You fell in love with me because I’m a guy. Why is it all of a sudden a negative?”
“I guess I didn’t realize what I was getting into back then.” Callie gave Greg a smile that left him wondering whether she really meant that she had just said.
“Well…” Greg fished for a worthy retort. “If you’re going to pick on us guys, then I can pick on women just as easily. Like, women don’t make any sense. Everything has to do with how they feel. And their feelings are constantly changing. On top of that, they worry about everything. And they can’t stop talking. Women drive guys nuts, but at least we’re polite enough to keep our mouths shut about it.”
“Polite? Did you say polite? I can’t believe what I just heard.” Callie’s face reddened. “You don’t want to get me going on the subject of men and politeness…”
Greg and Callie managed to stretch out this little altercation a full two weeks. With breaks for food and sleep.
Every couple fights. Partners disagree, they stand up for what they believe is right, and they do everything they can to prove their points. They fight about finances, sex, relatives, who does what around the house, children, and a hundred other issues that are usually pettier than any of us want to admit. I know all about fights. Tami and I have certainly had our share.
Yet what amazes me, after working with couples for over twentyfive years, is that what we think
we’re fighting about is rarely what we’re really fighting about. A battle about finances might really be about security. Or interdependence. Or respect. At its heart, a fight about sex probably springs out of issues like love, communication, or connection. And the biggest real
issue of all?
I’ve come to the conclusion that at least 50 percent of all fights between husbands and wives are, at their roots, about gender differences. I’ve also come to another conclusion: if we could understand these differences, then maybe we wouldn’t fight as much.
That’s the point of this book–to help you understand your spouse better and learn to appreciate him or her more.
My intent is not to stock your bunker with ammo, reinforcing all the ways you think your spouse should change. My purpose is to improve your relationship with your husband or wife. Understanding these differences allows us to be tolerant of our partners.
Yet men understand how men think, and women understand how women think. The bottom line is that gender relations are truly a cross-cultural experience. Men and women think, feel, and communicate differently. Sometimes a whole lot
differently. We “speak” different languages. But does that mean we can never understand each other? NO!
There’s hope! We can learn to translate
each other’s language. And when we do, we learn that the opposite sex is a lot less complicated and mysterious than we thought. You’ve been engaged in the age-old battle of the sexes. It’s time to call a truce. Talks can begin. You’ll need to consciously set aside old offenses…and new ones. Because I assure you, honesty about gender differences will
offend you. That’s why I can safely predict that this book is bound to tick you off.
Whenever somebody writes about the differences between men and women, the author is guaranteed to step on someone’s toes. So put on your steel-toed boots (or your steel-toed pumps). Men will think I side too much with women–I, a caring, compassionate psychologist who has listened to the hurts and frustrations of countless women. Women, on the other hand, will insist that I side with men. After all, I am
one; what more is there to say? How can I sleep night? Well, if I frustrate men and women equally, I figure I’m doing a good job.
And speaking of frustrations, here’s another warning. To write about gender differences, one must write in generalities. You’ll see me constantly using words like often
, and many
. This is my way of covering myself, since much of what I say might not be totally true of you. For example, verbal, relational men are going to feel as if I’m saying they’re feminine, while competitive, nonemotional women will think I’m saying they’re masculine. This is not
what I’m saying.
The differences are real. And they’re true about men and women in general.
But no trait is totally characteristic of all men or all women. We are all individuals; there is no cookie-cutter mold determining what a man or a woman is. Many factors besides gender–factors such as individual genetics, birth order, role models, early childhood experience, learning, and personality–interact to make each of us incredibly unique.
My mom was a great mechanic. My dad was not mechanical in the least. I grew up knowing that if I needed help with my car, I should go to Mom. Dad might try to fix it, but he was as likely as not to make it worse.
Enter Tami. And marriage. The garbage disposal breaks. Whom do I ask to fix it? Why, Tami, of course. But Tami comes from a foreign land–the land where dads are the fixers. A concept that baffled me. Our experiences had shaped our expectations–part of who we were. And in that respect, I was an exception to the male rule.
So let me affirm clearly from the outset: there is nothing
wrong with you if you don’t match up exactly with the typical characteristics of your gender. I visit often with couples who have reversed gender roles in certain areas. Many couples are made up of compassionate men and competitive women. Or women with the stronger sex drive. Or men who are more verbal. These couples find ways to compensate, and their atypical differences have no more impact on their relationship than the typical differences do on typical couples.
Now, a lot of people use differences as an excuse to stubbornly dig in their heels and say, “This is who I am. I can’t change. So you’d better just accept it.” Yes, acceptance is important, but a healthy relationship also means give and take by both partners (preferably more give than take).
Neither women nor men should be expected to make all the changes. In most situations, both need to shift. But sometimes men need to take the bigger steps–like learning to listen and share their hearts more. And sometimes women are called on to change more– maybe becoming more sensitive to their husbands’ sexual needs or showing greater respect. (Oops! Did I just step on any toes?)
To all whom I will offend or misrepresent in the following pages…I’m sorry. I empathize with the difficulties of learning a new language. But I rejoice in the hope that, as you learn, God will answer my prayer–that the following short chapters will bring you and your spouse closer together in a marriage that is becoming ever
• and more exciting.
C H A P T E R S U M M A R Y
One of the ways we can improve our marriages is by gaining understanding about the opposite gender.
But no one perfectly fits all of his or her gender’s typical traits.
1. In what ways are most men alike?
2. In what ways are most women alike?
3. How are each of you different from the norm for men and
women?From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from Lost in Translation by Dr. Steve Stephens. Copyright © 2007 by Dr. Steve Stephens. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.