One of my favorite things to talk about is how different men and women are and how those differences can really be seen in our communication patterns. Communication is so difficult for most couples, that basically everyone I’ve ever seen has listed “difficulty with communication” as one of the bigger problems they have. And, this isn’t just true of people I work with. Even as a counselor my husband and I have our fair share of communication difficulties.
Dr. Amen, a psychiatrist that specializes in diagnosing mental health conditions through brain scans, has research to show that men and women really are wired differently. These differences have the potential to cause miscommunication and upset feelings. But here’s the good news. Once you know that the differences exist, they are so much easier to navigate!
Before we get started though, check out this short video. It’s under 2 minutes long!!!
This video is clearly satirical, but even so, it highlights one of the key differences in communication between men and women. Men are problem-solvers and sometimes women just need to express their emotions without hearing a solution. Of course, just as women feel like they’re not being heard if a man rushes in with a solution; men can feel like they are being ignored if their wives will not listen to their advice.
The Emotional Center
The emotional center in the woman’s brain is larger than in the man’s brain. This means that women are more likely to seek relationship and emotional connection than their husbands are. Where men are driven to problem-solve, women are often much more in need of the empathy. In the video above, the woman really just wants her husband to tell her that he understands the pain she is in. Men, on the other hand, have a larger inferior parietal lobe (or “analyzing and problem-solving area”). Just as women want to be heard and not talk about problem-solving, men really do need to problem-solve and find this much easier than just listening.
Gender’s Effect on Language and Communication
Some studies report that women use around 20,000 words a day compared to the man’s 7,000 daily. That huge difference is due to the corpus callosum which is larger in women than men. It’s not uncommon for a woman to need ten minutes to describe her day while the man can do the same task in two sentences. I’m sure you’re familiar with the annoyance that comes from a man asking his lady to “get to the point,” or completely tune out to what she’s saying. And, in case you’re wondering, yes – husbands typically think about sex more often than their wives. The part of the brain that is activated by sex hormones is quite a bit larger in men than women. This is why men are ready to have sex while their wife is ready to talk first.
Why SO Different???
It’s not hard to explain these differences by estrogen and testosterone. Those hormones really are responsible. Even so, one can’t help but wonder why God, in all his goodness, would see fit to make us so different from one another that we can get in those places of feeling annoyed or even unloved. Here are two reasons I think He did that.
- Not fully understanding your spouse can be a reminder how unknowable God is.
God is mysterious to us (Rom. 11:33-36, 1 Cor. 13:12). We cannot get to the point where we understand his thoughts and his ways (Isaiah 55:8-9, 1 Cor. 2:16), and we shouldn’t because He is God and we are not. What if marriage is a little reminder from God that even if we don’t completely understand one another fully (just like we don’t understand Him fully), we should still seek to know one another and care for one another? Love well, even when you don’t understand completely.
- Iron sharpens iron.
One of my favorite versus in the Bible has to do with how we can help each other grow into more Christ-like individuals. We can actually do this in any relationship, but marriage is a unique relationship and gives you the ability to consistently choose if you’ll honor your own desires, or seek to fulfill your’s spouse’s wants, hopes, or needs.
Different isn’t good or bad…just simply different.
Remember that our differences can be a huge strength to one another. Our differences, and working to love well despite them can help us see many situations more fully. What will you do today to work on understanding your spouse a little better?