Well, off I went to the library to work on my Notre Dame presentation, and guess what I read? I couldn't find anything by Alice von Hildebrand or Christopher West, so instead I settled down with Mulieris Dignitatem and (drumroll) The Essential Mars and Venus by John Grey. And this was mere yards away from one of Edinburgh's most famous historians, so you see how confident I am in my own intellect.
Now, I have never read Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, so I was shocked to see how much of this stuff I knew already. I was also surprised to discover that the author's tone was supposed to be funny. So when the "Bridget Jones" books make fun of such ideas as "men are like rubber bands," they are making a joke about a joke. And, really, Dr. Grey is right to be comical, for it is very dangerous to make such claims as "most men are like this" and "most women are like that." You are most likely to get away with it, I suspect, if you make everyone laugh.
Anyway, here are a few notes from The Essential Mars and Venus which leapt out at me:
"Differences make our partners interesting and attractive...The biggest problem, however, is our tendency to expect our partners to think and feel the way we do."
In dealing with men, women's biggest mistake is offering unsolicited advice. This may explain why the percentage of male readers of Seraphic Singles is way, way down!
Women need to learn to stop changing a man. Well, I knew that. That's why you can never settle. You have to marry Mr. Perfect for You, and then smile upon his fashion sense, his posture and his tooth-picking habit when you come down from Cloud 9 and notice them.
To feel better, women discuss and men hide in caves. There were many illustrations of caves. I was intrigued. My father has a sort of cave in the cellar, but my husband doesn't have a physical one. Maybe books can be caves? Come to think of it, I'm the one with the home office. But I definitely discuss to feel better. Definitely. I gripe and gripe and gripe (or type and type and type) until I feel better. The book listed a whole number of things men should not say when women are griping, e.g. "Don't do it, if you're going to complain about it." Oooh, I hate that one.
Men assume that if a woman is not asking for more, he must be giving enough. Alas, you have to tell him what you want for Valentine's Day. He can't guess. If you want support or most other things from a man, you have to ask for it. Clearly. In plain sentences. Incidentally, this book was most definitely for married people.
Men feel better by solving problems, women by talking about problems. Possibly this is why men get annoyed when you complain about mean people. They can't solve the problem of the mean people, so why are you telling them? They get frustrated by the idea that somehow they are expected to solve the problem of the mean people and then, when they do hit on a brilliant solution, women don't appreciate it.
Men are like rubber bands. Okay, this is something that might be helpful for Single women who date. According to John Grey, men have a natural cycle of get close-pull away-get close again-pull away again. This is no doubt why you shouldn't panic when a man doesn't call you immediately after a wonderful date, and why you shouldn't phone him first. Grey is positively evangelical on this rubber band thing:
If a man does not have the opportunity to pull away, he never gets a chance to feel his strong desire to be close. It is essential for women to understand that if they insist on continuous intimacy, or "run after" their partner when he pulls away, then he will almost always be trying to escape or distance himself; he will never get a chance to feel his passionate longing for love.
There was something interesting about women being like waves, which rather blew my mind. I thought it was just me. You know, one minute/hour/day you feel on top of the world, fun, beautiful, lots of love to give, and the next minute/hour/day, you doubt yourself, feel fat and want to hide under a blanket. For more details, go read Grey's stuff on women and decide if you believe it or not.
The secret of empowering a man is never try to change him or improve him. Basically, you have to praise him whenever possible, and I firmly believe this. The trick is to marry Mr Fabulous in the first place, so you do not run out of things to praise. Meanwhile, if you ask me this is not just the secret of empowering a man, but of self-empowering a woman. Once a woman accepts that the man she loves is who he is and not who she wants him to be, she sheds a burden of responsibility. She can go back to improving herself, if that's her bag, free from the idea that anyone is going to judge her for her husband's Megadeath T-shirt.
Now, I am not going to stand at a podium in the pre-eminent Catholic university of the United States of America and quote The Essential Mars and Venus. However, the Domers might not want me to deal with my Ph.D. drop-out's inferiority complex by quoting Bernard Lonergan in Latin at them either. So what is it, my dear Edith Stein Project people, that you would like me to talk about? Sound out in the combox, please!
P.S. In case you're wondering, it's because I occasionally fly too close to the sun.