What do we say to our kids when they’re bickering over nothing, but seemingly unable to stop? What do we say when they are stubborn, squawking, and convinced they are right, endlessly fuming at each other?
Generally, it is. And it helps if we are an example of the behavior we seek.
What about the pouting, bratty, I-want-what-I-want-when-I-want-it little kid in all of us? In men and women? Can we learn to play nice?
As for men and women treating each other well – allowing for the many variations on relationships that may exist, I believe we can play nice. It is in our own best interest, and that of our families and communities.
Some of us are people pleasers. Some of us are narcissists. Most of us fit somewhere in between, on good days and bad days, doing the best we can with our co-workers, our partners, our children, our parents.
I believe that we can all learn the art of compromise, without losing ourselves. It isn’t easy.
I believe we can play nice. It’s easier than we realize.
For all our physical and psychological differences that define us, as well as the experiences and choices that take us the rest of the way – we want love, understanding, laughter, and affection. Men and women would like to get along. We seek a meaningful exchange. An authentic and lasting connection.
Musing on men and women
I’ve spent the better part of a week or more thinking about men I know and women I know, thinking about my sons and what sort of men they will become, raised by a single mother, wondering about men I’ve never met – those intrepid fellows over the years who have popped up politely on dating sites, engaged in conversation, then disappeared into the abyss of anonymity, seemingly without so much as a second thought.
Sometimes we get second chances at relationships. Sometimes, timing and circumstances work against us. But is it ever too late to reconsider our attitudes and actions? I don’t think so.
As I reach back into memory and look forward into the future, I insist on the value and necessity of playing nice. As adult men and women who meet, greet, date, mate, explore, create, and choose – or wander – whatever path suits us or finds us, honorably.
On that note, in requesting that we all consider the rewards of trying to get along, I will no doubt move on to other topics (as usual), eventually circling back to love, to romance, to the importance of chemistry, to what we want and need in our relationships. How could I not?
I would like to offer you a poem I read when very young. Even then, I sensed it held truth. I couldn’t understand the depth of that truth until I was older, had known what it is to love a man, and also, to love children.
While times have changed since this was written (it’s been more than 30 years), I believe many of you will nod in recognition. It may be the nature of women loving men, or it may simply be the nature of loving.
The Meaningful Exchange
© Marge Piercy / from The Twelve-Spoked Wheel Flashing
The man talks
the woman listens.
The man is a teapot
with a dark green brew
He pours into the woman.
She carries his sorrows away
sloshing in her belly.
The man swings off lighter.
Sympathy quickens him.
He watches women pass.
The woman lumbers away.
Inside his troubles are
snaking up through her throat.
Her body curls delicately
about them, worrying, nudging
them into some new meaningful shape
squatting now at the center of her life.
How much lighter I feel,
the man says, ready
How heavy I feel, the woman
says: this must be love.
© Marge Piercy