My wife and I are united in purpose, convictions and moral character. We share values which are regarded as essential to the core of our identity. Though united in love and sharing our most common values, we are clearly diﬀerent people. We approach and handle our tasks in very different ways, which has been established by habits. Yet I am clearly aware that we each have particular strengths and relative challenges individually, which is consistently apparent in daily tasks.
For example, my wife’s capacity to multitask, the way she interacts through broad social connections, and the energy she invests in emotional exchanges are clearly not features that were built into my design. As for my focus, I am unable to handle more than one task at a given time. Even though I am happy in the community of friends, I often prefer seclusion and research or reading in a corner somewhere. I am more apt to lean on logic and feel great comfort in principles of life that steer my ambitions, than spending additional time to rehash emotional dialogue, trying to forecast how my decided actions may/ may not stir emotional turbulence in others. Needless to say, being married has added new dimensions of life for me to grow and develop.
Even though a good marriage can help each of us grow in our relationship, our children have reinforced some of the fundamental differences I see related to gender. When my kids were in their early teen years, much of their approach to life was parallel to typical role behaviors as their parents. For example, after school, I ask my children, “how was your day?”. My son will just say, “ﬁne” But the rest of the ten minute ride home, my daughter would give me a moment by moment narrative, while including a full range of emotional expressions, sharing the appearance of her involved friends that day; detailing what one friend did or say and how it was handled in many of her interactions. I love them both dearly and uniquely in their own individuality. But, I have to admit, it was much easier on my concentration to accept “ﬁne” than to labor with my focus on various elaborative reenactments. I would not change either one, and I know these are rare and prized moments I will always cherish. But the vast diﬀerence between their modality of life is more than just personality. It is much more to do about their gender design.
There is a baseline gender difference in our approach to experiences and relationships. It does not matter our age, education or the variety of our unique experiences. I have observed these differences through family members, friendships and even in dealing with clients in marital counseling. In fact, many conflicts which become exposed early in counseling marital problems have more to deal with gender issues than personality differences. However, when relationships are in the middle of emotional strife, any difference in individual behavior outside of the counselor’s office is often tagged as “evidence” for their marital incompatibility. I have often wondered how many marriages could be restored if the gender differences were separated out of a stormy relationship in order to deal with the more repairable issues of hurt and pain. Knowing how males and females approach issues differently can offer more much quality in life as partners, instead of expecting necessary conflicts at every turn. Appreciation and patience are essential in any relationship, but they are each very necessary when it is involving gender issues.
There are much more heated discussions about gender identity in the news, through social media and within various public opinion groups of our current days than in times past. It used to be much clearer in discussing gender in physiological terms of sex identity until a personal ‘opinion’ or a particular choice became more significant than an objective phenomenon. Even though such diverse views on gender identity have value as an individual perspective, there is no clear evidence outside of social learning or cultural impressions that is convincing to an unbiased scientific review, I address this topic on gender identity as it is aligned with what has been generally observed and readily evident. I can discuss more on this further at another time.
Clearly, in respect is gender and aligned with sex differences, males and females are of a different design. If physiologically there exist identifiable differences in the gender presentation, then the same must be true in gene expression. If gene expression is different, then the genetic modification is also different. Does it not follow that in all the days within the womb, a design determined early information would have a design difference in body organs and body functions as well? The sex is determined early in the growth of the embryo. In fact, the default design of each viable embryo is to be female. Men and women both possess two chromosomes. In order to fertilize a viable egg, both man and woman provide their pairs in the mix. The male will provide either XX or XY. The egg of the woman only possesses XX. If the man provides XX to the XX of the woman, the result is a girl. If the man provides XY to the XX of a female, the result is a boy. So, the default of all viable embryo will be for the female, the X, unless there was a Y provided at that time by the man. The presence of the Y chromosome is what makes the designation of a male, a boy.
The Y chromosome has a very different influence on human development than does the X chromosome. There is so much yet not known about the extent at which changes occur within the physiological outcome. I will just share one aspect of such influence that will help explain some significant differences in how males and females process differently.
Based on one prominent theory, the presence of the Y chromosome leads to the abundance of testosterone, the male hormone during the critical period of a boy’s development. This hormone impacts brain development as it shrinks the corpus callosum (the bundle of nerve ﬁbers that tie the right and left brain hemispheres together). This narrowing results in males becoming more left hemisphere logic-dominant in cognition. While females continue to evolve into whole-brain cognition. This is believed to be the basis of a woman’s intuition, which is “whole brain processing”. The rerouting of specific logic track dialogue becomes flourished with many sense-impressions attached to a diverse emotional memory library. This leads to a very common and often challenging dialogue with their male counterparts asking,”..but tell me why you don’t like John Smith (give me a logical reason)? The spouse replies “I can not explain it, but I do not trust him (whole brain summation)”. Often, such suspicions that a woman shares will often be found more accurate than what reason could provide. This also provides women the remarkable ability to handle many tasks at the same time, whereas men often function better with one task at a time.
The result of differences in the corpus callosum is said to result in a greater relative fluency of thought and speech. Reminding ourselves that no-one has actually counted the number of axons, nor traced their connections, we are told that this results in greater communication between the cerebral hemispheres of women. It is suggested that women’s greater sensitivity to emotional, non-verbal communication, even their intuition, comes from the greater connectivity in their minds. A man is more purpose orientated. Emotions are kept on the right side of his brain, which, being less connected to the left, mean that he can, less easily, express emotions. Clearly, biological effects are not the whole story, for men are expected to be relatively unemotional.
When I have had couples in marital therapy, issues related to gender differences often come up. But it proves helpful when we can approach marital conflict aside from gender differences in order to get to the heart of issues that causes pain and hurts in the relationship. Men often need to introduce new strategies which are more in tune with the needs of their female counterpart, even though they may not see the reasoning for it. Women can benefit from learning how their men require more direct and specific dialog and try to appreciate the limitation of their man’s compartmental thinking.
Electroencephalogram measurements have also shown a diﬀerence. When given abstract problems to work out, men showed a great deal of activity on the right side of their brain, while for women the activity was more generalized to both sides. Similar studies with teenage boys and girls gave similar results.
There have been times in dealing with couples in counseling, that I had to point out how we (males) are just half-brained and we often impaired to see how the other half understands the world, Many marriages could avoid erosion if it could be understood up front that the design diﬀerences and not willful acts are behind thoughtless actions we display. In a final word, we are a team. That is how we will best find our greatest potential, together.
Here are some articles on this topic. Enjoy! Greg E. Williams, MD
Clearly. “Sex Diﬀerences.” About Gender: Sex Diﬀerences.
Gender, n.d. Web. 26 July 2014.htp://www.gender.org.uk/about/07neur/77_diﬀs.htm (htp://www.gender.org.uk/about/07neur/77_diﬀs.htm).)