Conflicts Over Love
There are books on “the language of love” that claim different people expect love to be expressed differently. Some prefer being touched. Others expect more touching and still others want presents, etc.
It seems to me that there is another differentiation: men and women interpret love differently. Not only do their interpretations (of love) differ, but so too do their expectations about how love should be expressed within their relationship. And that often becomes one of the sources of conflict within a marriage,
Both men and women want and expect love, but the language of love for men is often different from the language of women, and that is the insight of today. (Of course we all recognize that some men have a strong feminine side, some women a dominant masculine make-up; and that they act in accordance with their personality, rather than a gender stereotype. Thus, in this insight the term man or woman should not be taken literally.)
Love is, I said in the blog on Searching for God, total integration, which means Mutual Trust and Respect; you cannot love someone you do not respect, nor trust. I now realize that was a masculine way of expressing love.
Those with masculine energy, for the most part MEN, desire from their WOMEN partners love expressed in respect and trust: Just show you respect me and trust me as a husband, as a provider, as a father- whatever I am supposed to do. That is paramount.
Those with feminine energy, for the most part WOMEN, want respect and trust too, but their focus or emphasis is on action that is addressed to feelings. They seem to be saying directly or indirectly: I want you to take some time and demonstrate that you care about me, that you value me, that you want to hug me.
Men also want to be hugged, but in moderation, whereas women hope that expressions of love will be constant and overflowing.
A woman bringing flowers to a man does not generate the same response (nor the same feeling of love and gratitude) as a man bringing flowers to a woman.
A man might say: Buy me a shirt or a jacket but do not overdo it. Women love men to overdo it for them.
Women who show love by hugging and kissing, but who then criticize a man tend to miss the target. He will feel disrespected, and thus not loved, although he is hugged.
What is the moral of the “story,” of this insight?
Do not expect love the way you want to be loved.
Express love the way the other person wants to be loved.
(In managerial terms: have a marketing orientation, not a production orientation; that is, focus on the client’s needs).
I observed recently that this insight has validity for how I behave with my grandchildren. My granddaughter loves to be hugged. My grandson runs away when I overdo it.
We are different. And we have to learn how to treat and love each other differently.
Another moral, I dare to say, is that over many centuries women have successfully indoctrinated men: they have made it perfectly clear just how they expect and wish to receive expressions of love: A thoughtful gift on a birthday; a romantic surprise on an anniversary; an impulsive and spontaneous gesture of intimacy on a commonplace weekend. And they express hurt feelings if men forget an anniversary or, God forbid, a birthday.
We men, however, have failed abysmally to effectively communicate to our partners that we want to be loved more with respect and trust than with a gift of flowers and hugging. And it is time we did something about this. With women taking a stronger and stronger lead in relationships, the sex wars are more intense then ever. Trust and respect are tested to the limit and impact adversely how men feel loved.
Dr. Ichak Kalderon Adizes