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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti

Intriguing, right? I promise you won't regret reading this post in its entirety.

I've started a couples class at my place of employment, and I'm really looking forward to exploring lots of marriage/family concepts with clients eager to learn. I thought it'd be fun to give my readers a glimpse into my first group session. (This will be content only! No confidential info will be disclosed.)

After starting with introductions and group rules, I presented the following (although my hand-drawn versions were less than stellar):

Of course, food metaphors abounded, but I asked people to really think deeper. We had a discussion about general stereotypes, but many stereotypes do have a basis in reality. (You can read my Character Stereotypes series from CFOM to understand more.)

Basically, these two images represent the typical way men and women process their surroundings, their lives. Men are more compartmentalized. This is not to say simple or easy, but each aspect of their life goes into a a box. Men enter these boxes one at a time, size up a problem (if any), and seek to solve it immediately. Men are problem solvers by nature. They have work, children, wives/partners, dogs, hobbies, chores...all in separate "boxes."

Funny enough, according to the book I read where I got this metaphor (alas, wish I could claim it as my own, but Bill and Pam Farrel wrote the book by the same title; a Christian alternative to Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus) said that men have boxes with no words, just images/memories. They also have boxes with no words and no images...just blank boxes. (Not making this up...straight from the book and confirmed by many men.) A man's mind will often stick close to the boxes that make them feel like successes, feel good about themselves. They tend to avoid the boxes that make them feel like failures.

Women, on the other hand, are very different. We process everything by it touching everything else. It's much more of a process. Everything is connected. While at work, we can think of home or shopping. We're more relational, and can tend to be much better at multi-tasking as a result of out ability to process this way. We will often catch guys in one of their "blank boxes" and ask them, "What are you thinking?" The blank stare we get is the truth!

Communication, as you can imagine, between the two is challenging. A woman will come home from work, and when asked about her day, she can say, "It went fine. I got an email from Susan....the cancer's back. Oh, we need to go to the grocery store and get shampoo and conditioner. Did you pick up David from practice? We should send a thank-you letter to the Johnsons for dinner last night, too."

The man, poor soul, is scrambling! Trying to enter the friend box, then the grocery box, then the children box....it's a mess. Often, if a man feels like the communication box with their significant other is too challenging, they avoid it. (Which is why many women are the pursuers in relationships while men are the retreaters.) You might hear a man saying, "What's the point of this conversation? Where is this going?" The woman is doing their thing, processing to the point (that we do have), taking our own path. The man would prefer the woman to say, "Can we talk [insert subject] now?" Then they enter the box and both people are on the same wavelength.

I LOVED the looks on the guys faces as the lights came on. They turned to their significant others and said, "YES! This is exactly how I feel!" The women were nodding their heads, too. It was eye-opening, this discussion in stereotypes. I love it.

Q4U: Guys, have you ever felt like you were scrambling to catch up? Women, ever feel like you're almost better off talking to yourselves? Does this ring true for anyone else but me?

18 comments:

Katie Ganshert said...

I'll never look at waffles and spaghetti the same.

This definitely rings true!

Elaine AM Smith said...

This side tracked me with thinking far too deeply ;) Should women be compared to spaghetti - savoury and messy - while men get the light and sweet?

Jessica Nelson said...

This is hilarious!! I'm cracking up right now. I can't tell you how many times hubs is sitting on the couch or laying down and I ask what he's thinking about and he says nothing. And I'm like, nothing? How can it be possible to have a blank mind? LOL!!!!

Joanne Sher said...

This is so SO very true. Have heard the analogy before, and love it. Great post, Jeannie!

Miss Sharp said...

In my spaghetti bowl, nothing is separated! The noodles, the sauce, the cheese...everywhere, all the time! (And I can identify every speck if you need me to, lol.)

While my poor husband's got like 4 squares in his waffle, tops...and when he seems to have difficulty keeping track of them I, dutiful wife, try to "help"...

!

Wendy Paine Miller said...

So this is the real reason I talk to myself all the time? :D

Have heard about this book. Great title. Thought-provoking outlook.

Can I just chow down on both?
~ Wendy

Liberty Speidel said...

I know that blank stare very well... Frequently, when we're driving, things will get quiet, and I'll look at my husband and say, "What are you thinking?" And his response is typically: "Nothing." I have to shake my head, and I think to myself, "How can he be thinking about nothing?" especially since my mind runs at 1,000 MPH most of the time!

BettyZade said...

Hmmm, intriguing! The little boxes thing about men seems to make sense. Good to know info... thanks!

Keli Gwyn said...

Thanks for sharing this, Jeannie. It makes perfect sense. Now I know that when my hubby says he's not thinking about anything I can believe him. I'm going to work on my tendency to bounce between boxes, which really does confuse my poor guy.

Jennifer K. Hale said...

Love this, Jeannie. It rings so true. So when hubby comes home tonight and we're discussing our days, I'll try the one-box-at-a-time approach and see how it goes. :)

And spaghetti is my favorite, so that's appropriate.

Peggy Blann Phifer said...

Seeing it all laid out like this now, it makes perfect sense! Like Liberty said, how can he not be thinking about something? But it's true. He's really in his empty box. Or he's in his "football on TV" box. That one's really deep and he doesn't leave it easily. LOL

Anonymous said...

Interesting-- You know, Jeannie, a while back, we had talked about my character's approach to problems: "fix it or forget about it," and you mentioned that that was something of an extreme way to operate. From what you're saying here, though, it could be actually rather typical--that is, he fixes what he can, as men try to do, and avoids those boxes that are unpleasant or suggest inadequacy or failure--maybe in a more extreme way than most men would, but still a man's pattern of thinking.

Thanks for reminding me of a helpful analogy. :)

Shilpa said...

Definitely! I have read the book "Men are from Mars...". It is a very enlightening book! lol!

catherinemjohnson.wordpress.com said...

Wonderful!

Carol Baldwin said...

fun post. Finally, a way to understand my husband!

Heather Sunseri said...

I love this analogy! And I can't wait to read it to my husband. I'm guessing he is so going to get this!! I shure do. I love blank stares from him (sarcasm).

girlseeksplace said...

Lightbulb moment. This explains so much about the men in my life.

Cecilia Marie Pulliam said...

This explains so much! Thank you for posting! This was great! It makes so much sense!

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Both comments and questions are welcome. I hope you enjoyed your time on the couch today.