Male and Female Prisms on a Road Trip

John C. Rankin

   In the spring of 1978, my wife, Nancy, and I drove from Pittsburgh to the North Shore of Boston to visit Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. As I calculated the 625 or so miles of the trip, I thought in terms of what speed we would average, over what roads, what mileage the Honda Civic would yield, how much it would cost including the tolls on the Mass Pike, where to stop for food and gas, how long to visit with my father in West Hartford, Connecticut, to calculate the estimated time of arrival in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, and to calculate the return trip likewise in order to arrive back at my job on schedule and on budget.

On the other hand, Nancy, then several months pregnant with our first child, was thinking in terms of the Poconos, through which we would travel, along with the many bathroom stops required for the comfort of a pregnant woman. She thought in terms of what nice restaurant we could dine at, and even if we could make it a two-day trip instead of one, and thus, what nice hotel we could find, again, in the Poconos.

It is not that men do not think about relationships, or that women do not think about goals. Rather, men consider relationships through the prism of goal-oriented thinking, and how the successful pursuit of those goals will provide the time, and material well-being, desired for good relationships. And women think of goal-oriented concerns through the prism of the healthy relationships necessary in the process of attaining a goal.

Another way to sum up this balance is to say that the man naturally leads in task-orientation, and the woman naturally leads in relationship-building. A mutual submission to this reality leads to healthy marriages and a healthy society.

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