How differences keep a relationship going

Pranitha Menon

When Dr John Gray released his book Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus in the year 1992, it was an instant success. The success was probably because the very title gave a ray of hope to those on a quest to better understanding of the other sex by unlocking some secrets and psychological differences of two species who are from the same planet, yet so different.
When I decided to meet up with a friend, my excitement and preparation began way in advance. On the other side of counselling, instructions, explanations to both my children and their caregivers for the morning and after bringing the entire wardrobe out to zero in on a dress, I met her at a coffee shop.
Our greeting was loud enough to break virtual spells that a few couples and some lone occupants were locked in, giving them an opportunity to look up. Once our excitement simmered down, we went about the task of filling each other with everything that had, hadn’t and all that we had hoped would transpire in the years since our last meeting along with our opinions, thoughts, ideas between revisiting a few memories, a few dozen ideas, opinions and thoughts of our younger selves.
It took some phone calls from our children and their exhausted caregivers, a dozen eyes that looked our way every time our excitement bubbled up a few decibels and the barista masking his impatience with a plastic smile while making frequent appearances with reminders for a refill and a show of the menu that finally got us to painfully and reluctantly vacate the place with a promise to meet up soon and pick up from where we had left.
But then, we had not even begun!
Then one day we met up with some of my husband’s friends and their families who were visiting Dubai. The friends greeted each other with the customary folksy embrace, smiles, excitement and introductions.
While the friends were catching up with old times, their wives exchanged smiles and some awkward questions.
By the time the friends’ excitement had simmered down from revisiting old times to conversing about common friends and acquaintances, we women had found a topic of interest that was slowly and steadily branching out into other topics.
Our excitement and conversations rose to a feverish pace when we got to know that some of us shared common interests.
When the friends’ conversation had dried up to a few sentences about their thoughts and interests in the field of work, sport and politics between long, quiet spells, their wives were laughing and conversing like old friends.
As we conversed like long-lost friends catching up, the men’s conversation had died down to mere monosyllables and grunts while their attention alternated between the television and their phone screens occasionally throwing some bizarre looks our way.
By the time they were leaving, my new friends and I had exchanged a few tips in bettering our culinary, fashion choices, child rearing, home management techniques, quick fixes between suggestions for authors, some helpful sites among a zillion other with a promise to catch up soon. As for the men, they had met, discussed friends, politics and sports — all of which remains exactly how it was before they met.
Upon their leaving, I asked my husband about his evening. I remember getting a grunt and a shrug in response.
This must be one of the many reasons that keeps relationships going and Dr Gray’s book still occupying a place in all bookstores.

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