Studies reveal that about 50 percent of those who marry today will end up divorced. And of the other 50 percent who stay together, only half of those are satisfied with their relationship. No wonder the average marriage lasts only seven years. So let me ask you: How satisfied are you right now with your relationship? — from 7 Things He’ll Never Tell You, but You Need to Know Dr. Kevin Leman

I like being a man

It takes a woman an hour or two to get her nails done at the salon. But I can do my nails at a red light in 10 seconds or less with my front teeth. I even make it a game to see how many times I can hit my speedometer with my fingernails.

(If you’re saying, “Eww, gross,” you’re definitely a woman. If you were a man, you’d be saying, “All right, score! I’ve got a whole pile on my dashboard.”) I could wear the same pair of Bermuda shorts day in, day out. It would never dawn on me to change them, unless I saw another pair waiting for me on my bedroom chair . . . or unless my wife, Sande, handed a new pair to me, told me to put them on, and whisked the old pair off to the washer.

I think I’m dressed up and ready for anything when my shirt has only one spot on it, and I’m in my standard T-shirt, shorts, tennis shoes, and baseball cap. It’s how I dress 95 percent of the time.

The other day, as I was taking my wife a cup of coffee in bed, as I do every morning, my daughter Krissy showed up with my two grandkids, Conner and Adeline. I was so excited to see them that I sloshed a few drops of coffee on the kitchen floor. So what did I do? I took my sneaker and rubbed the drops around on the floor a bit, so they would dry faster.

“Daaad,” Krissy said, rolling her eyes. “That is so male.”

And that’s exactly what I am. A male.

I don’t like to share my food with anybody. But I get first right of refusal on anything on Sande’s plate.

I am as color-blind as anyone can get.

I never ask for directions.

I get antsy when you launch into a really long story. I can’t help thinking,

What’s the point?

Sometimes I act like a four-year-old who has to have everything now… including all of your attention. Other times I am my wife’s hero.

When I say things, I mean them. I like to say what needs to be said plainly. But when I’m quiet, I’m hoping you get the drift that I’m not crazy about what you’re saying, but I don’t want to hurt your feelings.

I’m a tough guy . . . but I’m tender underneath, especially where my family is concerned. (Just ask Krissy sometime how many times I cried when I found out she was engaged, when she tried on her wedding dress for the first time, when she walked down the aisle, when she told me she was pregnant with grandbabies one and two, and when I saw her holding those babies for the first time.)

Truth is, I’m no big puzzle. And neither is any man. The path to our heart is well-marked, but it’s also narrow, for there are few that we trust with it. And somehow, someway, we’ve come to trust you.

But let’s face it. When you date someone, you always put your best foot forward. Then you hook him, or he hooks you, and you decide you’re both “keepers.” You want to be in this relationship for a lifetime. You can’t wait to never have to say good night and drive off to separate locations ever again. You envision romantic evenings together, wrapped in each other’s arms, in front of the fireplace of your very own home.

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Once the wedding is over, you concentrate on living life together

Settling into your careers, deciding who will do what around the house, who will keep track of the car’s oil changes, pay the bills, etc. Somewhere in the midst of all this finagling is when you, a woman and a natural problem solver, get your first notion: I don’t remember that bugging me before. Did he always do that? How can I stop him from doing that?

All of a sudden, there is a chasm between your expectations and the reality of living with your man. Does he expect me to be his maid? you wonder when you find the heap of dirty laundry under his side of the bed. What’s more important to him — hanging out with the guys or spending time with me? And if he likes “guy time,” why does he act all hurt when I go out with a girlfriend?

I thought we talked about our budget. I’ve been sticking to it. And then he went and bought that plasma TV. We can’t afford that. What was he thinking?

If he’s an engineer, how come he never gets around to fixing our leaky faucet? The list can grow. You’re the Energizer Bunny of communication. He’s the rabbit on his side with a dead battery. If you’re not aware of the true needs of a man — what he dreams about, thinks about, and what motivates all he does — disillusionment can set in. Misunderstanding can grow to anger and bitterness. You can begin thinking, This sure isn’t what I signed up for.

Most people in relationships live with an expectancy that they can change the other person. That if they just work hard enough, long enough, and if they nag enough, the other person will eventually change.

But that’s a little like trying to rub the spots off a leopard. Sure, you can try to make that critter all one color by scraping his skin with a Brillo pad, but you won’t wipe off those spots. You’ll just irritate the leopard.

Makeovers work great with clothes, hair, and houses, but they don’t work well with leopards or the men in your life.

A woman who sets out with a Brillo-pad personality won’t get very far before she irritates the man in her life enough to shut him down. No one likes being told what to do . . . especially a man. If you want to catch a mouse, you have to put cheese — a mouse’s favorite — in the trap. You can try pineapple, but all you’ll be left with is an empty trap.

In the same way, you need to understand the male species before you try to change him. Otherwise you may have good intentions, but you’ll be going about it the wrong way.

No matter how much society tries to make the two sexes androgynous, men and women clearly are different. Are they equal? Absolutely! But they are not the same.

When women talk about the man of their dreams, they use words such as rugged, protective, handsome, and strong. Yet the media is trying hard to turn the image of a man into a feminine, wimpy man-child. Someone who will be your girlfriend, who will go shopping with you, always see eye-to-eye, and give you the verbal and emotional strokes you long for.

But a happy marriage is one in which both partners understand, accept, and celebrate their differences. They enjoy relating to each other and seeing the world through each other’s unique eyes. They cut each other some slack during pressured or tough times. (Before you get annoyed with your husband, just think of how annoying you are during that “special time” of the month. It’ll put a lot of petty grievances into perspective.)

Your guy isn’t like you

He shouldn’t be like you. If he was, why would you have found him interesting? Those differences can drive you crazy — or they can drive you together. Understand a guy’s basic needs, and all of a sudden you’re talking his language. The paycheck at the end is huge. Think about how many close friends you, as a woman, have. Now, how many do you think your guy has? If you answered 0 or 1, you’re right on the money. Your guy needs just one intimate friend — you. He wants to please you. So don’t underestimate yourself. You rate much higher in his life and thoughts than you could ever dream. He’d take a bullet for you. He really would.

Adapted from 7 Things He’ll Never Tell You by Kevin Leman.

Copyright © 2007 by Kevin Leman. All rights reserved. Published by Tyndale House Publishing.