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Patience is a virtue we all need to learn
Ask my children which parent has more patience and they would unite in giving my husband pole position.
They see me as completely impatient, liable to snap at the slightest thing, while their image of my husband is likely to be that of a mild-mannered creature, dealing with any problems in a calm, measured way.
But this conclusion would be unfair and unjust, and the real picture is borne out by research.
A man’s patience is more likely to snap more quickly than a woman’s, a survey of 3,000 people discovered. When asked how long they would wait before walking off in a strop, five out of ten men would wait up to a minute, but only one in ten women said they would leave that quickly.
I lose my temper in our home because I’m usually on the front line. I’m at the sharp-end of the frequent disagreements between our daughters, and after refereeing for up to half-an-hour, I get to the point where I can take no more, and I explode.
Meanwhile, my husband is emotionally detached from all this. He’s physically there – often in the same room – but has tuned his brain out of the fracas that is going on around him.
When, at last, he does tune in – usually after I prod him with a big, sharp stick – it takes only moments for him to erupt like a mighty volcano. So although I might appear to have a shorter fuse, it is actually a heck of a lot longer.
And I do get a bit irate when it takes my husband five hours to cook a simple meal, meaning we don’t eat until midnight.
But ask my daughters who has the most patience in shops, and a different set of results will emerge. They have grown up with a man who only has to set eyes on Marks & Spencer to come out in a cold sweat; who can’t face the queue at the supermarket if there’s more than two people in it, and who often buys the most expensive thing on the shelves because it’s the first thing he comes to.
He’s worse on the phone, and cannot tolerate queuing systems at all, whereas, although I also hate automated services, I’m prepared to hunker down and sit it out.
Growing up, I remember my dad as far more impatient than my mum. If he asked us to do something, we would do it immediately, or suffer his wrath. And no-one would deny that male drivers waiting in traffic have far shorter fuses.
Patience is a virtue and we – men and women – could all benefit from lessons in it.