It was in the cold dark of April 14, 1912 in early morning on the north Atlantic ocean the Titanic changed course. Drastically. It went from horizontal to vertical. Pretty quickly. The luxury steamship was dubbed unsinkable. It’s a story so famous that over 100 years later anything that is a colossal event is deemed titanic . As a result of the tragic loss of life on that night two years later in 1914 the international treaty Safety of Life At Sea (SOLAS) was adopted by seafaring nations. The following is from the international Maritime Organization website http://www.imo.org/EN/Pages/Default.aspx “The main objective of the SOLAS Convention is to specify minimum standards for the construction, equipment and operation of ships, compatible with their safety.”
Silken Laumann might say she had more than one ‘Titanic’ moment in her life. As a result of cumulative events in her life she wrote her 2014 memoir Unsinkable. The book, in turn, led her to create the storytelling platform Unsinkable. https://weareunsinkable.com is a way for people, not unlike the titanic passengers, to ask for a life line. For people to share about the challenges of keeping it all together.
Why would Ms. Laumann feel the need to do that? Silken Laumann was a remarkable athlete. Rowing for Canada she won Olympic medals in rowing pairs with her sister Daniele in 1984 and singles sculls in 1992 and 1996.
Rowing is gruelling. Every time you get in the boat it asks every muscle to give 100 % focus with unreasonable frequency for an extended time.
For a decade Silken Laumann was the best in the world at being unreasonably extended. She was a graceful champion, a respecting winner and a proud participant whether she was hoisting the World Championship trophy, bringing home two shiny silver medals or the amazing 1992 bronze medal in the Barcelona Olympics.
If it wasn’t daunting enough to be the rower everyone wants to beat going into the ‘92 Olympics, Laumann was severely injured with just 10 weeks to go before the games. In a rowing accident all the tendons in her right leg were severed when another boat crashed into her in warm-ups for a race. In quick succession she had 4 major surgeries to repair the leg. Then there was the rehab to be able to just walk. The thing was, Laumann needed to be able to row again. Quickly. She set her sights on participating in the Olympics. In the healing/training she got to feel some sense of peace in the flow of her glide over the surface of the water. She was going to the Olympics! Medaling? Could she medal? She did. Awesome.
In her book we learn about the inspiring athlete as a mother, daughter, sibling, woman and wife. And it’s not all a pretty picture. She has her family; she loves and gets loved. Through this book about Laumann’s life we can see the three main Life Roles that all women and men enliven.
What follows is a straightforward breakdown of the similarities and difference between female and male roles. They are obviously macro in their application however this in no way diminishes their saliency in your daily life. The three Roles are:
Woman as: Professional, Romantic, Maternal
Man as: Professional, Romantic, Paternal
No doubt these roles will be flavoured by all surrounding persuasions including: the culture you grew up in, the religion you know, social-economic level you live in, your active beliefs and the conformity of the society where you live.
As we develop into these three adult Life Roles they become as obvious in their existence as they are varied in their Satisfactions and Fulfillments.
These Roles are not a cultural invention or a societal typecasting. It is a natural way the human Soul frames your daily experience. It is a framework through which you absorb meaning in life. One is not better than the other. The spouse making more money than their partner is not winning the marriage game.
Your intriguing sibling travelling around the world can have great stories, photos and souvenirs that marvel your children. It is not a competition. Nor are you are not a martyr for putting your family first. Having one Life Role in abundance doesn’t make up for another Role. No matter the the success in one role it just doesn’t translate into fulfillment into another Role.
We proportion our life energy across these three ‘people’ we have become. There are no martyrs. Some women who care for their children despite no help from the father, or even enduring abuse, are definitely putting the lives and emotions of their children before theirs. They need to be recognized for their adherence to the Maternal Role when the Man simply doesn’t have the balls to man up to the Paternal Life. She is living the reality of her Maternal Life. Her Maternal journey is forever intertwined with the Paternal Journey of the father be it a one night stand or high school sweethearts that know no other lover.
Grab a Pen
Describe your Paternal Profile you want your wife to use as a resource as a mother/woman.
Describe the Maternal Journey you want your wife to know.
The Paternal/Maternal roles almost always are focused on raising your own children. However there are other versions of these roles that include adopting, fostering, uncling and aunting. The question is how do you want to get Satisfaction when you nurture others? Regardless if you are a parent. What is your skill of encouraging the nature of others. The nature of a mother that thrives within your wife?
Recipe for Romance =. The Genuine You + in the moment + Loving and being Loved.
