>As I Said Before…

>Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. Ever read it? It’s quite a fabulous book. If you want a birds’ eye view into the opposite sex, I would highly recommend it. For the most part, I think its descriptions are accurate. However, I also think that some people cross traditional gender lines. What do I mean by that? I’ll give you an example.

According to the book, women, when faced with a problem, tend to want to vent. We are venters. Once we vent, we feel better. We don’t want someone (a.k.a. men) jumping in to save the day. We just want to get it off our chest. Once we do that, we move on and we’re fine. Typically. Men, on the other hand, are not venters. They are Mr. Fixit. If they discuss their problems with another man, it is an unspoken understanding that said “venter” is actually asking for a solution to the problem, at which point, “vent-ee” comes up with a viable solution. Because of this difference in “venting” aspects, men think that women are venting because they are looking for a solution. When they try to provide a solution the woman then gets mad because they just don’t understand.

Remember, this is fairly typical. It does NOT apply to all men or all women. There are the sensitive men that are venters. There are the (I don’t want to say insensitive, because that’s not accurate, but I’ll use that word for this blog’s sake) insensitive women who are Ms. Fixits. Guess which side of the spectrum I land in? Hah! You’ll never figure this one out.

I’m totally a Ms. Fixit. But I’m also a venter. I’m a very pleasant mix of the two traditional gender roles. I will vent to my husband about work, about kids, about politics, about religion, about everything. He used to try to fix it. Now he understands that I’m just venting. He can happily nod and say “uh-huh” every now and again while I vent because he understands that I am just venting. I don’t need him to rush in and save the day and I think part of him likes it that way.

On the flip side of things, when someone is venting to me, there is something in my brain that says, “Ooh…I need to HELP!” I’d like to say it has something to do with compassion. I don’t like to see people in pain. In my family growing up I was a the peacekeeper. I don’t like conflict. I don’t. And if I see someone upset I want to fix it so they’re happy again. I can’t help it. I don’t think that means I’m a masculine person, but “the book” says that it is a masculine trait. So…whatever, I don’t care. I want people to be happy. I realize this may put a damper on your view of me as this total cynic and I truly apologize for that. I definitely have that side of me, but there are oh, so many sides to me.

Now, this Ms. Fixit mentality sometimes gets me into trouble with my daughters. I can’t even count the number of times that one of them has called just to vent and I say, “What would you like me to do about this?” And I get the frustrated groan and the, “Mother! I’m a big girl and can take care of myself.” Guess which one gives me that line? (I’m looking at you, Ann, even though you’re a Ms. Fixit in your own right.)

Three out of my four daughters want to mostly just want to vent. One of them (Jackie) is like me in that when she poses issues it’s in order to find an answer. She’s a solution finder, not a venter. She’s a Ms. Fixit. She had the opportunity to change jobs and manage the chemistry lab in school. She’s a Chem-ed student at BYU. She had been working as a TA and loved it, but then got this opportunity to manage the lab, but it didn’t have anything to do with teaching, which is what her major was. Because I have learned over the years that she does not discuss things unless she’s looking for an answer I was prepared to pose the questions to her that would help her decide what she needed to do.

On the flip side of that, another daughter called and just went off about her room mate situation. She went off. And when I say that, I mean, the F-bomb flew!! And I don’t typically hear the F-bomb from the baby. Not that I believe she never uses it, she just chooses to not use it in front of me. After she was done totally going off I said, “OK, here’s what you need to do….” and she CUT ME OFF. “MOM! I don’t need you to tell me what to do. I’m just venting!” Fine. Geez. I’m just trying to freaking help!!

And then there’s the marine! I still haven’t figured out which category she falls into because she talks non-stop! It’s hard to determine when the venting turns to questioning and asking for help. She, however, is the PRO at going, “uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh” whenever I try giving her helpful hints. I finally have to stop and say, “Melissa! Are you saying Uh-huh because you get what I’m saying, or are you saying Uh-huh so that I’ll shut up and stop talking.” And she says (you guessed it), “Uh-huh!”

Yes, I’m a Ms. Fixit. I’m good at it. I think I normally have some pretty good ideas to solutions to any problem. The biggest problem for me, as a Ms. Fixit, is knowing when to step in and “fix” and knowing when to just stand back and let someone vent. It’s a struggle. But I’m working on it.

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