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.

Print Post

Filed under: For Married Men For Married Women

Join the Discussion

Please observe the following guidelines:

  • Try to be as positive as possible when you make a comment.
  • If there is name-calling, or profane language, it will be deleted.
  • The same goes with hurtful comments targeted at belittling others; we won't post them.
  • Recommendations for people to divorce will be edited out–that's a decision between them and God, not us.
  • If you have a criticism, please make it constructive.
  • Be mindful that this is an international ministry where cultural differences need to be considered.
  • Please honor the fact this is a Christ-centered web site.

We review all comments before posting them to reduce spam and offensive content.


66 responses to “Understanding the Differences Between Men and Women

  1. (KENYA) Thank you so much for sharing such rich content on marriage. I am a newlywed and am looking forward to a successful union and married life.

  2. I truly enjoyed reading this article, and glad to know about Dr. Smalley and Mr. Scott’s book. I think I will purchase a few while I am searching for a life-time partner. I am a senior citizen, 68 years old. Only recently, and it has often happened, I had to explain I wasn’t ready to hold hands or kiss on the first/second date even when, YES, I found the gentleman attractive and a great possibility. However, I always seem to get this type of comment: ” I’m still a very virile man, ” which I’m delighted to hear, but the relationship never moves on.

    If I have this book to hand out, just possibly I could be more successful because, you see, regarding the above gentleman, we both have a great passion for reading! And he was, indeed, to my liking!

    Also, I feel this type of education is so necessary and should be mandatory in secondary schools. There is no doubt in my mind our country would surely experience so many more successful happy families today. It would be a win-win nationwide!

  3. The mental and emotional differences that both you and many other “Mars and Venus” type teachings claim are flawed. The truth is, personality type and ensuing cognitive function, determines communication style, emotional sensitivity and the like, not gender. Your teachings are merely playing the odds. There are recognised to be 16 different cognitive stacks or personality types if you prefer.

    The majority of women (in excess of 68%) are one of only four of those types and fit your communication style descriptors perfectly, the following three types, making up nearly 92% in total, are also feeling/emotional driven types who also view matters less logically and in terms of relationships. On the counter, Men tend to be the reverse. But what of the remaining types? Your teachings are giving the sheep of God cause for condemnation, if they don’t fit the mould.

    I’m a female INTP, the most logically precise personality type and the rarest for women. Make no mistake, I’m stronger and more rational than most men. Does this then dispute the word of God, which clearly states the woman as the weaker vessel? Of course, THAT WILL NEVER BE, AMEN, AMEN. What it does however, is, (through much persecution, judgement and wrong and very damaging ministry, before seeking the Lord for years and coming out of that hurt), mean this. The right man for me will be both stronger and more objective than myself.

    I also think it’s high time, that women stop blaming their sensitivities and emotional reactivity upon their husbands; there is neither male nor female in Him. You react according to your flesh. Stop searching to be stroked and toughen up a bit. The truth will set you free, not fluffing your feelings. Find your identity in Christ first. When your husband gives you a solution, instead of battering his eyelids and cosseting you, suck it up and thank God for him. The Bible is full of scriptures, which make it very clear, venting your feelings and living by them is extremely unwise. Taking offense is also a sin. The Lord loves us, yes indeed, without condition but part of that loves is correction.

  4. Mmmm… this is an interesting article, and, in my experience (35 years married to the same woman) somewhat hard on the men to be honest. But for the most part…. pretty close to the “broad truth.”

    However, even though I am a man, vocation and career means little to me (I’ve worked in the same corportion for the last 27 years as a technical consultant). Relationships mean FAR more to me… I go to work because I have good friends there. I like to work with them and spend time with them. I’m not a “ladder climber” because I have seen too often the high price a title carries, and how quickly “the boss” is forgotten when he (or she) retires.

    I also think that men have a hard time because they have not been taught how to treat women. The women finally had enough of the “tied to the stove with a kid strapped to each leg” image and took up arms and became doctors and lawyers themselves instead of only marrying them. I would say, “More power to you!” I think women are a wonderful addition to the workplace… it would be very boring to work only with men.

