Ladies and Gentlebeings, we are about to speak in generalities. And of things that might possibly relate more to men and women in a marriage relationship or something along those lines. It might not apply to singledom, it may not apply to you, and it might not be worth your time to stumble through, unless you’re reading this on the throne and don’t really have anything else to do anyway.
(What? Am I the only one who reads blogs with the iPad balanced on my knees? So I guess you don’t want to know about the whole “responding to my email while I have some extra time” thing, huh?
Suffice it to say that if I ever include the secret phrase “from the throne of grace” in an email to you, you’ll know to use hand sanitizer after reading it.
Too much information. Yeah, I know – it should be the subtitle of most everything I write. Yup.)
So much for the prelude of Fluffy Goodness… Let’s saddle up, kids.
A cute picture on Facebook explains the mystery of the female mind to men – “It’s like a browser with 2,500 tabs open. All. The. Time.”
(My beloved has now flipped open her “Cute stuff I’ve read on FB tab, and is checking because she’s pretty sure the number was more like 2,7something something something. Let it go, dear… just let it go.)
And women sometimes smirk or roll their eyes at men, since they are usually thinking about, relating to, or making connection with that many things all at the same time, and the simple male mind just can’t. (Or won’t.)
“Men…” The long-suffering sigh of advanced intellect putting up with the savage race of a First Contact situation.
Men, on the other hand, kind of scratch their heads, wondering why the heck their wives insist on the kind of documentation that would make the IRS blush when simply considering if it’s alright to go out for supper tonight, and what one might be in the mood to eat if we indeed are given the green light to proceed with that plan.
And don’t forget about the utter selfishness of having considered such a plan without informing them at least a couple of weeks in advance, so that the male’s desire to spontaneously go out and grab a bite might have been considered in the light of schedules, budgetary constraints, possible social inclusions or repercussions, and the other multi-layered filters such an act must be strained through.
“I wish I had known you were thinking about that… I would have _____.” (Or, “I wouldn’t have ______ if I had known you were going to want to _____.”)
(And, for the record, he hadn’t been thinking about it for a week or two, he wasn’t thinking about it until about 3 minutes ago, and if you were to tell him that it’d be lovely, but you’d already made this plan so you can’t, 85% of the time he’d go on his merry way, and wouldn’t be thinking about it 3 minutes from now.)
I think it’s pretty obvious whose perspective I’m speaking from, by the way. I don’t claim to have the slightest understanding how the female mind, the mightiest supercomputer in the universe, capable of making HAL from 2001 say, “Um, dude – I got nothing,” functions. At least not well enough to speak from that perspective.
I have enough trouble speaking from my perspective. Even with the able assistance of pharmaceuticals.
So if the female mind is a browser with 2,500 tabs open, (All. The. Time.) then I think the male mind is at least illumined (but not necessarily) by another Facebook picture that says:
“There are two kinds of people: Those that can extrapolate from incomplete data.”
Yup. Pretty much like that.
To put it more succinctly, I’ll use the best illustration I’ve ever heard from the FamilyLife Today Marriage Conference. We went to it many, many years ago, and of all the things we covered, this is the one that stuck:
Men think in boxes. Women think in circles.
As Professor Praiseworthy used to say at First Cov, “Let’s break it down!”
1) Men Think In Boxes
Ok, ladies – get this: Men think in boxes. They think in one box at a time. Does that make them simple-minded, or incapable of multi-tasking?
Nope. Because the kicker is this – they can think in ANY box at ANY time, and switch to ANY OTHER box at ANY time without having the slightest need to know where they just jumped from or how many boxes they jumped over to get to this one. They don’t have to get their bearings when they jump into this box, they don’t need to figure out how this new pursuit relates to their previous one, and they don’t consider how going from box 21 to box 473 makes them feel.
They. Just. Jump.
So instead of women snarking about how simple the male mind is, how a guy can’t seem to hold on to a complete thought, how he claims to have not heard something that she told him (or asked him), and how a male will ask the dumbest questions out of the blue, and not even give her any context or preparation to get on the same page with him, women can consider this and appreciate the difference in design.
They. Just. Jump.
A man can think about anything at any time, instantly. No baggage, no considering where he is or the ground he has to cover mentally to get there – he’s on the new page right now. You can see the amazing potential in that – he can come alongside you at a moment’s notice, he can jump into your thought or question and be right there right away. Unfortunately, there’s a problem with that…
See, the box is only so big. So trying to fill it up with all the background, details, processing, or relationships so essential to your thought processes will simply bury him. He can’t process the details, and doesn’t really need them.
