Note: My thanks to Marlive Harris of Grits.com and author LaConnie Taylor Jones for inviting me to share a few thoughts on this very dangerous topic and to participate in the A Love For All Times Virtual Book Tour.
To a degree, women are the ones who control the quality of and stability within relationships. Why? Because women, for the most part, tend to invest more faith in the concept of relationships. That is, they believe more in the idea of interacting with another for the purposes of sharing life goals, achieving fulfilling intimacy, and maintaining general social harmony, stability, and personal satisfaction. That’s a lot of power, but the follow-up question for me would have to be does such power insure the success of a given relationship?
For many men, at least in our Western corner of the world known as the United States, the basic attitude toward relationships tends to be different. We might invest in the concept but most of us are possibly more inclined to trust in the idea of aligning with another individual to achieve specific ends in their lives. In other words, the idea of a relationship itself becomes something less important than the idea of connecting with an individual or individuals who can adequately fulfill specific needs through specific roles. So long as that connection provides what the man desires––be it sex, money, status, nurturing, ego-boosting, etc. Paying attention to such fine points as quality and stability generally seem unimportant.
Still, having particular needs met requires relating to the person fulfilling them but the dynamics of relating itself are not what’s primary for such men. What is primary is getting want they want or need at the time they want or need it. Once a given relationship is established, men generally assume that’s it––the work part has been done and all that remains is to reap kingly benefits with the presumption that the woman will enjoy her queenly equivalent. Some of the most comical moments on Divorce Court television shows come when women stand before the judge listing all the things that her soon-to-be-ex husband failed to acknowledge in their relationship: the favorite meals prepared with loving care and energy after she too had had a long hard day at work; the willingness to accommodate passion whether or not desire was mutual; or simply being responsive when something troubled her deeply. Such wives often explain that their attempts to bridge gaps of emotional distance in their relationship is often met with anger, ridicule, or patronizing dismissal. As one wife on the hit show Entourage put it when she and her husband visited a marriage counselor: “What he calls nagging I call trying to have a relationship.”
Because women do take the time to become more aware of the dynamics of their relationships, that awareness, or knowledge, empowers them with the ability to control it. If they choose to do so. Thus the power of stability is often more in their hands than a man’s. And many women are in fact very much aware of the influence they can exert upon a man, and thus upon the relationship via the following: by how they may choose to exercise the regularity of sexual activity; how they influence children’s attitudes (where children are involved) toward a father; the degree to which they decide to accommodate or not accommodate a man’s unguarded whims or desires.
Because two people are involved in the kind of relationship we’re discussing, possessing power does not mean the woman is solely responsible for a relationship’s overall stability or general integrity. It only means that lack of attentiveness on a male’s behalf allows her the ability to set the tone for it. But if the goal of those involved in a relationship is to enjoy a successful one, that means both have to share in the responsibility for it just as they would in the responsibility for offspring or valued property. By doing so, they double the chances of enjoying a relationship that is not only stable, but deeply satisfying and enriching on every level.
I will be reading this in more detail, soon, but I'd like to say off the bat that I think people tend to forget we are ALL different, whether man or woman, and we should follow the dynamic that flows within us as individuals not as gender roled individuals. In many things, we tend to force ourselves into gender prescribed or socially prescribed roles. I think marriage is a perfect example of this. Myself, I do NOT want to get married, common law at best. I find couples are fine, but then as soon as they get married, these odd artificial expectations come up, and it ruins things. I really look forward to reading this. This is a topic I've always found fascinating and extremely important to us as individuals.
No doubt we all are different in our diversities and indviduality, but many people in various societies do adopt cultural group patterns that make members of these groups conduct themselves in similar ways. Part of the value of discussions such as this is helping people to break out of what might be referred to as "rote behavior" and then better perhaps appreciate not only the unique value of their specific relationships but the unique value of themselves.
