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Friday, January 15, 2010

Battle of the Sexes


Carol Gilligan says that "Women perceive things in terms of relationships and connections and men perceive things in terms of individuality and autonomy" .

(Borrowed the graphic from "Indivisible, a Marriage Strengthener" - David Shaffer)

Whether  or not you agree with her, it is an interesting topic and certainly one that society perpetuates.  Perhaps though, it would be better if we did both, took a nice long look at what we are alike in, and what we differ in. 

For myself, I know it is very true.  However, I'm also a Blue, an Aquarian, a Redhead and an INFJ.  All of which equates to RELATIONSHIPS. . .

It may be hard-wired in us, as the 'gatherers' vs the 'hunters' in our genetic coding.  Our ancestors moved together in groups, watching each other's backs, picking up what her neighbor missed and chatting and assisting the group.  The hunters on the other hand went out often in groups, but groups that separated silently, watched each other's backs, but focused side by side rather than face to face, and sought their own prowess and to prove their worth. 

Everything I do almost, has to do with some relationship in my life.  Every resource I expend, has to do with improving, repairing or maintaining one of those relationships.  For my husband, I'm not sure it is the same.  While the people in his life are important, so is fishing.  Going out, casting in his luck and skill, and hopefully, ultimately capturing with his prowess, ingenuity and brute strength. . . the prize.  His focus is to NOT need anyone else (even me), but to WANT them.  There is his power.  His autonomy.  (I hope he'll forgive me for psychoanalyzing him publicly. . . he hates that.)

How do we then mesh the seemingly opposite core needs?

I've learned that it has to do less with compromise and adjustment (That many self-help guru's will recommend) and more to do with simply first SEEING that everyone isn't just like me, and then allowing them that privilege.  While my needs don't change with that insight, my expectations do.  Expectations that are unmet, are often the biggest fuel for discontentment.  If I understand that someone's core value is NOT relationships, but perhaps success, or enjoyment or even simplicity, then I am able to say, "I understand" and release my expectations or reform them.  That brings balance. 

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