Understanding the Differences Between Men and Women

Young couple quarrelingI would venture to say that most marital difficulties center around one fact. Men and women are TOTALLY different. The differences (emotional, mental, and physical) are extreme. Without a concentrated effort to understand them, it is nearly impossible to have a happy marriage. A famous psychiatrist once said, “After thirty years of studying women, I ask myself, ‘What is it that they really want?'” If this was his conclusion, just imagine how little we know about our wives.

You may already be aware of some of the differences. Many, however, will come as a complete surprise. Did you know, for instance, that every cell in a man’s body has a chromosome makeup entirely different from those in a woman’s body?

How about this next one? Dr. James Dobson says there is strong evidence indicating the “seat” of the emotions in a man’s brain is wired differently than in a woman’s. By virtue of these two differences, men and women are miles apart emotionally and physically. Let’s examine some of the differences between men and women.


Women tend to be more personal than men.

Women have a deeper interest in people and feelings —in building relationships. Men tend to be more preoccupied with practicalities that can be understood through logical deduction. Men tend to be more challenge-and-conquer oriented —competing for dominance. Hence, you see their strong interest in sports such as football and boxing.

Why would a woman be less interested in a boxing match? It’s because close, loving relationships are usually not developed in the ring! Also, watch what happens during many family vacations. He is challenged by the goal of driving 400 miles a day. On the other hand, she wants to stop now and then to drink coffee, relax and relate. He thinks that’s a waste of time because it would interfere with his goal.

Men tend to be less desirous and knowledgeable in building intimate relationships, both with God and with others.

For example, women are usually the ones who buy marriage books. They are usually the ones who develop the initial interest in knowing God and attending church. When a man realizes his wife is more naturally motivated to nurture relationships, he can relaxes. He feels he can accept these tendencies.

Do you realize that your wife’s natural ability for developing relationships can help you fulfill the two greatest commandments taught by Christ? I’m talking about loving God and loving others (Matt 22:36-40). Jesus said that if we obey these two commandments, we are fulfilling all the commandments. Think of it! Your wife has the God-given drive and ability to help you build meaningful relationships in both of these areas.

God knew you needed special help. He stated, “It is not good for the man to alone. I will make him a helper [and completer] suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18). If you let her, your wife can open up a new world of communication and deeper relationships.

Dr. Cecil Osborne, in his book The Art of Understanding Your Mate, said women become an intimate part of the people they know and the things that surround them. They enter into a kind of “oneness” with their environment. Though a man relates to people and situations, his identity is not usually entwined with them. He somehow remains apart. That’s why a woman, viewing her house as an extension of herself, can be hurt when it’s criticized by others.

Women tend to find their identity in close relationships. Men tend to gain their identity through vocations.

Because of a woman’s emotional identity with people and places around her, she needs more time to adjust to change. She sees that changes may affect her relationships. A man can logically deduce the benefits of a change. He gets “psyched-up” for it in a matter of minutes. This is not so, with a woman. She focuses on immediate consequences, and needs time to overcome the initial adjustment before warming up to its advantages.

Men tend to express their hostility through physical violence. Women tend to be more verbally expressive.


Dr. Paul Popenoe, is the founder of the American Institute of Family Relations in Los Angeles. He dedicated many years to the research of biological differences between the sexes.

Some of his findings are listed below:

  • The woman has a greater constitutional vitality. This may be perhaps, because of her unique chromosome makeup. Normally, female outlives male by three or four years in the U.S.
  • A woman’s metabolism is normally lower than man’s.
  • Men and women differ in skeletal structure. Women having a shorter head, broader face, less protruding chin, shorter legs, and longer trunk.
  • A woman has larger kidneys, liver, stomach, and appendix than man, but smaller lungs.
  • Women have several unique and important functions. They include menstruation, pregnancy, lactation. A woman’s hormones are of a different type and more numerous than man’s.
  • The woman’s thyroid is larger and more active. It enlarges during pregnancy and menstruation. This makes a woman more prone to goiter. It is also associated with her smooth-skinned, relatively hairless body and thick layer of subcutaneous fat.


  • A woman’s blood contains more water and 20 percent fewer red cells. Since the red cells supply oxygen to the body cells, a woman tires more easily. She is more prone to faint. Her constitutional vitality is, therefore, limited to “life span.” (When the working day in British factories was increased from ten to twelve hours under wartime conditions, accidents increased 150 percent among women. It didn’t increase at all among men.)
  • On the average, a man possesses 50 percent more brute strength than woman. (40 percent of a man’s body weight is muscle, while 23 percent of a woman’s is muscle.)
  • The woman’s heart beats more rapidly. (The average is 80 beats per minute vs. 72 for a man.) A woman’s blood pressure (10 points lower than man’s) varies from minute to minute. But she has less tendency toward high blood pressure. That is true, at least until after menopause.
  • Also, a woman’s vital capacity or breathing power is significantly lower than man’s.
  • A woman withstands high temperatures better than man. That’s because her metabolism slows down less.


