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In the Company of Women - Livin' the Good Life

Jan. 15th, 2010

07:42 pm - In the Company of Women

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I had an interesting mom's meeting the other day. One of the subjects that came up was how important it is for women to get together and talk like we do in our meetings. The book WHY MARS AND VENUS COLLIDE, by John Gray was discussed, explaining why it is that women need this "talking". In a nutshell, the book says that men deal with stress differently than women do. Men need to raise their testosterone levels to feel competant in dealing with their stresses. Some do that by participating in something competitive, dangerous, or challenging (this is often taken care of by their work). In other cases, de-stressing means diverting their attention for a while and reading the paper or watching TV. Many like to watch or participate in sports, play video games, work hard, have sex, young boys play war, older boys play paintball, or just come up with a good problem-solving plan... all of these, and more, raise testosterone which relieves stress in men. Women, on the other hand, deal with stress by raising her oxytocin (the cuddle hormone) levels through discussing and venting feelings (and cuddling!) Women need to "connect and bond" to relieve stress. Men usually want to be silent and retreat. Women want to talk and find commonality. For this reason, the author suggests that we should not expect to get all our needs met by our spouse. Only some of them. Men feel incompetent and immasculated by having enormous expectations put on them that they can't fulfill. This book is written with the female audience in mind, and it suggests that women find ways to get most of their needs met apart from their husbands. Examples: have regular contact with female friends, take time for adequate exercise, have an excellent diet, do regular self-nurturing things like soaking in a tub, getting massages and pedicures, watching sappy movies, (and I would add, playing with children), journaling, finding other creative outlets, talking and listening to others... It's been my experience that there are many ways to get my needs for attention, bonding and connection met. If I only expect Steve to meet some of them, and they are not unrealistic given his temperment and nature, he CAN meet them , and he feels successful as a husband. I've learned, on the other hand, not to view his retreating to his "den" as a rejection, but as a healthy sign of him knowing how to meet his needs for de-stressing in his own way. For him, finding and solving ONE challenge in his office gives him a tremendous feeling of relief from his burdens in general. Pouring himself into a creative project in the privacy of his studio is another way he de-stresses. I respect that and give him plenty of space.
Our moms meetings are a great way for women to de-stress in a positive way. We help each other to feel successful as moms and wives by listening to each other and sharing our feelings and what has worked or not worked for us. The intent is to inspire and uplift and show caring. (Tearing down men is never allowed in our meetings!) I think women usually feel considerably better and bouyed up when they leave the meetings, ready to take on our womanly challenges, because oxytocin abounds and is welcome there!


Date:January 17th, 2010 02:55 am (UTC)
I knew the differences but never thought of them in terms of the specific hormones, testosterone and oxytocin. Interesting how men de-stress by adding what I would call more stress...dangerous adventures. So contrary to me!

Love how you do not allow men bashing. That so does not help anything.
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Date:January 17th, 2010 05:04 am (UTC)
You're right, Jill, it so does not! My goal is to encourage success in marriage. Directing conversations toward uplifting our spouses (and children) is one of my main goals.
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