Also, it’s hard for us not to just jump in and try to solve your problem the minute our feet hit the box, while you’re just saddling up to explain (in depth) the nature of the problem, the complexities of the situation, and the details of the emotional and relational attachments that are essential to understanding the conundrum you find yourself in and are seeking a satisfactory resolution to.
Jump into box. Solve problem. Jump out. That’s pretty much the drill.
So if you want a clear, quick perspective, a fast answer, and an immediate solution (including a pair of strong arms to help you execute that solution), point to the box and we’ll jump in.
If, on the other hand, you need to sort through the options, consider the details, linger over the emotions attached, and take your time to fully consider it, all the while leaning on a compassionate friend who will allow you to vent all these complexities and deeply listen to each and every nuance, um, sorry. Time to hit Pinterest or Facebook, or call up a friend and chat, to work through those things that are absolutely essential to how your mind works.
(No, ladies – I’m not smugly pointing out flaws or taking a jab at the very complex female mind. Hang in there – your time is coming…)
Men think in boxes. And they can jump from box to box without considering what box they just jumped out of, or caring how many boxes they just jumped over to get here. And there’s no extra room in the box for baggage – one item per box, please, with total focus on that one item.
Men can channel surf. Most women can’t. ‘Nuff said.
2) Women Think In Circles
It wouldn’t be too far of a stretch to say “women think in spider webs,” but I’m guessing that would be a tad offensive, not to mention the queasy feelings it would produce in this arachnophobe just thinking about it.
If it wasn’t so outdated, the better picture would be “women think in Spirograph.”
Anybody remember the Spirograph? The circle and gears drawing thingie that went round and round, putting circles within circles, adding layers upon layers and producing such complex designs that the eye has difficulty seeing them?
Yup. Just like that.
See, to a woman’s mind, it’s all connected. And it’s connected in layers upon layers. Each beautiful thread leads to a host of others, the tensions and paths striving for balance. To jerk hard on one throws off a shock wave that upsets the whole design…
And brings a huge spider to entangle and suck the life out of its prey.
Sorry – I just couldn’t get away from the spider web analogy.
In all honesty, that’s kind of what it feels like to a man, when trying to navigate the complex curves and threads of the female mind. One wrong step, too hard of a footfall on the wrong thread, and ZAP – the stinger goes down, you’re paralyzed and getting your fluids sucked out of you.
But that’s not the case. At all.
When a woman considers a question, there’s a whole realm of sub-issues that must be sorted before she can clearly see the thread that she’s considering. To use our example, “Do we want to go out and grab a bite to eat?”…
1) What was I planning thus far in this day?
2) Could it be set aside, since he would like to do this?
3) What about plans later this week? Or next week? Does this change those?
4) How does this change our budget? Do we have the extra coin to do something like this?
5) Where are we going? And how expensive is it?
6) Will I need to change clothes to dress appropriately? Is my hair / makeup / etc. in any sort of shape for such an outing? Or can I whip it into shape in time?
7) Do I even feel like going out? Would it be worth our time and money to do this, if my heart and head aren’t fully engaged?
8) Have I been wearing heels all day? That can be a HUGE factor.
9) Is time out in public a good thing right now emotionally? Or would some relative peace at home be better for how I’m feeling?
10) Why didn’t he let me know he was thinking about this? I could have gotten ready this morning to do something this evening.
11) If I had known, we could have asked _____ to join us – we’re overdue to spend some time with them.
12) If I even mention a headache, he’s going to roll his eyes, throw up his hands and say “just forget it!” And I’m still not over the last time he said that.
13) Am I ok with him? Or am I still sorting out something from earlier / yesterday / a month ago? Maybe alone time in public isn’t the best thing right now.
14) I wish he’d just suggest going home, snuggling on the couch and watching a movie – I could totally go for that.
15) Of course, if he suggested that, and we went with it, he’d get a little too “snuggly,” and then get all disappointed when I tell him I just want to be cuddled and nothing else.
16) Can’t he understand that sometimes a hug is just a hug?
17) If I say I don’t feel like going out, I’m gonna hear the whole “You never want to do anything fun or spontaneous” speech.
18) How can I get out of this without having him get all hurt and disappointed?
19) Do we have any chocolate at home?
20) Why can’t he ever understand how I feel?
Now, you’ll notice one huge gap in this list – children. I can’t even imagine the threads they add to the web… um, pattern.
And for the record, I have no answers to the aforementioned questions, I have no idea if those questions or statements are even in the neighborhood of what might pass through my beloved’s head, and yes – the whole “chocolate” thing was a brief humorous interlude, with some slight basis in reality.
