We know that men and women react to situations differently, but do you know why?
One of the core reasons is that they each experience the world differently. Men have a much stronger connection to the physical than women do, and women have a much stronger connection to the relational and spiritual than men do (I’ll cover this in next week’s article).
Men tend to be bigger and stronger than women. Because of this, they have a much stronger sense of confidence in themselves and their ability to keep themselves safe. In fact, because of this confidence, they almost always feel safe moving through the world. The exceptions have to do with extreme cases, like having a gun pointed at their head, but in general, there is very little regarding their physical-ness that they experience with fear.
Women on the other hand, tend to be smaller and weaker than men, so their confidence in their physical abilities to protect themselves isn’t so high. They rely on the men in their lives to protect them, and if they don’t have a man, they do everything they can to protect themselves and their offspring.
When men and women get into partnership, things like safety can create tension and break relationships up when they aren’t addressed. Here’s an example:
One of my clients, I’ll call Sheila, recently became engaged to a man, I’ll call Brett. They adore each other. Sheila had been single for the most part of 30 years before she met Brett. She also has a daughter. Before she moved in with Brett, she’d lived with a female housemate. They kept the house buttoned up like a fortress, and any visitor was to call before coming over.
Sheila’s now moved in with Brett. They are busy merging their lives together. He has always kept an open-door policy, and she’s been trying to change that because of the unbearable anxiety she feels with the doors unlocked, and the habit of locking everything. They’ve had quite a few heated arguments about it.
When we spoke about the situation, she began by expressing her anger and frustration with Brett’s allowing people to come and go without calling first, as had been her policy when she’d lived alone. She felt like Brett didn’t care about how she felt. She was right; it hadn’t even occurred to him why she might feel afraid.
During her coaching session, she began to understand why Brett wasn’t concerned at all about the house and the safety. He’s a big man and had never in his life experienced a physical threat. Not only that, because he sees himself as her protector, he knew he was protecting her. Something she didn’t understand by his casualness in addressing her concerns. He’s say things like, “it’s fine, just let it go,” and “you’re making a big deal out of nothing.” Unfortunately, this was only making her feel more anxious and uncared for.
Women experience real and imagined threats to their physical safety almost every day. From a man’s loud voice when he’s angry that triggers her instinctual fears, to choosing the safest parking space when parking their car. Most women take it as par for the course to pay attention to these things, however it’s something that most men will never truly understand because of how they experience the world.
Together we came up with a plan for her talking with him about what she needed in order to feel safe. It was through understanding their differences that she was able to explain to him why she was afraid. He was able to conceptually understand where she was coming from, although he will never truly get her experience.
With this understanding, they were able to have a civil conversation and put a protocol in place that allows her to feel safe and him to still have his friends and family feel comfortable coming over.
If you and your partner are struggling to find harmony in your relationship, request a Relationship Breakthrough Session today. If someone you know is struggling with their relationship, please pass this on.