Friday, May 13, 2011

Happy Wife = Happy Life

So being an about-to-be-married individual (coupled (NPI) with the fact that it’s Sefira now), I have recently given a lot of time to listening to various shiurim on marriage. One that recently caught my attention was the first of a series of lectures given by Rabbi Aryeh Pamensky. In case you have never heard of him, he is not only well-known in the frum world, but in the secular world as well. His lecture series “Happy Wife = Happy Life” is attended by Jews and Gentiles alike all across America.

Without going too much into detail about this particular lecture, I would just like to point out one difference he states about men and women: women are relationship beings and men are not. When I initially heard this statement, I was a little startled. I know that I build my entire life around relationships. I have always thought that we are who we associate with. So it was always important for me to develop solid relationships.

So when I got the word that men simply aren’t relationship beings, I became confused. I brought into question all of the relationships that I already have. If they aren’t relationships, what are they? Who are these people whose company I have been enjoying?

Well, I am glad to say that the explanation did not end there. Rabbi Pamensky went on to tell a story regarding a group of couples to whom he had been lecturing. At one point he split the group into men and women and told them to describe the ideal mate. Ten minutes later, he brought them back and had one volunteer from each group come up. The man (Bob) allowed for the woman (Barbara) to go first. Before Rabbi Pamensky asked about the question at hand, he pointed at a woman in the audience and asked Barbara what the woman's name was, where she was from, how many kids she had, where they went to school, etc. To a stunned Bob (and presumably the rest of the male population in the room, Barbara was able to answer almost all of the questions.

The point is that before women get down to business, they develop relationships. If men are given a task, they do it. It all comes back to the fact that women are relationship beings and men are not.

“Well then,” I wondered. Who are all of these people that I have been spending time with? Until now, I had assumed that they were friends with whom I had deep meaningful relationships. However, I have just been told that I don’t have the capability to have such relationships. I am merely a Not.

Obviously, that was wrong. Men are allowed to have friends. However, the relationship between two men are vastly different than the relationship between two women. And I now know this based on what happens when people get engaged.

For both the guy and the girl, it is inevitable that they will begin to spend less time with their friends, and more time with each other. However, the reactions of the friends are different. As a guy, I know that it is expected that when a friend gets engaged, he is no longer as available as he once was, and I accept that. He has things to do in preparation for marriage, and a very special person with whom he needs to do those things. I get it.

However, girls’ reactions are much different. I can tell this just based on the various blog posts I have read from single girls. I read things like ‘it’s like she disappeared,’ or ‘I never get to see her anymore.’ And these girls are deeply saddened by these situations. In fact, they end up taking it personally. Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky once said “the difference between guys and girls is that two guys can sit on a couch for three hours, watching a football game not saying a single word to each other, and neither one will wonder if the other is angry at him.” Imagine if these girls, who until this time had been hanging out two or three times a week, don’t see each other for a month! It becomes personal. Why? Because women are relationship beings. And guys are not.

The worst part is that every single one of those girls know that when they eventually find the right guy, guess what? They will be just as inaccessible as their friends are to them now. They may say “that’s not going to happen to me; I’m going to be a good friend.” Yes it will. There is so much to do between wedding planning, apartment hunting, work, school, sleep, etc. that they will want to be with their friends, but there is just no time. And that doesn’t mean that you’re a bad friend; it just means that you’re normal. You’ll be there for a friend when she really needs you; you just won’t be able to hang out as much.

No more clearly do I see this disparity than when it comes to inviting people to my wedding. Whenever I am told that a friend of mine can’t make it, I get a little upset for a bit and then I move on. Sure it would be nice to have all my closest friends at my wedding, but this guy has the wedding of his roommate in Toronto on the same day, and this one is starting a job the next morning and has to leave, and this one just got engaged and has to be at his future sister-in-law’s wedding that day, and another can’t afford to fly in from the mid-west… I understand that in a guest list of 50, 60, 70 people, a few can’t make it. But when Erachet finds out that a friend with can’t make the wedding, it’s a truly devastating bit of news.

What guys believe girls don’t realize is that things need to get done, and if getting those things done require missing out on something, even something big, then sacrifices will have to be made. As for what girls believe about guys, what do I know? I’m just a Not.