Thursday, January 19, 2006

Men and Women

The men's discipleship group that I'm a part of is currently reading a couple of books. The first book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, has spawned all sorts of ideas on putting my money to work for me. The second book, Men's Relational Toolbox, is the sort of book I used to shy away from for a variety of reasons. However, it has given me some great insights into my own life and marriage.
On Saturday, I was asked to share some of these insights at a men's fellowship breakfast for my church. Here's what I had to say...
Chapter Two had a lot of great things to say about men and the way we work. One of the things that really stuck with me is the comparison the Smalleys make between men and women. Women are more likely to be relational - they seek to connect with those around them whereas men are more likely to seek solitude. Our motto could be, "I do my job, you do your job."
This difference, of course, brings about all sorts of problems in relationships between men and women. One such problem sited in the chapter was an episode between one of the Smalley boys and his wife who would call him at work and want to talk about what the kids had done that day. These phone calls created all sorts of frustration for the guy because he felt like his wife was asking him to solve a problem in "her field." Greg's felt as though his wife were trying to get him to do both his job as well as hers, which goes against our, "I do my job, you do your job" mentality.
I've experienced similar phone calls, especially in the first few years of our marriage. I would be at work slaving away at correcting papers after school so I didn't get home late and I'd get the call. Sometime during the complete run-down of the day's events, I would get frustrated because my wife was keeping me from doing my job with all this jibber-jabber! What is she thinking? Surely she must have some work to do! And if she didn't, she could at least let me do mine!
I took time, but finally I actually told my wife how the phone calls made me feel. Well, okay, I blew up. But as time went on, I realized that she wasn't doing anything spiteful. She wanted to share with me how her day had gone. Eventually I realized that if I was busy when she called, all I had to do was say, "I'd really like to hear about all of this. Can we talk about it later?" Of course, it doesn't ever come out like this. It usually comes out in grunts and groans. On a good day, my request comes out in short, choppy, phrases - like cave-man talk - but I'm working on it.
By actually training ourselves to step away from our work for even a minute, we can ask questions, diagnose the situation, and react in a manner that honors our loved ones rather than ripping their heads off as though keeping us from taking out the garbage is going to cause the world to end.