The re­la­tion­ship load


Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | RELATIONSH­IPS -

Can you imag­ine how fun this se­ries is, at­tempt­ing to walk in the shoes of a bloke for a month? It sure is mind­bog­gling when you can’t see as many shades of colour, talk half as much, strug­gle to put feel­ings into words and of­ten feel in­cred­i­bly frus­trated when your woman doesn’t seem to want to put out as much as you’d like her to.

I do hope how­ever, you’ve ben­e­fited from this se­ries in re­al­is­ing our unique­ness. These stereo­typ­i­cal be­hav­iours do not ap­ply to ev­ery­one — you are you. Some women display more mas­cu­line be­hav­iours than oth­ers and vice versa.

Mean­while in the coun­selling room and as put for­ward on my so­cial me­dia, there cer­tainly are some re­cur­rent themes. To­day, I con­tem­plate, “Why do women al­ways in­ter­pret the worst of what men are try­ing to say and not just as­sume the best?”

“Try­ing to say” is the im­por­tant phrase here. I can’t count the num­ber of times brave blokes have turned up for coun­selling rather ill-equipped to re­veal what’s re­ally go­ing on for them and even worse, at­tempt to talk about the “f” word — feel­ings.

I do won­der how much so­cial­i­sa­tion has cre­ated this sto­icism and re­pres­sion of feel­ings that con­trib­ute to men leav­ing the “re­la­tion­ship stuff” to the women. Men are not the “feel­in­g­less” gen­der. If many Aus­tralian

blokes haven’t tra­di­tion­ally been en­cour­aged to speak about mat­ters of the heart that tends to in­ter­nalise, why would they ex­pres­sively re­veal their emo­tions to openly com­mu­ni­cate the way women want and create that con­nec­tion we long for in our re­la­tion­ships?

We ab­so­lutely need to ap­pre­ci­ate the dif­fer­ences in the emo­tional cen­tre of our brains. Women have a stronger left amyg­dala that fa­cil­i­tates re­call of emo­tional ex­pe­ri­ences in more de­tail. Men are stronger on the right side, pro­vid­ing them to fo­cus on the big pic­ture in a more prac­ti­cal and or­derly way ver­sus the emo­tional mem­o­ries. Guys are for­tu­nate to have a slightly smaller pre­frontal cor­tex, which al­lows them to get to the point a lot quicker with rea­son and logic.

A woman’s amyg­dala is more eas­ily ac­ti­vated by emo­tions com­pared to their man’s ac­tion-ori­en­tated and prac­ti­cal ap­proach more alert to dan­ger and wired for pro­tect­ing. You threaten them and then they’ll ex­hibit more emo­tion. This prac­ti­cal, ex­ter­nal fo­cus ex­plains why he al­ways wants to fix it with­out the need for long talks into the night as we may go in cir­cles with no ap­par­ent point. Sim­ply put, his brain cir­cuits aren’t wired to re­tain in­for­ma­tion in the de­tailed and emo­tional way that a woman’s is. How on earth are they then ex­pected to com­mu­ni­cate in the same way we do?

It’s also worth not­ing if based on pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence, some women could al­ready have la­belled their man with cer­tain traits that then fil­ter in the worst-case sce­nario? Do we also in­cor­po­rate “cat­a­strophic” think­ing into our re­la­tion­ships that then trans­lates to lack of trust and look­ing for the neg­a­tive in all sit­u­a­tions? Does com­par­i­son steal the joy from hear­ing the pos­i­tives in your man’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion as com­pared to what you hear other men say to their part­ner? Maybe you as­sume all other men say all the right things and for­get the pos­i­tive traits and words he does get right in a dif­fer­ent way?

I whole-heart­edly agree that many men could share the “re­la­tion­ship load” in fa­cil­i­tat­ing emo­tional at­ten­tive­ness. Could some ladies, how­ever re­move any high ex­pec­ta­tions and the “shoulds”. Could we shift the blame to a more col­lab­o­ra­tive ap­proach in en­joy­ing your in­cred­i­ble dif­fer­ences in how we com­mu­ni­cate and play the catch them do­ing it well game for a change?

Tune in each Fri­day morn­ing to my co­host of the ra­dio Salt106.5 break­fast show or head to my web­site to down­load my “Spouse it up” handy re­la­tion­ship tips. In the mean­time, keep con­tribut­ing your chal­lenges on this topic to [email protected]­con­fi­dan­te­coun­ or visit the­con­fi­dan­te­coun­


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