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Friday, April 28, 2006

Husband, father, decider? The New York Times recently had a fascinating article on male-female relationships titled "Never Mind Mars and Venus: Who Is 'the Decider'?" The hook was President Bush's comment that "I'm the decider and I decide what's best." As Times article put it, the president's comment "unwittingly added to the lexicon of marital relations." According to the article,
While spouses are often quick to say they jointly consider where to vacation, how many children to have, what car to buy and where to live, each is often quick to lay claim to some, if not all, of the domestic terrain."
The article goes on to note
Yet in practice, it seems that many contemporary marriages hew to a corporate management template. Donna Perry Keller said that she and her husband, Rob Keller, who live in Kalamazoo, Mich., "defer to each other's core competencies." Mr. Keller, 38, a trained accountant, pays the bills. Ms. Keller, 37, a former schoolteacher, calls the shots with their 5-year-old twins. "In situations where core competencies are irrelevant," Ms. Keller said, "we usually defer to the one who feels most strongly about the decision to be made." When Mr. Keller wanted to go to Paris to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary, but she preferred a town she had never visited, they went to Paris and Provence. "A year or so after the twins were born," Ms. Keller said, "Rob clearly communicated that he would like another child if I felt up to the challenge. I didn't, so we didn't. He could tell that I felt strongly, and he never pushed the issue. For us, marriage is more a finesse game than a power game. It requires 'the suggester' and 'the discusser' as much as it does 'the decider.' "
I think the last quote points out the fact that in a marriage, the "how" is just as important as the "who" in the decision-making process. For men, it is important that we communicate our feelings about parental decisions. We need to articulate why we take certain stands, rather than just grunting "yes" or "no."

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