“We broke up.”
The one line that everyone has said in their life or has heard at least once in their lifetime. A couple breaking up is no longer a shocking incident. What is shocking is the rate at which it is happening. Divorce rates are high. Couples in the 25-35 age group accounted for 70 per cent of the cases, and 85 per cent of them were filed in the first three years of marriage.
So what goes wrong? Why do things start to crumble? I have one theory.
Suppose all relationships are the same, love or arranged, long distance or living together, etc. Suppose it’s been the same since the cave man came home with the food and presumed his wife would cook it for him. Suppose I say that the relationship from the time of the 50s when the man was supposed to go to work and the woman was supposed to be at home looking after the house and the children is the presumption that is still prevalent today. A basic primitive state still exists. There has been no evolution in relationships at all!!
The basic state of a relationship is that of a Provider and Nurturer.
A provider is one who is economically stronger. He or she (and I will continue with the `he’ for now since it is predominant in our society but not absolute) is the one who is giving the money in the house for the food, clothes, education and shelter. Basics. He feels these are the major part of life and he has done his “duty” to the woman. A modern woman however needs more. She needs love, understanding, and intellectual stimulation and wants to feel she is growing as an individual in the relationship as well. If a woman is working, she is able to provide the basics for herself. Therefore, what she needs from the man is the “nurturing.”
Why was it simpler in the earlier times? It was because there was no dichotomy of this provider- nurturer equation. Men gave money. Women went to other women to gossip, sew sweaters, and exchange their feelings. Also by being the Provider, the man did not need to “fulfill” the roles of the nurturer. He had done his job. He didn’t need to give any more. He didn’t need to understand the emotions of a woman, why she was upset, or why she needed to sit and talk for hours about no problem but life in general. These things were just not done between men and women. Each had their role and they had the authority to make those decisions on that – Women with a house. Man with his job. This can be seen in many shows of the times. Wonder Years comes to mind.
Today, a few working women are happy to have a man who can give them a big sea facing house in a posh locality and have less of the nurturing required. It becomes an 80-20 ratio. And that man can give that 20% and the relationship is stable. Some require a man to give less of the nicer things of life and require more of the other aspects. This can also have a happy relationship if the two people find a balance of the give and take. Each couple needs to find the balance in this state. How much each wants and how much one is willing to give.
Men will say that they cannot understand what women want. However, they do understand it. They understand it so perfectly that they have displayed their skill in it in the wooing phase. When the “hunting” phase is on, their charm is turned on from not only sitting and talking for hours with a woman but getting her so completely that she feels that he is the “one” who gives her both the provider-nurturer that she’s been looking for. He can charm her with his knowledge, of TV, books, music, films, or whatever she is interested in. Hence, he has shown that he can be the nurturer. Eventually he decides how much of that he wants to continue with since he has also slipped into the role of the provider for her.
Many relationships have seen this in different disguises. Rich men, ambitious women. Powerful bosses, young female corporate climbers, wealthy industrialists – young actresses. The provider- nurturer relationship continues.
I see many women having insecurity about money. Somewhere it has been ingrained in most women that more money is always good. It doesn’t matter how much you earn, how much you will need will never be known. In addition, what if one day you have a child, and don’t want to work, if the money dwindles from your account then at least you have the man’s. If something happens to you, you have a person looking after your financial needs.
The problem comes when the women not only want the funds to run a house, enjoy a lifestyle and feel independent; they suddenly want the nurturing quality from the men as well. The man then says, “But I give you whatever you need. What more do you want?”
Woman, “You don’t understand. I don’t want all this. I just want you.”
Man, “You have me. Now leave me alone!”
Woman goes off fretting and fuming about how the man has changed from what she thought he was and the man sits and sulks about how she is continuously needy.
Is there a solution. Yes. You can communicate the percentage of the providing – nurturing you need, that you’re willing to give and then figure out how to manage the rest on your own. Expectations will then need to find a balance.
One way is if a woman clearly defines that she DOES NOT need a man to give her any of the provider elements but only the nurturer elements it could make it easier to understand it. This is difficult sometimes for a man to comprehend because he presumes in the end she will want the “same thing as all other women” – marriage, house, children, and dinners. Everything that costs money for which he will have to pay. Therefore, a woman might need to continuously say that it’s not the case and mean it.
The second alternative is for the woman to realize that the Provider –Nurturer relationship is here to stay. If you want the fine things that money can buy, maybe you’ll have a hard working man who can give that to you. Then he will need space and won’t have as much time or bandwidth to discuss your needs and quote Shakespeare. Make peace with it. Women are the ones who have started initiating divorces. They feel unfulfilled. They feel that there could be better out there. I am sure there can be. First look at the current relationship and see if you can change the percentage to become more of the provider and then ask him to be more of a nurturer.
It is easy to give up on love. Men throw up your hands and say, “Well if I don’t make you happy I think you should seek love somewhere else.” That is not the answer. Communication of that provider-nurturer percentage is the answer. And putting the conversation to work is the solution.
Give until you can. Understand each other. Never give up easily. Get out of the relationship only when you know the equation is not working anymore despite trying everything you have.
This theory does not apply to marriages where there are alcoholics, drug users, wife beaters, dowry seekers, and general evilness that a woman should never be subjected to. Then she should immediately take external help and leave. There are better men who will give the women what they need.