Starting decades ago, right up to the present, there is still this odd, persistent idea that there are no differences between men and women. The more real science there is and the less pop science that is so popular in liberal circles, the more we understand how different men and women are. That is not to say better, not so good, right/wrong, it’s just that’s the way God made us.
It also underscores the fact that brought together, in holy matrimony of course, men and women complement each other so amazingly, clearly we were made that way in order to, together, be a small indication of the completeness of God. God is the totality of everything, neither man nor woman, but the completeness, and so much more of humans. God made man and woman to be together, I understand that doesn’t always work out in life, but it does say that we are complete in heterosexual marriage, and homosexual marriage does not complete anyone or anything, it undermines what God has intended for us and tries to convince us that there are alternatives to God’s plan. There certainly are alternatives, but nothing other than God’s plan ends up well.
Anyway, the prompt for this blog is an article in “Christian Counseling Today” published by the American Association of Christian Counselors, since I’m pretty sure the vast majority of people reading this don’t subscribe I will quote at length. If you are interested in Christian Counseling this organization has great programs to train clergy and laity, if interested feel free to check with me.
The following article is by Walt Larimore, Dr Larimore is an MD “…one of America’s best-known family physicians and has been named in ‘The Best Doctors in America’ and ‘Who’s who in Medicine and Healthcare’. He is the best-selling author of 30 books, which along with his health blog and free daily devotional DrWalt.com
“…as I counsel female patients, they seem surprised to learn that men’s brains are simply not structured for long talks – whereas a woman’s brain is designed to process and enjoy long bouts of verbal communication.
This is not learned behavior. Rather, males and females come into the world with differences in how they hear and speak, already in place. The effect of testosterone in the unborn male changes his brain so that it has fewer and less connected verbal centers than does a female brain. So, it should not surprise us that girls develop proficient language skills earlier than boys…These differences are so profound that by three years of age, the average girl has twice the vocabulary of the average boy.
What is happening in the brain to cause these differences? Women use specific areas located on both sides of the brain for speech and language functions, while men tend to use just one side of their brains (the left hemisphere) for verbal tasks. when it comes to talking, women are naturally good at it, enjoy the process, and do it often. In addition, the neural connections between a woman’s emotional processing and memory centers are larger, far more active and more strongly connected to the verbal center of the brain than in a man.
She is designed to connect memories, words and feelings, so her conversation tends to be laden with emotion and meaning. Not so with men. The biological design of men causes them to be less likely to identify and communicate their emotions. With a smaller emotional center, men remember fewer emotional experiences than women. Furthermore, the portions of his brain that process emotion are much smaller and much less connected than those in her brain. So a man’s capacity to feel and express emotions is physically separated from his ability to verbally articulate. In conversation, men are much less likely (or even able) to talk about emotions and generally express much less emotional content than the average woman. This reality explains why male conversations are usually filled with facts and are devoid of emotion.
It is no surprise to veteran counselors that the most common dissatisfaction in marriage for a woman, at least after a few years, is that her husband does not provide the conversation she needs. Yet, most are not aware that a woman’s sensitivity to this communication gap has a biological origin – the calming, feel-good, bonding hormone called oxytocin.This hormone compels a woman to find others with whom she can talk it out because, when she does, it feels good and helps relieve stress and tension. Nevertheless, conversation with her husband is important because it magnifies the feelings of bonding and intimacy that she longs for in her relationship with him. However, if a wife’s expectation is that her husband will be the sole provider of oxytocin-rich relationships and conversations, she is likely to feel unloved and quite alone. She may expect her husband to feel unloved and quite alone. She may expect her husband to be available and able to meet all of her emotional and conversational needs, but it is just not the way he is built!
His brain is built to see conversation as a means to an end, whereas her brain is designed to see talking as an end in itself. Researchers have found that not only is her brain built to listen more acutely than his brain, but a woman can use up to six ‘listening expressions’ on her face in any 10-second period of conversation. Whether women are speaking or listening, they reflect in their faces what they are feeling. A woman’s facial expression communicate feelings to such an extent that when two women are talking to each other, it can be very difficult to tell who is sharing and who is responding…
…A man’s high levels of testosterone and vasopressin lead him toward problem-solving responses to stressors. Therefore, a man’s brain and hormones compel him to respond to emotions and stress by either doing something or fixing something They also lead him toward aggression and action, dominance and decision making. Functional brain scans show the male brain is extremely systemized, with a high ability to compartmentalize, a low ability to multitask, a high ability to control emotions, a low relational orientation, a high project orientation, a high ability to ‘zone out’ a tendency to act first and think later when faced with stress, an aggressive response to risk and a tendency to compete with other males. The female brain, on the other hand, has been shown to be highly empathetic with a low ability to compartmentalize, a high ability to multitask, a low ability to control emotions, a relational orientation, a low project orientation, a low ability to ‘zone out’ a tendency to think and feel before acting in response to stress, a cautious response to risk, and a tendency to cooperate with other females.
In addition, the cortical processing areas that men use for solving puzzles or problems tend to be the same regions that women use for emotive processing. In other words, when he is dealing with a project, a problem, a stress, or an emotion, a man will typically become very quiet. While using his right brain to solve problems or deal with emotions, it is hard for a man to use his left brain to listen or speak. His compartmentalized brain is designed to do one thing at a time; it is difficult for him to solve a problem and converse at the same time. Scans show that when a man is sitting silently, his brain is either at rest or he is having a conversation with himself.
Most women find it incomprehensible – and even frightening – when they realize this is how a male’s brain is designed to work. This is because it is almost the opposite of her brain. A woman’s brain is never at rest – when she is dealing with a problem, she not only wants to talk, but also needs to talk. Her conversation with another person allows her to reduce stress and talk through the problem. It is important for men to realize that when she does this, she is not necessarily looking for a solution in the same way he would.
The fact is that his brain and her brain perceive the world quite differently and communicate in very different ways. We speak and hear language differently. We mean different things by what we say. As a result, a significant communication gap can build up and divide us if we are not aware of our design differences and why they are there. To bridge this communication gap, we need to understand not only how we say what we say, but also what the other sex’s brain hears. Coming to recognize and understand our communication and language differences has allowed my wife and me to smile and laugh more as we work to build a stronger marriage.” ( Christian Counseling Today Vol 20 No 3 pp 54 -57)
In summary, there are clear differences and reasons why we are how we are. Guys be there for your wives, spend time listen and share, it does have to be both ways, don’t just be a sounding board. Ladies, realize that there is a limit, husband needs to make more of an effort, but don’t overdo. Speaking as a man, please one favor, unless there is a very important reason, please come to the point first, then fill in the details. As a pastor, I really do value my wife’s input, she really does give me an important perspective, but there are times when she’s talking about something that’s kind of a hot-button and I really do need to know where the discussion is going. Let’s get out of this nonsense that men and women are the same, they aren’t, vivre la difference, God made us different to be paired together by Him to glorify Him, let’s live up to His expectations.