Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Husbands are the best people to share secrets with. They'll never tell anyone, because they aren't even listening. OR Further insight into how we are different.

The above title may very well reflect the feelings of many married women or women in non marriage partnerships with a man. It would be most unfortunate should the sentiment expressed in these two short sentences become a judgement which would then harden the stance and attitude of women towards their men with the inevitable reactions and results in these men. We men may be different but we are neither stupid nor insensitive and it would be contemptuous for women or other men to draw such a conclusion when a man is reluctant to "let it all hang out" all the time. 

As we age and accumulate experiences, observations, and feelings from both our own life and also the lives of others, we cannot avoid realizing that it is our mortal human condition to interpret all we observe, sense, feel, and think about the world around us through the very narrow lens of our own self. We cannot avoid this in a sense because due to the original sin this is now our mortal human condition for all of us. However, we can be more aware of this automatic inclination within us to see things "my way" and decide to deliberately not limit ourselves to approaching in such a narrow way life, others, the world, and even to God - through only our own eyes, mind, heart and experience.

God has given us sufficiently fine faculties that we have the capacity and ability to allow ourselves to imagine the perspective of others and attempt to view situations through their eyes, mind, heart, and soul, through all that we know of them, as well as through our own. We can also actually take genuine interest in the other and show the other that we are interested in hearing more about how they perceive any given situation. Of course, this requires at the very least a willingness to accept in others their differences of thought, feeling, experience, and views, and also, what is far more difficult on our part, a willingness to consider the possibility of changing our own views.

For the sake of true dialogue, we can "tailor" our approach to others to try to ensure better reception. Jesus said something about how difficult it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God... it is like a merchant trying to pass his heavily laden camel through the eye of a needle, an expression used to designate a little gate in city walls no bigger than a tall man. A camel could be squeezed through but first it would have to be unloaded. A rich man can enter the Kingdom of God, but he must first unload himself of all his riches and all the attachments those riches have on his mind, heart, and soul. This principle also applies in the human experience of dialogue. 

For true dialogue to take place, for an authentic exchange of thoughts and feelings to take place, people need to be willing to lay aside as it were the "full load" of their own thoughts, feelings, boundaries of experience, beliefs, convictions, motivations, and all that makes them who they are at this moment in time. To put it differently, to engage in truly open dialogue, we need to be willing to listen, to hear the other "as other", and to try to understand the other through her or his own views and experience. It is like being willing to have sympathy or compassion. 

When I accept to "enter into" the views and experience of another human being, it may feel like going into a foreign land and I may find it unsettling and be tempted to hold onto the security of all that is familiar in my own thoughts, feelings, and experience. However, as I "visit" in the landscape of the other, I don't become the other nor do I lose my own thoughts, feelings, and experience. I lose nothing but gain all that is to be learned and acquired during such visits. During such visits and at the end of each visit I become more familiar with the other and then I can go back on my own ground and be in a far better position to appreciate the other and give careful consideration to what is to be done in this relationship about the difference as well as the convergence of our views.

As we try to sincerely improve our communication with others, especially that between women and men, it is good to keep in mind that women and men are physiologically different. In our brains we have a little organ called the "corpus callosum" which is like a hub handling different kinds of traffic in the brain: data coming in, observations being made, tasks in the process of being done, thoughts about what is coming next, emotions, and so on. There's a lot of traffic all the time. In men it is the size of a dime and in women the size of a quarter. 

As a result when women "think out loud" all the processes going on in them men can only perceive all of that as information overload. It has nothing to do with our attentiveness or caring. It comes quite naturally for a woman to process what is happening within her as the day goes on and women's natural inclination is to "think out loud" with others. This is a good fit with other women who in general also share this inclination and are at home with it. However, it is not such a good fit with men. Men also like to connect with others but they are much more particular about doing it and may only feel comfortable connecting in this way with a coworker or long time friend or other men with whom they don't experience the "information overload" reaction. 

It seems natural for a married woman to expect to think out loud with her husband, but it may not be so natural for him to do so with her. This would be particularly true when the woman consciously or unconsciously embeds in her chatting one or more of her expectations. The chatting may at times also contain hidden but undeniable emotional content non-verbally communicating such things as "I expect you to do such and such" or "you must do this within such and such time frame" or "I am very disappointed in you" or any number of such issues. 

What happened at the dawn of time is that the first humans turned away from the plan for their life and happiness that God had shared with them. They began to disbelieve God - having been fooled by the stranger, the devil - and they stopped putting their trust in God and decided to do things "my way" - including "I will decide for myself what is right and wrong, good or evil". The consequences were nothing short of disastrous. Now separated from God they also found themselves separated from each other, refusing to take responsibility for their own decisions and actions, blaming others instead

The original sin or what we could call our mortal human condition gives us a "natural" inclination, which is not natural at all but a dysfunction because God didn't create us like this, and it makes us insecure. If we turn to God for guidance constantly He leads us safely through the labyrinth or our human condition. When we try to handle things on our own we inevitably try to exert control over others, nature, and life. We even try to control God. 

This is the primary source of irritation among human beings, not only between wives and husbands, but also in the family generally, at work, at school, in the marketplace, in any group or movement, in government and other public institutions, and among nations. The only solution possible is to adopt a stance that is humble - acknowledging my own insecurity and neediness - and respectful of others - accepting them for who they are and as they are without any inclination to change them. Of course, only divine love can motivate us to live humbly and respectfully, because only divine love is fully preoccupied with the good of the other, with no fear or concern about oneself.

When we want to really connect with another being we need to connect in a way that can allow for a real exchange to take place. For this we need to take into consideration the nature of the one with whom we want to connect and communicate. For women in their relationship with their husband or other men, this is a real drag I realize, but we cannot change or reverse engineer biology. We men also have our challenges and can be equally dismissive and contemptuous of women. 

God must have a good intention in designing us so differently. Our Roman Catholic Christian faith informs us that part of God's design is that our differences can beneficially provoke us to go beyond our own natural inclination to want to control and transform the other into a mirror image of our own self so that we deliberately embark on the great adventure - which at times may feel perilous - of a never ending discovery of the other, who will forever remain somewhat elusive and mysterious. When we discover that this other actually loves us and shows it in concrete ways, there is no greater joy.

You can check the following Google search page.... for links on the biological information regarding the corpus callosum. Peace to you.... 

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