Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Men’s and Women’s Brains Are Just Different

So why do men and women have such different ways of handling basic things like cooking dinner? This comes in part because of the different ways that women’s and men’s brains work. As we’ve discussed in previous articles, women’s brains are made up of thousands more neural receptors than male brains. The result of this is a higher level of communication between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Practically, this means that women can access both sides of their brain more easily than the average man can, which results in her having what is called an expansive thinking pattern.

Simply stated, women think about the relationship between many different factors at any given time. Our thinking doesn’t start from A and go to B, instead it begins with the relationship between A and B, and we can often add in the relationship with C, D, and E at the same time. To give a more specific example, as we’re cooking dinner, we might think about what the dishes will be like afterward, which could lead to thoughts of what groceries need to be bought, the ironing that has to be done, and how much we have to do to get ready for the in-law’s visit that weekend.

For most men, because their brains do not have as many neural receptors, the blood flows from one part of the brain and then to the next giving them what is called a sequential thinking pattern. Literally (and practically) this translates into thinking about one thing at a time. As a benefit, men can have a level of attention to detail that some women marvel at. But these two ways of processing information are at the root of many relationship issues.

Routine jobs around the house – as described above – can cause women to feel like they never get a moment’s peace. Add to this the fact that many men do not approach chores the same way we do. One caller told us it’s not that her husband doesn’t care about doing chores, but that he has a different timeline for when chores need to be done. She feels it needs to be done when she sees it, he feels it needs to be done when he can get to it. It just might push a woman over the edge when a man throws that empty soda bottle on top of the already heaping garbage in the can and still doesn’t change the trash bag. But, to him, it isn’t an emergency that needs to be taken care of immediately. This simple priority difference is at the root of many a woman’s frustration around getting fair support at home.

So what’s the solution? While we can improve the way we ask for a man’s support, we can also do plenty to help ourselves and reduce our own stress.

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