So do men get a raw deal when it comes to misconceptions? Are they tired of the stereotypes? We gave our anonymous panel of local husbands a chance to set the record straight.
Q: What’s the biggest misconception women have about men?
GRAY: I think it’s obviously got to be that we all like the Three Stooges. We all do like them, right?
Seriously, and as possibly cliche as this might sound, I think it boils down to an issue that isn’t entirely a misconception: that we neither have nor wish to talk about feelings. I say it’s only partially a misconception because I think it’s true we don’t particularly want to talk about feelings, but it doesn’t mean we don’t listen to your feelings or have ones of our own.
When you ask us to climb up on the roof or mow the yard or whatever we think about what to do, what course of action to take. As dissimilar as it may appear, when you present us with something you’re feeling we take the same stance. We think about what action to take. Although you may not be asking us to do anything more than listen, we seem to express ourselves by acting and often eschew the benefits of simple discussion.
So why is it annoying? It’s annoying because in the end women often give us the impression we haven’t listened to them and certainly haven’t really heard what they’re saying (and, no, that’s not redundant.) Not only that, but if we come up with a plan of action it sometimes feels like it’s only a bandage for a more deep-rooted issue. Coming up with a solution for a problem is just how we react and demonstrate our feelings even if deep down we know what you really wanted: just someone to listen and care. Who knows? Perhaps that’s just a misconception on our part. Geesh. How annoying is that?
MAVERICK: One huge misconception about men is that we don’t like spending time with our wives and children on the weekends. It’s become an icon of American humor — the father who will go to great lengths to avoid his family so he can play golf, or go fishing or watch TV at a bar. Like all good misconceptions, it’s based a little bit in reality. Men do like some away time with their pals to blow off steam.
Most men need that outlet, but not every weekend. The main reason a man bugs out when the bugging out is good on the weekend isn’t because he doesn’t want to spend time with his wife and kids. As marriages go along, certain patterns are established, and generally that established pattern is no fun for most guys.
Dad says “Let’s take the kids fishing on Saturday” but Mom hears “Great, what an opportunity for a family activity!”
Dad wants to fish. Fishing involves dirt, and bait, water and possibly weeds and stickers, hooks, and with luck, fish. Mom is thinking picnics with big ice chests and shade and a bug-free outdoor environment that only exists in chick flicks. After several “fishing trips” where nobody really fishes, and dad gets yelled at for letting the kids get dirty, or come home with a tick or two, let alone allowing them to fall in the creek (which is fun), or handle fish or dig worms, dad soon leans his lesson and begins to figure out a way to escape. And it doesn’t have to be yelling. Complaining gets the job done pretty well, as does whining and foot-dragging.
You can take the fishing example and extrapolate to let it cover lots of activities:
Hiking — “How much further do we have to go?? My feet (protected by a nice pair of stylish flip-flops) are killing me.”
Boating — “Slow down, you’re getting my hair wet.”
Camping — “Gee, those crickets sure are loud and this ground is hard.”
Golf — “Don’t let the kids swing those clubs. They could get hurt.”
Baseball — “The sun is in my eyes and don’t let the kids eat all that junk food.”
Movies — “This PG-rated giant robot movie you picked is clearly more violent than the PG talking animal movie we could have gone to.”
Take heed, wives. If your husband cringes or otherwise tries to avoid these activities with you and his children, it’s not because he doesn’t love you, it’s likely because you’ve sucked the fun out of them. So much so that he’d rather just plop on the couch or mow the yard.
There is no shortage of generalizations and misconceptions regarding men or any other group for that matter. Many of these are rather innocuous. Not all men are handymen. Many of us know nothing about cars. Others are more pervasive, damaging, and often unrecognized.
JON: Millions of young men and women have grown up watching movies such as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. It is easy to dismiss these myths as trifling affairs affecting only children. They are much more pervasive. Many adult books and movies capitalize on the same core beliefs and values. These myths unconsciously shape us as adults.
How many women secretly long for a “prince” to rescue them? How many believe that once you are “in love” everything will be OK? How many believe that once they find their perfect person their life will be happy and complete? I believe many people, male and female, are looking and praying for their prince or princess to come and make their lives happy and complete. This Cinderella myth is fantasy and leads to many problems if not recognized.
Here are some truths that I have discovered regarding marriage. 1) Marriage is work. It is often gritty, sweaty, and uncomfortable, but a marriage is only as good as what you put into it. 2) Princes, like princesses, in the real world are not clairvoyant. Open and honest communication is a must for any successful relationship. 3) Happiness comes from within. Happiness is not getting what you want, but in loving what you get. 4) The most important day in any relationship is today. Do not tolerate a lousy marriage. Stay, pray, and work together to make something that is not just tolerable but beautiful.
There are no free lunches. Anything worth having requires effort and usually plenty of it.