  • A woman’s sexual drive tends to be related to her menstrual cycle. A man’s drive is fairly constant. The hormone testosterone is a major factor in stimulating a man’s sexual desire.
  • A woman is stimulated more by touch and romantic words. She is far more attracted by a man’s personality. A man is stimulated by sight. He is usually less discriminating about those to whom he is physically attracted.
  • A man needs little or no preparations for sex. Yet a woman often needs hours of emotional and mental preparation. Harsh or abusive treatment can easily remove her desire for sexual intimacy for days at a time.
  • When a woman’s emotions have been trampled by her husband, she is often repulsed by his advances. Many women feel like prostitutes when they’re forced to make love while feeling resentment toward their husbands. However, a man may have NO idea what he is putting his wife through when he forces sex upon her.

These basic differences usually surface soon after the wedding. They are the source of many conflicts in marriage. From the start, the woman has a greater intuitive awareness of how to develop a loving relationship. Because of her sensitivity, she is initially more considerate of his feelings. She is also enthusiastic about developing a meaningful, multi-level relationship. That is, she knows how to build something more than a sexual marathon. She wants to be a lover, a best friend, and an appreciated partner.


  • The man does not generally have her instinctive awareness of what the relationship should be. He doesn’t know how to encourage and love his wife. He is unaware of how to treat her in a way that meets her deepest needs.

Since he doesn’t have an understanding of these vital areas through intuition, he must rely solely upon the knowledge and skills he has acquired prior to marriage. His only education may be the example he observed in his home. For many of us, that example might have been insufficient. We enter marriage knowing everything about sex. And yet we know very little about genuine, unselfish love.

Different Approaches

I am not saying men are more selfish than women. I’m simply saying that at the outset of a marriage a man is not as equipped to express unselfish love. He isn’t as aware of how to nurture a marriage into a loving and lasting relationship as a woman is.

…Now that you know WHY men and women cannot understand their respective differences without great effort, I hope you will have more hope. I also hope you will have more patience as you endeavor to strengthen and deepen your relationship with your wife [or husband].

This article comes from the book, If Only He Knew: What No Woman Can Resist. It is written by Dr Gary Smalley and Steve Scott, and is published by Zondervan Publishing. This is a “how-to” book for men that clarifies distinctions between the sexes. It gives a fresh outlook on building a stronger marital relationship. In this book, Gary Smalley explains a woman’s deepest needs. He shows a man how to meet those needs. Plus, he gives ten steps to strengthen any marriage. He helps men understand not only how to respond to a woman’s feelings. In addition he tells how to make her feel important.

— ALSO —

Authors, Shaunti Feldhahn and Robert Lewis explain more concerning the differences between men and women in the Crosswalk.com web linked article below:


If you have additional tips you can share to help others, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.

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65 responses to “Understanding the Differences Between Men and Women

  1. (USA)  Just wanted to add this that I found today at MarriageBuilders.com http://www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi8111_quit2.html

    “As I mentioned last week, I’ve come to the conclusion that 80% of all divorces are caused by neglect –important emotional needs are not being met. You’d think that abuse would be the major contributor, but it’s not. In fact, physical abuse accounts for only about 2 1/2 percent of divorces. So while the wife who wrote last week about neglect appears to be in a reasonably safe and normal marriage, she’s far more likely to call it quits than the writer of today’s letter who is the victim of physical abuse.”

    Ponder that, those who believe they’ve been neglected are far more likely to file for divorce than those physically abused.

    Now I believe folks should have their emotional needs met. However, before someone simply files for divorce, they should provide their spouse with a clear guideline of what those needs are, and concrete examples of how to meet them to their satisfaction. I.E. if the wife wants romance, then she has to define what romance means to her. Too often I think they say, “I wish my husband were more romantic.” They might even say to their husbands, “I wish you were more romantic.” So he doubles his efforts and is “romantic” but yet she’s still not satisfied.

    Who failed here? If she leaves, she’s saying HE FAILED. Frankly, they both failed. If someone is not getting their needs met, their responsiblity is to present those needs in a clear and understandable fashion. I.E. being willing to teach and mentor your spouse in meeting those needs. Your role is not to merely sit in judgment and say you will not come any closer to your husband until he meets your needs to your standard.

    Further, if you leave, especially if you’ve not presented a clear path to meeting your needs, are you not guilty of neglecting your husband?

