Understanding our Differences

The Problem: 

When we are out with other couples, he’s the life of the party, but once we are home again, he hardly talks with me at all.

The Solution: 

Typically men and women view social conversation quite differently. Women tend to be looking to establish or re-establish feelings of connection and community. Women do this by sharing feelings about what’s going on in their lives, which makes them feel part of a whole group who care.  Men during conversation tend to be demonstrating knowledge, ability, qualities that set them apart – and hopefully above – others.  This comes from thousands of years of needing to be competitive, of being the provider and protector, being able to “win”.  Being the same as, or part of a social group in an equal way does not demonstrate those important qualities.

 Recognizing that is what’s going on when out in public can take the blame out of the situation – men and women naturally just relate differently.  So, when a man is at home, and doesn’t have to “prove” his abilities and knowledge, he can relax and enjoy feeling contentment – which he usually expresses through silence.  Unfortunately, that runs right up against a woman’s typical need to emotionally reconnect and bond through conversation.  Finding brief ways (15 minutes or so) each day to focus on each other, listening, sharing, not trying to fix the other’s problems, but empathetically hearing about each other’s day – done easily through a PAIRS skill such as the DTR – will take care of both of their needs.

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Aside

 

The Question:

My friends and my partner say they know what I’m thinking – and they are wrong!  What’s going on?

 

I frown because I notice a strange pain in my knee, and my partner sees the look, thinks I’m upset about what she just said, and storms out of the room!  This is a case where it’s not just that others misunderstand us – it’s that based on their incorrect assumptions, they act towards us using that false information!

 

The Answer:

When it comes to mind reading, we don’t really do it very well.  Recent studies show that “strangers read each other with an average accuracy rate of 20 percent. Close friends and married couples nudge that up to 35 percent.  And almost no one ever scores higher than 60 percent.”  Mind reading can be like poison to a relationship.   We need to check out our assumptions as quickly as possible, rather than building a big problem out of nothing, and often making ourselves miserable for hours.  Check it out!

 

PAIRS has helped me to better understand my own emotions, accept them, and share them in a productive way.  I have better self-esteem and fuller appreciation of life now.”  –  Nell N., FL

  

 

PAIRS workshops are offered throughout the year.

See www.PAIRSVirginia.com for details.

The trouble with cars

Here’s this month’s PAIRS Quick Tips –
Just a minute to invest in your relationship skills! 

The Question:

Why is it we always seem to argue in the car! 

We are driving along and everything seems fine, and then suddenly there’s a bunch of tension and angry comments going back and forth – what’s going on?

The Answer:

This problem usually (thought not always) falls along gender lines.  Typically, the husband or boyfriend who is driving does something on the road that startles or worries the female passenger, who flinches or makes a comment.  He sees her fear as an assault on his driving expertise, and often starts driving even faster and less carefully.  Research shows that women tend to be more sensitive to noticing subtle dangers in the environment, while men are often on guard against what’s called “provider anxiety” – meaning that a man usually experiences a woman’s fear as a statement of failure that he is able to protect her.  To get past this, when a couple is in a good mood (and not driving), talk through how to handle each person’s fears when in the car together so they both feel OK.  This means really listening to the other person’s feelings, and not jumping in to defend or criticize a different perspective.  Explore how to nurture and cherish each other’s feelings, even in this stress-inducing environment.

I have experienced a major shift in my intimate relationship – we are no longer against each other – we are working together against the problems.”  –  David J., F

PAIRS workshops are offered throughout the year.

See www.PAIRSVirginia.com for details.