Recently I had an incident with my wife that sparked the topic of “drastic differences” between men and women. We were laying side by side in bed, holding hands, sharing stories, and reflecting on our life's events, when the incident happened.
During one of her stories she let go of my hand and did a gesture to further communicate her point. It is not abnormal for either one of us to use our arms and hands while talking, but this time she did a subtle move with her hands that struck me as “really cool". Without thinking I copied her gesture, and she quickly responded, "are you making fun of me?" I froze, put my hand down, was quiet for a second, and then started reassuring my wife I was not making fun of her.
Hesitant at first, she eventually believed me, and the tension between us faded away. Even though our defensiveness had disappeared, my wife was still curious about why I had copied her. I paused for another second, and explained to her how "cool" her hand move was, and I copied it because I wanted to know how it felt. My wife paused an unusually long time, followed by hysterical laughing. I was confused.
"Can it be that simple?" she finally blurted out. Unsure of where the conversation would go, I responded with a quiet “yes”. My wife began to laugh even more.
Generally, there is a big difference in how men and women interpret an event. Many times women have a hard time believing that the men’s interpretation is "that simple". Not to say that men are simpletons, but rather much of the intent and meaning behind men's behaviors is that straight forward; and there is no need, to dive deeper, to figure it out.
As quickly and instinctually as I moved my hand, my wife had evaluated the gesture and tried to figure out the meaning and intent behind it. Was the copied gesture a put down? Is my husband making fun of me? Does he not respect me? Did I do something dumb?
In our case, I was not making fun of my wife, not minimizing her in our marriage, nor was I doing anything else that could, would, or should be interpreted as such. It was a “cool” move and I wanted to try it. It was that simple. In this case, her confusion and worry were all about a silly surface behavior (looking dumb). Where a misunderstanding can go really wrong, is when the assumption becomes something deeper. For example, if the woman contemplates: Does he not respect me? How is this going to impact our marriage if he does not respect me?
Ragini Verma from the University of Pennsylvania published a research project in the National Academy of Sciences. There she concluded that men are wired “to link perception with doing”, which means men’s brains are better at learning a new physical skill. She continues by saying that female brains are generally much better dealing with emotional matters, and through observation are very good at understanding and meaning.
This scientific study found that men’s strongest brains connections are from the front of the brain and the back and usually within each hemisphere. The female brain showed a larger number of connections from side to side joining the two brain hemispheres. The conclusion to this scientific study is something all of us experience on a daily basis; men are generally more logical and better with coordination and spacial awareness, while women are more intuitive, have better memories of words and phases, and have a higher emotional intelligence.
The hand gesture incident, or misunderstanding, between my wife and I, was scientifically proven to happen this way. I am drawn to new skills and my wife is interpreting her surroundings, through an emotional lens. Neither one of us is better or worse than the other, just different. The key for us, and for all couples, is to continually 'Talk It Out', learn about each other, capitalize on each of our strengths, and support each other’s weaknesses. As a couple, my wife and I are 'Better Together.'
Armann earned his Masters Degree in Professional Counseling from Mercer University, as well as becoming Mercer’s counseling student of the year. Armann has focused his practice on helping men, because they (we) desperately need it. His goal being to empower men to show how brave and manly they are by 'Talking It Out', so they can live a Happier, Healthier, and Longer life. To hear more from Armann you can get in touch via Linked In