Men and women are different. We just are. Our bodies are obviously different; our behavior is different; and as it turns out, our brains are different, too. Why would God create us to be so different? For two reasons: 1) He wanted each of the sexes to face ourselves, so we could discover our strengths and our weaknesses. Facing ourselves-being open and honest about our differences-is an unnerving undertaking. Yet denying our differences ultimately accounts for our undoing.
Understanding the different ways men and women think and feel about life helps us more accurately interpret what is really going on in our marriages. How a person views the world affects how they interpret things. Imagine a Martian watching an election on Earth. The Martian would think the human beings were simply putting pieces of paper in little tin boxes. A politician of the time might view it as a very tense election in progress, one that affects his livelihood. The point is, your perspective colors your understanding of what is happening. And it will ultimately govern your responses.
In the words of John Gray, men are from Mars and women are from Venus. In other words, we come from two completely different worldviews. And much of our differences are ‘head" differences, not "heart" ones. If we would dare to learn how the opposite sex thinks, we would spend less time judging each other for having a wrong "heart" and could spend more time discussing which "head" view is most appropriate for any given situation.
Wars usually start over misunderstanding. If you work on understanding, you can avoid a hundred-year war and actually experience marital bliss. Misinterpreting your spouse's actions will cause you to believe there are hidden dragons lurking in your spouse's soul-something "deeper" is going on that is not good. This explains the tendency we have to create "heart" problems out of things that are inherently "head" problems.
Consider how men and women view feelings. Men typically don't share feelings very well with their wives-or with anyone, for that matter. Many women view this male reticence as a "heart" problem. There is something wrong and he won't admit it, she thinks. There are dragons afoot. Worse still, this problem gets translated into, He does not love me. Why? Because when a woman doesn't share her feelings, it is because her heart is sick or she no longer cares. It's easy to project why you would act a certain way onto another person, but that does not mean doing so is valid. Judgment is all about arbitrarily assigning a specific motive to an action when you have no idea why the person really did what he or she did. Jesus said, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged."
Men do this to women as well. If a wife tries to "improve" her husband or their relationship, it comes across to him as criticism. Unsolicited advice always comes across as criticism to a man. He interprets his wife's attempts as, Why is she criticizing me? I haven't done anything to deserve this. He assumes his wife has a "heart" problem she's not facing. Again, dragons.
Judgments always preclude us from really understanding each other, and they foster alienation and conflict. What we have to realize is that those misinterpreted actions are really the result of how our spouse processes information. Men and women don't think the same ways. If we can learn to appreciate those differences and work with them, rather than just making incorrect assumptions, we will save ourselves much misery in marriage.
Mark Gungor is one of the most sought-after speakers on marriage and family in the country. Each year thousands of couples attend his Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage® seminars. His take on marriage issues is refreshingly free of both churchy and psychological lingo. Mark is pastor of Celebration Church in Green Bay, WI. He speaks for churches, civic events, and business meetings and is even a speaker for the US Army. Mark has been featured on national broadcasts such as Focus on the Family and ABC News. His daily internet radio show is heard on over 250 radio stations nationwide, and his television show Love, Marriage and Stinking Thinking is available nationwide on TBN and Sky Angel.