Couples often engage in a classic battle of the sexes. This is a fight over the ways in which men and women are basically different. Gender differences are usually part of the core conflicts all couples experience. Our society in recent decades has escalated the battle of the sexes. Some confusion and mistrust was inevitable and necessary in order to achieve greater equality for women. However, the anger and mistrust between the sexes now often reaches the point of open warfare in which no one wins.
Women lament “Why can’t a man be more like a woman?” Men echo the cry with “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” Gender differences are here to stay. They are real and they will not change. Roles or stereotypes may change but true gender differences will not. Some of these differences are physical, including the differences in reproductive organs. Men are also about ten percent taller than women; they have more muscle and therefore more physical strength. Women have joints that are more flexible; more body fat and a longer life span.
There are also developmental differences. Girls sit, crawl, walk and talk earlier than boys. Girl infants are more sensitive to touch, smell and sound. Boys in contrast are ahead of girls in visual/spatial ability.
In men brain development is localized in the left hemisphere where logic and reasoning take place. Women are born with more connection between their right and left brains. As a result they are more adept at the right brain functions of communication, intuition and expression of feelings.
Studies show that from a very young age boys are attracted to objects and girls are attracted to people. Boys play competitively and girls cooperatively. From early childhood on the male views all interactions as ones in which he is either one-up or one-down. Boys learn to protect themselves from others and to fight to keep their independence. Girls, in contrast view the world in terms of connections. They seek closeness and support in their interactions.
Communication for most men is to give information or to solve a problem. Contrast this with women’s view of communication as a means of connecting and a way to share feelings. Conflicts occur in marriages often because of these different views of the world and different ways of communicating.
To resolve conflicts in a marriage both partners must reach a startling realization: Your partner is not you. We have tunnel vision. We find it hard to accept the fact that our partner sees things differently and that his or her viewpoint is legitimate. To understand and reach each other we must validate each other’s view of the world. We must see our partner’s logic as equal to ours. This is difficult as it involves giving up our self-centered point of view and making room for other perspectives.
“Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Proverbs NIV