Answers to Your Questions
Q: My boyfriend and I normally get along great, but sometimes one or the other of us becomes frustrated when the other reacts differently than we expect or would like. How can we avoid those situations that put a strain on our relationship?
A: You’re not the first to encounter this problem. In My Fair Lady, the musical adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion, Professor Henry Higgins raises the question: “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” That just about sums it up—from both sides. Men think women ought to respond to things like men, and women wish that men thought and responded the way women do. That’s not going to happen, of course, but the Lord does have a solution, as always.
The first thing to understand is that God made men and women the way they are, and for good reasons. A world of only men or only women would be as boring and off balance as it would be doomed. Gender differences also help make us more well-rounded people. It’s usually fairly easy to understand those of our own sex, but relating to the opposite sex causes us to stretch ourselves in the areas of humility, love, and patience, to name a few. If all of that is so, then neither gender is wrong for being the way they are.
The next key is determining to bridge those differences, rather than letting them derail your relationship. If you’re a newlywed, for example, it could hurt your feelings to realize that the love of your life still needs time with his or her other friends. Or it could frustrate you when your spouse experiences emotional ups and downs that you don’t. But once you understand these things, you’ll be better equipped to accommodate your partner and not become resentful.
Here is a list of just a few of the differences between the sexes. Though general and of course not applicable in every case, this may provide food for thought:
- In general, men are more practical; women are more emotional.
- Men desire trust, respect, and acceptance; women desire words of love and endearment.
- Men like to get to the point; women like to discuss things from every angle.
- Men need more time to themselves; women need to express their feelings to others.
- Men like gifts that can be put to good use; women like sentimental and romantic gifts that make them feel special.
- Men tend to make decisions based on circumstances and practicalities; women are more likely to consider the emotional repercussions.
- Men often prefer to wait on working out marital problems in order to be more objective; women are more likely to want to talk it out and gain reassurance right away.
Not all men or women fit all these profiles, of course, because God made each of us a unique individual. So just because most men or women are a certain way doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with those who aren’t. Everyone is different! The idea here is not to put you or your loved one into a mold or to cause either of you to prejudge the other. It’s to give you an idea of where your partner may be coming from, so you’ll be more tolerant and understanding when differences arise. And remember: Love, humility, and prayer solve all problems.
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