Category Archives: People

What Women Must Do For Men

Women Accommodating MenMarriage is a tricky thing. We’re supposed to think of our partner’s welfare more than our own, which is not natural. We want to look out for ourselves and what we want. However, if both parties actively seek out what’s best for the other then the marriage has a lot better chance of surviving.

I agree with this principle and believe it necessary to make marriage great. And I don’t think I have to give up anything that I want for myself in order to do it. But I do have a problem with how we all typically have to go about it.

It seems to me that in many life scenarios (marriage, work, friendships, peer relationships of all sorts) it’s women who shoulder the bulk of the burden to “understand” men and thereby accommodate them. Men typically think a certain way and approach life in a certain fashion that is different from women. It’s why there are so many books out there attempting to decode the myriad differences between the sexes. And although there is a lot of overlap, there is certainly a reason Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus and books of that ilk have been so popular. However, I want to bet that the VAST majority of those books are read by women, and not just because women are more wired to want to work on relationships.

I have discussed all sorts of male-female relationships with friends and even counselors and the one thing I have heard so often is, “Laura, if men (your husband included) approach this problem in XYZ fashion, how can you tailor your behaviour to accommodate them?”

I heard one form of this or another so many times that at one point I started to wonder, how come the woman has to accommodate so much more for the man? Why are we always told we have to understand men and how they are wired and to make allowances for that and suit our behaviour accordingly? How come nobody says that to men?

I don’t mean to say men are never told that they have to seek to understand women, but the situation is seriously lopsided. Women are always presenting information in a certain way, lilting their voice just so, analyzing their man at length so they know what to expect and not be offended. We say men have to feel like they’re in control, like they’re right. We say men don’t pick up their socks because when they were growing up they had other chores like mowing the lawn and painting the house. We say that men just need sex because it’s part of their DNA. We say that men are natural navel gazers so ask them lots of questions about themselves and don’t be annoyed when they don’t ask your opinion. Women are told to understand men correctly in order to not get hurt or be fine with how a man behaves. And women do all of this really, really well, even without taking acting lessons.

Okay. That’s totally fine, but ONLY IF MEN HAVE TO DO ALL THAT AS WELL. It is true that men are told that women are more emotional, that they like to talk things through, that they need to feel cared for, and that they will need to feel romanced to want to have sex. And it’s true a lot of men understand that and accommodate the women in their lives. But I don’t think they have to do it nearly as often as women, and I think more often than not women are ALL IN with their efforts at accommodating men, whereas men tend to give this tedious responsibility a cursory nod. It’s as though women see the tendencies of men as adventurous codes to decipher for the greater good, whereas men see the tendencies of women as irritants they must endure.

Maybe women are beaten over their heads with the message of accommodating men’s tendencies because they are simply better at it, and that for relationships to work it’s women who simply have to bear the bulk of that burden. Hmm. I guess all us gals can rail against the reality, but…yeah, we’ll probably just keep accommodating. It’s not worth it.

Don’t misunderstand that I wish men were more like women. The good Lord made men different from women and I celebrate that. It would just be better if the efforts on both sides were more equal.


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There Is Something Wrong With You

I am BetterI think most people have had a friend/acquaintance act like this when they’re explaining how someone’s behaviour has offended them:

YOU: …and that’s why I was upset with Jon today because I felt that was really rude.

ACQUAINTANCE: Jon is always really nice to me.

YOU: That’s…good. I just feel that he often does things like this and I’d like it to stop.

ACQUAINTANCE: I’ve never had a problem with him. He even offered me cookies in the hall just now.

YOU: I think I will talk to him about it.

ACQUAINTANCE: I don’t know what I’ve done right but he’s always just really liked me.

I have to be clear that I do not need people to commiserate with me if I’m experiencing a problem with someone. In fact, I know that just breeds more ill feelings and, while I may feel justified if my friend raptly agrees with me, I actually end up feeling more knotted up. The thing that is irritating about the “I never have that problem” response is that your friend is making themselves out to be better than you. They are saying that, clearly, there is something wrong with you if you are having this problem. Or that there may be something wrong with everybody else, but that they are special because they don’t have that problem. Or that they just plain don’t believe your interpretation of the problem.

