Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Who is Man for Woman? Part 1

I commented here on the topic of marriage and brought up the name Fr. Loya. Fr. Loya was blessed with the opportunity to study in Rome and here Pope John Paul II speak on Theology of the Body. One of the Pope's most memorable quotes for him was:

Humanity, its dignity and its balance will depend at every moment and on every place on the globe on who man is for woman and who woman is for man. - Pope John Paul II
I believe the thesis of this talk is: To understand marriage, love and sexuality you need a total vision of man. If you can't fully answer the question "Who is man for woman and who is woman for man" you cannot understand Church teaching on this topic. I think that is 100% true. I hesitate to write the post because when narrowed down to a blog it may sound like it just plays on stereotypes and is insensitive to people who don't fit the norm. That is not my goal in any way. The goal in this post is to touch on something I feel to be true - God made man and He also made woman. We were both designed to be perfect and I would say equal. However, something else I have found true in many ways over the years - equal does not mean the same. Please read with an open mind.

I am not a theologian so if you want all his biblical references that support his point you should definitely get this cd. Instead, I will mention a few "real world" examples that he mentions that I find helpful in conversations on this topic -

His first point that is made involves compliments (different things that go together). Many compliments can be found in the world - night and day, man and woman, work and play. In those examples, each is more appreciated and life is more balanced when they go together. More than all the artificial, immoral and emotional arguments for and against marriage, biology can prove to be a strong resource when explaining why there is a "natural order" found in the marriage between one man and one woman and all pro-life and NFP ideals.

Women are internal and men are external. Women like to bring things to themselves and men like to act outwardly which is mirrored in our anatomy. This comes down to how young children play with toys. Boys like to test toys and bang them against things (car crashes) and girls like to play house or play with dolls and create connected stories. This phenomenon continues through life. Women are internal and connected. We like to talk with each other, we like to console others and not worry about solving a problem. Men are made for separateness and external acts. They want that "man cave" to withdraw after a long day of problem-solving. They usually do not want to talk just to talk - they want to solve something. They withdraw and re-energize so they can come back and solve all the "problems" you bring up when you talk about your day.

When I first heard this talk, before I was married, I did not realize how true that was. One of the adjustments when my husband moved in after the honeymoon, was giving him some time to "withdraw" after a hard day. There is nothing that I can do to help him because that is not how he was made. I was also amazed at how many times I would clarify that I was not talking about a "problem" and was not looking for a solution.

Going back to the complimentary aspect. Women are internal: they want to help other feel loved, accepted, build community, etc. Men are external: they want to solve problems. Both have a hugely important role in our lives, but they need balance. It sounds stereotypical, but it is true in my life. The procreation difference (obviously same-sex partners to do that differently) is losing ground with contraception and IVF among other things - but our biology has stayed the same. We were created differently but equal.

The way I understand it in my life comes down to this scenario
When someone has had a hard day
Me to my husband: how can I help you relax/feel better?
My ideas: back massage, relax, have time alone while I clean up dinner
My husband to me: how can I fix the problem
His ideas: create a to do list, find a way to make x problem not occur again, if that is not possible find way to adjust routines etc. so problem is not so upsetting

Now, I am not saying that is the only thing my husband and I do. I want to help him fix problems and he wants to help me relax, but our first instincts are different and we learn from each other how to do that which does not come naturally.


  1. oohhh internal and external. T've never heard it put like that (or maybe I have and i just forgot?) but its still true regardless! I've read research on this too how women tend to be drawn to more holistic disciples and tend to be better at research that crosses disciplines whereas men tend to be better at solving discrete solutions and gravitate towards those fields (hard sciences/math/engineering). definite need for both!

  2. I'll have to look into his cd. The internal/external comparison is a good one.

    Strictly looking at biology is a valuable approach. I agree that it is tough to explain men and women in generalities, because your audience will almost always say "But I know X and he/she doesn't fit that masculine/feminine norm! You're being judgmental and stereotyping! You must hate tomboys/metrosexuals!" and so on.

    And I'm right with you on that whole giving your husband time to unwind. It's so hard, after I've been alone in the house all day, to not just want to jump into non-stop conversation the moment he walks in the door! Sometimes I need to talk and so he does; sometimes he needs silence and so I am; and sometimes it's not an issue. Ah, the beauty of adjusting to married life!

  3. I have some regrets - I won't go into it on here, but one of them is that I haven't started to read this earlier.
    I had to comment on this post because I went to a talk last night and they mentioned Fr. Loya/Tabor Life when talking about Theology of the Body and connecting it to media literacy in today's youth. Your writing is beautiful, thoughtful, and a blessing to read. As I try to change a few things in my life, it was refreshing to stumble back onto your FB profile and click the link to your blog (even though I got the email about it).