Men Are Clams Women Are Crowbars
When was the last time you had a deep, personal conversation with your husband? Dr. David Clarke shares his unique and humorous insights for bridging the gender gap and getting your Clam to open up and engage in real communication. Your Clam will listen, he will talk, and the two of you will be close and happy.
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THE WAR BETWEEN THE SEXES
The first three months of the Dave and Sandy Clarke marriage was brutally tough. All of our differences hit the fan and we struggled to adjust. Battling the huge rats in our nasty little apartment turned out to be the easy part. Battling each other was the big problem!
One of our major differences was in the areas of chores. I had very few chores to do in my childhood. My mom did most of the work in the home and seemed very happy to do these jobs.
Sandy, on the other hand, did a ton of chores as she grew up in the Martin household. I think her parents may have broken a number of child labor laws. She had chores in the morning, chores after school, and chores in the evening. Compared to my home, hers was a prison chain gang.
Our marriage began with Sandy doing pretty much everything in our home: cleaning, laundry, dishes, cooking, grocery shopping…I even had her type - late at night - my papers for my seminary classes. Oh, and she also had a full time job outside the home.
I figured Sandy, like my mom, would love doing all these things for me. She didn’t. She really, really didn’t. A few month into our marriage, she sat me down and told me it was time I grew up and saved her from death by exhaustion.
I’m happy to report I did step up and took over the laundry and the dishes. And I did my own typing. The problem was, this was just one area where we had to work at our differences!
Marriage Is a Terrible Idea!
The one problem with marriage is that a man and a woman have to live together. Without question, this is the worst idea anyone ever came up with. It’s not just a bad idea. It’s a ridiculously bad idea!
It’s like putting a deer into the tiger’s cage at the zoo and hoping the two of them can get along. I don’t think so. There’s going to be trouble. And it won’t take long.
The only thing more difficult than living with a member of the opposite sex is… actually, there is nothing more difficult.
I had a dream that a group of the world’s greatest scientists, the most brilliant minds of our generation, came together at a retreat in the Swiss Alps ( important retreats are always held in the Swiss Alps). They met to answer this most important question: “What is the quickest and most effective way to drive a person insane?”
The learned men and women went into a conference room to deliberate. Five minutes later they emerged with a one-word answer: “Marriage.”
We don’t need a group of distinguished scientists to tell us what we already know, do we? If you’re married, you know what I’m talking about.
Is there anything more frustrating, nerve-racking, and just plain exasperating than living with the opposite sex?
Marriage Changes Everything
Dating is fantastic. Courtship is bliss. Engagement is super. You notice some differences between you, but they are small, trivial, even petty. They’re cute. You even laugh about them.
But when you marry and move in together, within two years your differences become big, dramatic, and incredibly annoying. You are well past the trivial and cute phase. No one is laughing anymore. Your home is filled with moaning, sighing, and the grinding of two sets of teeth.
In addition to your basic male-female differences, now you will be forced to deal with a variety of personality differences. You’ll be convinced that your spouse is trying to drive you crazy.
How could you have ended up with someone who turned out to be such a nuisance? You’d like to walk up to your partner’s parents and say, “Thanks for raising the world’s biggest pest!”
Check out this catalog of personality and lifestyle differences. I know you will recognize yourself and your spouse in some of these.
The Thermostat Wars
One spouse is always hot. One is always cold. Complaining about the temperature and sneaking to change the thermostat becomes commonplace. You wake up in the middle of the night freezing, or you wake up dying of the heat. And you know your spouse has made a successful commando run to the thermostat.
Night Owl and Morning Glory
Morning Glory wakes up singing at 5:00am without an alarm, but is brain-dead by 9:00pm.
Night Owl comes alive at 9:00pm and is ready to party, but has to be hit with a cattle prod to get up in the morning. When you are alive and energized, it’s fun to deal with someone in a catatonic state.
Mr. Crude and Mrs. Manners
Mr. Crude belches, even passes gas on a regular basis. He sees this as being “manly.” It’s also being manly not to feel too bad about it and rarely say, “Excuse me” after the offensive behavior.
Mrs. Manners is horrified and offended by his complete lack of taste. ( In some cultures, belching after a meal is an expected and cherished act. Women in those cultures are thrilled by it. The moral: Marry into one of those cultures if you want to keep barking out those belches.)
Pack Rat and Garage Saler
The Pack Rat keep everything, including every school paper the children bring home. The Pack Rat hogs every square inch of storage room to hoard the treasure trove of trivialities and minutia.
The Garage Saler feels buried alive under a mountain of useless stuff and wants to sell everything.