So men throw up their hands in frustration, muttering something about “Why does the whole dang thing have to be so complicated? Do we want to go grab a bite? Yes or no – simple as that.”
No. No, it isn’t.
See guys, all of those factors and about a thousand more pop up as soon as you ask the question, “Do we want to go grab a bite?” And they all have EQUAL validity – they all get a vote, and every vote counts. And although women have all the browser tabs open, even HAL has to take a little time to process that much data.
And every one of them needs an answer or resolution. She can’t help it – those connections, and keeping the tension between them even, keep the design in perfect balance and symmetry. Want to see your beloved happier and more at peace? Then see what you can do to keep the pattern even and balanced.
Otherwise Shelob decends.
Sorry. Couldn’t resist.
So why do I, a think-in-a-box male, care about all that? Because from all those connections will come insight and wisdom if I’ll take the time to wait and listen. Or if I’ll take the time to look ahead to box 2457, maybe even plan ahead, and give her the advance warning and time to think through the threads, then the result can be a joyful time for us both.
Is it possible that “Women’s Intuition” is simply their ability to see all the facets of something because of all the deep connections one thing touches off? And as single-focused men, wouldn’t it be very, very wise of us to develop the intentional habit of listening very carefully to those insights? Even when our brains are screaming, “OVERLOAD! DETAIL OVERLOAD! Captain – she canna’ take no more!!!”
There are beautiful advantages to the way the female mind works – the balance, the symmetry, the perfection in detail… but having that many threads also produces some tough stuff.
It can cause ladies to be very impatient with men. After all, they’re so simple and sometimes crude – they never really listen, they sometimes don’t seem to think, and they never really plan (or give me time to plan). They just fly off into something without really thinking about it.
So some serious guy bashing can result. (For balance, it can cause gal bashing on the other side too…)
And it’s sometimes hard for a woman to see the forest for the trees – she’ll get lost in threads, tied up in detail, and caught in concerns and emotion. She’ll lose the joy and immediacy because of the deeper connections. It’s hard for her to just let go and be in the moment.
It also (at least in my experience) leads to men feeling like women don’t really listen to us. Sometimes when I’m trying to explain something, to give her (what I think is) the detail she seems to really want or need, she’ll suddenly get tired of me trying to wind around the whole story of what I’m thinking and why, and just want me to get to the point.
And sometimes in those rare moments when a man is actually talking about his feelings, his thoughts, his heart, nothing kills his spirit faster than having his beloved suddenly pop up another tab, see something that she needs to think about RIGHT NOW, and head off in, what feels to him, like a totally different direction. She’s listening, she still hears him, but at the same time she’s also considering something else. She’s multi-tasking, and unfortunately for a one-box-only man, that seems like she just ditched him and he’s left twisting in the wind of her passing.
So he clams up. It’s easier than either having her flit off on him, or hear some of his least-favorite words, “Would you just get to the point?”
Quick reminder – we are speaking in generalities here. And these things may apply more to men and women in relationship together, than to singlehood or other attachments. They may speak more to Yin Yang – a harmony between opposites.
Or may just be a bunch of bunky. Which will make you glad that this crapola is free.
Unless I publish it in a book. Then I apologize. Feel free to tear these pages out.
Unless it’s an ebook. Maybe you could ask the Proofreader for a custom copy sans poopy.
Which would only leave the cover and about 4.89 words. Enjoy.
So, as so often happens, time passes between when I start writing something, and when it finally pops out of the oven, golden brown and delicious.
Or moderately brown and mildly interesting.
Or slightly underdone and potentially repulsive.
Why is it green? Ewww…
Anyway, this whole thing of trying to supply the detail that my wife seems to need, only to have her get a little exasperated with me, saying something like “I get it already!” has been confusing me a tad. If women need all the connections, all the threads, all the circles, all the dead flies marinating in their own juices for a tasty treat later, *shudder*, how is it possible to elicit a response of “Get to the POINT!” from her, the Queen of Detail?
(Which may or may not be an interesting name for a rock band…)
I have a theory, but it only works if you’re me. If you’re not me, then your mileage not only may vary, but for the sake of your sanity, I hope it DOES vary, ’cause otherwise you really should be taking extra medication and seeing some highly competent professionals…
Anyway, when I want to discuss something with Herself, I tend to think of it as preparing to go off to war. I gather all my arsenal – the facts, the related facts, the possibly related facts to those related facts, the potential problems and flaws with those facts that might possibly be brought up, the remedies to those problems that might be brought up, the documentation for those remedies thus lending support to the belief that these remedies will actually solve the potential problems that the possible facts might generate from the subject being discussed.
