So, you found and married “The One.” That’s great! Now, how do you keep “The One?”
Any successful relationship, whether it is with your co-workers, friends, family or spouse, requires good communication. Good communication occurs when both parties are able to express themselves openly and that the other person actually understands what is being communicated.
One thing to remember in any conversation is that just because you “think” that you were able to express yourself clearly, it does not necessarily mean that the other person accurately understood what you were trying to say.
In a marriage or long-term relationship, communication gets even “muddier” and more complicated because of the emotions involved and that in every conversation, there is almost a “sub-text” that goes with the assumption that your partner “should already know this about you” and that you “shouldn’t have to” explain it to him or her, especially if you have been together for a long time.
The simple reality however is, men and women, think and communicate differently. One of the most respected authorities on the differences between males and females is psychiatrist and author of the books, “The Male Brain,” and “The Female Brain,” Dr. Louann Brizendine.
Below are some of the major differences between men and women that people in long-term relationships should know about.
Women can express their emotions more easily than men.
The “mirror-neuron” system, or the part of the brain that is responsible for feelings and emotions, are larger and more developed in the female than in the male brain. This makes it easier for women to not only express their emotions but also recognize emotions through observing facial expressions, body language, inflections or changes in the tone of a person’s voice. Biologically, this also allows mothers to be more sensitive and perceptive to the needs of her child.
However, it is important to remember that men are not “devoid” of feelings or emotions. On the contrary, studies have shown that men actually have more powerful emotions than women except they don’t express it as often or as openly as women. So, the statement that men are insensitive is actually quite inaccurate, hurtful and damaging to the male ego.
So then, how do women communicate their feelings to their partners?
Women seek to be understood while men want to feel appreciated and respected.
If women are to successfully communicate to their spouse their feelings and emotions, Alison Armstrong, author of the book, “Making Sense of Men,” recommends to literally use the word “feel” when communicating their emotions as opposed to “attacking” men, making assumptions, and pointing out “what is wrong” with their husband. For example, Alison recommends saying something like, “I feel sad and hurt when you don’t call to let me know when you won’t be home in time for dinner,” as opposed to, “You are so insensitive. It is like you don’t care that I worry when you don’t call and that I am at home waiting to have dinner for you.”
In both statements, the goals are the same – She wants him to call if he was going to be late for dinner and she wants her husband to know that by not calling, she feels let down and upset. The difference is the first statement focuses on her needs, while the second one is loaded with accusations and will most likely be received as an attack.
In the first statement, he does not feel disrespected. He feels appreciated, needed and wanted. He is able to hear her and allows him to understand her needs – this is something his male brain can understand and clearly see what he needs to do to fulfill her needs.
Men are more “linear” thinkers while women are more “free-flowing” and detailed narrators.
When men tell stories, there is “structure.” They get straight to the point and their stories usually have a central theme or single topic. When women engage in story-telling, there are more details involved, including a description of emotions, facial expressions of the “main characters” in her story, injected with her commentaries in between. Because women’s brains have highly developed centers for emotions and vocabulary, their stories are usually more animated and convoluted which can drive most men almost insane.
Men and women deal with stress and problems differently.
Men are problem-solvers. When they hear a problem, their biological instinct is to find a solution for it. When women talk to their husbands or partners about a problem or a concern, they need that time and space to talk it out, cry, get emotional. Men are best advised to just listen or give their partners a hug. More often than not, this is all she needs, a validation of her emotions and the assurance that her partner is there for her.
Men deal with stress and problems through movement or actions or retreating in their “man caves.” For instance, men may start working on a small project they have been working on or go for a drive in their car, turn on the TV or play a video game. This is how their male brain processes their emotions and helps them figure out a solution.
Testosterone and the “Man Trance”
A man’s brain is wired to always be on the lookout for fertile partners, according to Dr. Brizendine. Biologically, men cannot help it to glance at a beautiful woman, or parts of her anatomy. Women should remember, however, that this is instinctive and just because their partner looked or glanced at a woman, it does not necessarily mean he will pursue any specific action. Men look and forget about it.