After 7 years of marriage, I realized that Thammie and I have a different way of coping with stress. And this does not just apply to us but to a lot of our friends. When I asked around how some of my male friends cope with stress I can’t help but laugh because men do have a way to cope with stress that are very different with women.
Men, in general, tend to cope with stress by becoming withdrawn and doing and thinking nothing.. Women on the other hand loves talking to other people to cope with their stress. So, a lot of friction happens when men and women try to solve their stress problems.
A classic example is when our wife sees how stress we are – their general tendency is they want to know why because they love us.
WIFE: Honey, are you stress out?
WIFE: So tell me why.
MAN: Well, I’d rather not talk about it now. He then stands and turns on the TV to cope with stress. ( Now women, you might be thinking what a stupid way to cope with stress but remember they need to be alone first and do nothing and think of nothing).
WIFE: Honey? Let’s talk. I want to know your heart. Why don’t you want to talk to me? ( At this point, you are adding more stress to your man)
MAN: I told you, it’s nothing. Let’s talk about it later.
When a man feels overwhelmed and can’t find a solution to his problem, he would do something to forget the problem, like watch a TV or play in his computer. By disengaging with the problem, he now can relax. John Gray, author of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: Practical Guide for Improving Communication, calls this CAVE TIME. A man goes to his cave ALONE and tries to solve the problem. He genrally picks the most urgent or most difficult one and then with intense focus tries to solve it, losing awareness of everything except the problem at hand. The problem occurs when he can’t solve the problem. Men would have the tendency to stay longer in the cave and neglects his wife and kids.
( NOTE: men, this practice must not last for days, I personally try to unwind and disengage with the problem when I get home and try to relax by watching a movie with my wife or playing with the kids but the next day I go back and try to find a solution to the problem.) I also noticed that problems that causes stress requires help from others. Our wife can input her thoughts on the problem also. You can respectfully tell your wife, you want to discuss the stress related problems with her tomorrow morning.
Now let’s turn the table. If a woman feels overwhelmed, she needs to talk, talk, talk. She cannot watch the TV or read a book, her mind will not work unless she unloads the problem to someone. Sharing problems with another person is a way a woman shows love and trust. Women loves having friends who would listen to her and give her a group hug after. As men, it is our role to listen toour wife as she unloads. Don’t invite her to the cave, it doesn’t work that way. She needs empathy and a listening ear. While we are tempted to give solutions, we need to remind ourselves as men to LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN.
She talks, you listen. Resist giving the solution. She doesn’t need it at that moment. After you talk, hold her hands and pray.