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6. The Patterns of Differences between Men and Women in Relationships

In most couples, the emotional experiences men want are different than the emotional experiences women look for. This sets the stage for conflict, confusion, and misunderstanding so long as both parties aren’t aware of the differences and are operating reactively on their own behalf.

On the other hand, operating proactively on behalf of your partner in a relationship changes the game. Being proactive means we’re aware of our differences and prepared to address them. Being proactive sets the stage for ample opportunities to provide emotional experiences for each other. This allows each partner to receive exactly what they’re looking for from the relationship via their partner.

Relationships are all about experiences, so how we choose to operate makes all the difference in how sweet each of our emotional fruits are and how healthy our relationship tree is overall. The first step towards operating more proactively in your relationship is awareness of what experience we give to our spouse.

First, let’s go over the patterns that pertain to each gender:

Women Tend To Want Connection and Attachment

There’s a roof over your head, food on the table, what more does it take to make a happy healthy marriage? A lot more. Maintaining connection goes beyond providing the essentials for survival--relationships are an experience, and feeling connected is one of the most essential emotional pillars of a healthy relationship for everyone involved specially for women

But gentlemen, don’t feel pressured to double the work you put into the relationship--this is more than likely an opportunity to look into doubling the fun. You and your wife are together for a reason. You love each other. You love spending time together. So find more little ways to do that!

  • What are some things I do to make my wife feel that I cherish her?

  • What rituals can we create to reinforce our connection with each other, to feel like we’re moving in the same direction together?

  • If I’m constantly away or busy at work, how can I make time to give her the experience of my love when I have a spare moment?

Men Tend To Want Freedom and Respect

It’s one thing that he’s not around, but it also feels like he’s not there.

Men often feel pressure to provide and make sacrifices and they want to feel appreciated and respected for taking on that pressure. Whether that’s putting in time at the office all day, being the one who travels, or doing a job that’s difficult and demanding by nature, it’s hard to devote enough energy to those duties and the relationship. But not impossible.

There is time he can allocate for your relationship, the question is how to engage yourselves in finding it. A lot of times men are reluctant to invest more in the relationship Appreciation goes a long way, and so does respecting his needs to decompress, find space, and feel trusted.

  • How can I show admiration for my husband and what he does?

  • How can I make him feel like he has independence and agency?

  • How can I honor our time and space apart?

Opportunities To Grow Together

Sam is a full-time paramedic, and Eva works part-time and looks after the kids. Their marriage was off to a rocky start when Sam kept coming home late from work. Eva began to feel like he was eager to take on the extra hours to get away from home and taking care of the newborn twins, and Sam started to feel like his wife didn’t appreciate how hard he was pushing himself to provide more income and further his career in order to provide more for the family.

If Sam and Eva were to let themselves act reactively in this scenario, the feelings of resentment would fester and the conflict would escalate. But how can they be proactive to turn this conflict into an opportunity to grow together, create intimacy, and provide each other’s emotional needs?

Sam can be proactive by understanding that his willingness to seize opportunities at work comes at the cost of quality time with his wife and family at home. But he can still create emotional connection by creating anticipation with his wife. If he makes some time to call her and say “I’m going to take on an extra shift so that we can put more money towards our goals and enjoy a special date or vacation” and then imagines that future or that vacation, he’s creating emotional connection in the moment and setting up a big payoff in the future. It’s also important that Sam finds and makes time in his busy schedule specifically for Eva. This time doesn’t have to equal or offset the extra time he spends at work, but making time for Eva lets her experience his commitment to her and the relationship.

Eva can be proactive by expressing her pride and appreciation in her husband’s work and work ethic. Depending on Sam’s love language, this might come in the form of affirmation where she tells him constantly how proud she is and how much it means to her, leaving gifts for him or doing something for him when he comes home. It means making time as a couple for time that spent together and time spent apart, which honor’s Eva’s need for connection and Sam’s need for freedom and independence.

By visualizing the payoff together, Sam is able to invite Eva to support him. By helping Sam schedule time for himself and for her, Eva is able to provide sam with the freedom and respect he always wanted. They successfully turned this conflict into a support system because they were proactive.

How Can You Be More Proactive?

There’s bound to be differences and conflicts in your relationship, and there’s bound to be ways that you and your partner can make them into opportunities to grow closer together. What are some conflicts you were able to successfully turn into opportunities to provide for each other? Share your stories in the comment section!

Then think about the differences and conflicts in your relationship that could turn into support systems. How will you and your partner get there? The first step was understanding your differences and knowing what you need from each other, the next step is creating customs and habits that turn your expressions into actions. Read all about it in the next blog!

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