Archive for the 'Relationships' Category

Are Men and Women from Different Planets? (4)

Monday, March 12th, 2007

Susan Broadwell

Communication Between Men and Women :: Part 4

Have you ever had a conversation that went something like this?

Mary comes home from an exhausting day of classes and sorority stuff. Tom (her boyfriend) calls her and asks if she wants to go out to dinner in a little bit. She’s excited because she wants and needs to share her feelings about the day.

As they sit down at the table in the restaurant, she says, “There is so much to do; I don’t have any time for myself.”

Tom says, “You should drop a class and quit doing so much for the sorority. You don’t have to work so hard. Just slow down a little bit.”

Mary says, “But I like my classes and all the sorority stuff I do. It’s just that the professors surprise us so much with extra work each week and they just expect me to change everything at a moments notice.”

Tom says, “Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Just do what you can do both in the classes and cut back on sorority stuff.”

Mary says, “I am! Oh my gosh!”

Tom says, “What?”

Mary says, “I can’t believe I completely forgot to call my best friend from high school today!”

Tom says, “Don’t worry about it, she will understand.”

Mary says, “Do you know what she is going through right now? She needs me.”

Tom says, “You worry too much, that’s why you’re so unhappy.”

Mary angrily says, “I am not always unhappy. Can’t you just listen to me?”

Tom says, “I am listening!”

Mary says, “Never mind! Why even bother?”

Ever have this happen to you? After this conversation Mary is now more frustrated than when she arrived home and Tom called her. Tom is also frustrated and has no idea what went wrong. He wanted to help, but his problem-solving tactics didn’t work.

For the past few months I have been talking about the differences between men and women and how we can communicate better. Last month, I talked about difference number two: that men morph into Mr. Fix-It and women can morph into Ms. Home Improvement.

Once a man understands a woman and her needs, he learns he needs to just listen as a woman needs to talk about problems to get close, and not necessarily to receive solutions. If a man understands this, he will learn to listen patiently with out offering solutions.On the other hand, once a woman understands a man and his needs, she learns to stop giving advice and trying to correct the man and will wait till he asks for her advice. Otherwise she gives him the message that he is not good enough or competent enough to figure it out on his own.

For example – Tom and Mary were going to a party. Tom was driving. After about 20 minutes and going around the same block a few times, it was clear to Mary that Tom was lost. She finally suggested that he call for help. Tom became very silent. They eventually arrived at the party, but the tension from that moment persisted the whole evening. Mary had no idea of why he was upset.

From his side, he was offended. What he heard was “I don’t trust you to get us there. You are incompetent!”

Mary could not appreciate how important it was for Tom to accomplish his goal without help. Offering advice was the ultimate insult.

What Mary should have done is assume Tom could solve his problem—unless he asks for help. This is very hard for women to do. It’s against her nature.

Here are some brief examples of ways a woman might unknowingly annoy a man by offering advice or seemingly harmless criticism. As you explore this list, remember that these little things can add up to create big walls or resistance and resentment. See if you can recognize why the man might feel controlled by these statements.

When a Man resists Ms. Home-Improvement

1. “How can you think of buying that? You already have one.”
2. “Those dishes are still wet. They’ll dry with spots.”
3. “Your hair is getting kind of long, isn’t it?”
4. “There’s a parking spot over there, turn the car around.”
5. “You want to spend time with your friends, what about me?”
6. “Don’t put that there. It will get lost.”
7. “Why are you waiting for a table? Didn’t you make reservations?”
8. “Your room is still a mess. How can you live in here? When are you going to clean it up?”
9. “You forgot to bring it over to me again. Maybe you could put it in a special place where you can remember it.”
10. “You’re driving too fast. Slow down or you’ll get a ticket.”
11. “I didn’t know where you were. You should have called.”
12. “Those potato chips are too greasy. They’re not good for your heart.”
13. “Your shirt doesn’t match your pants.”
14. “Bill called for the third time. When are you going to call him back?”

(from the book Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus pg. 25 and pg. 27)

Here are some brief examples of ways a man might mistakenly invalidate feelings and perceptions of a woman, or offer unwanted solutions when she needs empathy and nurturing. See if you can recognize why she would resist.

When a Woman Resists Mr. Fix-It

1. “You shouldn’t worry so much.”
2. “But that is not what I said.”
3. “It’s not such a big deal.”
4. “OK – I am sorry. Now can we just forget it?”
5. “Why don’t you just do it?”
6. “You shouldn’t feel hurt, that’s not what I meant.”
7. “So what are you trying to say?”
8. “How can you say that? Last week I spent the whole day with you. We had a great time.”
9. “I got it; this is what you should do.”

