Brains: Men’s & Women’s

photo of a control box with one-third designated as man's brain with single toggle switch and two-thirds as woman's brain with 40 knobs and switches

Man’s brain. Woman’s. Guess which is which.

Warning: a recent spate of Facebook posts has prompted this blog post and, if you’re married, most of it will be yesterday’s ho-hum news. But – pay attention – it never hurts to be reminded of what we already know. (And, of course, there is the outside chance that you just might not know this stuff yet.)

It all started when I innocently commented on a young wife’s post, referencing my own husband’s habit of answering “nothing” when I ask “what are you thinking?” Well! From there, Young Wife’s Hubby weighed in. Then Older Brother had a bit of wisdom to add, and so did several others who didn’t make the cut (in the interest of unaccustomed brevity) for this post. What follows is what the two brothers had to say about “what are you thinking, dear?”

Younger brother (Young Wife’s Hubby):
When a man is asked this question (‘what are you thinking?’), his brain scrambles to remember anything about what he was just thinking. ‘Nothing’ seems to be the only appropriate answer. Then we usually regret that answer but still can’t think of anything better.”

Older Brother:
“It’s a trap!!! I usually respond with ‘Nothing.’ That never seems to be the correct answer. So I try to think of what it is that would have made sense to be thinking about at that time. Then they get you with, ‘Why didn’t you just tell me that in the first place?’ Don’t take the bait!!!”

So! Never let it be said that Facebook is a complete waste of time. As you’ve just read, some practical and insightful pay-attention stuff dribbles out every once in awhile. This particular interchange reminded me of a video I saw several years ago. You may have already seen it, but maybe you’re in need of a good laugh today. So watch this Tale of Two Brains segment from Mark Gungor’s Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage again, and then we’ll continue.

Now that you’ve watched Gungor‘s routine, you know that no malice is intended by either of us. But what does all this mean? Gungor sort of answers the question with his “Nothing Box,” but not in depth, for the same reason that I can’t answer the question with any degree of detail or authority. The photo above might illustrate how a man can answer the “what are you thinking?” question with the answer “nothing”: he’s simply switched off his only switch. But it’s still a massive mystery – this whopping difference between how men’s and women’s brains function (and a lot of other differences we don’t have time to cover!)

As a woman with almost 48 years
of marriage to her credit,
I feel entitled to opine
with some pay-attention points –
in no logical order.

  • STOP ASKING your husband, “what are you thinking?” It’s the same messy scenario as trying to teach a pig to fly – frustrating for you and it annoys the pig. No matter how many times you ask, you’ll get the same response. Your habit of repeatedly asking this question will not, I repeat, WILL NOT change his answer, as Gungor so clearly explains. Pay attention: this is not time well spent. (I know what I’m talking about here!)
  • Don’t ask your wife (in a fit of finding your “softer side”), “what are you thinking, dear?” unless you’ve got a good half-hour to burn because you can bet she HAS been thinking and is itching to tell someone. Shucks, she’ll even tell you, even though she knows you’ll be paying attention less than half of the time. At the end of that eternal half hour, you’ll know precious little more than you did before (the inevitable result of not paying attention), and shell be frustrated by your lack of paying attention. Pay attention: this is not time well spent.
  • Men and women are just hard-wired differently. Get over it. Not getting over it means you keep trying to make your spouse into someone more like you. Dooooon’t do it. It’s dangerously foolhardy and – pay attention – not time well spent.
  • Do learn to appreciate the differences between you and maybe even – gasp – look at life through the other gender’s lenses.
    • If you’re a woman, wouldn’t it be nice to kind of chill out WHILE STILL AWAKE and take it easy for a bit – give all that wiring a chance to cool off and the sizzling to calm down? (Just so you know, I’ve tried this, and it’s harder than it looks.) All I’m saying is, give it a shot every now and again: you might learn to shut off the brain chatter for a minute or two. (More than that is being totally unrealistic.) Then you can genuinely appreciate how your husband does it so effortlessly. Time well spent, to be certain.
    • If you’re a man, rest easy, I won’t make a pay-attention point about trying to get your brain to sizzle and frizzle the way your wife’s does. No point in setting you up for such unnecessary discomfort, now is there? But here’s a doable pay-attention tidbit for you. Practice being more appreciative that, whilst you are taking your nothing-box, wide-awake siesta, someone – namely, your wife – has your back because her brain NEVER shuts off. Pay attention, buddy: appreciation time IS time well spent.
red box with white text: “Don't forget, a person's greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.” – H. Jackson Brown

(Brown wrote Life’s Little Instruction Book)

©2016, Teresa Bennett