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Appreciating the differences in the sexes

Published August 17. 2013 09:04AM

A little over 20 years ago, counselor John Gray wrote a relationship book that took the country by storm.

"Men are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" sold more than 50 million copies and took on a life of its own in popular culture.

I don't know how many men read the book, but I do know that for at least a decade, it was widely discussed when women got together.

Many women kept telling me: You have to read it. It's an eye opener.

When I did read it, (libraries are wonderful) I found it interesting as a whole and fascinating in parts. But I didn't think the premise was something I didn't already know. I never thought both sexes were the same and never wanted them to be.

God created two sexes so each would be different. If he wanted everyone the same, he would have stopped with one. (We women like to joke He realized He needed a new, improved model.)

But it's all in jest. I've always appreciated the differences in the sexes.

Well, almost always.

Sometimes it's frustrating when I forget men and women think differently, process information differently and communicate differently.

But then I remember a camel will never become a zebra, no matter how much we prod or pray. When I remember that, I deal with every situation more wisely.

There are still times I forget the basic premise that men act differently and we shouldn't expect them to react like a woman.

Yesterday was a prime example. It was a rainy day but the rain cleared and we thought it would turn into a nice evening.

When I told my husband I was going to relax in my hot tub to soothe my back pain, he told me to take my time. He was going biking. Before I even got into my bathing suit, he was on his bike and gone. That was about 6:15.

After I luxuriated in the hot tub for 15 minutes, I noticed the sky was getting dark again. Another storm was brewing.

I figured David wouldn't get very far before he realized he should head home. Normally, he rides about 25 miles, mostly in remote areas.

Thunder and lightening that hit with a vengeance. The rain was one of those heavy storms with wind that blew the pounding rain sideways.

I kept waiting for David to come home.

And waiting, and waiting, and waiting.

When he wasn't home after more than an hour and the storm was still raging, I got worried.

I paced and kept peering down the street, waiting to see him pushing his red bike home. With the continuous storm flooding streets, I knew he couldn't ride through the water without risk of falling.

When I thought about that, my mind conjured up an image of David lying hurt on some deserted street.

I tried to calm myself down by closing my eyes and trying to relax. But all I kept hearing was rolling thunder getting louder and the rain runoff sounding like whitewater rapids.

When my doorbell rang, it was Kay, my dear friend and neighbor. She saw David leave on his bike long ago and was concerned about him, too.

"Call his cell phone and see if you can reach him," she said. He never takes it with him. It's always hanging on a hook in the kitchen.

She decided she was going to take her van and go looking for him while I waited at home. We both thought he might ask to use the phone at someone's house and call me.

My neighbor, Bob, said we needed to relax and have confidence in David. "He's a man. He will know what to do to protect himself," Bob insisted.

By then, it was 8 p.m. and getting dark so Kay went out looking along routes I thought he might take.

A half-hour later, Dave came home, claiming he was fine and wondering why we were worried about him. He and his bike stayed under the roof of a vacant home, he said.

His only concession was that he should have realized I would worry about him. I told him I would have gone to someone's house to use the phone.

He says that's "not a guy thing."

"Guys are self reliant," he says.

He sure is. He doesn't ever ask for help, preferring to work out solutions for himself. There are times when that frustrates me and other times when I admire that male self reliance.

When the kitchen drawer broke, Dave said the underlying metal glide was so old no one made that style anymore. I suggested he go to a cabinet maker to get a piece custom made.

Instead, he did it himself, trying various materials until he got it right.

Recently, my doctor told me how his wife and her friend tried to force him to spend an afternoon with the friend's husband. The two women went to a meeting, leaving the two men at home to get acquainted.

"We just sat there watching TV, saying nothing," said my doctor. "We had nothing to say to each other." Can you picture two women doing that?

Women can always find common ground to keep a conversation going.

When I forget the differences in communication styles, maybe I need to reread "Men are from Mars, Women are From Venus."

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