[This post is part of a series, inspired by the book Why Men Lie and Women Cry (2003) by Allan & Barbara Pease. Previous entry: Chapter Three]
The premise of this chapter is that women the world over are secretly assessing their partners, and assigning a numerical score (both positive and negative) to every action, gesture and word that they witness… rather like a “mystery shopper” assessing the sales staff at a store. Maybe I’m naive, but I find that slightly hard to believe (Hey, that rhymed, so it must be true!). I think a more general insight into human nature can be gleaned from this chapter though: People apply subjective value judgements to the behaviour of the people around them, as well as to their own behaviour. For instance, Tony Blair probably believes that he was an awesome Prime Minister, who totally deserves all of the money he’s raking in now as a public speaker, not to mention VIP access to Heaven when his time comes… whereas anyone with any sense can see that he’s a duplicitous, vainglorious warmonger, who deserves nothing but our eternal contempt.
As far as personal, domestic relationships go, this chapter is basically the flip side of the one about “nagging”, where instead of repeatedly reminding their partner of a perceived grievance, a person will simply carve a silent, seething notch in their grudge stick… which they can then beat their partner with, at some later, arbitrarily determined date. This animosity can be salved, to some extent, by thoughtful gifts, but since the resentment is an unspoken one, it’s difficult to know when damage limitation measures are most desperately required. Weirdly, the book’s solution is for couples to literally keep score, using a black and white list of what is expected of each partner, and how many points they earn for completing their allotted duties… as well as how many points will be deducted for incurring a penalty! Kind of like a “love rota”, I guess. I have to admit, that does rather appeal to me, as an anal, obsessive type.
The more Judge Judy I watch, the more convinced I become that marriage is the only way to go, where long-term relationships are concerned. Her endorsement of that sacred institution isn’t based on any overt religious or moral agenda… it’s a practical legal issue, plain and simple. The problem with marriage, in the context of this chapter, is how wishy-washy and vague the vows are. Now, don’t get me wrong… I’m as soppy and romantic as they come, and I sometimes get a little weepy just imagining the first dance at my (sadly hypothetical) wedding reception… but if two people (of any gender) are going to live together in relative peace and harmony, then they need to establish the ground rules, and they both need to understand their rights and responsibilities upfront. Love’s all well and good, but it isn’t love that keeps two people together, for the long-haul… it’s a comprehensive contract, like the “roommates’ agreement” that Sheldon and Leonard draw up in The Big Bang Theory, which covers all possible areas of contention, from disputes over television viewing, to whether your partner is permitted to kill you, if you should happen to turn into a zombie.
As it is written, so it shall be done!
Next entry: Chapter Five