Sunday, August 09, 2009

"He doesn't value me": Students sometimes mistake professors for therapists. A woman broke down after class the other day, telling me all her marital troubles. She told me that her husband of seven or eight years didn't value her.

This brought to mind my recent post suggesting that women are the more boring sex. I'm surprised no one commented that men are the more interesting sex to men. The way I see it, one big sex difference that poses a big challenge to relationships is that men find women to be absolutely fascinating sexually. But if a woman lacks sexual attraction, I suspect most men don't give the typical woman two thoughts.

I have always disliked this quality in myself, but I don't seem to be able to avoid psychologically placing a lower value on a woman if she is unattractive. Now, if she happens to be really funny or charming, that changes, but interesting personalities just seem much more common in men.

And much of the problem is what people like to talk about, too. More often, men are fascinated with politics or sports or some hobby that involves speed, danger, and/or violence. Now, I could talk to Judith Harris Rich about kids all day long, but most women are not analytical about kids and family.

So back to my sobbing student--I suspect her husband thought she was fascinating when his mind was on having sex with her. Now that sex has gotten old, all he hears is blah, blah, blah when she starts talking about having a family, and his mind wanders to his Harley in the garage and how it needs a good polish.

Now, I imagine that you folks know all this stuff, but what is important here is, how do we resolve the problem? My answer is, acknowledge human biodiversity. Something our culture simply does not do well.

To you wives, as Tennessee Williams wrote, men were built to love and to hunt. Not to worship your soul. Don't put men at the center of how you feel about yourself. They love you, they want to be good husbands, but there are biological limits. Lower your expectations. That phrase is a wise one in many areas of life, but it sounds so un-American or something.

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