14. The Male Brain: Insights on Gender Differences Part 1

Posted on June 27th, 2011

"Gender differences have played a major role in problems in marriages I’ve helped counsel," says Hosai Mojaddidi, co-founder of Mental Health 4 Muslims. Hosai has worked to gauge the mental health issues of the larger Muslim community firsthand by serving as a private mediator, advisor and mentor to many.

She says that examining gender differences helps us to be more tolerant and forgiving when our spouses don't respond the way we think they should.

With new insights on this topic you have the added wisdom and power to change your approach rather than seek to change your spouse. Here are 5 other reasons studying this topic is so important:

1. We too easily blame our problems on our partners rather than our own approach.
2. Men often complain: she is over-reacting!
3. Women often complain: he doesn’t listen!
4. When we correctly interpret a situation, it is never as bad as we thought.
5. We mistakenly assume that if our partners love us, they will react and behave in certain ways, the ways we react and behave when we love someone.

In part 1, I want to examine the very good points she lectures about concerning the male brain. Check out these questions and answers:

1. Why do men keep their cars spotless but are messy at home?
They view cars (or objects) as an extension of themselves because they’re not in tune with their bodies, whereas women tie their self-image to their bodies.

2. Why do men forget birthdays/anniversaries but remember sports stats?
Dr. Herb Goldberg suggests that men forget important dates like birthdays and anniversaries because they are wired to focus on the external threats and pressures of the world outside of their "safe" relationships.

3. Why do men enjoy violent sports/films when women prefer the arts or chick-flicks?
Testosterone increases aggression; men identify with traditional ideals of masculinity like domination, risk taking, and competition, etc.

4. Why are men unable to multi-task the same way women do?
Biological anthropologist and Rutgers University professor Helen Fisher, Ph.D., notes: "The two brain hemispheres are less well connected in men than in women. This gives men the ability to focus on one thing at a time and be very goal oriented, whereas the female brain is built to assimilate many feelings and things at once."

5. How do men and women handle stress differently?
Last year researchers at the University of Pennsylvania used scans to try to understand how men and women handle stress. Among the findings were: Anxiety activates the "tend and befriend" reaction in women's limbic systems and the "fight or flight" response in men's prefrontal cortexes. Translation: Under pressure, women reach out, while guys go Rambo (or withdraw).

Stay tuned for part 2, where we will discuss her findings on how men and women communicate differently.

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