This post could have easily been called “Why Men Don’t Knit.” Choosing this title, however, I followed the shock value marketing strategy of people like Gene Simmons and Eminem (so I’m basically a rockstar… obviously). Please know this title is not to claim women “can’t” be in the trades. I’ve met some women who are fantastic at various construction jobs, but the average woman will struggle with the trades just like most men won’t want to knit because of how our brains work. Women definitely don’t avoid the trades because they’re afraid of getting dirty. If that were the case, they wouldn’t dominate positions like PSWs, nurses, and early childhood educators who regularly change dirty diapers and get splattered in poop. If anything, men aren’t tough enough for these jobs; at least I’m not. When my friend who’s a PSW comes home with poop in her hair it’s absolutely disgusting to me… and hilarious, but that’s because it’s not me… and yes, I’m aware that makes me a jerk and I’m okay with that. After all, I’m a rock star.
Here’s a fun situation. The other night I was folding the laundry (like a man… so I was grunting and scratching myself while doing it). I enjoy this task, but my wife doesn’t normally “let” me do it because I don’t do it the “right” way. Married men likely recognize this problem. When my wife and I were first married and folding laundry together, she got upset with me because I was doing it wrong. How do you screw up such a menial job? Great question. To start, with my socks (emphasis on “my” socks) I folded them over once and stacked them neatly, but that was wrong. I was supposed to roll them into balls like a crazy person (don’t tell her I said that). Apparently I don’t fold my socks the way I should. It’s a good thing I got married in order for her to fix that terrible flaw. Here I was thinking that being able to put my socks in my drawer in perfectly organized rows was smart when it was stupid; I was supposed to have them as a giant messy pile of balls (yes, I enjoy sarcasm). Let’s be honest, balled up socks are the worst! (And yes, I also like to exaggerate).
To avoid fighting, my wife and I simply agreed that she was in charge of the laundry (aka she designated herself in charge of the laundry). Did I argue with this? No, I get out of doing the laundry and logically I’m happy having balled up socks if that means I’m not doing the laundry. Logically, I’d be a total idiot to fight that fight, and I’m not a total idiot; I’m just too dumb to know how to fold the laundry (and know when to stop using sarcasm).
The other night, however, I was trying to be helpful (always wise when you have a tired, pregnant wife). I folded the laundry her way minus my socks, which I hid and did my way (aka the better way); at least so I thought. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I did the towels a new way. Yes, can you believe I tried something new? Our towels go in a square cupboard, and without thinking, I folded them into squares and not the usual rectangles. My wife was not happy. I then put them in the cupboard and showed her that they were the perfect fit, which also saved room. Despite these bonuses, she complained that my towels wouldn’t match the other towels in the cupboard and when I offered to change them to all match she said no because why? There is a “right” way of doing things.
This idea that there’s a “right” way to do things can cause a lot of fights. This is particularly a problem when a man (or child) is tired of being corrected or told what he’s doing is wrong since it’s not the “right” way to do it because eventually he’ll just stop doing it. If one person is more there’s a right way and the other is more relaxed, the couple needs to find a healthy middle ground where they can both feel equal and not like one is smarter or better because this leads to resentment. This is connected to the two posts I recently did on eye rolling and defensiveness.
This “right” way to do things is one of the reasons why women struggle with the trades. In construction, there is constant problem solving, making do with what you have, and adapting to fit different situations. It’s more big picture stuff, which is why knitting sucks for men. With knitting there is a “right” way to do it and you keep doing the same basic thing. In World War 1, a lot of men would knit, but it gave them something to do, the repetition was calming, and it gave them a sense of control in a chaotic time. Normally, men aren’t worried about this while women tend to be more interested in this. They are also much better than men at the finer details. Women can sometimes be accused of “missing the forest for the trees,” but that’s because they tend to be superior with details. To men, there are the basic colours like blue, green, and red. Meanwhile, to women there’s a whole spectrum of colours within the colours. When my wife and I renovated our house, I enjoyed learning and doing the construction. It involved trying different approaches to solve unique problems and doing big scale stuff. When it came to picking the frames for the pictures and all the other decorative stuff, no thank you – I sucked! My wife, on the other hand, was amazing at the details and made our house look fantastic. How was she during the construction? Let’s just say, “I want to burn it down!” was said on a regular basis. She hated the construction phase, but then it was her time to shine when the big stuff was done.
Neither one of us is better than the other; we are just different. And this is the most important thing we can remember: Men and women are equal, but we are different, which is amazing because that means we can balance each other out… or we can drive each other crazy, but I’m trying to stay positive. In my marriage therapy practice, I regularly find a lot of the fighting is the result of not understanding that men and women are different, and learning this simple idea can make a world of difference in accepting the other person and not thinking they’re crazy, which makes for a much safer and healthier relationship.
This week may you consider how you and your partner are equal but different.
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people (like me)