Wednesday, February 25, 2009

P4E.100 The Difference Between Men and Women That Really Matters

This is the second of three posts on being "disconnected."

Put simply, women are more spiritually connected and relationship oriented than men. Period. Of course, you'll find the exception to the rule, here and there, but by and large this "stereotype" holds true. When women get together they talk about each other, their children, their parents, siblings and their boyfriends or husbands. In other words, relationships. Emotions. Spiritual matters.

Men are more physically/mechanically oriented than women. When I use the word "mechanically" I don't mean a propensity to understand the way machines work. I mean that we men use Boolean (true-false) logic and conditional (if-then) reasoning in our relationships. Again, you may find the rare exception in men, but that's what they are: rare exceptions.When men get together they talk about work, politics, sports, money and hobbies. We care most about what we can touch, taste, smell, hear and (especially) see. Example: Gwen calls me in tears to tell me that her horse is lame. My immediate natural response is: "How did that happen?" "Why did that have to happen?" "How bad is it?" "Well, call the vet." "I wonder how much that's going to cost me?" I have to make a conscious effort to suppress the natural response and to let her know that I truly am worried about her horse, how she's feeling about him being lame, how the horse is feeling and how I can help.

So, the difference between men and women that really matters is that women's orientation is spiritual/relational and men's is physical/mechanical. As Believers, there is one particular aspect to this that we men should take into account. That is, that God is spirit and everyone who worships Him must worship in spirit and in truth. He highly values spiritual matters. Knowing that He created men whose orientation would be physical/mechanical, He knew that we would need help. Would He be so uncomplicated as to call the help He has for us men, "help?" As in, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make for him a help..."?

A confirmation of the heightened spiritual orientation of women can be tested right now, as you read (which is sad, in a way). In your own family, while you were growing up, who would you say was the spiritual leader of your home? For the vast majority, it was "Mom." Try this: Think of all the families you know now, as an adult, from church and other related para-church ministries. In those families, how many would you identify the father/husband as the spiritual leader? The trick here is that church appearances may be deceiving. But if you ask the children of those families, you'll get a pretty consistent answer: "Mom is". Maybe even in the pastor's family!

Knowing this basic difference between men and women should really help men understand their wives. But our own predisposition hinders us from making good use of the information. In our mechanical way, we tend to think, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

My friend Jackie, puts it this way:

"I sometimes wonder about the "disconnect" and how it happens in men. For example, when women are disconnected or feel out place they (for the most part) react. They will verbally or physically act different-sometimes short or indifferent. But men on the other hand, always think everything is fine. Is this a chemical imbalance or a lack of understanding of yourself as man, or your partner? "

I said the second and third posts of this series would focus more on "what can be done about it and how to do it." The biggest hurdle we men have to overcome is to view our wives as God-given "help" and not the enemy. Especially when it comes to relationships. What I try to do (when I'm in a good place) is engage Gwen in conversations about spiritual matters. To a lot of men, this would be like praying for patience. Just looking for trouble. But, I've found it to be truly helpful.

For instance, if the fruit of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, what does that look like to Gwen? How can I display these character qualities so that she feels that I'm loving, joyful...etc. If she's the one I care about displaying these qualities to, why shouldn't I ask her how I can affect her that way? Who better to ask? Many times, to my shame, I affect her in the opposite way. More about that in the next post: "What 'the Flesh' Looks Like and What to Do About It"

Peace, Kim

(P.S.- Being a man, I have a fascination with numbers. Note that this is P4E.100. No big deal. I watch as I speed by the mile marker. It's taken a little over two years to get to P4E.100. That's about one post a week. At this rate, I'll be nearly 70 before I run out of 3-digit numbers. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.)

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