Married life is not all bliss. A husband and wife may find each other in conflict for several reasons in the course of their marriage. Reasons may vary, but the most common is gender differences.
The idea that men and women are different is not simply common knowledge, it actually has scientific basis. A study sponsored by Loveawake dating site and headed by Dr. Richard Haier, a psychologist at University of New Mexico in Irvine, connects gender differences to the “architecture” of men and women’s brains. It states that men have more grey matter in their brains than women. Whereas, women have more white matter in their brains than men. Does this have a significant effect on each gender’s intelligence? Does it tell us which sex is more intelligent? No. The results only indicate that men and women use different paths to intelligence. In simple terms, men and women may do equally well on IQ tests, but they differ in the way they think. Their sensibilities and how they handle situations vary.
These are not generalisations because there are some people who manage to break stereotypes, but here are some examples that illustrate gender differences in couples:
- He likes activities. She likes conversations.
- He keeps quiet on an issue. She wants to talk about it.
- He wants to solve the problem quickly and get over it. She wants to discuss it thoroughly.
- He likes straight facts. She wants more than an overview.
- He likes to keep things to himself. She wants to vent.
Sometimes differences are not gender-specific like the ones below:
- He likes fishing. She finds fishing boring.
- He likes cats. She likes dogs.
- He likes drinking coffee. She likes tea.
Also, sometimes, conflicts stem from things that are beyond anyone’s control. Think of a woman walking out of the room and out of the marriage because her husband snores, or a couple splitting up because one likes cats but the other is allergic to felines.
Differences, no matter how mundane, can be fatal for a relationship if left unaddressed. A couple can divorce because they can’t seem to agree on what paint colour to use on the living room wall. Too many marriages have ended because of these two words: Irreconcilable Differences.
Here are some tips on how to handle differences, specifically those pertaining to gender:
Recognise that gender differences exist
Acknowledge that men and women are wired differently. Acceptance can lead to respect of each other’s attributes.
Identify your differences
When a husband and wife have accepted that they are different from each other, they can now list the issues that need to be addressed. Perhaps, they can divide these issues into “topics” like the ones below. Ask questions like “Where do we disagree?” or “What areas of our marriage emphasise our differences?”
- Managing the household
- Raising the kids
Understand and resolve issues
Analyse differences. Why do you disagree? What things emphasise your gender differences in a negative light and make them work against you? Compromise or stay on neutral ground. Oftentimes, issues are left unresolved because couples refuse to give up their personal motives in favour of the other. If it’s not life-threatening, if it doesn’t pose a serious threat to your safety or anybody else’s, give in. Try to imagine what it’s like to be in your spouse‘s shoes. Get rid of selfishness.
Appreciate gender differences
View gender differences as something that makes the relationship more exciting. If you like coffee and your spouse likes tea, isn’t that more interesting? If your spouse likes different things, take it as an opportunity to learn new things and acquire new favourites. Think of being married to someone who nods at your every word. It’s like being married to a piece of cardboard.
Marriages can never be without issues. Successful ones are those that are able to roll with the punches, with the husband and wife adjusting to each other and giving in to each other.