How Men and Women React to Marital Problems
Marriage takes work. There’s no secret there.
I hope that your marriage is in a positive place, but every couple can go through highs and lows.
Having kids, financial concerns, job changes, and family matters change throughout the course of your relationship. That’s a normal part of life.
At some point, you might find yourself in a place that’s not as positive as you want.
You might be surprised to find that when this happens, men and women see problems differently.
They don’t worry about they same things, they have different emotions, and will have different reactions to their partner.
It’s a Gender Thing
Deborah Carr a professor in the Department of Sociology at Rutgers University. She was curious about how men and women react to marital problems and adversity. And her work with marital couples was recently published in the Journal of Gerontology.
So what did Deborah and her team discover about how men deal with marriage difficulties?
“The men don’t really want to talk about it or spend too much time thinking about it.”
Seems pretty typical of us men, huh? Well, we can’t help it. It’s just be a part of our culture and society. Deborah continues:
“Men often don’t want to express vulnerable emotions, while women are much more comfortable expressing sadness or worry.”
It’s a given fact. Men and women just handle things differently. And when it comes to marriage trouble, it’s no different.
Deborah’s study looked at 722 different couples. They were married an average of 39 years.
The survey asked men and women questions that covered a number of issues. Things like opening up, talking about worries, giving support, feeling appreciated, and more.
What they found was that talking about the issue and getting support made women feel good. However, this same method simply frustrated men.
“For women, getting a lot of support from their spouse is a positive experience. Older men, however, may feel frustrated receiving lots of support from their wife, especially if it makes them feel helpless or less competent.”
Overall, the men in the study were found to rate their marriages more positively than women. They felt like there was higher levels of emotional support and had less marital strain.
Despite all this, men were more frustrated not only giving support, but receiving it as well.
This is an unfortunate situation. Even though women want support from their mates, it can frustrate men to give or receive it. Any misunderstanding about these interactions can easily make things worse.
I was slightly joking before. But the culture that these men grew up in my, in fact, may have a large role into how they respond.
For the surveys, at least one spouse had to be 60 years of age. So we’re talking about an older generation. A culture where gender roles were much more defined than today.
Today we see more women in positions of power and high level careers. Men, on the other hand, are taking over some of the child rearing and house keeping responsibilities.
So as time goes on, we may see changes in how genders respond to difficulties. We’ll have to wait and see.
And if you find yourself constantly fighting, remember that gratitude may help you break the cycle.