A red hardback book called How to Manage Men lived in my mother’s glass-fronted bookcase in every house we inhabited. I began to delve into it when I was about twelve and was thrilled to see that it had chapters covering: fathers, brothers, lovers, husbands, fathers-in-law, sons, grandfathers, grandsons, nephews, male bosses and quite a few more ‘roles.’
Over the years, I consulted it when issues with ‘men’ arose and, in general, the advice was pretty sound, though a little antiquated in places. It was written around the late 1940s so wasn’t quite up to speed with stuff like women’s rights and equality. Having said that, it seemed to have taken on board the massive changes in the role of women that was associated with two World Wars.
However, its author whose name I forget, as the book has mysteriously vanished without trace, seemed to have a very good insight into the kinds of issues and tensions that can arise between men and women and I’m not so sure that these have changed all that much.
Anyway, the book was playing on my mind the other morning as I brought puppy Stan for an early morning walk in the sun. I saw a well-dressed, middle-aged couple coming towards me and they were full of greetings and joie de vivre.
The sociologist in me seemed to come alive and I found myself telling them about the book and asked the pair what they thought the secrets are to managing men.
If ever there was a conversation starter, this was it! They let me into some of the secrets of their 39-year old marriage and one thing that amazed me was the way they told me almost in unison that they go for a walk every Sunday morning even if they are in the middle of a mega row. I just couldn’t imagine doing such a thing!
They were firmly of the view, like the author of the book, that men and women are very different and that the art of managing men, is something that few, if any women, could ever be expected to master.
For what it’s worth, I think there’s a lot to be said for the following:
# Always allowing a man to think that he has come up with a good idea that a woman (including onself) actually proposed.
# Recognising that sensitivity means something completely different to men than it does to women.
# Never, ever trying to engage with a man when he is in ‘switch off’ mode.
I would be thrilled to bits to learn your secrets about how to manage men as it’s a pretty fundamental requirement in this crazy world of ours!