Gender Differences

Gender Differences

Question: My boyfriend and I normally get along great, but sometimes one of us becomes frustrated when the other one reacts differently than we expect or would like. How can we avoid those situations that put a strain on our relationship?

Answer: You’re not the first to encounter this problem. In My Fair Lady, the musical adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion, Professor Henry Higgins raises the question, “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” That just about sums it up—from both sides. Men think women ought to respond to things like men, and women wish that men thought and responded the way women do. That’s not going to happen, of course, but God does have a solution, as always.

The first thing to understand is that God made men and women the way they are, and for good reasons. A world where everyone thought and acted alike would be as boring and off-balance as it would be doomed. Gender differences also help make us more well-rounded people. It’s usually easier to understand those of our own sex, but relating to the opposite sex causes us to stretch ourselves in the areas of humility, love, and patience, to name a few. If all of that is so, then neither gender is wrong for being the way they are.

The next key is determining to bridge those differences rather than letting them derail your relationship. For example, it could hurt your feelings to realize that the love of your life still needs time with his or her other friends. Or it could frustrate you when the one you love experiences emotional ups and downs that you don’t. But once you understand these things, you’ll be better equipped to accommodate your partner and not become resentful.

Here is a list of just a few common differences between the sexes. Though generalized and of course not universally applicable, they provide food for thought:

Men are often more practical; women are often more emotional.
Men desire trust, respect, and acceptance; women desire words of love and endearment.
Men like to get to the point; women like to discuss things from every angle.
Men need more time to themselves; women need to express their feelings to others.
Men like practical gifts they can use; women like sentimental and romantic gifts that make them feel special.
Men tend to make decisions based on circumstances and practicalities; women are more likely to consider the emotional repercussions.
Men are more solution-oriented when it comes to working out marital problems, whereas women want understanding and reassurance first.

Not all men or women fit all these profiles, of course, because God made each of us a unique individual. So just because most men or women are a certain way doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with those who aren’t. Everyone is different! The idea here is not to put you or your loved one into a mold or to cause either of you to prejudge the other. It’s to give you an idea of where your partner may be coming from, so you’ll be more tolerant and understanding when differences arise. And remember: Love, humility, and prayer solve all problems. 

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