|Photographer: Adrian Sampson|
Sometimes illustration can be oh-so-enlightening when it comes to relationships. Mike and I gave talks for a few years using Dr. Mark Gungor’s hilarious Tale of Two Brains clip to start off the evening, but recently I heard another analogy that sparked some new thoughts on the topic of how men and women think differently.
In the talk I heard, the speakers explained that men’s brains are like waffles, with individual compartments for everything. Men can choose one of these compartments to open, and when they are in that compartment, they are all in. They have the gift of not needing to connect what they are doing to any of the other compartments.
Women have brains that are more like a plate of spaghetti. Our thoughts and feelings are so interconnected that it’s nearly impossible to separate doing the dishes from the state of our marriage from needing to pick up stamps this afternoon.
(And would you bear with me on the fact that of course these are generalizations. Although, I’d like to make the point that sometimes generalizations are based on a more than a small nugget of truth.)
I think that a major strength of having a classic man’s “waffle” brain must be that you are able to be more present to what you are doing. When my husband Michael is playing with our kids, he is playing with the kids. When he is watching TV, he is watching TV. When he is working out in the yard, he is working out in the yard. His single-mindedness gives him an incredible work ethic, and it also gives him a wonderful charisma. You feel like he is “all there” when you are spending time with him. On occasion, the whole one-waffle-compartment-at-a-time thing can be a problem for us:), but I think learning how to compromise has come slowly but surely the longer we have been married.
My big-‘ole-plate-of-spaghetti brain, on the other hand, is why I struggle with my thoughts running around in my head all the time like a herd of naughty ponies. For example, at home I struggle mightily with guilt. All. The. Time. There is so much to do as a mother and keeper-of-the-house that I feel like I am torn up on a daily basis about whether I am wasting enough time with my kids, or spending enough time on my marriage. It’s tough when after school all I want to do is order a pizza and go out with the kids to shoot my son’s bow and arrows over the house. But dinner. But laundry. But we’re out of toilet paper. But errands. But our budget. But the hundred blog posts that fill my notebooks.
The practice of presence with God, with our family, and in all of my relationships must be really intentional for me. Practically-speaking, being intentional about my presence to others means that I have to actively keep my mind on task. This also means that I need organization and routine in my life that makes time for what is important to me besides the tasks of caring for a house full of people.
It’s interesting how freedom can actually come from giving yourself rules and structure. Because I am (dare I say?) pretty self-disciplined most of the time, every once in a while I feel perfectly okay about ordering a pizza so that I can go shoot arrows over the house all afternoon, and then just snuggling later on the couch with a movie and my manly-brained man.