Thursday, May 7, 2009

Feedback from a Teenage Boy on Last Night's Book Group

Hey, Cruisers! Sarah here.

Last night, due to extenuating circumstances, I was unable to stick around for the filming of the Garfield Book Company book club discussion of Janna's book! Instead, I asked my seventeen-year-old brother Andrew to come in and help film the book club for me. He wasn't wild about it, but he agreed and was the cameraman of the evening (as Alice was the camerawoman).

Andrew told me afterword that he got a lot out of the discussion. He told me a lot, which I passed on to Janna and now am sharing with you here!

So here is some insight from an unlikely source.

My first impression of the group of ladies was that they're all powerful females who definitely believe that they should have as much say in a relationship as a man, but after a short time in the discussion, it seemed as if they had a view of men almost as if they were Ken-dolls, and that they should be molded by women in the relationship. After listening to this discussion on a deeper relationship level, I realized how this initial prejudice was warped and wrong, and I developed my own ideas for a strong relationship.

It really struck home to me when the author related to a boat race, describing how she realized that even though her husband seemed to be ignoring her, he was still holding her in high regard. She talked about how she didn't see the point in inviting her on a boat ride if he was just going to stand there and think about the race, but when she talked to him about it after the race, he said that he thought she would want to sit back and watch the scenery. The author used this scenario to describe how quickly feelings can change in a relationship as she continued to tell how her mood lightened up when they won first place. To me, this story instead shows how a man tries to relate to his partner. I'm not entirely sure how many women in the group realized this--it may have been all of them--but this man was extending his outlet to his wife and sharing one of his deepest joys with his mate. Many times in pop culture husbands are depicted spending 'man time' with their buddies at a bar or a bowling alley, completely shunning their spouses. This boat race scenario struck me as one heck of a reaching out moment for a man--inviting his wife to go with him in a boat race. As a male myself, I know how many women do not appreciate sports as most men do, and honestly it can annoy us to a great extent how they ask us questions that are so elementary to us. For a man to invite his wife on a boat race is a major step for him, and even though he seems to be shunning you, just the act of having you with him shows how much he cares for you.

The group did a nice job discussing how a relationship must be on an equal footing between each partner, and I strongly agree, with some additions from the male perspective. I am only seventeen years old, but I know from observing my parents that there are really no areas that are truly male or female oriented. To women: ask your husband about a remodel that you are planning and take his opinion seriously. He may not have much experience with interior decorating, but he may have some input that you will find very useful. Also, accept that he will not always talk about his issues with you. I know perfectly well that my family is there for me when I am so upset that I can't control my emotions, but most males and I just need some time alone to reflect on things. And to men: don't seclude yourself from your partner with sports or drinking with your buddies, but spend some time explaining the finer points of the game to your partner, and enjoy the game with her instead of with your buddies. Save that for the Super Bowl. Talk to her about your day when you get home and release some pressure that may build up after the daily grind. And most importantly, at least to me, do your best (both men and women) to totally and completely forget about gender stereotyping. I hate hearing from other teen boys how girls want to be controlled and I hate hearing from girls how all men are sadistic womanizers. We are all people, and the human race is one and the same.

So to summarize what I took from listening to this discussion, we all need to think about our partners as people and not as a men or a women that we will spend the rest of our lives with. If we were to do this, then I believe that we can move on from annoyance at our partners because of small issues to appreciating the fact that we all have someone special to share our experiences with.

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