    So while I agree with Dr Harley, I have to wonder how many “neglected” wives, you know, the 80% of those who file for divorce vs the 2.5% of wives who are abused. (Doing the math means that the other 17.5% are probably either victims of infidelity or having affairs themselves.) Since the majority of divorces file by women, that 80% figure Dr Harley cites are for feeling neglected, I wonder how one can still say women value relationships more than men when they are willing to leave rather than do the work needed to have a solid relationship 3 to 4x’s more often than men?

  2. (USA)  I don’t really agree with this at all. This article is centred around the stereotype that women are automatically emotionally-driven creatures and incapable of logic, and men are incapable of feeling deep emotions and that all they care about is finishing the task at hand.

  3. (U.S.A)  I have been selfish and I have tried to understand emotions of my wife but I do continue to keep on messing up by talking to old “flames,” who I really think of as a friend. I see nothing wrong but I understand how it hurts her emotionally. I don’t want to hurt her, and women do have the tendency to be known for insecurity and men do tend to overlook that factor in a woman.

    I want to become a great husband and most men don’t have the courage to admit they are wrong and they say they understand, but in reality if it’s not what they want to hear or feel they will put up a defense in the relationship causing arguments. And in reality, men get bored and need something new in the relationship to keep things interesting whether the wife wants to go fishing, bowling, or watch football games or just doing a men’s mentality period.

    Wives will do things for the husband and the majority of the time men will take a woman’s kindess and selfless heart for granted and therefore take advantage without even knowing. That’s a little output on my thoughts. I’m 22 years old and married for only 5 months now today. It’s a hard process but I do want to strive to make this marriage work. Thanks for reading this and God bless and thank you for this website. I has helped me understand more of the hard facts between women and men.

  4. (UNITED STATES)  I agree with all the physical differences, but I think all the emotional and sexual differences are complete bull. Women get ACTUALLY aroused the same way men do, they only make the man go through all of that because she is scared of what she will be labeled. I bet big time all a woman needs to be in the mood is seeing her man’s abs, amazing arms, or whatever physical features he has for her to see.

    Also, any woman who agrees with those statements that women have these abilities to create better relationships through this emotional nonsense is completely thinking through her mommy ego. Emotionally men and women are the same, it’s what we see and how we are treated that determines how we think, gender has NOTHING to do with it.

  5. (UNITED STATES)  I have been married for 15 years and I love my husband. Sometimes he drinks too much and say nasty things to me and the next day say he doesn’t remember saying these things. He says that I am making them up. Every time I try to talk to my husband about anything it turns into a argument so I just stop trying to make conversation with him.

    These things hurt me and they brought me a lot. I am trying to hold onto my marrage but sometimes I wish I was not in this marrage. I say to myself if I had the money I would have left him a long time ago. So I am still in this marrage trying to make the best out of it. I have learned a lot in this marrage and the most important thing I have learned is how to encourage myself when I am feeling bad.

    1. (USA)  Thanks for your story but, realizing God is in everything may be a good answer for me, but my wife won’t share her feelings with me. I hope I am not as bad as your situation.

  6. (US)  First of all, I’m saying above all, God is most important! In order for anything to work, God needs to be there… ever hear the saying, “…if all else fails?” …that’s when God will be there! I’m no rocket scientist, but I pay close attention to details. When God is your foundation in a relationship, you will learn to pray, weigh out options, and ask God what it you should do. When both the man, and the woman put God first….they both consult God as well, and determine these differences, and then both come to an understanding.

    If both man and woman have a deep love for God, they will come to an understanding amongst themselves, sometimes two great minds may think alike… in a world where there is so much temptation, man and woman both may lose focus, maybe perhaps one of the most difficult differences a couple will face. But once again putting God first, will bring your understanding together.

  7. (USA)  We just had our 21 anniversary today. We went out of town. Coming back we had tire trouble going through the desert. By the time we got home it cost us an additional 400.00. Since then she has not been happy, no matter what I do.

  8. (U.S.A.)  Thank you for article! It really describes the differences between my husband and I. We will be married for 13 years this June and having a very tough time, maybe very close to separation. I feel hopeless and I can feel he feels the same. He puts work before anything, then kids… well… let’s just say that I am the last one on his list. I don’t feel cherished, and important in his life… I feel very unsupportive by him.

    In the meantime, I have been a great helper with his career. Anyway, thank you for listening. I wish my husband would even think to look up articles about men and women differences like this one so he could be part of learning and saving our marriage. I am just tired of looking to fix and make our marriage work, at least that is what I feel.

  9. (NIGERIA) GOD is perfect in all HIS works. The differences are the spices of it all. Without the differences I don’t think there would be attraction at all. Men and Women are created peculiar to fulfill the peculiar purpose of GOD.

