This is the fourth post in the 1/2 Marathon being orchestrated by the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association. I have a bunch of questions left from the A Males Perspective teleconference I spoke at last week. As such, I’ll be using this marathon to answer some of the questions I received. Please note, these are my perspective. I cannot vouch for all males and when I’m giving my perspective on women, I certainly cannot vouch for all women. Also, all references to gender traits are based on the average population, there are exceptions of course. Please do not be offended by these if you are not “neurotypical” for your gender. So, on to the question:
How would most men describe a romantic evening?
If you ask me to describe a romantic evening or plan a romantic weekend, or something similar, my answer will be exactly what I think my wife would think would be romantic. I don’t think I really grasp the concept of romance, and based on comments from lots of wives on message boards, blogs, etc, I don’t think I’m alone.
Intellectually, I understand that romance usually involve some key elements: flowers, chocolate, dinner, a movie, dancing, sunsets, a walk together, conversation. But, these are just elements, specifics that have no real meaning without understanding the underlying abstract concept of romance. The best analogy I can think of is electricity. When asked to describe electricity, people will generally talk about light bulbs, light switches, wires, outlets, things like that. But these are just elements. Most won’t discuss the underlying science of electrons, amps, watts, voltage, phase, etc., things an electrical engineer understands.
They know that if they turn on the light switch, the light bulb will turn on, most of the time, unless something is wrong, then we know to check the simple things: is the light bulb burnt out, is the breaker tripped. Past that the generally population has no idea what to do.
Likewise, a man buys some chocolates, some flowers, gives them to his wife and most of the time (depending on the wife), she’ll be “turned on” unless something is wrong. Then we know to check the simple things. Did I forget something important like a specific date? Did I do something wrong like walk into the house with muddy shoes? Past that, we have no idea what to do. We just know our wife is looking at us like “how can you not understand what is wrong?” And we’re not stupid, we didn’t miss the “obvious”, we just don’t understand romance. Now some guys understand more than others, and some guys are better at faking it than others, and some know more elements than others, but that doesn’t mean we are “romance engineers”, that role is predominantly filled by the female gender. We don’t understand it, we don’t need it for ourselves, and so we don’t grow up being taught it.
Now, can we learn? I don’t know, some will be willing to try, some will think they know already and don’t need help. One complaint we hear a lot from wives is that their husbands say “those holidays like Valentine’s Day are just a money grab, I don’t need a specific date to be romantic, I can do it any day!” Now, the first time you hear this you might think “Wow, this guy gets it, we want spontaneous romance, not contrived coerced romance!” The problem: these husbands rarely actually do anything romantic. Either they think they know romance, and are failing miserably, or they know they don’t, so they’re covering by saying they don’t want to do it on the prescribed days. Those guys may not be willing to learn. The rest? Willing: yes, able, not sure. We might be able to learn some more elements, which gives us a better chance of rolling together something that works, but many of us will never really understand.
So, please, the next time we screw up something romantic, go a little easy on us. We can’t help it, we just don’t understand, and some of us never will, despite desperately wanting to please you. And if your husband is one of the rare ones who does, maybe rent him out to other husbands to plan some weekends/dates for them.