The Slob and the Neatnik
One Spouse is a rumpled, crumpled, and disorganized mess maker. This spouse never puts anything away and sees no reason to clean when the place is just going to get dirty again.
The opposite of this is the Neatnik, who wants to live in a museum of order and cleanliness. Messiness is seen as evidence of a weak, disturbed mind.
The Slob says, “Why make the bed when we’re just going to mess it up again.” Sadly, the Slob is deadly serious. The Neatnik replies, “I’ll tell you why. Because we’e civilized human beings, not animals.”
Ratty Clothes Man
This husband parades around in twenty-year-old, threadbare T-shirts, college sweatshirts, and gym shorts from his high school days. His old clothes are filled with holes and hideous stains, but he considers them old friends. He’s horribly out of fashion. But he’s comfortable.
The wife can barely handle his nasty, disreputable, shameful clothes inside their home. Her greatest fear is that he will go out in public wearing his disgusting rags.
Social Media Maven
She spends hours a day doing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and every other existing social-media channel. Her every meal, her every shopping trip, her every day at work, her every experience, and her every thought must be shared with her massive network of very close “friends.”
To say that he is into sports would be the understatement of the century. He lives for sports, and every game, every event is of vital importance. He watches games on television and listens on the radio, and he checks the progress of games and the statistics on his iPhone or iPad or computer.
He’s in at least three fantasy leagues at the same time. He’s on the verge of quitting his job so he can have time to keep up with his players and their production.
HGN and Hallmark Channel Diva
She watches only two television channels, and they are every man’s living nightmare. On HGN, she watches wealthy couples redecorate, remodel, and buy fantastically expensive homes. The really bad new is, these shows give her all kinds of makeover ideas for her home. Expensive ideas.
Most men would rather - if they could afford it- remodel the home or buy a new one rather than watch the other channel preferred by the woman. Imagine every sappy, insipid, predictable, silly, romantic movie collected in one place. Oh, that’s right. You don’t have to imagine it. Press three numbers on the remote and there it is. It is called the Hallmark Channel.
As he watches yet another small-town girl fall in love with a big-city guy who has a mean fiancee, this husband thinks, I am being punished. And I must have been awful.
Never on Time
One spouse is chronically late for everything. Church. Social events. School activities. Doctors’ appointments. Work. Airline flights. He or she is usually married to someone who wants to be fifteen minutes early for everything. They make a tough combination.
I’m Going to Die- Again
This partner thinks that every illness or pain is a symptom of a final, fatal disease. Pain in the chest means catastrophic heart problems. Pain in the back means the kidneys are failing. Pain in the rear (he or she has become a pain in the rear to the spouse) means rectal cancer. And so on.
I could go on and on. There are sunny optimists married to gloom-and-doom pessimists. Bedroom television watchers who have the set on to help them go to sleep. Physical fitness enthusiasts who pressure their spouses to work out and consume fruit drinks. Vegetarians. Lip-smacking, slurping soup eaters. Snorers. Bed hogs. Toss and turners. Putterers. Social butterflies. Long Rangers. Free spenders. Fort Knox savers. Reckless drivers. The rare drivers who drive the speed limit.
The Biggest and Most Destructive Difference of All
Every married person must put up with a variety of their spouse’s annoying differences and habits. Some can even be amusing. The ability to laugh at ourselves helps to lessen the tension. What’s not funny is that many of these differences push us further apart.
Why do our differences push us further away from one another? Because we do not learn how to manage them, how to adjust to them. And we don’t learn how because of the biggest and must destructive difference between men and women: how we communicate.
Because we aren’t communicating successfully, we can’t understand and deal effectively with our male-female differences. So we experience a gradual breakdown in intimacy. Fewer and fewer needs are met in the relationship. Our emotional, spiritual, and physical bonds are diminished. It doesn’t happen right away, but it happens.
I cannot overstate the importance of health communication in a marriage. Without it, you will lose all your intimacy. With it, you will develop a deep and lasting intimacy.
Because men are Clams and women are Crowbars, we start every interaction- and I mean every interaction- miles away from an emotional connection. First, we need to figure out how to get past the Clam-Crowbar blocks to break through to real communication.
I’m going to help you do that. Starting right now.
Ask Yourself These Questions
- Which of these personality and lifestyle differences I’ve described ring a bell with you?
- If I haven’t covered some key differences in your relationship, talk to each other about these differences now.
- Which of your differences are not a big deal, and which are really more than annoying and are causing problems?
- How intimate is your relationship right now ( 1 being very low and 10 being very high in intimacy)? What differences are stopping you from getting more intimate?