Sometimes in the course of internet discussions with some fairly decent people who genuinely wish to embiggen the conversation and unearth some treasures, I am reminded of how dismissive many men can be about women’s feelings, intuition, opinions. I don’t mean this unkindly at all, it’s not a condemnation of men. I think many genuinely don’t get it, don’t see it, without any malicious intent. It’s a communication gap, an example of different perceptions between the genders.
My husband, who I treasure, has fallen into this dynamic a few times too, with rather tragic results. For those who don’t know, I can be a bit like Radar on the TV show Mash, I often get up to answer the phone before it rings. Call it mother’s intuition, having a keen eye, but I can sometimes see cause and effect, what’s going to happen down the road. So being a good wife, I have frequently tried to share these bits of insight, to prevent some suffering, to share some wisdom, only to walk face first into that impenetrable wall of, meh, whatever, I know what I’m doing.
Uhg, this can be so offensive to the pride! Come to think of it, it’s the same thing moms often face with children. Here kid, I wish to bless you with some wisdom designed to prevent suffering and ease your path, and kids go, meh, whatever, I know what I’m doing. Mom’s just being mean. Then we get to provide comfort and help them sort out the consequences of having been totally convinced, I know what I’m doing, I don’t need your help.
Once in a total snit over how no one ever listens to me in this house, I prayed for some relief saying, “Lord, you have no idea how maddening it is to try to get people to do the right thing, to share some wisdom with people you love, and they just dismiss you, insist they know what they’re doing and you’re just crazy!”
Sometimes I fancy God answers my prayers by simply looking down at me with good humor and one Divine eyebrow raised quizzically, just waiting for me to figure it out, because like duh, God knows exactly what that is like, times a million, for thousands of years. People have been trying to go their own way for eons, questioning and doubting just about everything God Himself has said. The Creator of the universe, the One who designed it all, as if we just know better! Completely dismissing God’s wisdom, as if His wisdom wasn’t designed to prevent suffering and ease our path. Did God really say….
My husband has gotten much better over the years at actually listening to me, at taking my feelings into account instead of just dismissing them as not really relevant. It’s not been an easy road however, for either of us. I have had to surrender a lot of pride, to learn how to provide comfort and empathy without a hint of I told you so. Hubby has had to surrender too, to try to understand something he cannot see or feel, to accept responsibility, to forgive himself for, I should have just listened to my wife. That must really rankle a man’s pride too, so I try to be gentle. The Lord always convicts him. That’s a fascinating thing, but I have learned how to trust that the Lord will show him the truth, so I don’t have to. It’s not my job. He’ll get, he’ll come to understand.
I don’t know if it’s just biology, nurture or nature, culture or programming, but I read words from men about how she just needs to change her feelings or how she shouldn’t feel this way, or pashaw, women’s feelings, what does that have to do with anything? Always this very dismissive, demeaning kind of attitude, perhaps unintentional, that tries to declare, her feelings don’t match reality. Her perceptions are all wrong. He feelings don’t matter. I have to say no, this is not quite right. Feelings are never wrong, feelings are like the canary in a coal mine. How women act on their feelings can be a real problem, but the feelings themselves are valuable, they are like having another set of eyes to draw from. Don’t dismiss them, learn from them.
Something that strikes me as funny, and I don’t mean this disrespectfully, but men often assume they’re acting rationally, reason based, when those on the outside looking in can clearly see how they are driven by emotion, feelings, psychology, not as obvious and transparent as women are, but it’s there just the same. This idea that men think rationally, methodically, while women just react emotionally, is a real stumbling block in relationships, because intentional or not, men tend to dismiss women as if we have no idea what we’re talking about.
Ten years later, a wife walks out saying, I just don’t feel loved anymore, and I so get that, I totally understand, and yet so many good men are blindsided by this, genuinely confused, feeling victimized and betrayed. I wish I could gently explain it, not as blame or shame, but as knowledge, as wisdom and prevention. I know what it is like to be erased, not heard, rendered invisible, dismissed and ignored, how demeaning it can be to feel as if you just don’t matter. I just don’t feel loved anymore, you can’t even hear me. I am completely invisible. I was blessed, my husband caught on, but oh, I have been there myself a few times.
For those who would say, her feelings are wrong, she just needs to change them, I wish they could understand what it’s like to be erased, to feel as if you now live in an alternate reality, where your perceptions are judged invalid, where you are told your feelings don’t match reality. To feel as if your very person hood has been rendered invisible. That’s when self preservation often kicks in, when many women just flip that switch and throw in the towel.
It breaks my heart reading the words of some of these men, they just don’t understand, they just don’t get it, they’re hurt, they’re lost. In this Divine comedy we call love, they can’t hear me either, because you know, women’s feelings, what’s that got to do with anything? So they speak of duty and honor and betrayal and it makes me want to cry, because while yes, those are lovely virtues, those are men’s virtues, that is how they perceive the world. If you want to understand how women perceive the world, you must traverse the realm of feelings.
Speak to men of duty, obligation, responsibility, and they will understand, but speak to a woman of such things and she will begin to perceive you as nothing more than another chore. And yet so many men persist in perceiving women with these same eyes, as if romance can be fueled by a sense of duty. They don’t realize that chores are designed to be completed and forgotten.
What a heart breaking misunderstanding.