Thursday, April 30, 2009

Man, Woman and Understanding

We must have all heard most men saying "I do not understand my wife". This statement by itself does not make significant impact, as this is a norm rather than an exception. What surprises me is that, not many women say "I do not understand my husband". In fact, I haven't heard any women who has said this. They always seem so confident about understanding their husband. But when it comes to Men, they are mostly confused about understanding their wife. I guess, some of them, have given-up trying to understand.

Human personality gets formed by numerous amount of factors starting from the day of birth (or conceiving probably). To name a minimum few they are, upbringing by parents, neighborhood, education, friends, place, etc. etc. To stress again, this is a bare minimum list, each and every second of life impacts us in different ways. It is up to the individual how he perceives the scenarios of his/her life and what he/she/it understands from those scenarios. It is practically next-to-impossible to list all the factors which have made up the personality of person. Because of these huge amount of factors involved, a person understanding themselves itself is a big deal, live alone understanding of other person. Lot of philosophies have written loads of text on the matter of understanding oneself.

In spite of all these difficulties in understanding a person, I must admit, women have some special ability to understand their man. Some examples that I have seen are, women typically know the reason of their man being angry (Man himself might not know), women knows the needs of their man better than man himself, Women know the likings/disliking of their man, Women can pick-up cloths which a man will like (but the opposite probably is never true) etc. etc. I am sure each of you will have more examples for yourself to ponder upon. Despite of this understanding of their man, women, I have seen haven't shown much of understanding of themselves. But, in case of the children, women show an amazing clarity of understanding, which a man never can even dream of achieving I guess. This whole issue of Women's strength and weakness of understanding looks very complex.

As usual, I cannot stop myself from analyzing the reasons behind such great powers of the women.

From the days of hunter/gatherer humans, typical structure of a family is, Man has the responsibility of earning food, and woman has the responsibility of managing the family. Because of the responsibility, a typical man is always outside the house figuring out ways to earn the food for the family. (For most of the human life on earth, humans had to use physical energy to earn their food) When a man is home, typical objective of a man is to have rest, so that he can be ready for earning food the next day. Whereas typical woman, had the responsibility of taking care of family. Managing a family meant, managing the resources (food, money, house, utilities etc.) and managing the people (children, Man). Because of this responsibility, women have always put an effort to understand their Man, children, so that their needs are satisfied for the effective functioning of the family. Whereas, a man has never had a need to understand the woman to perform his duties for the family, only thing he had to know was the ways to earn his food. The balance of the family is maintained because of this, and the whole family lived happily.

For thousands of years, the responsibilities of a family has been structured in this way. And hence, women have built the skills needed to manage their family effectively. One of the skill being, understanding the people, especially the husband, they have mastered effectively. Probably over the years some of these skills have got into the gene of a women. Lately, there has been an argument for women making better managers than Men in corporate world. I guess the reason is, Women have been performing the role of managing the resources and people in a house-hold from thousand of years, it is very natural that they extend these skills to manage a corporate.

Over last 300 years, with the industrial revolution and all the technological innovations which have happened in the world, the need for physical effort to produce food has decreased considerably (The decrease has been continuously happening from last 3000 years starting with invention of wheel etc. But the industrial revolution has reduced the physical effort exponentially). With the advent of mechanization in clothing, making utensils, medicine, etc. in the society, the effort needed to manage an house-hold has reduced considerably also. The effort needed by both a Man and Woman to perform their duties in a family has been reduced considerably over last 2 centuries. Hence both Man and woman have put effort to re-define their roles in the family. The effect is clearly visible with the changing social structures, husband and wife working, decrease in importance of broader family, etc.

With the changing roles, the need for an Man for understanding his wife has increased exponentially over last 100 years. I believe, in today's world, more and more men are putting effort to understand their wife. I need to say, I have seen some who have even succeeded to a very large extent. Today's women, also expect their man to put effort to understand them, and hence the failure of a Man is more visible, when they fail and say "I do not understand my wife" in frustration.

