January 18, 2008
January 18, 2008


Women vent, men bottom line it. Women take it as a lack of love. Men have no idea how much they are hurting their spouse, because venting is the way women deal with life. Almost every couple which I have seen in the last few years, the woman complains that her husband is not attentive to her feelings. Men are from Mars and Women Are From Venus by John Gray, Ph.d. deals extensively with the gender differences that lead to misunderstanding for both sexes.

Most wives personalize the inattentiveness as resentment which results in coldness/withdrawal, feistiness, lack of sexual interest, vindictiveness, possibly an affair or throwing themselves into other interests such as a career/volunteer work, the children, and lastly outright or suppressed rage.

A women may complain about: how the kids are driving her crazy, the housework is overwhelming, the boss is overbearing. Instead the husband problem solved. He may suggest: a nanny, a housekeeper, or quit your job, find a new one. He is totally perplexed when his wife angrily states: You don’t understand what I am saying. What she means is: I can handle my own problems. Don’t try and solve them for me. I am an adult. I just want to let off steam.

A woman will tell the same problems to another female who will say: “I know what you mean. My Johnny threw his milk all over the dog the other day”. The discussion will continue about how frustrating kids are and as a result the two of them might share solutions. First they begin with empathizing and then they are open to sharing solutions. The operable word is sharing. Not, of having the solution jammed down their throat and if they don’t like the solution having the male throw his hands up in the air and say: “Well what do you want me to do?” Men miss the point; the wives don’t want him to do anything except listen.

Listening activates the hormone oxytocin in females which alleviates stress by causing a relaxed feeling. Listening is one of the most difficult things for the average male to do. He does not have the benefit of as liberal amount of oxytocin, nor does his brain react with the right (emotional) hemisphere of the brain. Nor has society allowed or encouraged males to express or openly vent their sentiments. The frustration builds and it presents itself as rage instead of a reasonable discussion of needs and wants. As a child males were punished for crying or whining. As adults they are punished for not being alert to these same hurts, yet they have buried the triggers to bring them forward into the conscious mind even for themselves, let alone for their wives' benefit.

I have to ask the men to go to a time where they have had any type of frustrating experience and ask them to relive it, so that they are able to identify the same reactions. There are a small percentage of men who still are unable to connect with any emotion other than anger. Those primary affections are deeply buried and need gentle prompting and retraining to handle the untamed affect and effects from the now new experiences.

Women need to be aware that the angry man in your life is a hurting grown child who needs compassion. If he is open to your remarks; suggest to him what you would prefer him to say rather than the angry barrage he directed toward you. Verbalize calmly to him what he can say that would make you feel better. Try using a humorous way to deal with your and your mate’s frustrations. Each gender must deal maturely with situations. Because each gender processes situations in a slightly different manner misunderstandings develop. A light hearted attempt at dealing with serious situations takes the sting out of arguments. If this does not work for you, seek counseling.