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.