In the historical days, woman looked for qualities like, ability to earn, strength, social status etc. in a man for choosing a husband. Whereas man looked at the qualities related to managing the family in a woman. With the nature of the world changing, today, both woman and man look at the qualities of "understanding, compatibility" in marriage.

Though, woman have head start of thousands of years in skills of understanding people, Man is making all efforts to learn the skills and continuously improve upon the skills, to live in the changed world. Best of luck for all Men! Failure is the stepping stone for success.

-- Madhukar Hebbar


janani said...

Reading this article and the other one - Who is the boss? (though this sounded a little chauvanistic) - it appears like you are championing the cause of women!!! ha ha :)

Jokes apart, i liked your line of reasoning. On similar lines many women say "I just dont understand this finance thingy. This tax calculation and managing my savings/money is just beyond me" I havent heard any man saying this. I guess this statement can also be justified using your logic. Though women also earn as much as men these days and have the same career growth as that of men, you will still find many women depending on their dad or husband to look after their finance. As a woman, though i am not surprised with this reaction because i have heard it from many of my friends (women) and i can understand (though not relate to it); i attribute this to the fact that somewhere the thought process of the woman taking care of the family and the man supporting the family's monetary needs has been passed down through the generations and though the social structure has changed today, the thought process remains!

However the above statement is not made by ALL women but i can say that i have heard it from quite a few. This is just to indemnify myself in case somebody decides to sue me for making such a strong accusation against womanhood!! :) ....."Dad! Somebody has just sued me for making a harmless statement. What should i do next?" :-)

Good article!

Critic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Critic said...

okie. I disagree with the statement which says that a wife understands her husband and husband says "I can’t understand my wife". A typical husband may say my wife is silly, she argues too much. He says my wife spends money on too much unnecessary stuff. He can also say I dont understand why she takes so much time for makeup even though she is married. But never or rather rarely does any husband say, I don’t understand my wife. In fact saying such a thing after marriage is a tragedy since the basic foundation of marriage between a man and woman is trust and understanding. So questioning the basic tenet of understanding such an everlasting relationship will lead to a disaster.
BTW, how did you come to this conclusion about understanding? By books or movies or by observing few people. Even if you have seen people saying that, no husband really means it by heart. He is just talking about the wife is a lighter moment. If any husband says that he cannot understand his wife in the real sense, probably there is a serious problem with their relationship.

VidyaShankar Harapanahalli said...

My Random thought after reading your article....

Father is head of the family, but Mother is heart of the family. Its is taken for granted that Mother has to understand all in the family.

Economics are important factor in determining "who understands whom better"

Earning member of the family (mostly men in olden days, now also men dominate in numbers) get special attention for obvious reasons and probably that person may assume that he/she needs to be understood that other way...

Madhukar Hebbar said...

thanks for all your thoughts.

Thanks Janani, it feels nice to be appreciated for my theory :-)

Some clarifications,

Critic, I think this phrase is generally used (movies/books/people), most cases to describe the examples you have given. When the article says "not understanding", it doesn't mean 0% understanding. It is relative in comparison to the man understanding the woman.

How did I come to the conclusion? - This is through the reasoning I have provided in the article. Interestingly, this article I started with the question, and I wrote along as I thought about the reasons and answers.

VSS, I think we are in a transition phase of change in social structure. 1000's of years of family structure cannot change in years, and hence some families are still Men earning types. But as I wrote this article I realised, we are moving towards the change in rapid speed.

Madhukar Hebbar said...

VSS, I frankly think from a family perspective, there is nothing special in Man or Woman. I tried to highlight this using the "Who is the Boss?" article. There is NO BOSS. Both have responsibilities, and they need to deliver on the responsibilities for effective functioning of family.

Historically "Man has external facing responsibility" and "Woman has internal responsibility". With the change in world, today, it is more of both can be external /internal is the structure which is getting adapted.

Atmaram said...

I cant say much on this but I strongly agree with most of it... Of course this is what I have heard and this is what I was expecting after marriage... On the contrary we understand and compliment each other pretty well atleast that what she tells my nmom all the time