What (especially) every married person should know

By: J. Marlando


Younger boys and girls become friends because they like each other, they don’t experience any real differences and girls will wrestle or play ball as quickly as boys will play jacks or jump rope. There simply isn’t any sexism or discrimination between kids until their socialization begins setting in. It isn’t that boy and girl children don’t recognize their differences. It’s only that they do not place judgment values on them. And there are differences of course—boys and girls will naturally pick a gender-toy. Preschool boys will automatically choose a toy truck over a most beautiful Barbie Doll but this is genetics working its invisible magic. Boys and girls have different jobs to do at the primitive levels of existence because the species survival counts on it. Remember there was not always jobs open to all, competition in the prehistoric environment meant surviving against the elements and other species not securing a good credit score, playing some great stocks or hitting the lotto.

Let’s take for example a couple of typical differences in thinking between men and woman. A husband may be watching television and thinking about the show, while wife is thinking about the show, going shopping, what she’ll fix for dinner and Aunt Mary’s rheumatism.  As a result she might say, in the middle of a most dramatic moment of the show something like, “You know we should go see my Aunt Mary more often.”

This only serves to irritate the husband who either says or thinks, “Either watch the show or shut up.”  What irritates him is his wife’s intrusion into his tunnel vision haven; his all but unwavering concentration on the program he’s watching. (Incidentally, some women are so multiple thinking that they even irritate other women. Who cares if you forgot to buy jam at the store or that your sister is coming to visit in a month. Just watch the movie).

This is a typical difference between men and women’s thinking prowess. But how did it evolve?

If we go back to Cro-Magnon times say, 30,000 years ago a kind of natural gender role had already unfolded. Women became the gatekeepers of their communities wherein they were responsible for a number of duties and other people. She did not have the luxury of thinking on one or even two subjects because she was obliged to think about protecting the home front—the cave if you will. She had to protect the furs, the fuel, prepare the food, take care of the very old and the very young; watch for intruders, animals as well as man while making sure all ran smoothly.

In the meantime the men were out on the hunt—they only had two things to concentrate on, bagging their game and staying alive. As a result of this males developed a concentrative ability that was targeted while females developed a concentrative ability that was manifold. Thus they eventuated into becoming the protector female and the provider male.

This also accounts for the reason that women are far more security conscious than most men are. Women during those prehistoric times were extremely vulnerable. Let’s say that a hunting male was attacked by competing males, that male could hide or run, choose to fight or take flight. Women back on the home front did not have this option—she was too responsible for others and other things. If she was attacked by others she had to fight or probably parish.

The sex differences revealed in the above are hereditary to males and females but there is one more major difference. How men and women treat their bodies. From creation itself it has always been women who delivered life into the world. This is why in general young women are given excellent health by nature. While there are exceptions, younger females are simply strong and healthy. And so, let’s say that a man and women are climbing down some rocks in order to get to the beach. The man will typically be extremely agile and may even jump from one stone to the next paying little attention while the woman with him may step carefully from one stone to the next. As a result the male may think or even say, “Women are such wimps, you’d think she were risking her life the way she acts.”  But the truth is, women have a genetic dictate to take care of themselves because they are the specie’s survival tool—this is why nature protects women more than men by supply them with a more self-protective nature—one man can theoretically impregnate countless women at a fairly fast pace but women can only deliver an off spring every nine months and this brings us to yet another major difference between the genders.

There are exceptions, especially in our times, but historically women have been far more conservative with their sexual freedom than men have. This is not because they are unable to enjoy sex as much as men or, for that matter, even as capable of having sex with multiple partners. It is that male/female encounters are at a high risk of causing pregnancy. Another reason why females are far more particular about choosing a mate than men! This was especially true until the 1920s and advent of the diaphragm but less so when the “pill” became available but there is that natural reluctance for single women to be as promiscuous as single males because of hierarchy: From the most ancient times until recent history men have dominated women’s sexuality through religious moralizing and social mores. However,  even as late as the 1950s, men who had sex with multiple women were called “good old boys” but women who even had any kind of an affair before marriage was labeled “cheap” and  much worse. This is in the West but there are some third world countries still stoning women to death for having non-marital sex much less extra-marital sex—the absurdity and ugliness of such stonings are too cruel and backward for the rest of us in the world to even imagine.

What we have covered so far are some of the basis for men and women thinking differently. We’ll get down to the specifics next.


Mostly you will hear the complaint “we don’t talk enough” from wives than from husbands. This is indeed an arena where a great many women feel neglected and ignored. A major reason for this is because of natural feminine and masculine focus. When two women meet under most friendly circumstances they will seek compatibility with and cooperation from one another; they will attempt to understand each other in an empathetic way and build a mutual trust. When two men meet under most friendly circumstances they will immediately go into verbal competition declaring as being smarter or stronger or cooler; better at golf or pool…a bottom line men do not like to simply talk they like to debate and toss about their male prowess something that might have its roots in the old reptilian brain?

This is another thing that creates hollows in marital communication. Let’s say that husband and wife sit down with two close friends (another married couple) for a game of rummy. Wife loves the companionship, the friendship, the sharing in the game no matter who wins…she talks a lot during the game to share all the more with her guests. Husband swears he’ll never play with her again because she doesn’t concentrate on winning—husbands want to dominate and not be dominated. If he happens to lose, he feels defeated but if wife happens to lose she has simply enjoyed the game…and the conversation. To husband, however, while in the action, there was no “game” only virtual warfare.