And you ladies call us guys “simple” and “immature.” HAH! We seem simple to you only because we always have to be wearing multiple layers of body armor and Kevlar undies to make it through the day. That’ll slow down anybody.
So there. Nyahh nyahh nyah.
Alright – you got me there. Moving on…
Where was I moving again? Oh yeah – Box #2147…
So in the recitation of my well-crafted defense of whatever it is that I’m wanting to discuss with her, things are hopping along. I’m presenting the material well, heading off some of the points of divergence with my diligently prepared defenses, navigating the waves and currents well…
And I jump boxes mid-stride.
Yup – my greatest strength becomes my main weakness. My head goes into box shuffle mode, I see something related to what I’m telling her about, realize that I really should have included that in my original preparation, and it gets thrown in there without anything to guard its fragile little soul.
And the lioness, detecting a weakness in her prey, brings it. Her intuitive senses have observed a weak link in the pack; she knows that extra data is making its way into the stream without having been carefully prepared and integrated into the whole; she can see I’m throwing stuff in from many boxes at the last minute (kind of like watching a juggler when they added one too many chainsaws, and you know the train wreck is just around the bend and can’t wait until it gets here, you sick puppy, you.); she can feel the disconnect from my carefully crafted discussion and the new arrivals…
“FRESH MEAT!!!!! ROWWWWWRRRRR!!!!”
And carnage ensues.
(I’m not sure that image is better than the spider sucking the fluids out of the little bug, but it’s what I had, so I went with it. Thanks to Box #14279.3 for the assist.)
If she senses that I’m box shuffling as I go, juggling away and adding something from different boxes as I go along while trying to keep everything in the air, adding more and more, that’s when she says, “Check, please.”
And the balls hit the floor. Because I may be the Village Idiot in many disciplines, but I gots enough smarts to leave the chainsaws on the ground. Or not to even bring the things in the first place, lest I be tempted…
Am I over-generalizing here? Are you itching to say, “Well, that may be true for you – you might be a box thinker married to the Spider Queen, but that ain’t the way things work around these here parts. Nope. No sir. Nosirreebob.”
Fair enough. Perhaps you’re one of those detail-loving dudes, knowing all the connections down to the nth degree. No simple mind here – you lay down patterns that would make any dudette dizzy.
Or you’re like my friend, Alex, a gal who lets her yay be yay and her nay be nay. Yes, no. Nothing in the middle. No pondering, no thread spinning, no mulling it over. Quick, clean, the blade descends and “Off with their heads!”
(Alex would never preside at an execution, by the way. She’s a sweet soul, tenderhearted and kind. She even admits in public that she knows me.
Pray for her.)
Anyway, getting once again to the point, riddle me this, bat-friends…
Is your masculine detail connection super power fueled by your ability to go from box to box without any ground between them, and your mad skillz allow you to actually sort the boxes so the ones you need are all next to each other?
Whoa. In awe am I.
Or is your feminine decisiveness powered by an intuitive sense that sees the pattern as a whole? So there’s not a time lag between hearing something and understanding how it fits into the pattern?
Whoa squared. Awe in am I.
(I suspect, by the way, that this last is Alex’s super power – seeing and recognizing the pattern without a time lag. But hey – she’s young. She’ll slow down a bit as she gets older.
All I know is that in the 30+ years that my beloved and I have been married, knowing this little truth has helped us keep from whomping each other upside the noggin, or crabbing about each other separately:
Men think in boxes. Women think in circles, spider webs, Spirograph, or (a new one to me, thanks again to my friend, Alex), balls of yarn.
Now how that works out in your world, doesn’t work out in your world, or gets thrown under the bus as mindless wandering in your world, is totally up to you. Your mileage may and should vary.
A whole lot.
A crazy huge ton of a whole lot with sprinkles on top.
Now get out there and suck the life out of some bugs. Or juggle some chainsaws. Or something. **
** Insert super-fast announcer voice kind of like what you hear at the end of every commercial involving covering their hiney, legally speaking…
The Fluffy Goodness Worldwide Domination Inc. does not endorse or suggest the juggling of chainsaws or the sucking of fluids from bugs without professional supervision and instruction. And psychiatric intervention. And perhaps some helpful pharmaceuticals. (We have some recommendations on those, if you need ’em.) If you choose to engage in these or other obscure or weird activities, you’re on your own, kiddo. We didn’t even vaguely suggest something like that. Don’t do it. Period. End of tale. We’re just writing with our usual way-the-heck-off-kilter sense of humor here, and you should really know by now that these things shouldn’t be taken literally.
Except when quoting from the Bible, that is. That you can take literally.
Now, let’s all move along, shall we? **