I had an opportunity to hear John Gray, PhD, author of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex, speak in Philadelphia last year. While the popular book about relationships was written 20 years ago, Dr. Gray gave an update on what's stayed the same and what's changed over time regarding the differences between men and women.
Here are some of Dr. Gray's insights:
- Dr. Gray says that "women are always giving and when they do something for someone there is a surge of positive hormones in their body. Oxytocin rises which is very important for a woman's health. Oxytocin levels also rise when women get together with other women." (Yep, that's me, always a giver. During my life after 50, I'm trying to take more time to give back to myself. Glad I have several gatherings planned with my female friends.)
- Dr. Gray says that "women are wired to think about things and talk things through, whereas men are more fight or flight. If they love you they don't want to hurt you, so they use their flight response during an argument. Men are more practical and will give you a solution even if what you really want is just to talk about your day." (Yep, my boyfriend L is very solution-oriented. Now I know why he tries to solve a problem when I tell him about a difficult situation. All I really want is for him to listen and to share in my unhappiness.)
- Dr. Gray says that "men travel light, with the least effort or weight possible. For example, men only have one wallet and sometimes they don't even fill all the slots inside the wallet. Women not only have many purses, they fill their purses to the brim." (Yep, that's me. I have several purses. I haven't even used my new Vince Camuto purple suede purse that I bought at the Nordstrom anniversary sale. I just love it, but I don't like to change purses to match outfits. I've been using my black Coach tote most days. It is lightweight and has lots of room to fit lots of stuff. How about you? How many purses do you own? My boyfriend L has only one wallet, and it is the same wallet I bought for him when I was in Italy three years ago. Ooh, ooh, ooh—is it time to get a new wallet for L?)
- Dr. Gray says that "men want to feel successful. If you are happy, then men feel successful." According to Dr. Gray, "when a woman is happy her oxytocin level rises and all is good. Things that make a woman happy include such things as shopping, getting together with friends and getting flowers from a boyfriend or husband. (I like Dr. Gray's point system. I told my boyfriend L about the point system. Here's the math: One rose gives a surge of oxytocin. Men think one rose—I get a point. A dozen roses only equals one BIG point, but one rose given a dozen times equals 12 points. I told my boyfriend L to bring on the flowers, one rose at a time! Rise oxytocin, rise!)
- Dr. Gray says that "30 years ago men were more stressed than women. Yet, ten years ago things started to change as more women entered the workforce and had to balance work outside the home while raising children. Today women's stress levels are higher than ever. Women at work have more stress than men at work." (Wow-o-wow! No wonder heart disease is the leading killer of women. I'm glad I am no longer working full-time and plan to continue practicing yoga to relieve my stress.)
- Dr. Gray says that "a woman needs to ask a man if she wants him to do something. Women's brains don't turn off when they sit down, but men's brains have an 'off' switch. When they go into the their 'man cave' on the coach at the end of the day, they don't see you. You feel alone and you can't make the good oxytocin." Dr. Gray adds, "The average 50 year old man has less testosterone. While he relaxes, he builds testosterone. Menopausal women also have adrenal burnout from the stressful imbalance of their hormones." (Does not sound like a good combination to me.)
What are the best things a boomer girl can do to improve her relationship with her man?
Dr. Gray says "to draw the man out, tell him there is an emergency if you need something done. Men like to fix emergencies. Romance and communications also help build oxytocin. And remember, the best way to please your man, is to do more of the things you like to do—shopping, getting facials, going for a mani-pedi, spending time with your girlfriends—it's all good." (So is blogging with my virtual boomer girls!)
One thing that has changed in 20 years is that in addition to all his books, now Dr. Gray has an entire website about relationships at MarsVenus.com. His wife answers questions, too.
This post originally appeared on aboomerslifeafter50.com.