Posts tagged " gender differences "


September 28th, 2010 Posted by Susan's Musings No Comment yet

Like so many couples, my husband and I sometimes see the same things in completely different ways. For example, other than on Shabbat and holydays, my husband feels out of touch without his cell phone and blackberry within reach. I, on the other hand, dislike having my cell phone near. If I’m home, I prefer talking on a land line. If I’m not, my friend Jane put my feelings into words when she said about her phone, “It’s like having a demanding toddler with you all the time, insisting on an instant response.” I didn’t tolerate that behavior with my children, so why would I welcome it now?

Here’s another example: We react differently to directions. Unless I am facing the ocean, telling me to go north or south is pointless. Right and left, preferably with identifying marks such as, “Turn left at the house with the swing set in the yard. If you pass the mailbox, you’ve gone too far,” work better for me.

Instructions are another area of potential altercation. I felt completely vindicated when as pampered house guests we were given the ability to manipulate our room’s air conditioning. Rather than simply having up or down buttons on the control, there were two buttons, labeled ‘too warm?’ and ‘too cold?’. I couldn’t have designed it better myself. Up and down always leaves me wondering if I’m being asked about the air conditioning or the temperature. This control worked with me. I only had to decide how I was feeling and push the appropriate button.

I am not drawn to pink power tools, but I truly appreciate it when companies understand that my thought processes differ from my husband’s. It isn’t a question of dumbing things down or dressing them up with feminine looking covers. Our air conditioning control gave me the chance to say to my husband, “This is my world and welcome to it.”

A Week of Bliss – originally posted Nov. 27, 2008

September 19th, 2010 Posted by Susan's Musings 2 comments

Since we finally got the CD mentioned in this post finished, I’ve linked to it so you can read more about it.

I gather from news reports that a pastor in California has called on his married congregants to commit to seven straight days of sex.

As an attention getting device, both for his members and for the national media, it certainly is effective. It will without a doubt spark conversation when people hear or read the story. I am sure that this will also be a needed battery charge for some of his congregants’ relationships. But as a general marriage enhancement device – I have my doubts.

For two years now my husband and I have been working on the script for our forthcoming audio CD, Madam I’m Adam: Decoding the Secrets of Marriage. It’s taking so long because we are constantly being forced to pick and choose among the valuable lessons revealed in Genesis. Two hours just cannot cover all the messages about marriage that emerge from the lives of Adam and Eve.

But there is one unavoidable conclusion no matter where in those verses we look. God created men and women to be very different and success in marriage is largely a function of embracing those differences.

It seems to me that issuing a general call for married sex ignores each gender’s uniqueness. Without a doubt, many wives under take too lightly their husband’s powerful need for a physical relationship. They underestimate how necessary a vibrant sexual relationship is to a successful marriage.

But too many husbands are blind to their wives compelling need for emotional intimacy. Somehow the idea of posting a virtual score card and forcing a personal act between husband and wife into the public arena seems to respond to one need at the expense of the other.

I wish the pastor and his flock a successful week. But the couples for whom this challenge opens a dialogue about valuing both their natures even as they recoil at the idea of turning the most private marriage act into somewhat of a group activity, may end up being the biggest winners of all.

Free to Choose?

April 20th, 2010 Posted by Susan's Musings No Comment yet


I was chatting with a young mother recently while two of her three sons simulated a boxing match. The baby watched avidly from his stroller. Turning to me, my companion said, “I’ve never been a boy. How am I supposed to understand them?”


I don’t really think she was expecting an answer. But the differences between the genders don’t go away as children get older. Over the last few years, I have watched my daughters and their friends transition from adolescence into adulthood.  I have seen that the challenges they face are entirely different from those that my son and his peers face as they navigate the same years.


I know that today’s social and economic realities dictate that both sexes explore career options.  But there are very different implications for boys and girls though it is perhaps politically incorrect to point this out.  The burden of career commitment rests far more heavily upon the shoulders of boys than upon girls.  Deep down, young men know that their masculinity is intimately linked to their being successful providers.


They know that any woman who decides to take “time out” from her job and focus on her home has not made herself any less of a woman.   They know that when a woman decides not to return to work after maternity leave, much of society approves.  However, men also knows that if a man announces to his wife that he no longer feels like going to work he will be viewed as an irresponsible failure.  For him, work is for keeps.


The woman in her twenties or early thirties who adamantly declares that she doesn’t want children or that having a family won’t interfere with her dedication to her studies or career, may well mean it sincerely.  But young men can get themselves into quite a mess if they gamble on those feelings never changing.   


Economic factors often force many women into the workplace even if they truly would rather be building a home or spending more time with their children.   But women whose economic situations allow them genuinely to exercise choice often choose to work only part time or to stop working altogether.  I have read that in countries such as China after years of being fully integrated into the work force, more women are choosing to stay at home as economic and social changes allow that option. 


But, whether we think it fair or not, men don’t have the luxury of choice in this area.  As a society, we ardently defend the idea that women should have full access to professional schools and the careers of their choice.  But we also insist that they should have complete freedom to opt out of school or work if they choose.  Then we refuse to acknowledge that we have different expectations for men. Something is wrong with this picture, isn’t it?  Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that one who is obligated to do something and does it, is exhibiting more greatness than someone else who volunteers to do the same thing. The act of doing what we should rather than what we choose requires greater commitment.


Since graduating college, my son and his friends have been navigating the career waters trying to find occupations in which they can prosper and thrive. In contrast to summer jobs they may have held, they are now looking at years, not weeks, of work ahead of them. Embracing this challenge can be a part of what molds them into the type of men who will make good husbands and fathers, the type of men whom our daughters seek as life partners.


When we pretend that gender doesn’t matter, that – as a group – young men and young women have equal stakes in the job game, we are lying to both sexes. While I admit that sentence would have infuriated me at eighteen, and probably will infuriate most college students today, I think our society suffers when we pretend that we can make up any rules we feel like, even when they run counter to reality. Those little boys I saw whose behavior was perplexing their mother are going to want to wrestle and struggle in ways most little girls will never understand.  And if they channel that masculinity and grow up to accept the yoke of supporting a family, they deserve our appreciation.




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