10. “Look, there is nothing we can do about it.”
11. “If you are going to complain about doing it, then don’t do it.”
12. “Why do you let people treat you that way? Forget them!”
13. “All right, then you can do it from now on.”
14. “From now on I will handle it.”
15. “Of course I care about you. That’s ridiculous.”
16. “Would you get to the point?”
17. “That’s not at all what happened.”
(from the book Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus – pg. 25-29)

You can see how conflict can happen easily if you look at these lists. Men don’t realize how they innocently invalidate women’s feelings and women don’t realize how they innocently criticize a man and tear him down.

Next month I will explore this topic more and continue talking about how to understand each other and how to communicate better in these areas.

Susan Broadwell has been on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ for 15 years at Virgina Tech. She has been married to her wonderful husband, Dave, for 14 years and is a mom of three children. There are two girls, an eight and five-year-old and a son who is four and a half-months-old.

Are Men and Women from Different Planets? (3)

Friday, February 9th, 2007

Susan Broadwell

Communication Between Men and Women :: Part 3

If we can understand how each other is different and how each other ticks—it can make male/female relationships run more smoothly and result in less conflict.

Last month I addressed the first of five ways men and women are different. That difference is how men and women think and process life differently.

This month I will address the second difference in the way men and women think and communicate. That difference is what I call “Men tend to be Mr. Fix-it and women tend to be Ms. Home Improvement.”

The most frequently expressed complaint women have about men is that men don’t listen. Either a man completely ignores her when she speaks to him or he listens for a few beats, assesses what is bothering her, and then proudly puts on his Mr. Fix-it cap and offers her a solution to make her feel better.

However, he usually is confused when a woman doesn’t appreciate this gesture of love and she tells him that he’s not listening to her. No matter how many times she tells him that he’s not listening, he doesn’t get it and keeps doing the same thing. She wants empathy but he thinks she wants solutions.

The most frequently expressed complaint men have about women is that women are always trying to change them. When a woman loves a man, she feels responsible to assist him in growing. She tries to help him improve the way he looks and the way he does things. She forms a “home-improvement committee,” and he becomes her primary focus. No matter how much he resists her help, she persists, waiting for any opportunity to help him or tell him what to do. She thinks she is nurturing him, while he feels he’s being controlled. Instead he wants her acceptance.

For example—when I was dating Dave, there were some clothing choices he made that I would not have chosen personally. I didn’t realize it, but I thought deep down inside “When I get married I will help him dress better and get rid of some of the ‘tacky’ clothes.” Well, he was not open to this idea. It was quite a topic of conflict. I was just trying to help him look better and he took it as I was controlling his life.

So what we find out when Mr. Fix-it and Ms. Home Improvement start dating or get married is that there is going to be conflict and these two will find it hard to communicate and mesh together.

Men will begin to offer solutions for every problem and women will continue to get frustrated. Women will seek out areas to improve and men will get annoyed by her controlling behavior. So what happens? Sparks fly!

Take some time this month to try to understand why men and women are like this and it will help and greatly improve communications between the sexes. Next month I will talk more about why men and women act this way and how to understand and improve communication even with our differences.

Susan Broadwell has been on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ for 15 years at Virgina Tech. She has been married to her wonderful husband, Dave, for 14 years and is a mom of three children. There are two girls, an eight and five-year-old and a son who is four and a half-months-old.

Are Men and Women from Different Planets? (2)

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

Susan Broadwell

Communication Between Men and Women :: Part 2

If we can understand how each other is different and how each other ticks – it can make male/female relationships run more smoothly and result in less conflict.

This month I am going to address the first of five ways men and women are different.

The first difference is how they think and process life differently. Unless we understand this difference there will be a great deal of conflict between men and women.

We often have unrealistic expectations for our communication – you see MTWTLMT and WTMTLWT

In other words “Men think women think like men think and women think men think like women think.”

One author puts it this way… “Men are from Mars and women are from Venus”. Another author puts it… “Men are like waffles and women are like spaghetti”. I have heard it also said… “Women are like blackboards and men are like filing cabinets”.

So – what do I mean by men are like filing cabinets or like waffles? It does not mean that they “waffle” on decisions. What I mean is that men process life in boxes. If you look down a waffle, you see a collection of boxes separated by walls. The boxes are all separate from each other and make convenient holding places.

That is typically how a man processes life. Men’s thinking is divided up into boxes (files) that have room for only one issue and one issue only. The first issue of life goes in the first box, the second goes into the second box and so on.

The typical man lives in one box at a time and one box only. When a man is at work – he is at work. When he is in the garage tinkering around – he is in the garage tinkering around. When he is watching TV – he is simply watching TV.

