The other night I called my husband to see what he wanted for dinner, and he asked where I was coming from. I said I stopped by to see our nephew on the way home from work (had to get my snuggles in like any aunt). Eric said he didn’t know I was stopping by for a quick play date, and to that I explained: I told you about three times today ALONE what my plan was. Now to his credit, he worked about 36 hours in overtime within the past two weeks so his brain was a little fried. Even though I had texts to prove he knew what I was doing after work, it was past the point of getting through, which I’m pretty sure you’ve experienced with the man in your life as well.
I started wondering why is it that men seem to be, consciously or unconsciously, oblivious to our schedules and communications with them. Luckily, a client and friend sent me a video about men’s brains and women’s brains. Shout out to Candy, who shared the very funny video that I recommend you watch IMMEDIATELY after reading this. The video is done by Mark Gungor, who is a Senior Pastor of Celebration Church in Wisconsin, and his website is markgungor.com. The video has nothing to do with religion, and is all about comparing how men think versus how women think.
Mark starts by explaining how a man’s brain is set up, that they have a “box” for everything: every issue, every person, every experience. There is a box for you, for your children, for his ex-spouse, and the mother in law box is in the basement of his brain, of course. Sorry mom, I’m pretty sure you aren’t in the basement of Eric’s brain but I’ll double check! So when a man is thinking he can only open one box, and only one box, at a time. You CANNOT let one box touch another box. Very carefully take out your 401(k) box, do not let it touch your mother in law box, and then put it away like you would a full glass of $800 bourbon. This must be why men are never able to multitask, try talking to my husband when the Sopranos is on. And he’s only seen every episode about 15 times (and I’m low balling).
You might ask, how is our brain different? Good question! For women, everything in their brains are connected. Money is connected to the car, the children are connected to your vacuum, and so on. It is like a highway with some topics speeding down, others are stuck in traffic, while the rest are in an accident. I have to say this explains why I could be focusing so much on one thing at work when all of a sudden I need to figure out a gift for a birthday a 2 months away. Or I’m cleaning my house and the need to schedule an appointment with a client pops into my mind. Our brains are powered by emotions as Mark points out, and an emotion is how we remember people and events so well. Once an event is connected to an emotion, you are gold. You will remember how you felt on that day, thus instilling the memory into your brain.
Have you ever observed a man watching endless TV or playing on their video games for endless hours? You probable are thinking how they can just sit around when there are, literally, hundreds of chores left to do. Well Mark has your answer, and it is called the Nothing Box. You might say you would like a Nothing Box, but you can’t because you are a woman, sorry. When men are stressed they pull out their nothing box, and only their nothing box, since men can only have one box out at a time. So when you ask your man what they are thinking and their response is nothing, this is why!
The nothing box is the exact opposite of our reaction to stress. Our brains, unfortunately, start going into overdrive and thus they start steaming. Men see the steam first, and their instinct is to run, which is what they tend to do. It is usually better for my husband to hide out during these times, he will leave our cute Dotson behind to help lower the stress level at least. The problem with the flee response is it only adds to our stress or steam altitudes. My advice to men: please don’t lay a bomb such as a last minute guy’s poker game night at your house when there is no food, the house is a mess, and the children have homework to do, and then run from your wife. This is called a ticking time bomb!
Now that you know why we think differently from men, how can we use this new found knowledge to better our relationships? I do not have the answer to that, but what I do know is it can be applied to issues of money in your relationship. In some way, you might disagree on how much to spend, save, or even make when it comes to your money. And unfortunately, money issues are one of the biggest problems in marriages. Have you been in a heated argument or discussion (to put it nicely) with your significant other about this month’s bills? Or how much to spend on your children’s clothes? Sometimes you might not agree so instead you avoid the topic completely, which isn’t a lasting solution either. The more you sidestep the topic, the bigger the problem will become. It won’t go away because you shun it. You can’t escape debt if you never address the issue and you’ll never get to retirement if you don’t face the current roadblocks. How much nicer would it be for you and your spouse if you look head on at a problem or issue and tackle it together? You can then have fun on your date night or talk about a more pleasant topic when you do have a spare minute to spend together.
I do not want your finances to be one of the problems in your marriage, and I have created a series to address this money hindrance. Think about how you would feel if both you and your significant other are on the same page with your money and your goals? Would that leave more energy for date night, movies, or time with your children? Maybe you can focus on other important items like working out, cleaning your garage, or pursuing a hobby. The first step in the program is to find out both your money personality. Click the link below to get your Money Personality Assessment now:
Jessica Weaver, CFP®, CDFA™, CFS®
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