Much of the time, our relationship gets into trouble because we forget that men and women are different. Yes, it is true! Men and women are different. We are different physically, the way we communicate, in the way we think, and process our thoughts and feelings. A great example of this occurred with the first session I had with a couple for marital counseling. When they made the appointment, I had pre-assigned the homework for each of them to come to the first session with a personal notebook and their written individual goals for therapy. I kid you not; the woman came with a beautiful designer decorated journal with the first page filled with her goals while the man showed up with his goals written on the back of some business card! It was classic.
I couldn’t help but to find the humor in it and share it with both of them. I used their choices to introduce them to the idea that men and women are different and that it is okay. For once we understand the differences; we can work together instead of butting heads with one another.
The beauty of this comes when we recognize that men and women are simply different and not better or less than the other. For when we approach one another from this perspective, we can celebrate our differences and learn to use these differences to complement one another in our relationship. We can shift from an adversarial position to a working-together position.
So often, I hear my women clients and friends complain that their man is insensitive and unfeeling. They share that when they try to talk with their man, he seems distracted, uninterested, or he tries to just fix it for her. When I explore more deeply with them what is truly going on, most of the time, the man is unable to communicate in a way in which the woman feels heard and loved. As the woman grows in her understanding that her man is not insensitive and unfeeling, but simply communicating like a man, she is less likely to feel hurt. Eventually her feelings of not being heard or loved lessen and are replaced with an understanding that he is doing the best he can and together with some learned communication skills and tools, they can get to a better place of communicating.
I find that when we can keep mindful of the differences, our expectations of one another become more realistic. When our expectations are more realistic, we tend to experience less conflict and less trouble in the relationship. This occurs because we are not trying to get something from our partner that they simply do not have to give. For example, most men do not want to talk for hours about feelings and all the dynamics of your relationship. They would rather pull their fingernails out one by one! While on the other hand, most women do not think about sex every seven seconds and want to have sex every single day of their entire life. Instead, taking a bath, cuddling, talking, or sleeping are often much more preferred activities!
So there is a choice, we can continue to argue and butt heads or we can accept our differences and honor each other. I find that when we choice to recognize and respect one another’s differences, the relationship experiences far less trouble and instead is filled with a great deal more satisfaction.