Romance is not something you cause in the other person. Romance is not gifts, reservations at the hottest restaurant or your go-to perfume. It is a wave of belief in you and living in the moment and loving who you are with. As with anything there are low versions and high versions. Dollar store ‘romance’ is just some guy using a pick up line in a bar to get a girl in bed. When we refine our romance we are rising out of lust of the loins and into the love of ‘loving and being loved’. Sex may or may not be included. It’s not to say the moment of lust is a bad thing – simply it is not love. It is lust powered romance. So we cannot be surprised at what follows.
Romance is seeing and being seen. Romance is you being made special. Romance is loving a woman for who and what she is. Romance is in your smile; Is in your care and caress. It’s in your eyes and your vision. It’s in making something happen. It’s you creating a mood by how you synthesize the moment, the place and the people. Romance works because you want to be with her and that inspires her to shine.
Remeber Ryan Gosling in the 2011 movie Crazy, Stupid Love when his big move is the final dance scene from Dirty Dancing? If he can use cheesy movies to make himself look all suave, what can you come up with?
Professional is your work life. It is your engagement with the business world. You may be an employee or entrepreneur, constructor or performer. You might be an artist or volunteer. All of these and everything that is wrapped up into this territory is part of your Professional Life. This includes the clothes you wear, the lexicon you use, the team you are a part of. You can work from home by yourself or in a manufacturing plant of 2,000 people.
I saw Marcus Buckingham speak at the Elevate https://elevate.ca. In 2019 in Toronto. He is a fabulous presenter in a few ways including not letting technology usurp his presentation. His talk was basically a commercial for his latest book Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World
The book is a list of beliefs that are using years of clinical research to minimize misleading assumptions about the Professional Role.
Lie #1 People Care Which Company They Work For
While people might care which company they join, they don’t care which company they work for. The truth is, once there, people care which team they’re on.
Looked at through a lens of understanding relationships, since teams thrive or die on those connections, let’s apply the Buckingham/Goodall declaration to marriage.
While guys might care what other people might think about them as a man according to the type of wife they married the guy’s decision making is actually run by love. Once the wedding and honeymoon are a done deal they are more concerned with the quality of married life as opposed to when or whether they were going to marry. As with any team, a marriage can go awry. And for basically the same reason: The ‘Me’ of one spouse is bigger then the ‘We’ of the married couple.
Teams have managers and HR departments. Husband and wife have to look at each other without a mediator. Lacking a third vector to diffuse a situation it is inevitable that marriage gets adversarial. Marriage is supposed to work as the uniting plasma fueled by shared purpose and understanding to generate a new perception. Our poor grasp of the interaction of the three Life Roles in each of us and the person that produces means we are a long way from sharing more than issues of maintenance and stress.
There is always overlap between the impact of on Life Role on the other two.
However one thing for men to take is: Women already knew this. In Lie #1 there is one word that is repeated three times: care. It’s a four letter word. Care of the ‘We’ and care of the ‘Me’ for her is different to yours. It can be very difficult to understand the difference but you can still respond to your wife with care instead of remarking on the difference in your care. Because you care.
Mind sprout This book called Satisfaction is about you responding with sincerity because you want your wife to shine in her Maternal, Professional and Romantic roles. Sow this seed of belief in the real Romantic Life of Women, make sure the love of your life sees you cultivate it and make sure she feels the cornucopia of its harvest.
A thought for women to ponder: … your husband loves you, he does. In the cells of a man he remembers you said yes. To him. Of all the guys out there you agreed to minimizing your loneliness, answering your urge for companionship and engaging in a relationship with him as your groom. But more importantly it is just you and him in your marriage. And that is what he cares about. He will express his care in backassward ways, or cheap and cheesy ways because that is what he can come up with in the moment. So. obviously, your groom needs help. In many ways. One way he needs help is knowing that you grasp that he loves you and the impact that has on him. He feels it very intensely and immensely. Like a teenager. To the point of explosion. When in the cases of men with low self esteem bad things happen. Because he has no idea how to handle himself when he gets to his limits of understanding. understanding of emotion, of marriage, of women and their fluidity through the three Life Roles.
He has no idea how to access His Best Ego. No idea what he wants. Other than to be loved (the company) … by you (the team).
Ambition – Getting Satisfaction in your Professional Life does not mean settling for something lesser than reaching the summit. If you are an ambitious person then your Satisfaction is not only getting the sale but making the biggest sale of the month or in your branch. Satisfaction in other forms is equally valid. Like the relief and pride of someone who just landed a steady job to feed their family.
