Written by GLORIA OGUNBADEJO - Punch, Nigeria
People tend to ask couples who have been married for a long period what their secrets are. I always find it an odd question because by virtue of the word secret, it suggests it is not something one wants to share. Besides, one couple’s successful ingredients may not work for another.
The two most important questions asked relating to the dynamics between the genders are what do men want from women and what do women want from men? It is one thing to know the answer and make a decision on how to respond to it.
However, it is a whole different ball game as it is mostly the case not to have a clue. When we strip away all the confusion and complexities of the 21st Century living where gender roles are not so defined, sometimes tipping the balance to the point of non-recognition, there have been and will continue to be some basic primordial impulses and needs between the sexes.
Women primarily want a strong man to protect them, to provide strong genes to father their offspring. Men want a woman with child bearing hips to produce their babies and they want their women to be a mother to the children and to them.
Below is a vignette of a discussion between a group of men and women about the topic
Fast forward to modern day living where we would all agree the story and attitudes are somewhat different.
Although some argue that the intentions and needs are really still the same and that is why relations are in so much chaos because couples are trying to go against the grain and are fighting their basic nature.
I am being somewhat of a coward here and putting all cases of the argument in this article, trying not to pitch my tent on any particular side (I will probably fail in this attempt).
Women now appear to be demanding a whole new set of conditions, which focus on economics, sexual fulfillment or liberation, equality, excitement and risks.
Therein lays a lot of the upsets observed in relationships today. On the other hand, men appear to have lost the plot and do not seem to have a clue what exactly they want or seem to feel they have endless options, as a result they seem unable to focus on maintaining a stable home.
One of the young gentlemen in my camp said he knew a lot of young women who were completely clueless about what it meant to be a wife.
Naturally, I was intrigued and inquired what his opinion was of what a wife was meant to be. He said he knew of young wives who had no concept of compromise, responsibility, self restraint. He also stated that he had heard women say they do not cook and do not see anything wrong with that.
He said a lot of the women entered into marriage completely naive about the institution and with the belief that if there were problems in the marriage, they would just up and leave, or the man would have to deal with it.
One of the women (of an older generation), in the discussion said in her opinion she felt men possess the emotions of children (regardless of their ages). She said she felt men were ‘easily led, were infantile in their thought process, and seemed to believe all that ‘all that glitters was gold.’
Asking her to expand on this, she added that that she felt that it didn’t take much to convince a man that the ‘grass was greener elsewhere and that they were gullible.’
This, she said, was why a lot of men ended up in compromising and messy situations they cannot extricate themselves from.
Another male discussant said his major anger is the withholding of sex from their husbands by some wives as a means of controlling or punishing them.
He said he felt this is a big mistake women make and it usually does not have the desired effect they thought it would. He said to him such portend a deep rejection and left him feeling hurt much longer after the quarrel was over. I’m not sure women should agree to physical intimacy if they are not feeling emotionally good themselves.
Women need emotional intimacy in order to make love, while men express emotional intimacy through sex. He also went on to say that he felt involving other person in their marriage was humiliating and felt was a form of betrayal.
What is evident from these discussions is overwhelmingly that men and women are wired differently.
A case in point is when a guy calls up his mates and invites them for a pint later on. This is exactly what he means and they hook up for a drink later in the day. When a woman arranges to meet with her girlfriends there is less spontaneity, it takes lots of forward planning (sometimes weeks), and emails (sometimes group emails).
Then again she has many more things to consider before she can get away. The challenge for both sexes is to continuously attempt to understand the others perspective, compromise when one cannot make head or tail of it and possibly the most important is to talk to each other. One can find out a lot when one asks. I invite comments and suggestions on this topic. I am sure readers have a lot to say about it.