I can only comment on my own experience when i was younger i believed that male female made no difference just the sex i was born in as i got older i believed thier where fundamental differences in the needs and desires of male and female as i get even older i find male female both perport and use the word love but in general most peoples concept of love is based on selfish and self interested desire
i have found very few people (but i do believe they are out there somewhere) who use the term in its fullest sense and have the strength and confidence to truly help thier loved ones to develop individualy as a human being and find thier true place in this world usualy they do (and again i find its the same male and female) thier best to styfle their partners creativity in fear that the other may develop far beyond thier own capabilitys it is a rare person than can sit and watch thier partner out shine thier own performance in this one area i would agree that males are worse than women because of the traditional role that women have played in the past as the little lady in the backgeound men usualy persieve this as a threat to thier masculinity there by proving that indeed thier own perception of themselves and thier own masculinity is indeed week the male concept of masculinty still being traped in the im a man im 6ft 6 i hunt the bear and drink 17pints of beer and i might say this attitude manifests itself interlectualy as well that being said i have by my own experience been involved in a relationship whereby the womans own self opinion of herself was so low the only way she could cope was to constantly denigrate any achievment i myself made my own feelings are that all my life in a relationship i have looked for first a friend some one who i enjoyed being around as good company who could make me laugh who had a good sense of humer who could stand up to me and say hold on a minuete there hoss who i could trust and in returned be trusted who would tell me im wrong but stand in my corner and back me to the end who had the self confidnce to live thier own life with thier own goals had their own interests but could share in my world to who never felt below or above me but saw me as an equal and who like me said what they meant and meant what they said i have never been threatend by anybodys success never been jelouse of another persons achievment never felt inferiore to anyone no matter what thier accademic or social success has been i look for that in a partner so i donr know where that places me in your aurgument but thats my 2 cents worth was just going to leave it there but i had an after thought my father left when i was about 12 i had no brotheres or sisters my mother had to provide for me and bring me up completly on her own an thought she might have been daunted and troubled by the responcabilty of it all i percieved her as a strong person maybe thats why im atracted to strong women so maybe its an enviramental thing maybe its down to roll moddles not only have i seen women in the traditional sense male female usual sexual desires but nearly all my best friends with a few ecceptions have been women and indeed iv nearly always prefered the company of women finding most men boring and childish that should get a response HaHa
To me, everything you said boils down to a respect and need for balance in a relationship based both on your personal experiences and conceptual analysis. But it sounds as well as if you perhaps prefer women to manage stability in a relationship, or, in other words, to make sure the desired partnership stays on a positive track. And if that works for you and works for her, then that's really all that matters.
what it boils down to for me is as in all life i make no distingtion between personal relationships or my realtion ship to the world its equality and again in a personal relationship or the relationship of all mankind and races it always a joint effort of equal perportions based on mutaul respect a desire to understand the other piont of view i like strong women because i have a strong personality and can without meaning to take over the relationship but i believe a person has to be comfortable within themselves as a complete human being befor they can truly give the love that thier partner deserves but no i do not prefer the woman to take responcabilty its a joint responcabilty to make a relationship last the test of time takes work understanding patiance and give and take and the ability to maintain a little mystery and the abilty to still supprise the other even in old age
What a powerful discussion here!! It's wonderful to see other's point of view, remembering that although we're different and our opinions vary, somehow the power and depth of love manages to make us land at a common place.
Aberjhani, my sincere thanks to you for hosting me on my virtual tour.
Hey LaConnie, we are totally stoked to have you here. I actually gulped a bit when I first saw the topics Marlive had listed for discussion but then realized that if I was feeling chicken about addressing the issue, then most likely I needed to do so for my own sake if no one else's :-)
Hey CTI, this is a great video--call me a Christina Aguilera fan--and as far as I'm concerned backs up a lot of what I attempted to say, the main point being that responsibility for the quality of a relationship has to be shared by the parties involved.
This is a very interesting essay and I highly agree that women tend to control and assume the responsibility of relationship. And men tend to be selective in their priorities, which are, most often, subservient to their needs, in a relationship.
Women tend to invest their lives on relationship while men tend to invest only on something that directly involves their immediate needs. These realities govern the unique differences of men and women in their concept of love, sex and marriage.
In a marital relationship, for instance, a husband or a wife tends to expect more from each other based on the pre-conceived notion of ideal marriage. And each one has a different concept of what an ideal relationship should be – a man tends to dwell on the traditional “submissive wife” (common to Asians) and a wife tends to demand a fair and sensitive husband who would affirm her self-worth as a woman.
In my opinion, marital relationship or any relationship, for that matter, is like an adventure where there are stages of relationship to be explored and discovered.
First is the “honeymoon” stage (first six months of marriage) where each one shows the best toward each other. Second is the period of “discovery” or disillusionment where each one discovers each other’s weaknesses and limitations. Third is the “adjustment” period where each one has to adjust and accept each other’s strengths and weaknesses. And the fourth is the period of “enlightenment” where each one compliments each other’s strengths toward a shared visions, dreams and goals on a realistic and tangible lifetime partnership in marriage.
I guess, the power and stability of relationship can only develop and come to fruition after each one has known and embraced each other’s weaknesses and strengths in their marital journey.
I my culture, we don’t believe in “divorce” as the answer to the problem of irreconcilable marital relationship because it only begets another problem that, most often, affects the children, and even the future relationships of a divorced couple.
Women tend to be forgiving with their erring husbands because, in our culture, the burden of rearing the family and children belong to women. But things are slowly changing now; women are becoming independent and competitive with men.
Thank you my friend, Aberjhani, for this very enlightening essay.
I think the most important thing that a lot of people here have said already is that both the man and the woman have to take responsibility for the relationship. One of the things I really enjoyed about writing my new novel, ISAIAH'S TEARS, was imagining how former slaves related to each other under very demanding and terrifying conditions. They always worked well together in the fields and had great respect for each other but the personal interaction seemed to require additional work then just like now.
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