I believe that if we as women could better understand how God designed our men to operate, think, feel and look at life – we could be so much more accepting, understanding, empathetic and appreciative of their strengths and even their weaknesses. I believe that if we realize that a man’s brain works very differently from our own, we will be able to allow him the time and space he needs without resenting him, or thinking he is unloving, or assigning evil motives to our husbands – just because they don’t think, talk and act like we do. This is just a small sample size of men. I hope to feature some other men with different ways of thinking, different personalities and different vocations in future posts on this topic.
MY HUSBAND’S THOUGHT PROCESSES
I asked Greg (an engineer) if he solves problems at work and home with words in his mind. The thought had never occurred to me that anyone could solve anything in their head without a constant stream of words. He amazed me when he said that he doesn’t really use words for solving many problems.
For house projects (carpentry and plumbing, etc) he said he thinks in numbers and pictures, but not words. And for family and marriage issues and big decisions, he said he thinks more in the form of input and output, logic systems, or a scale. That really blew my mind! No wonder he can’t always explain to me how he arrived at a conclusion – he isn’t using words to get there, but he is using a very logical method. It is just not remotely MY method!
When he judges whether his logic system is working well, he uses my response and happiness as the measure of success – or the “output” of his system. Wow!
And he said that when his system didn’t produce good results (my happiness) repeatedly – he just shut down the whole thing because the system wasn’t working. That is the “shut down” I saw for weeks or months in the past.
MY DADDY’S EXPLANATION OF HIS THOUGHT PROCESSES
I asked my Daddy about this, too. He’s also an engineer. He said that when he is working on projects on the house or on machines, he thinks in pictures. He said when he is working on certain problems “Words are a waste of time and energy. Pictures are much faster.”
OTHER MEN’S EXPLANATIONS OF HOW THEY THINK
I certainly think through things a lot but when you are in a position of leadership or authority (like a President) you have to be careful what you say because it could have dire consequences. Imagine if a pastor or priest thought out loud about everything that came into his head. Some of his thoughts may not be healthy for consumption but his position would give credibility to them. This may be a result of hard wiring or it may me a result of how boys are raised into men.
I will say this though. In my head I am isolating variables and thinking about them in words. I am just not speaking those words aloud or writing them down.
It does depend on the problem as to what I am thinking. I can imagine an engineer thinking in pictures because if you are building something you have to visualize it. I am a chemist so when I am thinking about molecular structures I am definitely not thinking in words. When I am thinking about theology or philosophy I am thinking in words. I think it is hard to generalize.
I would agree with Greg as well about not really thinking and processing with words. I tend to process alot just as he indicated by thinking about all the different options and if I do this these are the results, if I do this other thing the results change like this.
When it all comes down to it I look at all the options and figure out which is the best result. Sometimes it’s a matter of picking the least bad result because nothing is great, but many times it’s picking from a few good results and you have to consider how many people it will affect as you can’t know how they will see the results either. So I would definately say a majority of the time I focus and process with the right side of my brain. (From PW – the right side of the brain in men and women is where logic and reasoning happens. For men, this area is not nearly as connected to the verbal center in the left side of the brain as it is for women. This is a really important difference – that God created very purposefully – I believe – so that men can deeply concentrate and focus on spacial issues and think more efficiently about certain types of problems without the distraction of words and emotions.)
I will say that I have a pretty active imagination as well and sometimes while I still think about which choices will affect the outcome and look at all the options there are quite a few times where I will do that with pictures. Sort of a silent film in my head if you will.
I can see the scene unfold before me and based on choices made see how people react or how it unrolls from there. Granted it’s still all just my opinion on how it will happen and I can’t know for sure how someone else will react, but the movies I’ve created in my head to solve problems tend to be correct more than incorrect. So while I believe that I am still processing based on logic, past reactions I’ve seen, etc there is definately a part of my left brain that is in there moving things along as well. Even with that said there are still almost no words taking place. The only time words come up in the movies is when I have to say something to make a choice and see what the reactions are.
I would also agree with the “can’t explain it with words” comment. There have been many times in my life where if given the time to make a decision I process it and come to a decision and when I put forth what that decision is I am questioned to explain it. When I was younger I actually tried to explain it at times and it never came out well. When I start getting pressured about a topic and can’t explain it well enough I tend to fall back on using more basic words and things like always, never, all the time come out. I’ve learned that to someone who thinks and processes with words those particular words are caustic. As soon as those start coming out there’s not much chance of salvaging the discussion because those words mean something different to me than they do to women. Or more acurately they have more meaning to women than most men.”
I have more posts on this topic – other men in different professions say they think mostly in words.
There are a variety of ways that men think – and sometimes it is REALLY different from the way that we as women think.
There are some guys who need extra time to process their thoughts and feelings before they are ready to talk about them.
So, if your man needs time to think and be alone for awhile during a big decision – that doesn’t mean he doesn’t care. It probably means he cares very much and he needs some time to think before he says anything. If you can give him that time, understanding that he thinks and works through problems in a different way from you – your relationship will be MUCH better!
Women also need to understand that if a man feels verbally attacked for sharing his feelings – he will quickly decide just not to share his feelings anymore. That is a pretty foreign concept for many women.
Women tend to assume that if a man doesn’t say anything about his feelings, he doesn’t have any feelings. That is NOT true! A man can be very deeply wounded and NEVER SAY A WORD about it.
We will be looking at men and emotions soon.
You are welcome to comment about how you think!