Gender Complementarity

Are we from the same planet?

The popularity of John Gray’s “Men are from Mars & Women are from Venus” (and titles by other authors), signals the widespread recognition of gender differences in our society. It is now permissible to speak of stereotypical behaviours and gender specific abilities without being accused of putting the clock back, oppressing women and being sexist. What everyone has always known and experienced to be true, thankfully, we are now able to discuss.

Everyday experiences reveal this truth for us and now, numerous studies are confirming it – men and women truly are indeed different. We have different ways of approaching relationships, disparate expectations of a partner, different needs for intimacy, and have specialised areas of skill. We even have different brain structures giving rise to gender differences such as language and communication skills, visualisation of three dimensional objects, map reading and spatial awareness. Even business theories now speak of feminine management styles as opposed to masculine ones.

In relationships, we see these gender differences in the kinds of friendships that men and women form. Friendships between women are characterised by emotional sharing and verbal communication is always a feature. Men are more likely experience bonding and friendship through shared activity, such as sport or working bees. Of course, every person is an individual and no one fits the gender stereotype in every aspect.

Gender preferences in expressing intimacy

In marriage, our gender preferences can cause a great deal of heartache if they are not well understood. For the wife, the need for emotional sharing and verbal expressions of love and commitment are particularly important to her. She requires emotional closeness with her husband in order for her to feel secure in his love.

The masculine desire for intimacy is primarily expressed through the husband’s need for physical connection with his wife, especially through sex. He feels most connected and secure in the relationship when their physical closeness is strong and vibrant.

This gender bias of intimate verbal conversation for women and physical intimacy for men is a common pattern, but is not exclusively so. Every man will at times feel the need for intimate conversation, and not every woman prefers talking to sex intimacy.

Take your marriage to new levels of joy

2015-01-15T15:05:15+00:00

About the Author:

Francine & Byron Pirola
Francine & Byron Pirola are the founders and principal authors of the SmartLoving series. They are passionate about living Catholic marriage to the full and helping couples reach their marital potential. They have been married since 1988 and have five children. Their articles may be reproduced for non commercial purposes with appropriate acknowledgement and back links.

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