Differences That Divide – Part Two (Re-Posted from October 4, 2021)
Hi, this is pastor Ken and this is my Monday Marriage Message…Differences That Divide – Part Two This is part two of a three-part series looking at how we think differently as men and women, husbands and wives, and why God created us to do so. If you have not listened to last week’s podcast, Differences That Divide – Part One, I encourage you to do so before you listen to this edition.
Last week we talked about how men think compartmentally. Today we will look at what it means that a woman thinks relationally. Let me start by saying that while I believe that every man since Adam has been created a compartmentalized thinker and every woman created since Eve is a relational thinker, there is a scale. What I mean by that is that although all men are compartmentalized in their thinking, some are more so than others. All women are created relational thinkers but some are more so than others. These scales are not a scale of completeness or correctness. Being more or less so of either is not more right or less right. I am incredibly compartmentalized…that does not make me faster, better, or smarter than my less compartmentalized male counterparts. We are all individuals and as such fall somewhere on the continuum of being more or less compartmentalized or relational in our thinking.
As we look today at the special way women were designed to think, I offer the analogy of a spider web. No, I don’t think of women as arachnids, and I’m not saying women have cobwebs in their heads. What I am saying is that a spider’s web has many characteristics that make it a good analogy. If you have ever seen a spider’s web you have undoubtedly noticed that it is made from many different strands of silk, each of which are all interconnected. If an insect enters and gets caught in the web it sends vibrations out throughout the web because a movement in one area creates vibrations throughout the entire web. No matter where the web is affected by the intruding future meal, the spider knows which direction to travel to get to it, and a plethora of other information based on the impact with the web. The female thought process is much the same. In relational thinking, everything matters to everything else. Nothing happens that does not have an effect on everything else. “It is what it is” is a statement that women understand but it takes a man’s compartmentalized thinking to be comfortable with. Men can understand the sentence “You can’t change one thing without changing everything” but women with their relational thinking are far more comfortable with the accuracy of the statement.
In relational thinking every thought creates a related thought, which creates a related thought, which creates a related thought, which creates…and so on. Some of the strengths of relational thinking include a woman’s ability to multi-task and a thing we call ‘women’s intuition’. That skill, it turns out, isn’t witchcraft, but rather a subconscious, instantaneous weighing out of all of the variables of a given set of options resulting in an indefensible knowledge of which choice has the higher probability of success. I say indefensible because she doesn’t necessarily know why or how she knows…she just knows…call it women’s intuition…it’s a thing.
One of the weaknesses of relational thinking is that when under stress it tends to speak in extremes. This is happening, men, when you hear statements such as “You never…take out the trash” or “You always…treat me unfairly” coming from your wife. She knows cognitively that these statements are inaccurate, but they are a product of her relational thinking and she is somewhat helpless to stop using them. They are the result of all of the times the situation has occurred in the past being brought to memory unsolicited, and connected to the current scenario. When this happens it is best to not try to make her agree with you and admit to being inaccurate. The best course of action, men, is to recognize that this statement identifies underlying stress, and move meet the needs that will reduce her stress.
As men and women we each utilize these different processes of thinking. That is as it is designed to be and is not a problem for you to correct. The problem comes because we do not appreciate the difference, much less celebrate it! All of us believe we are right to think the way we do. It is natural to us. We were created to think in our way, and we trust our way of thinking to help us rightly decipher any circumstances we encounter. The real difficulty arises when we, believing ourselves to be right, discount our spouse’s thoughts as wrong simply because they differ from ours. Differing thoughts do not dictate that one must be wrong and the other right. Each can be and often are right…just different. His thoughts are usually right compartmentally speaking, while hers are also right from a relational point of view. So other than recognizing the value of both ways of thinking (though that alone is usually a huge improvement over the alternative) how should we respond to this difference? Short answer…celebrate it! Celebrating this difference is impossible without an understanding of why we are celebrating. Knowing there is a difference is not enough. Knowing that neither of you has to be wrong, and that in fact, you are likely both right, is not enough. Those are good steps to take in terms of resolving your differences, but we need more for a celebration to break out. Next week we will look at why God created us with these differences in thought processes. I hope to show you that it is not some celestial joke that is being played on us for God’s amusement, though I think He probably is often amused by us and how we interact with one another as husbands and wives. When we have a greater understanding of the overall plan, it is easier to get excited as we see that it is through the difference that the plan comes together.
Psalm 139:13,14 say; For you formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made, marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well. One of the reasons we trust that we are right to think as we do is because scriptures like this give us assurances that the way were created was not by chance, but with wonderful intentionality. As you read passages such as the one above, consider this; this same scripture that makes you secure that you have been made exactly as God wanted you to be made, gives your incredibly differing spouse the same confidence about themselves…and you are both correct to think so.
Questions to Answer:
1. Do you recognize the relational thinking? (Wife)
2. What are some examples you can each come up with of her relational thinking?
3. Wives – What things do you think are personal strengths and weaknesses of your own relational thinking.
4. Husbands – What things do you see that your wife does that are personal strengths and weaknesses of her specific relational thinking?
Actions to Take:
1. Thank God that He saw fit to give the wife relational thinking. Ask Him to help each of you see it as a gift and not as something requiring change
So now, accepting the fact that you were both created individually, to think differently…Go be awesome!