Don’t be that person. Let your friend vent and then respond as if you care. There’s no need to further trash the individual in question, but show that you are mindful about your friend’s well being and happiness. It’s good to tactfully offer other explanations for the culprit’s behaviour, but responding with a comment that puts your friend on a different rung of the human hierarchy is just insensitive. Nobody wants to confide in someone like that.

Just because you know a person in a given way does not mean everyone will experience that person in the same fashion. Acting out of a good spirit certainly means standing up for others if you feel they have been unjustly portrayed, however you don’t need to make yourself out to be better than others to do so.

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The Friends Who Keep You From Being Lame

LamePeople start veering into lame once they start having kids. They don’t stay out late, they have to arrange weeks in advance to see friends, they won’t have a glass of wine because they have to get up early the next day, and they just don’t want to go out as much. I always find it strange and remarkable when people with children are the opposite of this – when they go out as much as they used to before kids. Age certainly has something to do with it, but I think too it’s just that we start scaling down our social lives unnecessarily after we’ve procreated.

Obviously there is a lot to be said for just being tired. I always brag that my kid would be a gold medalist in the Sleeping Olympics, but I can certainly appreciate how children just tire you out so that when you actually do get free time you’re hardly up for going out; you just want to sit on the couch. Although I have a pretty calm child, I never, ever just sit down on the couch and do my own thing during the day. Ever. And that’s saying something because there are a lot of hours in the day, and what can these little humans possibly need that keeps you moving so much?

I’ve never been super energetic about going out, but I admit I like that I have the excuse of a child to keep me at home sometimes. However, I think parents have to be careful to keep their friendships thriving, particularly with those who do not have kids. I always think, if one day I cannot have a stimulating conversation with my dear sophisticated friends who I have known for decades, who have no children, live a very cosmopolitan lifestyle and can make conversation about anything, then I’ve really lost it and I’ve become a supremely boring person. In other words, have more going on in your life than just your kids and your marriage. Everyone will be happier.

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People Are Weird About Talking

TALKING ABOUT SUCKY THINGS2There’s an episode of Sex and the City where Carrie’s boyfriend breaks up with her on a post-it and she gets angry over the cowardice. She says, “Most women aren’t angry, irrational psychos. We just want an ending to a relationship that is thoughtful and decent and honors what we had together.” So very true! How often has a man claimed that a woman is crazy? Women aren’t crazy, we just require communication. And I think men do, too.

Like Carrie said, there is a good way to tell someone something hurtful. Avoiding the situation entirely is just a really bad idea.

A friend once asked me if I wanted people to ask me how I was doing after a particularly difficult time in my life last year. She wondered if it was insensitive to mention the situation at all given that it had surely caused me a lot of pain.

Here’s the thing: when people go through something bad, they need to know that those around them care. This doesn’t mean they will necessarily want to talk about it, nor do they necessarily want pity. What they want is consideration for their hard time and concern for their well-being. No one likes to feel un-cared for, and if everyone just makes like nothing happened it can feel like no one gives a shit about you.

Here’s what you do if you’re unsure: tell the person that you’re thinking of them, or that you’re there for them if they need anything. That’s it. If the person wants to bring you in, they will. If not, they will at least feel loved. They will not resent you just for bringing it up.

What I’m saying is, the worst thing you can do to a person is ignore a bad thing that’s happened to them. It tells them they don’t matter. Don’t let something uncomfortable turn you into an asshole.

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I’m Happy For You

JealousAre you really? Or is there a small piece of your heart that sinks to your gut when you hear my news? Do you justify that sinking feeling by telling yourself that my news is not good, not smart, not socially responsible, or not financially sound?

Maybe you want to have the same news. Or any good news.

I caught myself doing exactly this. I have to watch it because life has a way of bringing things full circle based on the attitude you put out there. Are you really well off, don’t work, but take all the credit for what you have? Did you get pregnant immediately after ditching the pill? Did you get that fantastic job even though I know you’re not that talented? Did your parents leave you a massive inheritance but you talk as if you earned the money yourself? Does your kid get to go to private school? Did your husband do something super thoughtful and you are super vocal about how great he is? Did you pick the absolute right stock at random?

I think very few people deal with that sinking feeling, I think most of them believe the justification. Shame.

Be happy for people. It’s good for you.

