I often wonder how my grandmother and grandfather stayed together for almost sixty years before one of them passed away. I remember them yelling at each other periodically, but neither one of them ever packed their bags and moved out.
My grandfather was able to stand my grandmothers pouting and posturing by absorbing himself in reading his daily Italian newspaper while savoring his espresso. If he didn’t look up, she would add audible sighing, which often sounded like a cow giving birth. If he started to show signs of irritation, she knew enough “to cool it” and would start talking about what they were going to cook that night.
Food was definitely their common ground.
I loved watching how animated they would become as they whipped together their magical ingredients that became dishes that would make family and friends beg for more.
There were no books to read about how different men and women are, nor were there relationship coaches or therapists to help them understand each other. Male and female brains and their differences was not even a consideration. Earlier scientists might have been able to investigate these differences only by studying the brains of cadavers. But thanks to advances in genetics and non-invasive brain-imaging technology, we are now able to see inside the brain in real time.
John Gray, was one of the first authors to ride the wave of male/female differences. His book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” sold millions of copies. One of his observations was that “Men like to go into their caves” he stated and be alone with their thoughts while women like to be in concert with other women and talk about just about anything. MRI scans can back this up by showing that the brain circuitry for language and the ability to observe emotions is more prevalent in women. Men, by contrast, have two and half times the brain space devoted to sexual drive.
I love research and the scientific outcomes that result in giving us more insights into the human condition, but I also find them amusing.
I watched my grandmother raise her eyes to heaven and then make the sign of the cross when she couldn’t get through to my grandfather. Her education never went beyond the eighth grade, but I’m sure she knew that while she was carrying on about how one of the neighbors had “dissed” her spaghetti sauce that she knew my grandfather wasn’t listening. In fact I would bet that he was just seeing her lips go “blah, blah, blah, until he could make a move to get her into bed.
That is just one of the many ways the male and female brains differ. Many book today have made us realize that men usually don’t like to walk around stores with us, notice that the sofa has been moved, or be disturbed when their in the middle of a football game. Men surely have realized that women have memories like elephants, want to be validated for looking nice, and need flowers, candy or some token of appreciation once in awhile.
I don’t know if my grandparents realized any of that, but they did know that loyalty to each other was tantamount to a long lasting relationship, and I don’t think you’ll find that in a book or a brain scan.