During a premarital session, Brandt expressed his annoyance that his fiancée, Alexis, would often complain about her job to him. He would listen to her vent and then give her suggestions on how to resolve the issues. Instead of appreciating his help, she would shut down in frustration. He said in exasperation, “I don’t get it. I get punished for trying to help.” Understanding the situation, I asked Alexis, “How do you want Brandt to respond when you share your work problems with him?” Alexis responded, “I don’t want Brandt to fix anything. I just need him to listen to me and maybe give me a big hug.”
Males tend to approach a problem in a more task-oriented, “let’s-fix-it” approach. A man is more focused on solving the problem than on prioritizing the emotions associated with it. He will often make a decision based solely on the facts.
Females tend to approach a problem more creatively out of sensitivity to and concern for the feelings of those involved. A woman speaks from her heart, describing in great detail the emotional aspects of the problem. By processing the problem and venting her frustrations to her husband, she feels connected to him. Unlike men, women don’t always want—or need—to find a solution.