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A Tale of Two Brains, or … Mars and Venus revisited

Today a client came in and told me about a funny video clip on YouTube about how men and women’s brains function differently. If you click on this post’s title, you can see it… it runs about 10 minutes.

Turns out it’s by a pastor named Mark Gungor, who speaks on Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage. I haven’t heard the whole DVD that he sells, but what I did hear made a lot of sense, and was funny as well.

It’s really true that men’s brains and women’s brains function differently. In fact, they are even different physically, in terms of how the individual neuron cells connect, among other things. So many times in a marriage, we spend our time trying to change the other person and make them more like ourselves, rather than trying to learn more about our spouse and what makes them tick.

Two of the points that get made in this short clip are important for couples. (Obviously, these are generalizations, but bear with me… they really are helpful.)

First, men tend to take on one task at a time, and like to problem-solve in a linear manner. Women tend to think very relationally, meaning that one issue connects with another, and is viewed in the light of other things that have happened. So we drive each other crazy, women by expecting men to remember and understand all the ramifications and layerings of the issue at hand, men by expecting women to stay on the topic at hand. Understanding that we think differently will help some of that frustration.

Secondly, as John Gray pointed out so long ago in his Mars and Venus books, men and women handle stress very differently. Men often will go to their “cave”, or as Gungor calls it, their “nothing box”, to de-stress and and re-charge. Women, whose “brains never stop” according to Gungor, want to talk about their problems, but not so that someone can fix them; rather, women talk to “try on” their feelings and air them out, which helps them de-stress. So if a man hearing a woman talk about a problem tries to fix it, both will become very frustrated. And if a woman, seeing a man retreat or “zone out”, tries to get him to re-engage too quickly, again we’ll have frustration.

Obviously generalizations are just that, and don’t explain the subtleties that exist in every relationship. But they can help us understand the concept that men and women are very different, in wonderful and very important ways. Learning how to work together with those differences is the work of a lifetime, and full of rewards.

Happy belated Valentine’s Day!

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