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I Doubt It

DoubtingI doubt myself. Life rarely offers you a package that fits perfectly into your circumstances. This is especially true the older you get. I think that’s because as you age you take on more responsibility, you have more issues, you have a story, you have circumstances – aspects that just don’t exist to that degree in your youth. Those elements make every decision that much more important.

When you’re young you can better afford to fly by the seat of your pants, try new things, be stupid and take risks. You can even do that in relationships because time does wonders to heal the heart so there’s lots of time to get past brokenness.

Getting more experience in life means you either understand things better, or you’ve just had more time to get a complex about stuff. Usually it’s both, though I hope I am not one of those people who has no self-reflection and can’t see how I’m becoming more anal, scared, unreasonable, illogical or closed by the minute. That is enormously unattractive and it ages you. The people who stand out the most as they get older are those who have an uncanny joy about them. And joy comes from taking life’s crap and learning from it instead of becoming bitter and closing in.

I have made decisions about things that I am extremely double-minded about. In the past year, I have been on the fence about many things. I always think you know what the best is deep down, at your core, or in your spirit. But sometimes, both Option A and Option B feel right. In those circumstances I think you have to try both until things become clear. I’m rarely confused, so being so unsure is unsettling for me. Not to harp on Christians (as I know I often do), but they are quick to judge anyone in this unsettled position, thinking that the person is just not listening to God. You know, sometimes God just doesn’t speak to you. Did you know that, Christians? Maybe not knowing the answer for a time serves a person better.

So I guess what I’m saying is it’s okay to doubt yourself. It shows you’re evaluating things from all sides, which people often don’t do. In which case, I congratulate myself.


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Flirting With Cops

I’m flirty like anyone else, I suppose, in that I have on occasion used my feminine wiles to get what I wanted. But I think I’ve learned when to let it loose, and when to reel it in. Otherwise, you’re displaying all your goods inappropriately or toward someone who is clearly uncomfortable.

Take my Sunday speeding incident. I was racing down the highway at 8:30 in the morning, trying to get to church on time. I hate being late for things, especially church because then you can’t get a good seat and then it’s easier to let the mind wander. So, of course I get pulled over. The man was older, and gruff. He really lit into me about being irresponsible with my “precious cargo” (aka my daughter), at which point I started to tear up. He barked, “Do I have to remind you how unsafe you were being with that little girl back there?” I shook my head, no, my eyes wide and wet. “Do you even have a driver’s licence?” he snapped. I nodded yes (maybe blubbering like an idiot makes you appear younger) and produced my card. “Which part of all those signs back there did you not like? Do you know you were in the excessive zone? That’ll cost you $360 and I’ll give you another for making a sloppy lane change. Is that worth it now?” I looked down at my lap and shook my head again. I honestly almost never speed. “Where were you going so fast anyway?” he yelled. I paused several beats, then answered, “Church.”

He eyed me, I think a bit taken aback that I would try that. I opened my palms upward and shrugged my shoulders a little. I think we could both appreciate the irony. After a pregnant pause, like he was considering what to do with me, he snarled, “You’re getting a warning for this run around, and I want you to think real hard about what you’re doing with that little one in the back. Do you hear?” I nodded and looked away, my tears set to betray me. I didn’t want to push my luck. “Have a good day,” he finished and sauntered back to his cruiser.

I could hardly get control of myself as I pulled back onto the highway with excessive caution. My daughter was perfectly silent for fifteen minutes. Later that day she asked, “Mommy, why were you speeding?” Because speeding plus crying plus religiosity equals ridiculous.

So what was my point? Ah yes, I ended up doing what most women typically do to get out of tickets, without even trying. So, is it flirting if my efforts produce a slobbery, unappealing mess in lieu of a desirably distraught woman?


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Taylor Swift Is A Wise Woman

So she has this song “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and I am very impressed. This girl is, what? Twenty-two? I wish I had had her insight at that age. There’s one line that says “I’m really gonna miss you picking fights, And me, falling for it screaming that I’m right”. I didn’t know picking fights was a go-to code of conduct for the emotionally incapable. See, what these people do is exactly that: pick a fight, say something mean or anything to get you going. Then, expecting exactly the reaction they receive, they are perversely satisfied. Because they have to be pissed off at something, and you’re an easy target.