  10. (USA) I really like the information given. It gives me a perspective about marraige from another view and experiance outside of my church, not taking away from my church. I’m having some difficulties dealing with my wife, she is emotionless non verbal in experssion and it doesn’t feel good at all to not know how your wife feels about you. Spiritually, intimately, or as a husband. I don’t like usung the word “I”, but I don’t feel respected at all for what I’ve done, sacrificed and accommodated to her needs and concerns. I will admit that I’ve made some mistakes but this is my first time being married and I’m learning as I’m going in this covenant. There are some key points that are realy heavy on my heart.

    1. My wife has not changed her maiden last name to mine and it hurts me that every time someone addresses her as Ms my last name she responds but has not officialy changed it since we’ve been married, and it will be going on almost two years. Her reasoning for this is that she feels that by changing her last name to mine from a financial perspective, her tax returns will change for the sole purpose of taking care of her children, which are not biologicaly mine.

    I have some tax problems that I’ve taken care of and I tried to explain to her that my previous tax problems won’t affect your filing status, what will change is that you are married NOW, and based on filing protocol our bracket will be different compared to you being single. I’m hurt because she has delayed this process far too long and it’s beginning to wear on me that she only cares for herself and her children and I’m not her FIRST priority then her children next with me supporting and helping.

    The age of her children are 16 in a private high school, 19 soon to be 20 in a private college, and a 21 year old college graduate who is married with one grandchild.

    I can keep going on but I will stop here, because I need some outside holy Christian advise my concerns. A servant of God. Thank you.

    1. Hi Arthur, I don’t know if you and your wife are still together. But can I recommend that you find and read books about the male and female brains, including bridge brains (or bridge brain connections) with the brains of some males and females. It may not fix your marriage. I believe that it takes two aware, willing, and humble individuals to do that. But it may impart knowledge, understanding, and hopefully wisdom.

  11. (BELGIUM) Hi, I haven’t read all the comments above, but I’m very pleased with how the author encourages men to better understand women. Is there also something along these lines that helps us women better understand men and make the appropriate efforts towards them? Something along these lines would be very beneficial for our premarriage course, and obviously own marriage (never teach what you don’t want to learn ;-)). Thanks for reading!

    1. Hi Hadassa, The answer to your question is yes. If you look at the sidebar of this page you will see the topic, “For Married Women.” You will find a number of articles there that you may find enlightening. I pray they help.

  12. (U.S.) If we now know that men are not equipped the way a woman is for a nurturing marriage, shouldn’t we then make efforts to educate BEFORE marriage, instead of saying “Oh well, men just aren’t equipped, try to deal with it as best you can.”

    Shouldn’t churches and parents, and whoever else in this kind of field, be highlighting and educating men? Because the only time I ever hear about any kind of “work on your marriage” class, or study, or book, or therapy, it’s usually geared towards women – isn’t THAT the problem? – that we are simply setting the bar too low for men? When will it simply be expected that a man have some sort of clue about how to love unselfishly, how be pull his weight in a loving marriage? Maybe by teaching little boys how to change a diaper and that it’s manly to care for your own children? Or that showing love and affection is not a sign of weakness? I mean, I do believe that men and women are created differently, with different strengths and weaknesses, but can we at least agree that society and parenting with old traditional roles and ideals play a part in keeping men like children and growing up girls too fast – thereby widening the gap more than it needs to be?

    1. (USA) Mary, I think what you are suggesting will simply make marriage worse for both men and women. We’ve had almost 50 years of trying to make men out to be better women, but the reality is that men don’t make good women and women don’t make good men.

      The problem is when either gender views the other as deficient. It’s not that men are deficient, or that women are deficient. The problem is we fail to see the relative strengths each partner brings to the marriage.

      I think things are getting worse as we get away from the traditional roles for the very reasons suggested. The argument that men are childlike is insulting. Men are no more like children than women are. After all, if men are out carrying on with women, what does that say about the women who go along with it? It says they are just as immature as you would claim the men are.

      I think men do love unselfishly. It’s not men ending most marriages. When you look at the divorce stats, who is choosing to end the marriage, men or women? In 66-75% of cases it’s women. As I’ve said earlier in this topic, women seldom divorce men who are abusive or adulterous. It’s women who “feel” neglected.

      I’m not saying they don’t feel what they feel. What I’m saying is that it’s likely the men feel the same. But they are not choosing to leave in the same numbers as their wives.

      My point is, as long as women expect men to be better women and men expect women to be better men, we all miss out on having a complimentary partner. God created women to compliment, not compete with or change men.

      If you want to fix marriage, then start by getting rid of the false notion that men are not equipped as well as women for marriage. Begin to recognize and credit men for what they do bring to the table and stop expecting men to bring what women bring to the table. If both men and women brought the same talents, skills and strengths to the table, one of them would be redundant.