Between men, the best of friends debate and argue, the better the debate and the more intense the argument the more the friendship grows. Not all, but most men love not talking but debating politics, religion, sports and philosophy of all kinds. At the end of their rhetoric they might give a firm handshake, a pat on the back or even a kind of “mannish” hug as a signal of having enjoyed the “duel” along with a “See ya” attitude. Women overhearing the debating may be confused by the tone of it—why do you two always have to argue? Men do not see it as arguing though. They see it as verbally competing and of seeking the grand prize of one-up-men-ship.

Women may compete for attention with their girlfriends but, by and large, they seek compatibility with their same gender friends—let’s not talk about it if we’re going to argue about it, they are most apt to say. But women tend to take themselves more seriously than men take themselves. When they argue it is more “for keeps.”  They simply do not understand the mentality that permits men to put on the boxing gloves, bloody each other’s noses then take off the boxing gloves and go have a friendly drink together.

One difference that causes this is that women care most about relationships. From this caring women will often attempt to match feelings with their girlfriends as a signal of their goodwill. That is, a typical response of women listening to a girlfriend’s feelings is to say, I know exactly how you feel, I feel (or I’ve felt) the same way or something like, I’ve gone through it or I can imagine just how it feels. Her motivation is to give understanding and so comfort to her friend.

Men seldom or ever share their “feelings” with one another. They analyze and dissect, they deconstruct and they pigeon hole but that’s all the gunk of intellectualizing as they associate “feelings” with weakness. This doesn’t mean that they don’t feel, every wife knows better than this, but it does mean they never describe or attempt to describe those feelings to another male.

There is another important area where husbands and wives often grow to feel estranged. It is in the unexpected arena of humor. I suppose there are exceptions but men and women seldom see humor in the same things. Men however will often use humor as they will often use sex, as an escape from the pain and stress that usually comes along in daily life. While most women are more apt to become depressed than most men, men are more apt to anger in unhappy situations; his safety valve is to laugh it off. If a situation is serious like, we’ll say, the car gets repossessed he is apt to start making jokes at one juncture or another which confuses his wife who has, as said, fallen into the dumps. She will probably say, what’s wrong with you, this isn’t funny.

Husband knows losing the car isn’t funny of course but he needs “funny” to survive the situation and recharge for problem solving.

Most women are actually far more direct than most men are. If there’s a problem women want to know about it and they want to know what can be done to solve it.  Men, who actually have the “image” of being like this, had rather put off facing up to a problem for as long as possible. But women historically have always been far more responsible than males because they are not only life givers but nurturers of life as well. Historically when the going got rough, men could get going…and leave the problems behind. There are probably great counts of single moms out there who have had husband/fathers who could not bear the responsibility and simply flew the coop. This goes back to those old prehistoric days when men always had the option to fight or flee.        

As a quick aside and in regard to the above research has been done on the more primitive parts of the brain such as the hypothalamus where, along other functions, there is hormonal control via the pituitary gland—it is said that the volume of a specific nucleus in the hypothalamus is twice as large in heterosexual men than in women and homosexual men.

There is a reason why women (wives) face domestic problems better than men (husbands) do. This is because under stressful situations men will us “fight or flight” tactics while women will be more apt, in a term, to hold their ground. This no doubt goes back to the prehistoric times talked about at the start of this narrative but it is also because females are instinctually caregivers and caretakers of children and have far greater group bonds than do males.

Anyway, men in general find humor in life’s ups, downs and turnarounds than do women. For one thing they take human sexuality far more lightly than do most females; to most men the so-called “dirty joke” is the material of bonding. Men, under certain circumstances laugh a lot at their own genitals or make the genitals of other men targets for their humor, something that is extremely rare among females. But people laugh a lot more about other things than jokes no matter if they are clean or dirty. A statistic shows that women, in general, laugh more than men do.

Some researchers say that laughter is part of the mating ritual between men and women and that women laugh as an unconscious drive to attract a mate. Laughter after all is submissive in nature.  Where most women draw the line, however, is men’s tendency toward hostile humor—hostile humor often strikes the male funny bone more than any other kind of humor! Women, however, do not appreciate humor that is a put down, insult or fun-making as most men do…I thought of you all day, I was at the zoo!

Men like to tease more than females do and often a “teaser” will run his teasing into the ground. Women after all will often see teasing as cruel as opposed to funny. But men are far better at laughing at themselves than most women are. Yet, women are more likely to tease in mixed company than men are but in light or more conscientious ways.

When it comes to humor, however, women who laugh a lot have more successful and lasting marriages than women who don’t. This especially goes for women who can crack jokes during stressful times and serious discussions. On the other hand, when husband laugh and crack jokes during stressful times and serious discussion many wives retreat into themselves and/or simply feel anger. It is an odd paradox really but when unraveled when humor is well balanced between husbands and wives, they are typically more contended with and devoted to each other.


Beyond the few differences pointed out in this article, there seems to be very little differences between the male and female brain—certainly men and women are equally as smart and equally capable intellectually but still the old axiom proves true—equal but…different.  A great many of those differences are social—every culture has its own dictates of what a (real) woman should be like and what a (real) man should be like. This is true in so-called civilized cultures and indigenous cultures. Thus, both guys and gals are raised with certain gender roles to fulfill some of which are mere fabrications of the culture itself.

And so, with all this in mind, we believe that the best advice for husbands and wives (after all is said and done) is once you know all about each other, love each other anyway. Be gentle remembering that we are all living in the same uncertainty as we journey down life’s path.