From Magic City Morning Star

Psychology Now
Men and Women Perceive Relationships Differently
By Gwen Randall-Young
Sep 26, 2008 - 9:52:41 PM

I often hear the concern from women that they seem to be the ones who work to keep their relationship going. They feel that the man just carries on day to day, without thinking too much about what is happening in the relationship. They wish that their partners were more proactive, rather than sitting back and only discussing the relationship when the woman brings up a concern. Even then, his response is often defensive, so that she feels like the "bad guy" even though she is trying to do something that she hopes would benefit both of them.

It helps to understand some basic differences between men and women, and how they perceive relationship. These are generalizations, and do not apply to everyone, but create some difficulties when they apply to your situation. For many women, their relationship is absolutely the most important thing in their life.

Job, friends and other interests are secondary. For many men, while their relationship is very important, it is not the major defining factor in their lives. They may see themselves first as an accountant, pilot, athlete, who also happens to be married. When they're at work, they focus on work. If there is a problem in the relationship, they are often able to put it on the back burner while they attend to other things.

Women, on the other hand, may allow the relationship to serve as a kind of emotional barometer. If things are going well at home, they can be happy and productive in their job, with friends, or in mothering their children. When things are not going well with their partner, daily life can feel like a real struggle. If there's a fight in the morning, she'll brood about it all day. When he comes home, and she asks what he has to say about the morning's episode, he may reply that he really didn't have time to think about it. (Women can hardly believe this, and think he's being cool or distant, or totally uncaring, but truthfully, he may well switch into a different gear when he leaves the house.)

For a relationship to be healthy, both partners must feel as though their needs are being met, even if there has to be some compromise. If you need more communication, more sharing of feelings in order to feel satisfied, then work needs to be done in the relationship. If your partner is closed to the idea of talking about this, or gets angry or defensive when you try to talk about feelings, and shows no willingness to read about it, or to seek counseling, then you have a dilemma.

You need to decide if there is enough that is positive in being with this person that you can live without something that is important to you, and to assess the long term impact on your health and wellbeing, of living with someone who will not communicate with you at a deeper level.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning Psychotherapist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books or cds, visit

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