I think a lot about what life would have been like back in Cave Times. When a problem is bothering me, I wonder, "Would this have been a problem for my cave man (and cave woman) ancestors?"
If so, how would they have handled it?
Okay, in our developed-world lives, we do not suffer from the major issues such as:
where to get food (we invented supermarkets)
how to stay warm (we invented clothes, and electricity)
how to stay well (we invented medicines, surgery, and sanitation)
how to cope with fluctuations in supply of things we need (we invented trade, and transport)
(* I acknowledge that developing nations dont even have these solutions, which is terribly unfair, we should do whatever we can to redress it.)
But many problems still remain.
Today I am talking about a problem you will easily recognize. I bet this same problem occurred in male-female relationships even back in Cave Times.
Im going to call it ManGoesInCave.
Here is how it goes.
You and your hubby are really in love. You have a great sex life. There are no problems (sorry issues) between you. Just when everything was SO great that you wonder where it could possibly go to from here...BOOM!
Hubby is suddenly nowhere to be found. He has gone to his shed/garage/club and he is tinkering with his boat/car/computer/golfclubs, and/or hanging out with his buddies.
Bu-wha? You, in a rising state of panic, go to see what Hubby is up to. What could possibly be more alluring to him than snuggling on the couch with you, chopping vegetables for you, or bathing the kids for you?
Hubby will be found in his natural habitat, surrounded by tools pertaining to his hobby. His eyes will have the glaze of a tinkerer/gamer/golfer fully immersed in his favourite thing. If the you intrude, it may take several seconds for his eyes and his posture to reflect a recognition that you are there. He will rise reluctantly from his chair to greet you.
Someone, maybe John Gray (the Venus and Mars dude), coined a phrase "goes to his cave" to describe what a man does when he needs to process whatever is going on for him.
Now, those of us who have been married awhile know that there is no use trying to extract a man from his cave. He is lodged in there as firmly a hermit crab is in its shell.
We know not to ask ANY of the following:
What's going on?
I thought everything was great with us, what are you DOING out here?
When will you be finished with your car/boat/computer/golfclubs/buddies?
There is only one solution. Forget about him. Go have fun by yourself.
Long ago our cavegirl ancestors probably exerienced some version of the ManGoesInCave problem. After a long hard day of hunting wildebeest and avoiding predation by panthers, Cave Man arrived home, dumped his bloody kill at the entrance to the cave and slumped onto a fur mat.
Cave Woman was also tired from gathering tiny seeds all day and protecting the kids from being predated upon by hyenas. After roasting a leg of wildebeest for them all to gnaw, making a crude porridge with bits of charcoal in it, and then putting the kids to sleep in the cave, she was finally able to rest by her mate on the fur mat.
Cave Woman knows she works just as hard, if not harder than Cave Man, but that is life. She lies down, hoping for her mate to groom her hair, but Cave Man he suddenly and inexplicably stands up and wanders off.
259 million years later, I found myself sitting on the couch with my husband. I knew he wanted to be elsewhere. But since a recent argument (sorry, discussion) about Computer Gaming and Its Role in our Lives, his gaming has been curtailed to certain hours. I wondered, what should we talk about? We seemed to have run out of topics, which made me feel slightly anxious. At the same time, I stroked the black hair on his reasonably-hairy arms, looking for anything that shouldnt be there and needs to be picked off.
Suddenly, I said, "You know, I saw this show on Oprah, about this lady who got in an accident with a chimp?"
He asked, "What happened?"
I said, "The chimp got upset and ripped off her face, and most of her fingers."
"Ugh!" (I'm delighted he's actually interested.)
I went on to describe the injury in some detail, and then I also mentioned another lady in France whose face was ripped off by her dog, but she got a face transplant. The lady was a heroin addict so presumably she didn't feel anything. But when she woke up from the accident, she found it hard to light a cigarette, because her lips were not there.
My husband seemed to find this story quite rivetting. At least, he did not wander off. But admittedly, he wasnt within his rights to. It wasn't Gaming O'Clock quite yet.
Now normally, I do not need to keep my husband's attention by repeating gruesome things I saw on Oprah. I thought I had more class, frankly.
But clearly, I don't.
I reckon that Cave Woman would have just wandered after Cave Man, whacked him unconscious with a club, then dragged him back to the Cave. I bet things were just that simple, back in Cave Times.
Maybe that is why men invented the ManGoesInCave thing. Our modern husband may have wandered off, emotionally and mentally, but at least we still know where to find him, and he won't get clubbed on the head.