Like water can heat up into scalding steam, freeze into rock hard ice or flow as water itself. It is all water. The message of nature here is to be you in all moments even when they require you to adapt. Or especially when they require you to adapt because the broader your range of ability the greater your chance and cumulative energy for Satisfaction.
Enliven these three Life Roles so you can be agile in the pursuit of Satisfaction without abandoning your standards. Ambition without standards brings no Satisfaction that is of value to others.
Your Romantic Life includes adventure. You can adventure out a whole day for a mountain bike ride and finish off with a swim in the lake. You can be by yourself. Nothing wrong with that when you are living your Romantic Role.
Lots of people who have a life partner have little, no, or even toxic Romantic activity in their life. They go to work, come home, eat, clean, and check their Facebook. Repeat the next day. No sense of fun, learning and growing, discovery, intimacy, spontaneity or feeling loved and valued.
The Romantic Role is the amorous you and also the adventurous you. You are curious about things, even if it is about your tomato plants that grow so well. It also can be seen in your getting up at 4 am on Saturday morning because you want to beat the traffic out of the city and get on the hiking trail as the sun comes up. Drink your steaming morning cup of tea up on the cliff look-out. Take in the moment.
Paternal/Maternal is the nurturing you. You don’t have to have children or even have nieces and nephews. This Life Role is about providing services to others. For people who have children it is deemed a moral obligation to come through with parenting services for your sons and daughters. If you have no children, won’t have any, or they are grown up, this Life Role still calls you. To a child you are an Elder. Your bones radiate wisdom, your blood carries guidance, the look from your eyes projects understanding.
Give the moment of now your Satisfaction of the Life Role being asked of you in the moment.
With the Life Stage we pass through (male, man, gentleman) have little choice to participate in each subsequent stage. Not so for the Life Role. When we choose to inject our sincerity and love into the Life Role we give it so much power. For example when in the Professional Role, our work life, we give it our focus to get the best result for the company and professional Satisfaction for us. This can translate into us being ready for the role that is on the back burner. Often it is the Maternal/Paternal Life. Below that is the Romantic Life that can often be pushed aside and forgotten. You could say it is in the rumble seat. This seat was an option on some cars in the 1930’s that carried its passengers on the outside of the car. This feeling of just being along for the ride is probably what it feels for a lot of women, and some men, when they are reflecting on their Romance life.
Red says ‘I do red’. Blue says ‘I feel like blue’. Both insist they are right – which they are. However for relationship purposes there is a requirement to agree that no one colour is better than another. Sometimes one colour is more appropriate for the situation than another. Together in a unique moment they make something new – purple. Some days their version of purple will appear as a cooling curtain of mauve because she (being blue) wants to do things based on her feelings. Her feelings are based in the Fulfillment of The Female Frixion. Other times a bold magenta will be the shade of their relationship because he (being red) needs Satisfaction of The Male Stack.
The Female Frixion
This is the woman’s experience with managing the feeling of the three Life Roles of: Professional, Maternal and Romantic.
Let’s Remember: Women and Men are Equally Valid. So are their differences.
Our feelings about these differences may not be a fair expression of Woman or Man. Just because he doesn’t understand the difference between women and men doesn’t mean he is wrong, bad or stupid. It does mean he needs to learn. Perhaps he should have known already – before being married for 5 or 10 or 15 years. Yes, that’s right. Who should have passed on this wisdom to him? His dad and his mom. His coaches, teachers, uncles and aunts, religious mentors?
This is important because the nature of her decision making just doesn’t fit into a decision making based a worldview skewed to the male experience. The Female Frixion is the feeling in a woman that while she is focusing on one of the three Life Roles she is keeping at bay there response to the other two lives. There is a competition of the roles for the woman’s energy. The priorities are nagging at her. Without sincere communication of understanding from him about this fact, she can start to think this internal emotional wiring is a fault. Her fault. That a woman’s worry and wavering, consideration and between the lives is a flaw in her personally. The truth is this is not the case. It is what makes a woman attractive and different, beautiful and frustrating,
It does suggest, however, that a woman probably has more traffic with her instinct because it nudges her, daily, momentarily on the management of the three Life Roles.
We can all improve our parenting skills, our relationship/marriage communication and our professional participation. This needs imptrove impacts the decision making of women on a decision by decision basis. Not so much in a man.
It’s not that men don’t care. They do. They want to be successful. He wants to be a loving husband and a competent father. It just doesn’t cause an internal conflict in him the same way it does in a woman. She is not worse for giving this internal conflict energy. Nor is she better because often her mental process can provide perspective and inclusion that men don’t. But it sure is valuable. And could well be used in leadership, business, personal religion, environmental policy, hospital design, food production, couples therapy, curriculum design, etc.