    Proverbs 31 is a wonderful description of a competent and godly woman… if you give me 50 Euros, I can only put enough items in a shopping cart to fill it half full. Then the money runs out. My wife can easily fill it up to the rim! Needless to say, food shopping is her department. Filling out tax forms, and maintaing the car is my job. She doesn’t feel undervalued and I don’t think I’m better than she is. We are equal, but have different functions. Ephesians 5 is pretty clear about that.

    It’s wonderful when my wife tells me, “I will be here when you get home,” and she likes it when I suggest to her, “Wanna to go out for a coffee?” We both like a romantic setting, watching a movie together, going out for coffees and taking long walks in the woods.

    The differences between men and women will never really be completely understood… I like to think of a marriage as an egg. When the egg is broken in 2 halves, you get “peaks and valleys” in the break line. When you put the 2 halves together, the peaks in one half match the valleys in the other half. The two halves are different, but equal. Properly put together, they securely hold the contents (their relationship and their children) in a protected environment.

    Yes… this article is pretty good. Thanks a lot!! WP (Work in Progress)

    1. Thanks for the insights. I agree with you, regarding what you wrote, especially when it comes to articles being true “for the most part.” It’s a “one size doesn’t fit all situation. Some will fit; some won’t. You have to glean through what is written. As a matter of fact, as you’re reading different things on the web site, please read this first: http://host.agencysrvr.com/~marriage/gleaning-marriage-advice-marriage-message-252/. It talks about the gleaning principle. We’re not all clones of one another. God created us unique in many ways. There are SOME threads of similarity in a lot of things, but sometimes you just have to flip it around to fit your own circumstances (except when it’s something God said).

      Thanks again for your insights… happy reading. I pray the Lord continues to work on you so that even if you fall, you fall forward –truly a “work in progress” :)

      1. Hi Cindy from the US, Thanks very much for your article “gleaning mariage advice!” A real “steak dinner!” I will need to read it through in sections…hard to take it all in at once…It’s VERY good…interesting. Your points on gelaning from God and His Word, versus from people and counselors is well put, thank you!

        I have only discovered this ministry website a short time ago, I must say it is unique in the sense that you allow people a free hand to express themselves, yet monitor comments to filter out inappropriate material- I hope that isn’t too much work!!

        Marriage remains a mystery even though we humans strive to do everything ourselves. God didn’t create us to be able to do that. No matter how hard we try to be independent, He has orchestrated “life” to be such that we are “compelled” (I won’t use the word “forced”) to come to Him for answers at the end of the day….

        Oh yes, God is still working on me…I will be spending time on your “Gleaning” article, as well as others on this site. You have a nice day. WP

  5. (NIGERIA) Mine is that I have a question. And the question is, how does your understanding of male and femaleness influence the marriage?

    1. Nosakhare, We are all different in many ways… sometimes it’s driven by our being male and female characteristics, sometimes it’s driven by our temperaments, and sometimes it’s driven by the many varying experiences we have lived through and hopefully learned through. The thing is that in marriage, we are to look at those differences in ways in which we work to build bridges to help each other and help others because we are so united in purpose. If you read through Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12, you will see where it talks about the different parts of the body all working together –individually we can unite and find ways to pool our talents so we get more accomplished.

      Sometimes God talks to me, giving me wisdom about certain things, and when I share it with my husband, we both recognize it and go that way. Other times God talks to him and we recognize it and go that way. I’m good at organizing and doing the fussy little things that make our lives run smoother and more pleasant… my husband is good at getting some of the technical and physically taxing things done. When we combine our talents, we make a great team –accomplishing much, just like an arm and a leg –combined and used together in a task they can do more than just using one or the other. I bring more of the heart into our home… my husband brings more of the sensibility. We can both look at the same issue and bring out different parts of it that need to be accomplished. When we prayerfully combine our talents… It’s amazing what God can do through us. We respect each other’s talents and respect what God can do within each of us to live life in fuller ways beyond what we could if we didn’t have each other. It’s called a marriage –marrying our talents together. — I hope this helps in some way.

      1. It is a very nice contribution you have made. Now assist me on age difference. what should be the difference between a man and a woman? I am asking after I have combined science and the actual things I see happening here in Zambia. May you help me spiritually. God bless.

