Scott Adams on male/female relationships

Discussion in 'Marriage Issues' started by andrew, Oct 10, 2017 at 1:23 AM.

  1. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Male

    Scott Adams, creator of the comic strip Dilbert, has written a few books, and in one of them I ran across the following nugget. Some gold, some dross. Worth a look. Enjoy!

    (NB - He also writes a blog that is always interesting whether you always agree with him or not. Check it out here.)

    To set this up, this particular story features a guru-like character explaining a lot of stuff to a seeker. Gives Adams a great frame within to share his thoughts. With no further ado:


    "Women believe that men are, in a sense, defective versions of women," he began. "Men believe that women are defective versions of men. Both genders are trapped in a delusion that their personal viewpoints are universal. That viewpoint—that each gender is a defective version of the other—is the root of all misunderstandings."

    "How does that help me?" I asked.

    "Women define themselves by their relationships and men define themselves by whom they are helping. Women believe value is created by sacrifice. If you are willing to give up your favorite activities to be with her, she will trust you. If being with her is too easy for you, she will not trust you. You can accomplish your sacrifices symbolically at first, by leaving work early to buy flowers, canceling your softball game to make a date, that sort of thing."

    "Why does it seem like the rich and famous guys get all the women?" I asked.

    "Partly because the rich and famous are capable of making larger sacrifices. The average man might be sacrificing a night of television to be with a woman. The rich and famous man could be sacrificing a week in Tahiti. There is much to be said about the attraction of power and confidence exhibited by a rich and powerful man, but capacity for sacrifice is the most important thing."

    "What do men value?" I asked.

    "Men believe value is created by accomplishment, and they have objectives for the women in their lives. If a woman meets the objectives, he assumes she loves him. If she fails to meet the objectives, he will assume she does not love him. The man assumes that if the woman loved him she would have tried harder and he always believes his objectives for her are reasonable."

    "What objectives?"

    "The objectives are different for each man. Men rarely share these objectives because doing so is a recipe for disaster. No woman would tolerate being given a set of goals."

    "So what should a guy do if the woman in his life doesn't meet these secret objectives? How can he get her to change?"

    "He can't," he replied. "People don't change to meet the objectives of other people. Men can be molded in small ways—clothing and haircuts and manners—because those things are not important to most men. Women can't be changed at all."

    "I'm not hearing anything helpful here."

    "The best you can hope for in a relationship is to find someone whose flaws are the sort you don't mind. It is futile to look for someone who has no flaws, or someone who is capable of significant change; that sort of person exists only in our imaginations."

    "Let's say I find the person whose flaws I don't mind," I said. "The hard part is keeping her. I haven't had much luck in that department."

    "A woman needs to be told that you would sacrifice anything for her. A man needs to be told he is being useful. When the man or woman strays from that formula, the other loses trust. When trust is lost, communication falls apart."

    "I don't think you need to trust someone to communicate. I can talk to someone I distrust as easily as someone I trust."

    "Without trust, you can communicate only trivial things. If you try to communicate something important without a foundation of trust, you will be suspected of having a secret agenda. Your words will be analyzed for hidden meaning and your simple message will be clouded by suspicions."

    "I guess I can see that. How can I be more trusted?"


    "Now you're kidding, right?" I asked.

    "You should lie about your talents and accomplishments, describing your victories in dismissive terms as if they were the result of luck. And you should exaggerate your flaws."

    "Why in the world would I want to tell people I was a failure and an idiot? Isn't it better to be honest?"

    "Honesty is like food. Both are necessary, but too much of either creates discomfort. When you downplay your accomplishments, you make people feel better about their own accomplishments. It is dishonest, but it is kind."

    "This is good stuff. What other tips do you have?"

    "You think casual conversation is a waste of time."

    "Sure, unless I have something to say. I don't know how people can blab about nothing."

    "Your problem is that your view conversation as a way to exchange information," he said.

    "That's what it is," I said, thinking I was pointing out the obvious.

    "Conversation is more than the sum of the words. It is also a way of signaling the importance of another person by showing your willingness to give that person your rarest resource: time. It is a way of conveying respect. Conversation reminds us that we are part of a greater whole, connected in some way that transcends duty or bloodline or commerce. Conversation can be many things, but it can never be useless."


    See what I mean? Lots to think about....
  2. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Male

    Funny story from early in my marriage to Cheryl. Big eye-opener for me.

    So Cheryl's mom has been a lifelong ignorer of the rule that after you get something out of a kitchen cabinet or put something away you're supposed to CLOSE the freaking cabinet door. Am I right? This is not my OCD streak showing, right? (I'm not in denial about the streak, I'm just saying this isn't that, in my humble opinion.) So it shouldn't have surprised me that after we were married, I kept finding cabinet doors hanging open in the kitchen. Wall cabinets, base cabinets (head injuries, knee injuries...), it didn't matter. There were always two or three doors hanging open somewhere.

