Of men, women and the simple answer

October 11, 1993|By Jennifer Bojorquez | Jennifer Bojorquez,McClatchy News Service

.TC Men talking about women: "Why does she always want to talk during the last 10 seconds of the game?" "She'll buy anything on sale, then tell me how much money she saved." "She has an uncanny ability to remember a fight we had 10 years ago . . . and bring it up now to her advantage."

Women talking about men: "What is it with the remote control? Is channel surfing in their genetic makeup?" "He'll never use a map for directions. For that matter, he doesn't even know how to fold a map." And, "Why is it so hard to remember? Put the toilet seat down."

Those little things that bother you about your loved one. Minor, seemingly meaningless concerns that somehow turn into long-running arguments. Affectations you once found charming that now drive you up the wall.

They're now complaints.

Forget the self-help experts who babble on about finding your inner child before establishing a meaningful relationship. Two guys from Cincinnati know what's really bothering you about your loved one.

It's the little things.

Jack York and Brian Krueger traveled across the country and talked to more than 3,000 real people asking them what works and what doesn't work in their relationships. They've found it's the everyday things that get to us the most. The two, authors of the book "Beyond Putting the Toilet Seat Down: 423 Real Comments From Men and Women About Their Relationships" ($6.95), are researching their second book and are looking for people willing to talk about their relationships.

"We want to talk to the guys in the barbershop, the women at the grocery stores, real people who struggle with relationships every day," says York, a self-described "armchair expert." York has been married 10 months. Krueger is not married but is involved in "a long-term relationship."

York is a former management consultant. Krueger is an illustrator. They came up with the idea at dinner one night.

"We were with a few other couples and everyone started talking about their pet peeves and such," says York. "Then we realized that the so-called experts don't know what's going on with real everyday men and women."

The two packed up a van they call the "Gripemobile 423Z," loaded it with video-recording equipment and hit the road to talk to average Americans about what's bugging them in their relationships. They plan to spend about $20,000 of their own money promoting the book while researching the second. "It's not that big of a risk because people are interested," York says.

They kicked off their 26 city nation-wide tour, dubbed "The Great American Complainathon," in August with a spot on "Good Morning America." They've been promoting it ever since.

"Both men and women want to talk about it," says York. "Because we really don't understand each other very well . . . But I do think we like each other."

Those willing to talk about their relationships to York and Krueger should also be willing to be videotaped with "Pottycam," a home video camera that York and Krueger are using to document their research for their next book. (The name comes from the complaint women have about men leaving the toilet seat up.)

"Anybody who talks to us will also be acknowledged in our next book," says York. In the first book about 200 people are acknowledged as contributors, but more than 200 wished to remain anonymous.

"They didn't want their partners to know they were talking about them," explains York.

Most of the complaints they've heard are lighthearted and minor, admits York. "I don't think people in abusive or really unhappy relationships are going to come talk to us. Most of the people we talk to are pretty happy. . . not like those people you see on ## those TV talk shows."

York says that despite the title of the book, most of the news he hears from average men and women about their relationships is positive. "That's not what the psychologists on TV will say, but ask most people about their relationships and you'll hear something positive. Most of the psychologists on TV make a mountain out of a molehill."

Last month, for example, the two were on the "Les Brown Show," promoting their book. A woman in the audience said one of her complaints was her boyfriend's tardiness.

"This so-called expert goes into this big thing about how he was probably abandoned as a child and his tardiness shows a lack of self-esteem. Brian and I just looked at her and said, 'you've got to be kidding'."

Their advice to the woman with the boyfriend who is always late?

Don't wait for him. After a few times, he'll get the message.

Through their research they've learned that the best way to solve a problem is usually the simplest. It may be a cliche, says York, but listening and communicating with your partner works. So does humor. "Why are we so uptight about everything?" asks York. "Is the fact that he's late really that big of a deal?"

Relationships should be emotionally satisfying, not emotionally exhausting, says York.

His bottom line on relationships: "Find someone whose faults you can live with."

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