Written by: Joe McKeever
I have finally nailed down the difference in “men’s books” and “women’s books.” I mean, aside from the fact that most books written for women have “Oprah’s Book Club” on their cover. Last week, I was reading “Black and Blue” by Anna Quindlen (definitely woman’s book) and something occurred to me.
A typical chapter in a man’s book will be constructed like: he did this, so they did that, so he did this. A typical chapter in a woman’s book goes like: she thought this, she remembered that, she felt this. Big, big difference. You can read an entire chapter in a woman’s book and the main character does nothing but go to the store and bump into someone. All the while, she’s thinking and remembering and feeling. I would read a chapter in the Quindlen book and want to scream, “Will you get on with it? We know the abusive husband has to show up sooner or later–can we please get to it!”
When I was a kid in the 1940’s you could tell which comics were for girls and which were for boys by their covers. Boys’ magazines featured heroes fighting for justice and warring against evil. They knocked people around and blew up bridges. Girls’ magazines were love stories. In them, the people talked. That’s all. Well, they cried too, and at the end they kissed. No self-respecting boy would have been caught dead reading a girl’s comic book.
On New Year’s Day, Neil and Julie and their offspring–Grant, 7, and twins Abby and Erin, 5–were at our house. My wife said to the kids, “While you’re out of school, we’ll watch some old videos like ‘Space Jam’ and ‘Prince of Egypt.'” Grant said, “And Jurassic Park.” Grandma said, “Only the first one. That’s the only ‘Jurassic Park’ I like.” Grant said, “No, not that one. No one gets killed in that one.” Spoken like a true man.
We are so different. Someone has said that courtship is that period when we check out all the members of the opposite sex on planet Earth and then choose that one individual with whom we have absolutely nothing in common.
GOD MADE US THIS WAY. I’m not sure whether that explains the matter or just aggravates the frustration. But it’s the truth and I’ve got the Scripture to back it up. It’s the well-known verse in Genesis 2 where God sees lonely Adam and says, “I will make him a helper suitable for him.” The old version reads, “a help meet for him,” which in time was corrupted to “help-mate.” The Hebrew word translated “suitable” or “meet” is a compound prepositional phrase that literally means “like opposite him.” It’s found only here in the Bible.
“Like/opposite.” That pretty well sums it up, doesn’t it? Man and woman are alike–human, upright, intelligent, and made in the image of God. And we are opposites in a hundred ways–sexual, physical, emotional, and behaviorial. When Adam laid eyes on this woman fresh from the Creator’s hand, his heart slipped into overdrive and he became a poet on the spot: “At last–this is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh!” As usual, when the magic of romance hits us, we see only how alike we are, how perfect is this arrangement. Later, the differences bob to the surface, and threaten to destroy us.
We may only see what we have in common, but what attracts us to each other are the opposites. “Likes repel, opposites attract” is true not just in physics. We see in the other one traits we wish we had. A messy person marries a neatnik, a spontaneous one weds a planner, a spender links up with a saver. This is no accident; God made us this way. The obvious question is–why?
Because this makes us stronger. Nail two 2 x 4 boards together, and they are stronger than one 4 x 4. The different grains in the pieces reinforce each other.
Margaret and I had been married 30 years when, out of the blue, apropos to nothing, I said to her one day, “When we retire, let’s move to Cincinnati. I want to watch the Reds play baseball every afternoon.” I have no idea if she said a word. Two weeks later, she said, ‘Can we talk about retiring to Cincinnati? I’ve never even been there. And what am I going to do while you’re at the baseball game?” I said, “Are you still thinking about that?” I had said it and forgotten it, but she had thought about little else for weeks. As a result, we began to analyze this difference between us.
We discovered that I enjoy brainstorming by simply tossing up ideas–keeping the good, discarding any that don’t fit. But when Margaret brings up an idea, she has thought it out and is committed to it. One of us thinks inductively, the other deductively. Our mistake was in thinking we think alike. (You’d think we would know by now!)
Part of the fun and challenge of a lifetime of marriage is in continuing to make discoveries about each other. That’s one more reason not to kill each other.
(The source for the “like/opposite” insight from Genesis 2 is the Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 1, page 68)
©Dr. Joe McKeever, 2002. A ministry of the First Baptist Church of Kenner, Louisiana.
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