    Funny, I didn't remember her doing that when she had her own place(s) as a single adult. Did marriage bring that out of her? Or did I just not care and not notice when it wasn't "my" kitchen? We'll never know....

    Anyway, so I was getting pretty frustrated (and pretty bruised) from the routine carelessness and thoughtlessness and just sheer lack of consideration for other people's comfort and safety that I was having to put up with. I made sure that Cheryl knew exactly how I felt about it, too, so not only did she obviously not care about the appearance of our kitchen or the safety of our children, she didn't care about ME! Or our future together, from my point of view....

    Somewhere in there I remember expressing my frustration to God (I knew how much He wanted her to keep a tidy kitchen as a matter of being a good 'keeper at home'—I was on solid biblical ground here!), and getting a rather curious response: "Love her anyway". Confusion ensued, along with the sinking feeling that I had made a wrong turn somewhere but didn't know exactly where.

    As far as I could tell, God was telling me to overlook the fact that Cheryl was positively failing as a homemaker! But it's my duty as her Christian husband, charged with the responsibility of presenting her 'without blemish' to Christ, to constantly remind her of her shortcomings and encourage her to do better, right? I can't just give up and 'let her have her way', right? (Makes me shudder a bit just to think about it....)

    Here's the thing: As baffling as it seemed at the time, believing that God was leading me, I purposed to totally forget about the cabinet doors. Why should I torment myself (and Cheryl, believe me) with all this pain, if I could just quit thinking about it? So I did. And you know what?

    I don't know when it happened—when something stops it often takes awhile to notice its absence—but somehow, some way, Cheryl started closing cabinet doors. Without my help! (What that means is, without my chronic reminders of how she was failing....)

    That was the first time I noticed how this principle works. It wasn't the last.

    Cheryl's mom still won't close her cabinet doors.
  3. Joleneakamama

    Joleneakamama Well-Known Member Female

    Love the story Andrew!

    I used to stew about hubby leaving the foot rest up on his recliner when he would get out of it (you'd think it would be easier to put it down) or other things too.
    It might have been easier for me to accept, since I'm not in a leadership/authority position, but once it no longer bothered me, it somehow stopped.
    My observation has been that we can often resolve the stress in our lives personally, even without a spouse changing to help.
    julieb and andrew like this.
  4. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Male

    True truth. "Fixing a relationship" is what happens when the two parties each focus on self-discipline and self-development.
  5. Mojo

    Mojo Esteemed Member Male

    After years of marriage, my grandfather was known to quip, "I just want peace." In his mindset, why argue? Our modern vernacular might say, "don't sweat the small stuff."
    andrew likes this.
  6. Verifyveritas76

    Verifyveritas76 Moderator Staff Member Male

    After we were married, when I would come home, if the house was in a bit of disarray I would just start picking things up and putting them away. I think I always had a good attitude, I didnt say anything about it or get onto her about it (at least that's the way I remember it:rolleyes:). Anyway, after a couple of those times, and usually while I was cleaning up, she would hurry in to help me help her. She felt so bad that I was cleaning the house up after a day at work that she determined to make sure it was clean before I got home so that there wouldn't be anything for me to clean.
    julieb, jkstrick, rustywest4 and 4 others like this.
  7. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Male

    "Lead from the front."
    Kevin and Mojo like this.
  8. Mojo

    Mojo Esteemed Member Male

    Lead by example.
    Kevin and andrew like this.
  9. julieb

    julieb Women's Ministry Staff Member Female

    I find for me that if something bothers me that isn't done by someone else (mostly Adults sometimes children) in the family, then I just do it. I do it not in an angry way (which is how I would in the past with lots of complaining to said failing person) but in "this is important to me, therefore I make time to do it" even if it really should be someone else's job. These things are usually small, quick to do things, but it makes me feel better and I get to practice unconditional love. :)
    IshChayil, steve, NetWatchR and 7 others like this.
  10. Kevin

    Kevin Well-Known Member Male

    When Jessica and first got Married i would Military roll my sock and shirts drawer. I wanted the house to be inspection ready at all times. She tried but my expectations were impossible for one person to do. I would always end up frustrated. Fast forward 2 years. Jessica and I have our 1 yr old daughter, her brother, 2 couples, and 5 guys who worked for me living in a small 3 bedroom mobile home. I was at my witts end with the constant mess. Everyday I saw Jessica try to keep things in order for me while our "guest" sat back doing nothing. At first I was angry with them, until I realized I was guilty of the same thing. Nine years later, Jessica has her chores, I have mind, and the kids have theirs. Now we just handle each mess as they come. If someone picks up one of yours, you pick up one of their's or someone elses.
    IshChayil, JessicaP, andrew and 5 others like this.