Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mars, Venus, or rather Pluto?


Once upon a time, a man and a woman met in the most unexpected circumstances and they fell in love at first sight. After spending months of happy times together and exchanging increasingly frequent I-love-you, they decided that they were meant for each other. Once they got married, things began to change slowly but surely. As the I-love-you became less frequent, fights over the most mundane things in their lives became more, in inverse proportion of course. And so, after many years of unhappiness, they decided that they no longer love each other anymore.

How many of us actually know of such a tale, or for some, even live it? It often occurs to me that it’s easier for two people to be in love when they are not actually living together, contrary to popular belief that distance can be a cause of permanent separation. But why is that?

Well, there are many reasons which can contribute to a breakdown in relationships, but I think one of the main causes is false expectations from both men and women. I’ve always believed that until you live with someone, there’s often no way of really knowing who or how the person is; that is, in their most natural and comfortable environment. During the period of courtship, it’s easier for anyone to be cordial, affectionate, sensitive, understanding and patient. After all, you’re talking about a couple of hours a day, sometimes a week or a month. But when you live with someone, unless you have an innate sweet nature; or you keep multiplying the hours, days and years in which you must continue to make the effort of forgetting yourself and worship the ground that he/she walks on; chances are, you’re bound to be disappointed at some stage, several times, or even all the time.

The truth is, society today hasn’t quite prepared us for this kind of challenges. In the olden days, most couples did not even have a chance to get to know each other before they got married and yet, their marriages seemed to last much longer than now when more and more people are engaging in pre-marital sex and co-habitation.

Ironically, I think women in those days were better informed than us. They entered a marriage without much expectations and above all, they were not told all sorts of lies, regarding men. They were not told that men were in general sensitive, understanding and would worship them for the rest of their lives. Men and women at that time knew their roles very well and they lived by those roles, without much questioning. Were they happier than us? I don’t know. But I do know that most of us are unhappy now.

These days, we find men and women fighting all the time, over who is right and who is wrong. Chick-flick movies do nothing to lower women’s expectations of men. The more we watch, the more we’re convinced that men should personify the hero’s characters; someone who would love and adore us unconditionally. A few days ago, I did one of those Facebook chains of questions and answers thingy on literary geek. My secret fictional crush is Mr. Knightley in Emma by Jane Austen. Boy, I sure wish that I can be with someone like him, but then he wouldn’t be fictional now, would he?

A few years back, I got into a huge fight with my husband because he didn’t make me tea when I was sick. I was angry and upset that he didn’t try to pamper me like I did for him when he was sick. He couldn’t understand why I got so angry because I stopped talking to him for days. When I finally revealed my woes, he burst out laughing much to my further annoyance. All he said was, “If you wanted tea, all you could do was just ask!

So there! Women expect men to have that built-in sensitivity and knowledge of what women want. We do not want to have to ask, we expect men to know automatically and we judge their love for us according to what they know or don’t know.

Is this a classic case of men-are-from-Mars-and-women-from-Venus? I’m beginning to doubt this. I think, we’re all from Pluto. It’s not so much as we don’t know how different men and women are. It’s all about what society makes us believe who we are. Just like Pluto, once believed to be a planet, we are influenced by the media to think that we should be this way or that way.

Unfortunately, reality remains the same. What men are not prepared for is the fact that women have evolved over the years. Somehow, many men still expect women to remain the same, to be like their mothers. Again like Pluto, they think that we’re still part of the planets.

And here’s what I think. I’m not a man-hater but at the same time, I support the advancement of women’s role in society today. Therefore, I’m in no way promoting that men and women should return to where they started. Ultimately, we are all creatures of evolution which will continue to evolve and unfortunately, while we have advanced significantly in many scientific and artistic fields, we have not in terms of personal relationships. We’re still held back by our basic primitive instincts; to attack and defend when threatened.

So I think it’s time for us to start listening more to each other. Whether we like it or not, we are changing as a specie and we need to  acknowledge that if we are to continue to co-exist together, we have to start learning more about each other. False expectations can be overcome through open and honest communications. It’s not about what he or she has bought you for Valentine’s Day, or what he or she has done for you, that is going to reveal who he or she is. To truly know someone, it’s about not having any pre-conceived expectations on that person.

If all this sounds too hard for you, then may I suggest that a black-hole would be a more suitable place for you.


  1. I can't tell you much about marriage, as I've been happily single my whole life, but I can emphatically tell you this: Pluto IS still a planet. The controversial demotion was done by only four percent of the International Astronomical Union, most of whom are not planetary scientists, and was immediately rejected by hundreds of professional astronomers led by Dr. Alan Stern, Principal Investigator of NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto. Stern and like-minded scientists support an alternate planet definition stating that any non-self-luminous spheroidal body orbiting a star is a planet. Pluto is large enough for its own gravity to pull itself into a round shape--a characteristic of planets and not of shapeless asteroids. Please do not blindly accept the IAU demotion, which even now many are working to overturn.

  2. Dear laurele,

    thanks for pointing this out. I'll keep this in mind and in future, will not attempt to demote pluto again.

    However, as you can see, this blog is not about astronomy (although I certainly welcome anyone such as yourself who knows a lot more than I do to provide comments). I know very little about this and as a layperson, I rely on international news channels and newspaper for information.

    This information about Pluto was all over the news and I think, if someone like you feel so strongly about this, they are the ones you need to go after for providing what 96% of planetary scientists claimed to be false information.

    For now, I stand by my article because it's not a scientific research paper on the solar system. Pluto was used merely as a metaphorical example, which certainly was not intended to offend anyone.

    Besides, if anyone is interested enough to read this article, they will be able to read your comment.

  3. Whats wrong with being different than a man? It is because men are different that we are attracted to them. Can you imagine living with a man who is as teary or emotional or impulsive or sensitive aor chatty as the woman?

    While differences creates misunderstanding, it also enriches a marriage as you learn from each other.

    But I do agree with you, woman's unhealthy expectations do ruin relationships. I love Mr. Knightley too.

  4. Dear Ms. Kong Piang,

    yes, we should celebrate the differences we have in this world and as you said, this is what makes it interesting and enriching. At the same time, you rightly pointed out that it's only enriching when we start to learn about one another.

    I think in a relationship, it's important for a couple to complement each other and that only happens when they not only accept their differences but apply those differences to make each other's lives better. I think this is a crucial point.

    I think we like Mr. Knightley for his wisdom, honesty and gentlemanly demeanour. I always like someone who is able to humble me when I'm too far above ground. Speaking the truth is also a virtue that this world seems to lack sorely.