That is why he looks as though he is in a trance and can ignore everything else going on around him. Social scientists call this “compartmentalizing” – putting life and different responsibilities into different compartments.

Since men tend to be good with mechanical and spatial activities, they get emotionally attached to building, fixing, and chasing things.

The bottom line is that men think in one box at a time and spend most of their time doing that they are best at… solving problems. As a result men are problem solvers by nature.

In contrast to men’s waffle like approach – women process life more like a plate of pasta or like a blackboard. If you look at the plate of spaghetti you will notice that there are lots of individual noodles that all touch one another. If you follow one noodle around – you will see it intersects with a lot of other noodles.

This is how women face life. Every thought and issue is connected to every other thought and issue in some way. Life is much more of a process for women than it is for men.

She can talk on the phone, prepare a meal, make a shopping list, work on the agenda for tomorrow’s business meeting, give instructions to her children as they are going out the play, and close the door with her foot without skipping a beat. Because all her thoughts, emotions, and convictions as connected, she is able to process more information and keep track of more activities.

As a result most women are in pursuit of connecting life together. They solve problems but from a much different perspective then men.

Women consistently sense the need to talk things through. In conversation she can link together the logical, emotional, relational, and spiritual aspects of the issue. The links come naturally to her so the conversation is effortless for her. Talking is her way of solving things in her mind.

If she is able to connect all the issues together the answer to the question at hand bubbles to the surface and is readily accepted.

This often creates significant stress for couples because while she is making all the connections, he is frantically jumping boxes trying to keep up with the conversations.

So while the women are talking about many different things and jumping from topic to topic – the man is trying to keep up with her. As a result he will either zone out and appear to not be present in the conversation because it is too much information for him to process, or he will think she wants solutions to the problems she is talking about and then tries to offer solutions

However, what normally happens is that when he offers solutions, she gets mad at him and feels like he is not listening. He gets frustrated as he feels like he is listening.

As a result, conflict occurs and both man and woman get hurt and withdraw from each other.

Unless men and women understand how they think and process life differently in this way, they will have conflict and that conflict could cause isolation in the relationship, or even worse, cause the relationship to crumble and disintegrate.

In the next few months I will address how to communicate better knowing this difference and how to relate to each other better in order to bring harmony rather than conflict.

Next month I will address the second difference in the way men and women think and communicate. That difference is what I call “Men tend to be Mr fix it and women tend to be Ms. Home Improvement”. More on that next month.

This article was written by Susan Broadwell. She has been on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ for 15 years at VA Tech. She has been married to a wonderful husband, Dave, for 14 years and is a mom of 3 children – Two girls 8 and 5 years old and a son who is 3 months old.

Are Men and Women from Different Planets? (1)

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Susan Broadwell

Communication Between Men and Women :: Part 1

Are men and women really from different planets? Doesn’t it sometimes feel like we are – especially when we try to communicate with the opposite sex? It doesn’t take too long to realize that men and women are different in the ways we think and communicate, which eventually leads to conflict and misunderstandings.

For example, have you ever a woman say, “Men are so dense and clueless – I don’t understand them?” Or have you ever heard a man say, “Women – can’t live with them, can’t live without them?”

Almost everyone would agree that men and women are different – how different is still undefined for most people. Many books are one-sided and unfortunately reinforce mistrust and resentment toward the opposite sex. One sex is generally viewed as being victimized by the other. That is not my goal or purpose in this blog article or in the next few I will write relating to this topic.

My purpose is to create a better understanding and appreciation of the differences between men and women and how unique and great each gender is.

If you are a woman, you usually think, “What is wrong with men – why don’t they think like me, act like me and understand me? Men are so dense – they need to clue in!” However, if you are a man, you are usually thinking, “What on earth is wrong with women – they are fine one minute and then emotional the next! Women are so confusing!”

Ask any marriage counselor what the main area of problem or struggle in a marriage is, and they will tell you problem is in communication. Differences are not always bad. You can either get frustrated with the differences or find the differences fascinating, humorous and enjoyable.

Men and women and their differences can complement one another so beautifully that, in a healthy relationship, the complementary differences make both individuals more complete and more successful in life.

I have heard it said that men and women seem to be from different planets, speaking different languages and needing different kinds of nourishment.
If we can understand how each other is different and how each other ticks, it can make male/female relationships run more smoothly and result in less conflict.

Throughout the next few months I will address five different ways we are different in our communication. Next month, I will address how men and women think and process through life differently, and how that can create conflict. I will also talk about how to understand each other better and communicate better as a result.

This article was written by Susan Broadwell. She has been on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ for 15 years. She has been married to a wonderful husband, Dave, for 14 years and is a mom of 3 children – Two girls 8 and 5 years old and a son who is 10 weeks old.