Saturday, May 26, 2012

P4E.239 Why Can't a Woman Be More Like a Man? - 1 of 4

A couple of weekends ago, Gwen and I attended a a conference given by natural horsemen Pat and Linda Parelli. In it Pat listed four of the obstacles that natural horsemen have to overcome in their relationships with their horses. I've made the correlation between pursuing natural horsemanship and pursuing Christlikeness in marriage many times in this blog. I've found in Pat Parelli's list another opportunity.

The first obstacle on Pat's list is anthropomorphism. Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics onto other things, like horses. It is the vehicle that allows us humans to think that our horses are being "disobedient," or "naughty," or "stubborn." Basically, what we do is project what we know onto what we do not know. When we do that, we make very faulty assumptions about communication that can cause tragic results in the relationship between a human and his horse.

As husbands, we practice our own version of anthropomorphism on our wives. This is what we do, as men: Since we don't know any better, we project our male characteristics and attributes onto our female partners. So, we think that they think like we think. We believe that they feel things the way that we feel things. We assume that they value the same things that we value. We try to make our responsibilities their responsibilities. We believe that their tolerance for evil is the same as ours. This approach can become a real obstacle in a husband's relationship with his wife.

I'll give you a simple example. In the past, on my way out the door to work, I have told my wife something like this: "Gwen, the left-front tire on the Tahoe is looking low. You should take it over to the Chevron station and put some air in it...OK? Bye!" I really didn't realize just how much stress this put on Gwen. It's not that she's not capable. She certainly is. But, I forgot that the Chevron station in the town where we live is not the most savory place to be for a woman. I forgot that the air machine is a very cumbersome thing to work. I forgot that it's a hassle and kind of embarrassing to have to ask the attendant to turn on the air machine. Does Gwen know how much air pressure to put in the tire? Finally, if we were to ask 10 people who's responsibility it should be to maintain the tires on an SUV, I'll bet at least 9 out of 10 would say it's the husband's responsibility. But, before I learned better I'd wonder, "Now, why does she have to make such a big deal about that?" I'd do my own version of Professor Henry Higgins from My Fair Lady and ask, "Now, why can't a more like a man?"

This is not meant to demean women. In fact, women are very capable of just about anything. But, God created men and women different. He made the differences for the same reason he created everything else. To glorify Himself. I realized that if I pay attention and learn to recognize the differences, I can become more aware, sensitive, godly and blessed.

I've come to believe that the defense against making assumptions is to do my homework and learn about my wife. So, I've learned to ask questions and not challenged the answers. In fact, I realized that I don't have to know about all women (although there are some basic things about women that can be known). I really only have to know my own wife. And so do you.

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