Females are emotional creatures. Males are not. This can make cohabitation tricky business. It’s either God’s dirty little joke on mankind or a glaring blip in Darwinian theory that accounts for scores of meltdowns, breakups and divorces.
Several years ago, I happened upon two books called The Female Brain and The Male Brain by Louann Brizendine. Reading them was like finding the Holy Grail of relationship problem-solving.
Brizendine explains how and why we are different on a biological level in a way that made a great deal of sense to me. She backs up her claims citing studies and tests in a fascinating and often entertaining read.
Her explanations seemed so logical when I first read the books that I felt it revolutionized how I viewed men.
In The Male Brain, Brizendine talks about the classic complaint that, “men accuse women of being too emotional, and women accuse men of not being emotional enough.”
As babies in utero, our brains start forming differently, according to Brizendine. In the book The Female Brain, at nine weeks in the womb, she says that a male’s brain experiences a testosterone surge, “killing off some cells in the communication centers, and growing more cells in the sex and aggression centers.” Because female babies do not experience this surge, their centers for emotions flourish.
By the time female babies are born, their emotional centers are so well-developed that their ability to have eye contact and study faces increases by over 400 percent within the first three months, says Brizendine. Male babies, whose emotional centers are not as developed, show no improvement in those skills in the first three months.
“Baby girls are born interested in emotional expression,” writes Brizendine. We focus on it, we obsess about it, we are innately skilled at detecting and projecting it.
Females strive to keep social harmony. We are not born to fight but to emotionally problem-solve. We drive men crazy wanting to talk through problems.
While we do not like to fight, we are victims of hormonal shifts that bring out the banshee in us when our tender feelings are easily hurt.
Males, through no fault of their own, are not so interested in emotional expression.
This explains why women have evolved to cry four times more often than men, according to Brizendine. She writes that producing the physical signs of distress with tears gives an obvious clue to men who miss the more subtle cues of distress.
In The Male Brain, she writes “Studies have found that men and women remember facts equally well, but women remember the details of emotional events better and longer.” Women keep a mental tally sheet for every fight they have.
I have certainly wondered, in my life and through my trials with men, if they are not the better for being less emotional. My own experience tells me they are more even-keeled. Though men don’t live longer on average, it seems that a personality that does not respond easily with emotion would fare better with vital signs like blood pressure and heart rate.
Though Brizendine explains how primitive females benefited from their fine-tuned emotional prowess, I often have to wonder if it really does us any good in the modern world. It seems torturous.
The fact remains that we are all hard-wired. We can’t change who we are but we can try to compensate and work harder to understand the differences in our opposite-sex partners. I know that I should personally read these two books every year as a refresher course.
As our hearts tick closer to Valentine’s Day, think about the fact that we are different by nature. If he does something you consider hurtful and is not forthcoming with an immediate apology, cut him some slack, pat him on the back and say to yourself, “It’s not his fault. He can’t help it. He still loves me.”
If she still has a meltdown and bursts into tears or calls you a name that invokes a posterior orifice, cut her some slack, pat her on the back and tell yourself, “It’s not her fault. She can’t help it. She still loves me.”
Nobody is perfect. Focus on the positives, not the negatives, and let love rule.
May your Valentine’s Day be full of snuggles, cuddles and giggles by a roaring fire. May your love last forever.