Why are you not listening to me?”
“I am listening to you”
“I don’t believe you just said that”
“That’s not what I said…….you are twisting my words”
“Let’s stop and ask for directions”
Does this sound familiar?
Society has come up with all kinds of explanations to describe the differences between the genders and exploring these differences is absolutely essential to enable us understand each other and work better together. Love is the most powerful thing in the world, so our ability to love and understand each other is vitally important.
Lasting Love - Memories
A Valentine and Awards event that I attended a few weeks ago titled: ‘Lasting Love’ brought couples together to celebrate relationships and learn how to achieve ‘Lasting Love’, by learning from other couples experiences. The beautifully ‘designed venue’ by BlessingByBle and the ambience of the room created a safe and relaxed environment to have fun and learn.
It was this experience that the organiser, Funmi Adeyi, had invested in, and the venue stylist - BlessingByBle were giving us - a memory to take and use in our daily lives. A memory that we can draw upon, when we feel discouraged, sad or face difficult circumstances in our relationships. Science has shown that even a single experience with emotional impact can alter brain patterns enough to give the memory formidable staying power and enable us in those moments of anger, sadness, rage - when it feels like someone else has taken over our brains, to pause and take back control of our brains by drawing on these positive memories. Memories can be so powerful – when we dwell on them, it’s like we are living the moment over again.
The Mystery of the Male and female Brain
Scientists are gradually unravelling the mystery of the differences between male and female brains and this is a topic that really fascinates me, actually human behaviour as a whole fascinates me and I suppose that is what led me into studying Neuroscience.
Understanding and improving our relationships are some of the most important parts of life. We are all unique masterpieces irrespective of gender.
My favourite book says of us: ”we are wonderfully and beautifully made” and I believe that understanding the distinct differences between the brains of men and women and their impact on our daily lives gives us the ability to make appropriate choices and eliminate a lot of pain.
I do appreciate that in spite of all the neuroscience research, a lot of the results are fluid and limited, due to the nature of the brain. I also believe that understanding the differences will increase our acceptance and respect for each other.
One of the couples at this event told us how they went through a divorce and after seven years apart are now married again, with a better understanding and appreciation for each another.
On the surface, the male and female brains look the same, but internally, there are complex differences, such as differences in verbal skills that favours women, differences in spatial skills that favours men, differences in hormones, differences in how males and females think about stress, empathy and differences in communication styles. The great news is that these differences in both genders, are complementary, which when enhanced can lead to better relationships; between spouses, mother and son, father and daughter and in fact, between parents and children. A true harmony between males and females is absolutely possible without unhealthy conflict.
Jill M Goldstein of Harvard Medical School and her team, reported that parts of the frontal cortex – the seat of higher cognitive functions, are denser in women than in men, as are parts of the limbic system, which is involved in emotional responses. In men, on the other hand, parts of the parietal cortex, which is involved in spatial awareness, are bigger than in women, as well as parts of the amygdala that responds to emotionally arousing information (you can draw your own conclusions here!).
Embrace the Differences
I believe that understanding each other will ensure that the quality of our relationships and our lives will be strengthened and transformed.
Research shows that the circuits in a woman’s brain between the emotional processing and memory centres are large, very active and closely connected to the language centres in the brain. In general, men speak the language of facts, actions and results; women speak the language of feelings and emotions. Where a man feels comfortable speaking in headlines, women have an innate desire to tell every detail. These approaches are certainly different, should be accepted for what they are and not create conflict between the genders, but should instead be a source of strength as they actually can complement each other.
One interesting evidence from research which states that women’s brain is built to listen to problems, while men’s brain is built to do something about problems. This can be seen when a lady talks about a list of problems she has, a man automatically thinks of how he can solve the problem or thinks to himself: “she’s blaming me for this”. However in most cases all the lady wants is for him to listen.
Meaning Relationships require work
One of the benefits of revelling in the good times as I suggested earlier in reference to ‘The Lasting Love’ experience; is a boost in the positive emotions of both members of a couple or relationship. Barbara L. Fredrickson of the University of North Carolina showed that positive emotions can broaden our thinking and enable us to connect more closely with others. Having an upbeat outlook, enables people to see the big picture and avoid getting hung up on small annoyances. Understanding this makes individuals better at handling adversity and difficult problems in relationships and other parts of life.
Both genders need to accept the differences but to focus on taking advantage of them to relate better and dance in rhythm with each other.
See Blog on Positive Relationships
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