Again he is not lacking anything because he doesn’t think along the lines of this conflict. The fact that this Female Frixion is not the male reality as well is confusing to all participants. The fact that we don’t even know it exists it puts an unseen, unnecessary stress on our relationship. This can be infuriating. Some infuriated, and unsatisfied men can suddenly become a violent man. Even if he doesn’t want to be violent. Even if he doesn’t want to hit his wife. But some men do. Even insult or threaten her because in the moment he got to the limit of his understanding of women ,of life stages, of life roles of the counsel from his mentors.
Men need to hear from Women about the Female Friction
Imagine this: For him it is a no brainer deciding about which daycare. They can argue or agree about the price or the location or the reputation of the business or the policies around health or holidays. For him that is all part of making up your mind. For her it is an influence on her sense of managing the three Life Roles: it causes internal friction in her but not in him. Men don’t have this friction so they don’t feel it permeating daily life. “What’s wrong?” He asks frustrated because there is something she is not saying. “Is it the price?” “Is it the location?” “What is it?” “Is it me?” “Is it what my mother will say or think, or what you think my mother will think?” Maybe. But her thoughts are getting powered by the invisible Female Frixion. There may be no problem but she still has to manage the Female Frixion because it is real.
The Male Stack
The way to relate the Female Frixion to the male management of the three Life Roles is to picture them as blocks.
Men deal with their roles one at a time, handling the stress that comes with their work or their parenting tasks or relationship. Likewise women have their version of life’s stress in the same three Life roles yet there is an added stress of feeling all three, at the same time, all the time.
Men are thinking vertically and women are feeling horizontally. Men are scouting linearly and women are observing in the same direction in a spiral fashion. Men are useful for being matter of fact about certain decisions while women are to be valued for bringing their varied considerations in their own time.
Related to this, I was having a conversation with a retired man on the driveway to his home. He told me that he used to be a chemist so he was very exact in how he looked at life. While talking I commented I could still smell the fragrant lilac bush beside his house. It was mid June so it was past its flowering prime but still offered a strong and beautiful perfume. Yes, he said the garden was good but lots of work. His wife, he told me, would tell him to move a flower pot to the other side of the yard. And then look at it and ask him to move it right back. He was frustrated by this non logical approach to gardening. And his back hurt from gardening and also caring for his grandson.
The chemist’s wife’s Fulfillment is valid regardless if it is not linear or logical. From the way I heard him talking he needs to learn that. And add to that a knowing that following her requests is actually feeding the romantic life between them. Just shut up and move the flower pot. Stop whining and before bed take a bath with epsom salts.
What is your SOLAS? Recall at the beginning of this chapter a positive outcome of the Titanic sinking was the development and global adoption of the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) treaty. The treaty declared there were “minimum requirements for construction, equipment and operation of ships …” So what are yours? At work: what are your professional ethics when selling: When managing a team or leading a company? In your family: how do you teach children, create boundaries and guide them into their future? In your Romantic Life is there attraction or repulsion, warmth or cordiality, growing love or a plateaued marriage?
Is there some personal character trait you can apply and adjust to all three Life Roles?
Perhaps The minimum requirement would be respect for the other person taking into account about them whatever you want others to take into account about you. This would include Life Roles, Life Stages, Devotional Life urges, momentary and accumulated Satisfaction/Fulfillment. That’s a lot to take into account. But that is what is happening and more all the time. All the more reason to be in touch with one’s instinct and in the flow of your life trajectory.
To construct you need a foundation or foundational materials. Personal foundations based on upbringing and life experience. Woman or man foundations to uphold what is true and illuminating about your version of woman or your version of a man. Human foundations of the qualities you want to make relevant now and cause to be immortal at least to you.
Equipment in the human case includes: High and Low emotions, brains and mind, soul and spirit all packaged nicely into a self healing human body.
Operations get tricky. We are talking about Psychology, Ego, ambition, communication, worldly meaning and Higher Purpose all having seen and unseen impacts on our mood, decision making and ability to listen, see and understand things for the way they actually are.
The construction of a Life Role requires a lot of input from other people like your mom, colleague, uncle, sister, wife, neighbour, husband. Is there a mix of humility to accept other people’s ideas and the confidence to know you are a good mother or father?
What will your life partner say you are steadfast about in your Romantic Life?
What can your colleagues rely on you for because your Professional Life has proven you repeatedly uphold (specific human qualities) _________________