I’m not sure what gets these people off. Why would you want to have a fight or hurt someone? I’m a pretty passionate gal, but I don’t enjoy fights. The thing is, people like this are so pissed off at themselves they have to direct that onto someone else. Then, when they snag you into having a fight they can say to themselves, “See? This is why I’m angry. It’s THIS person’s fault.”

The thing is, you react in indignation “screaming that you’re right” because you feel the need to show the other person the illogic of their position. And what an immature person doesn’t realize is that the person picking the fight does not care about logic, nor can they recognize it.

What fight-pickers don’t realize is that even if there is a thorn in your side, a legitimate ongoing hurt for which no one would fault you for having a hard time, your happiness is solely up to you. You choose whether you’re going to treat people in love or not. If someone calls you an idiot every single morning, you can choose to get hurt by it or you can choose to be happy in spite of it. If your spouse screws off, you have a choice to forgive that person and not let it ruin your life, or be fearful of being in another relationship. Even if someone kills your loved one, you still have a choice. Your choice is just harder.

I’m not making light of true challenges. However, if you’re picking fights with people just because you feel discontent, you’re just proving you’re not a strong person. And for that, you deserve to be pitied.

Taylor Swift has it right, and I congratulate her for learning that lesson more than a decade before me. Silly.

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I’m So Busy

I’m not the kind of person who always says how busy I am. In fact, I’ve come to strongly dislike the phrase.  I’ll say that I had a really busy day, or that I haven’t had time to do a given thing, but I never utter the words “I’ve been so super busy” to explain myself away.

I mean, it’s true, I’m busy. I have a kid and more than full time work. But most busyness is self-imposed.

Parenthood is another ball of wax. In fact, unless you’re a parent who takes care of your children the majority of your “free” time, you don’t understand the busyness that parenting involves.

But it’s probably less busyness, and more fatigue. Parenting, particularly for children under school age, is a whole lot of emotional energy spent. It’s not like you DO much when you spend all day with a young child. In fact, if you wrote it down on paper it would almost look like nothing at all. But it’s the fact that with particularly young kids you are ON ALL THE TIME and that they demand so much of your attention that leaves you spent at the end of the day.

I remember one person in my life saying that looking after a kid is easy. Okay. And I know there’s something to be said for stay-at-home parents who feel they have to justify their occupation as if it’s a contest. But now that I’m a parent OF ONLY ONE TODDLER I can fully understand parents stating how “busy” (tired) they are.

When you’re childless, your time is your own. Even if you have a lot filling your day, you’re filling it with activities that are your choice, and for your benefit.

I’m not going to throw in a caveat about how much I love being a mother and that I adore my girl; that’s a given. It’s just if I can make time for other people I certainly don’t want to hear how you can’t because you’re so busy.


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Taken Vs. Single

It’s hard to rid a person from your life. Take romantic relationships. No matter how short a time you’re with someone, there’s a little (or a big) hole left over when they’re gone. Even if you’re angry with them or the relationship isn’t good, there’s still a hole.

I don’t think it’s pathetic to recognize that hole. Some religious folks and others will say that you need to be okay with being alone, or you have to learn to have contentment in the face of that hole. Or better, that God should be the one to fill that hole.

Don’t get me wrong, that’s fine advice. In the words of one fantastic book I read last year, you only have two choices when life sends you shitty circumstances: you can believe that something positive will come out of them … or you can despair. That’s very true, isn’t it? In light of that choice, no one in their right mind would choose the latter.

But I believe all us humans were made to live in communion with other people, and people fill a void not even God can. We’re made for life with other humans, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting that.

To that end, I truly believe that any person (who’s not messed up) wants to be in a romantic relationship. That is, no one really wants to be single.

But when we must be single again, we must get rid…and that’s always weird. A person who is necessarily one of the biggest chunks in your life is abruptly out of the picture. And then you don’t know what to do with yourself.

So next time a friend goes back to an asshole partner, or stays with a spouse who has cheated multiple times, or keeps sleeping with someone who is just not good for them…have some grace. It may be stupid, but it’s understandable, and we all do it.

I have to cut someone out of my life, and only half of me wants to. It’s nice to have someone who’s just…there.


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