Next time your male partner sits on the sofa and proceeds to veg out in front of the tv, rather than complaining, say "thank you." By relaxing on the sofa, his body can literally let down from the stress of the day and generate more testosterone to bring to you in the bedroom or bring to the world as he works diligently by day.
And the next time your female partner needs to talk when she is emotionally upset, realize she is trying to take care of her physical health as well as her psychological health, so she can be closer to you. The part of the brain that regulates emotional response in women under stress is 2 1/2 times greater than in men. A woman needs to talk to destress.
The most recent work of relationship expert John Gray shows how what men and women really need has a lot to do with their hormones. Understanding our most basic and primal wiring is key to appreciating what will make us happy.
As society has changed, roles for men and women have also changed. And with the change in roles have come changes in what men and women need to feel loved and understood. Women have moved out of the need for security that was present decades or centuries ago. To find fulfillment in today's world, women need to focus on their needs for intimacy, romance and connection.
Women are becoming more stressed in our testosterone driven culture. In fact, John Gray notes that women's happiness levels are steady declining. Women need to be seen, heard, touched, felt, and need to feel connected, not alone, and supported at an emotional level. As the stress level goes up for women, these needs increase.
Women are designed to be emotionally activated under stress. This leads to feelings and a need to talk about what she is feeling. Being able to speak and be heard releases her stress. Giving also reduces stress for a woman. Women need to practice self-care and find ways that nurture them, and not just look to men to get their needs met.
When a man is under stress, he is wired to do something (fight) or forget it (flight). Men are moved to do, fix, or act. Men have an off switch where they can go blank, in contrast to a a woman's brain that speeds up under stress. For men to engage in decompression activities where they get to use their "off switch" is key to destressing and rejuvenating.
These hormonal differences suggest some important coaching tips so men and women can love and support each other more effectively and both genders can get primal needs met.
If a woman is stressed out and lets her male partner know that by listening to her for 10 - 15 minutes will make her feel better, then he can "do" something that will "fix" her "problem." If she then thanks him for listening and letting her know how much she appreciates it, that will help the man feel good about the interaction. Men like to make women happy. If a woman can learn to ask for what she needs in a frame that lets the man succeed at this task, it is a super win-win.
Likewise, if a man needs to chill out in front of the tv, if he can let his female partner know he needs to decompress for a bit, and invite her to sit next to him, he can enjoy her company, and also have the space to decompress. Being able to sit quietly for a period of time may be as nurturing for the man as being able to talk or vent for a period of time is for his woman partner.
While none of us are linear gender stereotypes, and both men and women have both male and female energy, these coaching tips for our primal roots can still be helpful as we navigate a world of changing gender roles.