Friday, August 27, 2004

Clash of the Sexes

I find it quite ironic that the one subject I taught for a few semesters is coming back to haunt me. At the time I taught the class (interpersonal communication), I was not in a relationship. But I read a lot of papers about my various student's relationships because it seemed that the one thing the women were going to get out of the class was a way to improve their communication with their significant other. One of the chapters on interpersonal relationships discussed how men and women communicate differently. Research (yes, someone actually studies this stuff) concluded that women find talk as the ultimate intimacy while men generally don't like talking about their feelings and tend to "report" stuff. In addition, men bond by "doing" things while women bond by sharing the most personal aspects of their lives. On a basic level, if something is broken, men like to "fix" it while women don't necessarily want it "fixed" but rather want to garner sympathy that it's broken. So what do you suppose happens when men and women communicate? Often times miscommunication leading to arguments occur.

Now that I am in a relationship, these "theories" I once taught are coming back to lead me, so to speak. I must admit that I am rather lucky to have found someone who is comfortable sharing their feelings with me; his ability to do so exceeds my expectations. But he is still a man and I am still a woman. He wants to "fix" things while I am not searching for a "fix" but rather the sympathy that it's broken. Of course, this is the natural inclination of our respective sexes. The idea is to communicate a little more succinctly. And if you have a disagreement, realize that it can be a catharsis. The top researcher on this subject suggests that if you do have an disagreement, be mindful about how you give suggestions or criticisms, fight fairly, talk about fighting when you aren't fighting, and use humor. I know that above all we love and respect each other, and everything that happens only strengthens what we already have. Yes, we might clash a bit, but it's the kind of clash that needs to happen for our relationship to continue to grow as well as our individual selves.