        1. He Phigen, I read your other comment and I have a tendency to agree with you that 7 years is usually the most difference there should be in ages. But I have to say that I HAVE seen some marriages, where there are greater differences than that, and they have been able to build good marriages. So, I can’t really tell people that this is a steadfast “rule” in any way. It is a good general one. But in some cases, God works within the situation differently. However, this couple must be VERY deeply involved in relationship with the Lord first, and then with each other.

          Marriage is difficult enough without adding more differences, plus the need to grow up more, on top of it all. Yet some people do things the hard way. That is a part of who they are. Falling down repeatedly goes with the territory of who they are, rather than learning from those who fall down, so they don’t have to fall down so much (and so hard). Marriage is such a serious commitment that it would seem more sensible to steer clear from obvious pitfalls. Age differences can be one of those great pitfalls. And then when you bring children into the marriage, it makes it all the more difficult, for everyone involved.

          So, basically, I agree with you Phigen. In biblical days, there weren’t as many choices available as there are now, so why limit yourself to go into a situation where there are known problems that will be piled on top of the unknown ones? Sadly, many people do. I pray that those who do, will go into these marriages with their eyes fully focused on God to help and empower them. In some ways, they will need even more help because of their choice.

  6. Thanks for explaining and sharing this excellent philosophy of life. I am a 34 year old man & have complete regards & love for every woman. However, I have experienced & realized that as a man, I believe & practice 100% dedication in all aspects related to my wife & have a couple of basic expectations (Which I believe are extremely do-able in lieu of being 100% dedicated) in return. I would not like to bring out those basic expectations here. I fail to understand what could be the primary reason for not meeting those expectations? There are a list of unending reasons for not being able to achieve it from her end and all those reasons may be correct but I wonder why they are not met as I certainly don’t figure out in her priorities. My conclusion is only 1 – women suit each and every possible role except “wife.” Thanks.

    1. I would think that the biggest problem arises when the spouse focuses on results from their expectations from their partner. I’ve been married for 10yrs and we had the same challenge. It was difficult for me as a wife and some things did not occur to me, NOT because I did not love my hubby, but I thought I was being the best that I could be. When you continuously do your part, it is very easy for the other party to catch up. You also have to remember that women and men are wired differently. The most important thing to do is to love unconditionally and you will be unconditionally loved right back.

  7. Well the women of today are really Nothing at all like the real Good old fashioned women were.

  8. The age is very important to consider before marriage in sense that women grow very fast compared to men. Even though it is like that, it does not mean even the functions of the body functions compared to the size of the body. e.g if a 30 years old man marry the 18 years old woman. The woman may have complications during pregnancy or at birth because the reproductive system is not yet matured reproduction. This has even caused unnecessary loss of lives. The other important part to consider is the spiritual growth. This, I believe, goes with the age. So the difference between a man and a woman, at maximum, should be 7 years.

  9. The title should change to “The men women like”…. are selfish, dominant, uncaring neanderthals, not sensitive, love sports. There are millions of other men who were raised by women, who are not like this, it’s just the ones with enough social intelligence that change into that type of guy; otherwise they will never get a woman. Sadly I believed women when they said they wanted a nice, sensitive, loyal, loving, smart kind man! And even more sadly I didnt realize this was all lies until it was too late! Thanks Women!

  10. Very helpful. I salute the author for the effort. I suggest that more differences be added to the list. Thank you.
    Shalom, shalom.

  11. Skeletal structure and skull structure has to do with race/ ethnicity not gender. Also organs vary from person to person. As far as emotional/mental, you are way off base with that as well. It’s easier to control people when divided into subgroups.

    1. These are generalizations. It’s not about controlling people, but pointing out some of the tendencies that many men and women display. It’s not a “one size fits all” article. There are always exceptions.

  12. People are individuals:

    I’m a man, I have to know all aspects of a person; before courting my wife to be I was interested in her character first.

    On the other, my sister is attracted by sight, this made home life for her now ex-husband intolerable, she was looking at attractive men on dating sites.

  13. James Dobson was commenting on his suspicions that were not based in anything other than his opinions. He was a behavioral psychologist who stopped practicing early in his career. He did not study neurology or neuropsychology. And the other person you quoted, Dr. Paul Popenoe, was an atheist and a eugenicist. Are these the kinds of “experts” you rely on? Please look at the latest brain science. The more research is done on the human brain, the more evident it becomes that there is not a male brain or a female brain. There is greater variation within each gender than between the genders.