On the drive back to DC from New York my husband decided he wanted to drive for a change. Being a beyond crazy rendition of a 'back seat driver', I knew this meant big trouble, BIG trouble. My poor hubby, he tried being patient with my repeated, sporadic and overly cautious warnings but it just got to be too much for him to bear. By around the end of New Jersey he was surely wondering why he ever married this crazy overprotective woman who had no trust in his fairly sober and responsible driving skills. Once home, the Miriam from the past would have attempted to fix the relationship chasm that had occurred on the ride immediately, which would have been a woman's way of fixing things. But after 11 years of marriage I knew that with time the anger and pure frustration on both sides would just dissipate and soon we'd be back to normal.
To further illustrate the inevitable and uncompromising differences between men and women I will bring up the issue of my friend and her husband ( I am using Alicia and Mark as made-up names). Alicia calls me to complain that her hubby Mark does not support her around the house while she works full time and he's home temporarily not working. She is beside herself angry at him primarily because he does not seem to automatically know what needs to get done around the house. Women in general have this very troublesome romantic notion that somehow the gifts or efforts of a man are worth more if they come out naturally without a woman's prompting. This notion can cause a whole lot of misery in a relationship, it may even lead to divorce. Men are fairly direct beings and the added expectation of having them be 'psychics' can cause quite a bit of stress on both sides.
My husband and I have this same argument every year around my birthday around the issue of unspoken expectations. He has no idea why I can't just tell him what I want for my birthday and vehemently questions why a gift would suddenly carry such weight and importance in our relationship. I have learned that men are much more direct and simple beings than women and if given a how-to manual to women they'd be much happier, for in the end they do want to make us happy, they just don't want all the guess work. But as it is right now, they simply do not get us. I don't think letting go of our unspoken unrealistic romantic expectations means compromising what we need in any way, but realistically, some men are not very good at figuring out what we want. And don't come beating down my door if I say that that it should be okay that they cannot guess what we want. Think of all the times some of you had to help 'dad' buy gifts for 'mom'. Does that mean dad loves mom an less? No. As a society as a whole, I think we still expect all men to bend towards this female way of doing things, but realistically, I don't think it's in the nature of most men to operate this way for long; maybe during the dating period at best.
Romantic movies, TV and novels have done women, men and relationships in general a huge disservice by setting up such ridiculously absurd realities of what a relationship SHOULD look like. There are perfectly happy marriages that do not look at all like what we see in movies and TV and having the full spectrum of how relationships could be should be available to the public. We need to create a new paradigm for relationships that encompass a more balanced set of responsibilities for both sexes that better match their natural responses and habits.