My beloved and I had an argument this morning. That’s not especially noteworthy in itself. We argue sometimes just like any other couple, no matter how well attuned we are with one another. The content of the argument isn’t even important. What does feel interesting however is the way we argued. It highlighted the different between the masculine and the feminine in a way that made something crystal clear for us both. When we refer to masculine and feminine we are not speaking of men and women although we may generalize. This is not to say that women do not have the qualities of the “masculine” and vice versa. However since these masculine/feminine dynamics have expressed themselves down through history and are still with us today it seems useful to apply them, especially as most people reading this will, we hope, resonate with the experience that we are sharing.
My beloved put forward her point of view. I countered with my own. She replied saying that I had totally missed the point. I argued that what she was saying made no sense; it simply wasn’t reasonable or rational or based on any experience that my mind could see. I told her know that I felt her way of looking at things wasn’t realistic or reasonable. I used my rational mind to out-manoeuvre and out-gun her, to reinforce my own perfectly logical point of view. She felt hurt, over-powered and rejected.
This could have been a recipe for a long-standing drama or yet another drop of poison into a relationship where resentment builds and gradually erupts in rage or betrayal. However, fortunately we caught ourselves and after some conscious self-enquiry were able to realise what was happening here.
This little drama, over in about 10 minutes, seems to us a perfect microcosm for the interplay between men and women the world over. The woman asserts her perspective from the place of the felt senses, sharing a deep wisdom that feels true for her. The man uses his mind to argue with logic, from a perfectly “reasonable” position. Since our culture has trained us to respect the mind the tendency of both men and women is to trust it and believe what it says. The mind can be used to rationally out-manoeuvre the felt senses and this leaves the felt senses feeling over-trodden and powerless against the force of will that the mind can exert. Reactively the feminine will then often respond with anger, withdrawal or diminishing the masculine. The masculine then feels that his perspective has not been heard and resorts to anger, put-downs and similar withdrawals. Hence a vicious cycle is set in motion, one that has played out countless times in human history between men and women.
The way to break this is to recognise that men and women have different operating systems. That each has a gift and that both yearn to be recognised. The feminine has a deep sense of “knowing”, intuition, a connection to something greater than the egoic self, to the divine, if you choose to call it that and a greater sense of subtlety and sensitivity. The feminine can feel and sense in a way that the masculine simply cannot. The masculine on the other hand has a clarity of mind, a mental acuity that can persuade and sometimes bully. It has the capacity to exercise the power of the Will.
In this argument I argued from the place of my “masculine” mind. I used my logic and reason and force of Will to explain my position. Whilst being perfectly reasonable it also ignored the deeper, subtler truth that my beloved was feeling. My use of my mind made her feel that her gift was not being seen and appreciated. When she got frustrated and angry about this, I felt that the gift of my mind was not being appreciated.
The problem is that the masculine and the feminine see arguing in a very different way. For the masculine its about winning and losing. Men have been conditioned for millennia for combat. Our impulse is to either defeat the enemy or persuade them to join our side. This is the approach we take in arguing – to either crush our opponent with the force of our Will or to persuade them to join our perspective. The feminine on the other hand does not see arguments from the point of view of sides. For them it is not about winning or losing but about being seen and heard. For their felt sense of what they experience to be acknowledged. Its less important for the feminine to win an argument than it is for them to be heard.
To recognise both perspectives I suggest two question to help resolve arguments. “Does that make sense?” and “How does that feel?” The first question engages with the logical mind, the second with the felt sense and emotions. Only when we can hold the importance of both can we harmoniously conclude arguments.
The resolution, then, is to recognise the individual gifts that each one brings. It is to see that one complements the other and that only when we have access to both parts are we complete and whole. If we identify more with the mind the task is to develop the more subtle senses. If we feel very deeply, the task is to develop the power of the mind. My beloved and I are perfect mirrors for what each of us needs to develop more of. And in relationship to avoid the time-old struggle between masculine and feminine we must honour the gift that the other brings us. Only when we can honour the others’ gifts can masculine and feminine find a place of mutual respect and harmony. When we do this we change our experience not only of one another but also of ourselves, creating more grounded flow and balanced sensitivity.
Mike and Louise