Not long ago I received an email from a divorced real estate agent in Beverly Hills who had this to say:
I just read about you, and I’d like to talk to you about my daughter who’s a high achiever. She’s 38, well-educated (two Ivy League schools), creative, intelligent, sophisticated, loving, successful, and attractive with a model-like body, and surprisingly can’t find a desired partner. I must say she wasted many years on several senseless relationships. She is now extremely unhappy that she doesn’t have a partner and, most importantly, she wants to have children. She has consulted with a few relationship coaches, but she is still single. All of her friends are married with kids. I’m clueless why she can’t find her desired partner. Thank you in advance for your help.”
My emailer’s daughter is not alone. Countless women today face the exact same problem: They’re successful in life but not in love. And their quandary is bigger than they realize, for if and when these women do find a husband, it will not be the end of their struggle. Finding a man to marry today is only half the battle.
The other half is keeping him.
Although “keeping him” isn’t really the right phrase since men aren’t the ones leaving their marriages in droves. Women are: 70 percent of divorces are initiated by wives. Ergo, even when women do marry, they have no idea how to stay married.
There is more than one culprit for the sad state of gender relations, but feminism is at the top of the list. It was feminism that taught women that they can, and should, have sex like a man: with no strings attached. It was feminism that told women to “never depend on a man” and to resent husbands and children for holding women back. It was feminism that encouraged women to make work, not family, the center of their universe. It was feminism that belittled all things feminine.
Most importantly, it was feminism that taught Americans to believe the sexes are “equal.” Not equal in value—equal as in the same. If parents and society would get out of the way, feminists claim, the sexes would become interchangeable: Women and girls would make the same choices boys and men do, and men and boys would make the same choices women and girls do. After all, all those differences you see between the sexes are purely a result of social conditioning. Biology has nothing to do with it.
It was the lie of the century.
And yet, their tactics worked: Sex and gender roles are now considered primitive. Problem is, we haven’t replaced them with anything better; all we’ve done is cause mayhem and gridlock. Men and women no longer know how to date or even how to be married. Who’s supposed to do what?
Who makes the first move? Who pays for dinner? Who will raise the kids? Whose career should take precedence? These are the conflicts of modern love our mothers and grandmothers never had to face. And they’re huge.
It is an anthropological truth that male and female are distinct and complementary. This is evident from the human body alone, but the physical differences aren’t all there is to it. Our psychosocial and emotional differences matter, too.
A woman’s sexual nature, for instance, is very different from a man’s. Women are literally made to bond due to their high levels of oxytocin, whereas men—who are saturated in testosterone—are easily aroused and are thus better able to detach emotions from sex. Moreover, a woman’s identity is inextricably linked to her relationships—that’s why women buy relationship books and practically inhale “rom coms.” A man’s identity is linked to his job. Without it, he’s lost.
We in the West ignore these major differences between the sexes. Instead, we pretend. We pretend women can have commitment-free sex and move on with their day as though nothing just happened. We pretend women can wait as long as men can to start a family. We pretend a woman’s response to becoming a mother won’t be fierce and intense and unique to her as a woman. We pretend all of this, even though the truth—that women are gloriously and demonstrably different from men, sexually and otherwise—is glaringly obvious to anyone who pays attention.
For any relationship to thrive, a couple must recognize that men and women are equal in value yet wildly different in nature. Men, on average and for the most part, are masculine—and thus have masculine qualities. Women, on average and for the most part, are feminine—and thus have feminine qualities. Yes, there is overlap. But to ignore our inherent proclivities is to invite a boatload of conflict and heartache.
It is sexual differences, or our sexual inequality, that make love work. When you embrace them, a wife doesn’t need to ask why her husband does what he does. She knows why he does it: because he’s a man. Same goes for the husband. He no longer wonders why his wife does what she does. She does it because she’s a woman. When each sex learns the other’s love language, relationships become smooth sailing.
This approach to love is far more liberating—and certainly more fruitful!—than forcing the sexes to think and behave in identical fashion in order to prove some faux notion of equality.
Newsflash: It isn’t working. All it amounts to is men and women competing with, rather than loving, each other. That’s why their relationships fail. To find lasting love, move with the biological tide rather than against it. It is there where you’ll find what you’re looking for.
Suzanne Venker is an author, columnist, and relationship coach known as The Feminist “Fixer.” A wife of 20 years and mother of two, she liberates women from the equality narrative and inspires them to feel secure in their femininity and courageous about finding lasting love. Her most recent book, “The Alpha Female’s Guide to Men & Marriage,” helps bossy women learn how to become better wives. You can find Suzanne at TheFeministFixer.com