Sexes' Differences Increase Confusion
Witham, Larry, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
While some pundits have dismissed today's marital chaos as just a new round of the battle between the sexes, some marriage researchers say times have changed.
With the social roles of men and women floating willy-nilly, they say, the two sexes need to understand each other better than ever before.
"Women are told so many things today," says Barbara Rainey, a speaker at marriage conferences. "They are uncertain of what's out there. And men are just as confused about their role."
One piece of bedrock, according to studies, is that girls and boys play differently as children, and this difference endures into adulthood, when men and women must figure each other out.
In playing games, girls emphasize the emotional harmony of the group, while boys suppress feelings to emphasize rules and outcomes.
"Men grow to distrust that inner self," psychologist Neil Clark Warren says. "They are very poor at sharing what's inside. And usually what their wives need is that emotional communication."
In Seattle, researcher John Gottman has gone so far as to connect electronic sensors to hundreds of couples to watch how arguments affect them physically.
He found that women endure emotional duress better than men and recover from it more quickly. Husbands, the research showed, "flood" emotionally more rapidly than their wives, as reflected in faster rises in pulse and blood pressure during arguments. This physical stress explains why husbands walk away from emotional encounters. …