Stereotypical Gender Differences, or a Ring of Truth?

Let’s say you and your spouse were faced with an unexpected expenditure that needed to be paid, like a $5,000 car expense due to a major problem with the engine.

This expense overwhelmed and shocked both of you, becoming a problem you had to deal with together, as the two of you decided long ago that decisions on major expenses would best be handled together.

Stereotypical Gender Differences, or a Ring of Truth?

Finding $5,000 to fix the car would mean rearranging some assets, almost like you had to rob Peter to pay Paul. For instance, one obvious possible solution would be to take $5,000 from a savings account that you had established to pay for Christian schooling the following year when your daughter would excitedly enter first grade. But using this money to pay for the unexpected car expenses would put Christian schooling in jeopardy.

As a conscientious and responsible husband and wife with goodwill, how would you initially come at this problem you both had?

If you are like most of us, the wife tends to move toward the husband with an immediate concern about their daughter not being able to enter the Christian school. She wants to talk about the issue with him. On the other hand, the husband might go quieter and not want to talk about these feelings but about what needs to be done to regain that five grand so that neither the car nor their daughter’s schooling is sacrificed.

This does not mean the wife is indifferent toward a solution nor that the husband is indifferent to his daughter’s deep disappointment if she cannot go to the school they have been talking to her about. But in my experience, I have found that men and women have different ways of approaching situations like these and coming up with solutions, at least initially.

Not wrong, just different.

Although an issue such as how to best pay for an unexpected car repair does not begin as a conflict causing strife between the two of them, when they do not recognize and understand each other’s different ways of resolving problems like these, it can become so. And oftentimes, unfortunately, it does.

Think back on the last marital problem that you both had between the two of you. Follow the below order of events and thought processes for both husband and wife and see if you agree with the different ways men and women attempt to resolve conflict.

All of us can find exceptions, but this exercise is for you to consider your own marriage, yourself, and your spouse. If the shoe fits, wear it! In other words, see your spouse as normal, not as weird for processing a problem a bit differently.

-Dr. E


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