Men, Women, and Divorce Conflict

October 15, 2014 3:44 pm Published by Comments Off on Men, Women, and Divorce Conflict

This month my book “The Professional Woman’s Guide To Conflict Management” is being released by Impackt Publishing. While the book was not written for the divorce audience much of its content is relevant since divorce is often the most significant conflict we face in our adult lives. Here is an excerpt that may help you as you attempt to manage the conflict that is a natural outgrowth of the divorce process.

Certainly all men are not alike. And, all women are not alike. However, during the last decade, MRIs and other brain-imaging tools have allowed neuroscience researchers to identify structural and functional differences between male and female brains. Many of these differences, which explain why women operate differently from men, start in the womb.

When we look at children, we can see some of these gender differences at play. For example, girls frequently engage one-on-one, avoiding the team sports that teach boys to play with their enemies, and against their friends. Influenced by a combination of adaptive biological survival mechanisms and social influences, these childhood gender differences generally continue throughout the lifespan.

While social norms, culture, and individual differences regulate aggressive behavior, research has shown that males are more likely than females to use physical and verbal aggression when faced with conflict. On the other hand, females are more likely to use indirect aggression such as gossip, rumor-spreading, and undermining by enlisting the cooperation of a third party.

In this book I discuss the fight-or-flight response and explain that it is a physiological response, with bodily symptoms as well as a behavioral response. The behaviors (fighting or fleeing) can be observed in humans and other animals when there is a perceived threat. However, recent research at UCLA has found that females (human and other animals) also exhibit another behavioral response to threat. This evolutionary adaptation has been termed “tend and befriend.” Tending is about nurturing and protecting. Befriending is about connecting to a social group in order to reduce risk and manage stressful conditions.  Considering the limits of female physical strength (fight) and the ability to run with small children (flight) it makes sense that females have had to adapt and find more fitting ways to deal with threat.

As you move through your divorce it may be helpful to remember about the differences in the male and female brains. Keep in mind that men, who are typically left-brain dominant, are more task-oriented than women and they may have trouble picking up on emotional cues unless they are clearly verbalized.

Comments are closed here.