I received the following comments in response to my "Girl Power" post of yesterday. I am posting them here because I think that my female friends, married or not, will find the following monologue insightful.
I wanted to chime-in regarding “highly capable women” that are with men who are not as proficient. Since you fall into this category, I thought you might be interested in my thoughts.
1. The loss of traditional roles by men and women has caused unpredicted and far reaching complications. Many men no longer see themselves as the “provider” of the family (financially or otherwise)--which means that ultimately, men get lost in gender confusion. This disorientation may result in the man “not feeling needed” and eventually – especially if he is not handling the mechanical/technical (or equally important) aspects of the couple’s lives-- he may end up feeling, at least to some degree, “incapable”. Obviously, this would eventually shake up any man’s confidence level. If you add to this equation, a man who is lacking a flourishing career (working for a living doesn’t qualify), it’s almost certain to cause some type of relationship-havoc. If the couple is married, it may ultimately be a recipe for disaster (unless of course, the couple learns to work through these challenges). And, as anyone who has been in this situation knows, it’s a very delicate dance.
2. Women with fathers that are capable mechanically/technically, tend to expect their boyfriends/husbands to be capable in these areas as well. Imagine what it is like for these women to be in a relationship with a man that can’t even do little things, such as, change a car tire, correct a minor battery corrosion issue or change the float-kit on a toilet. To put it in perspective, imagine your husband taking his car to an auto mechanic to fix the starter and while you are entering the credit-card-charge in Quicken, you discover the highly technical resolution documented on the invoice was “tightened battery cables”.
3. Compounding further the “mechanical father dilemma” is the reality that these father’s tend to teach their children their secrets (even if the secret is just “I can do it myself”). So, a girl growing up learns to trouble-shoot problems by doing all the amazing things that her daddy taught her (like figuring out her resources, being bold enough to ask questions, determining if the data she received is accurate, analyzing the pros/cons, asking additional questions, and most importantly being confident in her capacity to figure it out). Of course, in the end, there is a huge payoff—what capable female doesn’t feel the jolt of electricity after conquering a challenge? And probably somewhere in her subconscious mind, she is also thinking, “boy, daddy would be proud of me”.
4. Regardless of whether your friend’s boyfriend was capable of doing the mechanical/technical stuff, he broke the cardinal rule of keeping a woman happy. Hold onto your hat for a minute, this insight get’s really complicated. It might be extraordinarily difficult for me to explain this one, so please bear with me. Yep- those of you who are really on top of things guessed it…it’s a basic courtesy called kindness. His biggest failure was being disengaged, which provides the female brain with a whole-lotta-stuff to contemplate. This boyfriend should have a least made an attempt to be supportive (i.e. stand next to the car until the job is complete—make a few comments—ask if he can help—ask if she wants a glass of ice-water). Anything (except for acting like a know-it-all) would have been better than walking back inside while the action was still occurring in the driveway.
5. Unfortunately, men don’t realize that everything mentioned above has a direct correlation to their sex-life. It’s not that women withhold sex to punish men, it’s that our brains are wired by “feelings” which activate our “I’m ready for the bedroom glands”. After the honeymoon is over, women can’t easily overcome the “feelings” that are generated when her husband walks back into the house while she still has ½ of her body stuffed under the car hood.
6. One may argue that point #5 isn’t valid because women still desire sex even when their boyfriends/husbands make the type of mistakes expressed in your blog. Yes, that is true, but typically this only happens during the honeymoon period. There are reasons for this phenomenon:
a) Although bothered by the situation, she is still trying to figure out if this issue should really be held against him. She asks herself very insightful and incredibly difficult questions like, “Am I expecting too much?” (Hello??? Anyone Home??? When did it become an overly aggressive expectation for women to count on a man’s help—especially when she is struggling?)
b) She still holds out hope that his lack of attentiveness is a “one-time occurrence” (which it isn’t—the truth is that she has conveniently forgotten that she’s been complaining to her girlfriends on a daily basis about similar infractions).
c) There are many other positive factors in the relationship and they are compensating for the “turn offs” she feels when he is inattentive or doesn’t help her.
d) She still wears those proverbial women blinders (better known as delusional “he’ll change” genes).
7. Yes- Roxanne. You were accurate when you said, “Plus, we got the benefit of knowing that we really are competent”. Yes- it does make us, as women, feel competent when we succeed at resolving a challenge—which is no different than the way men feel when they resolve a challenge. BUT, (and it’s a BIG “but”), whenever women succeed (while in the presence of their male counterparts); one has to wonder if this situation, repeated over time, is such a good thing. Highly capable women continue to struggle with the same problem—as I mentioned previously it’s a dance. I personally am still learning the dance because even though my husband is highly competent, I still have the propensity to make him feel inadequate at times.
8. The same things that make a women feel competent and “able to take care of themselves” may have a “Newton’s 3rd Law effect” on their boyfriend/husband. This law-- every action has an equal and opposite reaction – frequently causes the long-term male/female relationships to be strained. He has the need to feel “needed” and “respected”. If she is able to everything for herself (and unconsciously makes that a reality), he certainly won’t feel needed. And, if she doesn’t gain the positive feelings that result from his desire/ability to resolve a challenging problem, then he certainly won’t be respected. This leads me to my final point…
9. Do competent women facilitate incompetent men? Or, do incompetent men facilitate competent women? Clearly there is some type of cause and effect relationship when you pair two people who are unequally yoked. When two oxen pull a wagon, they both need to pull with the same strength—if one is stronger than the other, they will go in circles.
This last comment doesn’t really relate but being the female spaghetti thinker that I am, I have to include it. They don’t make men like they used to. Obviously the social mechanisms in our society which previously churned out capable, ambitious, selfless young men, has clearly broken down. This isn’t to say that the system isn’t causing problems for young girls—it’s just that boys/men are inherently much more selfish then women. Women are the nurturers. We are geared to “see a need and fill it”. We love to be able to comfort and we will put off our needs for until we run ourselves into the ground. My point…if we are going to raise the next generation of men—us women need to seriously think about what kind of future husbands/father’s we are creating.