The battle of the sexes has been fought for centuries. And it still seems to be alive and well. Both sexes frequently share with me, their inability to understand the other. In particular, many women have difficulty understanding, why many men don't seem as interested in family or relational matters. This one issue alone comes up time and time again and is the cause of great frustration and power struggle in male-female relationships.
As I see it, two things have to happen to break this power struggle.
1 ‐ To begin with, both men and women need to learn about and accept their differences. To do this topic justice requires a book. I recommend couples read: John Gray, Men are from Mars, Women Are From Venus. You can take your partner's behavior much less personally when you really understand that it is not just particular to them but to many members of their sex.
We can all seek to grow beyond our conditioned gender roles. This will only serve to expand us as humans. We may be somewhat restricted by our biology and conditioning, but we can work toward becoming more balanced in regard to our male and female sides.
While I believe we must be very careful not to overgeneralize about gender differences, there does seem to be enough evidence to make some observations on this touchy matter. John Gray says that "Martians (men) value power, competency, efficiency, and achievement. Their sense of self is defined through their ability to achieve results." He says they are more interested in "objects" and "things" rather than people and feelings. And Martians pride themselves in doing things all by themselves.
Understanding where men are coming from allows women to see why many men often react negatively to unsolicited advice, avoid support groups and counseling, don't tend to read self-help books or be as concerned about relational matters, and often like to "fix" other's feelings. However, just because men are conditioned this way does not mean they are powerless to make changes which might work better for them.
As for women, Gray says that " they are concerned about living together in harmony, community, and loving cooperation. Relationships are more important than work and technology. To share their personal feelings is much more important than achieving goals and success. Talking and relating to one another is a source of tremendous fulfillment."
Understanding where women are coming from allows men to see what kind of support women need and value. For example, most women find that in men's zeal to "fix" an uncomfortable feeling, they will often offer solutions when their partner is upset. What most women want at this time is simply for their partner to listen without judgment.
While neither of Gray's descriptions of gender behavior fits for all people, it seems true for the majority. If we hope to let go of power struggles in relationships we need to begin to accept these differences and push our own personal growth beyond our cultural gender conditioning.