No, Mark and Cathy are not from different planets. However, their biological differences (nature) and the impact of their respective life experiences (nurture) have resulted in very different ways of looking at the world … and at their relationships.
It’s what you say that counts: Women were taught to talk openly about their feelings when they were little girls, so it’s not surprising that 80% of relationship issues are brought up by women. They often spent school recess sharing secrets with their “best” friend. Feeling close and being able to trust each other is the hallmark of female friendship.
Virtually everything women say – no matter how confusing it might seem to their partners – is an attempt to find emotional connection. (Yes, they may often be extremely vague and indirect.) It’s what they were taught.
It’s what you do that counts: Men learned a different way of developing friendships. As boys, they spent recess running around in “herds,” playing anything that meant lots of action, and trying to one-up each other. Don’t be a girl! Never let ‘em see ya sweat!
It’s no wonder that when it comes to emotions, men sink and women swim. (I’ll share some more info on the nature of men in a future note. It’s information that just might surprise you both.)
In fact, men often see female communication as “loaded.” At best, they may answer a question their partner didn’t ask. At worst, it evokes “relational dread,” which we’ll also talk about later, and they have no idea how to respond.
Mark and Cathy faced many challenges. First, they didn’t understand the differences in how they viewed relationships, so they each thought the other was being unreasonable and bought into gender stereotypes. As a reuslt, they began a cycle of negative interactions that would be repeated thousands of times throughout the course of their marriage. Each time, the feelings behind their behaviors grew in intensity, and their problems escalated.
When you and your partner are arguing, what emotions do you feel? Most feel anger or frustration, of course. But what’s behind your anger? Do you recall?
Would you like to find a totally new and enjoyable way of learning about one another? Make beautiful memories together with Fred and Dr. Debi at Dance With Me: Enjoying the Romance of Ephesians 5. It’s a totally different kind of Christian Couples Workshop!