Navigate / search

Think Like A Man: Studio 5

Think Like A Man on KSL TV’s Studio 5

It’s no secret men and women think differently. Men ask for what they want, while women fret over feelings. Sometimes it pays to think like a man. We have 5 reasons to give it a try.  Therapist, Julie Hanks, says sometimes, women should think like a man.

______________________________________________________________________________

Are gender differences in thoughts and behavior primarily biological or environment? No matter what the origin or our differences, nature or nurture or both life experience has shown all of us that men and women think differently.

According to Professor Simon Baron-Cohen at Cambridge University, more men fall under the category of systemizers, skilled at figuring out how things work (think car repair, computer technology, math, science) and tend to out-perform women in visual spatial tasks. More women are what Baron-Cohen calls empathizers who are interested in how people work, responding more accurately to subtle emotional cue and responding appropriately. Overall, research demonstrates that women are better able to accurately assess other’s emotions and respond to social cues. Women tend to outperform men in verbal tasks.

Interestingly, according to Professor Simon Baron-Cohen at Cambridge University, your gender doesn’t necessarily determine your brain type. Baron-Cohen found that about 17% of men have a female “empathizing brain”, 17% of women have a male “systemizing brain”, and some participants had a “balanced brain” with equal strength in systemizing and empathizing (source). Curious about whether you have a “male” or “female” brain?

Take a brain test here.

Regardless of whether the gender differences are based on socialization or biological differences, we can learn from men’s strengths and practice “thinking like a man” in situations where it will better serve us. Here are five ways that women can benefit from thinking like a man:

1) Be Decisive

For men, a problem shared is a problem to be solved. Men look for solutions, and confidently make decisions. Women are more likely to get hijacked by emotion first, delaying decision-making. When they do make a decision, women are more likely to spend time wondering if it was the right choice.

To think like a man give yourself a time limit on making a decision, and once you’ve made your decision, don’t second guess yourself. You will gain the confidence in your ability to make good decisions and reserve some of your time and energy to focus on other things.

I had a friend who looked for dining table for 5 years because she wasn’t sure she would make a good decision, didn’t want to choose the “wrong” table, and didn’t want to waste money. If she had given herself 30 days to look at tables and then was going to make a decision, she would have been just as happy with her choice and enjoyed gathering her family around a beautiful table for the past 5 years.

2) Move On Quickly After Making Mistakes

After making mistakes, men are better at leaving their mistakes in the past. Patricia Bryans at North Umbria University in England studied the recalling mistakes in the workplace. Though she wasn’t researching gender differences, Bryans notices that men generally told neat stories, found the details difficult to recall, and portrayed themselves in a positive light, whereas women told complicated, detailed stores and continued to be emotionally distressed about their mistake. (source)

To think like a man try framing your mistakes as “learning experiences”, not character flaws. Try writing down the situation in the simplest story possible. Include in the story facts and feelings, and then dispose of it the story. You’ll feel better about yourself because you will have contained the situation on paper and symbolically gotten rid of it, and you’ll have the emotional freedom to focus on other aspirations.

In my therapy practice, I’ve noticed that when talking with clients about a past divorce, men will likely say things like, “She just freaked out and I couldn’t deal with her anymore” or “I just decided that I wanted to be with someone else.” In contrast, women will go through this very complicated story with dozens of theories of why it failed, how they feel about it. Several years ago I worked with a female client who was distraught about her divorce that happened years earlier, and couldn’t seem to move past the despair and confusion. One of the ways I helped her was to simplify her story and boil it down to “the marriage didn’t work out” or “he chose to be with someone else”, take responsibility for her part in the marital demise, accept the simplified story, and stop ruminating over every detail of her past marriage.

3) Make Sex a Priority

A colleague recently shared this quote that I thought was right on when it comes to gender differences and sexual desire. “Men are willing as long as they’re able. Women are able as long as they’re willing.” Men are better able to focus on physical desires and enjoy the emotional and physical benefits of sex. Women will get to the physical intimacy if everything else is check off their “to-do” list.

To think like a man try putting sex at the top of your priority list one day each week. Plan for it, think about it, and initiate physical intimacy. Broaden how you view yourself to include “lover”, in addition to wife, or mother, or daughter, or employee. Prioritizing physical intimacy will help your husband feel more loved, adored, and attractive. In addition to the relational benefits of intimacy, there are personal health benefits to prioritizing and engaging in lovemaking — a stronger immune system, reduced stress, increased self-esteem, improved heart health, and burning additional calories.

A few years ago, I met with a couple struggling sexually. The husband was broken hearted and felt rejected by his wife sexually. He felt insecure, unattractive, and disconnected in his marriage because she seemed indifferent about their sexual intimacy. I helped his wife hear and understand his feelings of sadness and fear, and helped him understand what she needed from him in order to awaken her desire. I helped his wife prioritizing lovemaking relationship by scheduling one night weekly where she was “in charge” of initiating lovemaking. Additionally, we worked on ways to increase the number of times she thought about her husband sexually each day, and worked toward resolving some emotional blocks she had due to her early family history of sexual shame. I’m happy to say that they are now enjoying a fulfilling marriage.

4) Worry Less About Other’s Feelings

Men seem to have an easier time asking directly for what they want without guilt because they are generally less “in tune” about other’s feelings. They are unapologetically taking time off for self-care and recreation — a game of golf or watching sports, while women tend to spend time figuring out what they want, if they deserve it, and how their desires or choices will impact others.

To think like a man try asking unapologetically for what you want and need in order to feel rejuvenated and allowing others to have their emotional response without taking responsibility for their feelings. It’s OK is your kids are occasionally disappointed or your husband is irritated or inconvenienced.

Recently, a friend of mine, a high level health professional, was negotiating her employment contract at work. She shared with me how difficult it was for her to think of it as a business deal and not a relationship. In that situation, she had to practice asking strongly for what she wanted.

5) Take Things at Face Value

Men tend to believe what people say without over analyzing or digging for hidden emotional messages. They generally say what they mean and assume you’ll do the same. For example, if your husband asks you if it’s ok if he goes golfing and you say “Yes. That’s fine honey. I don’t mind.” He may hear “yes” even if you delivered the yes with sarcasm.

To think like a man try sticking to the facts of a social interaction, focusing on the actual words that were said. You may feel a sense relief as you give up trying to decipher other’s hidden messages. An added benefit is that you’ll send the message to others that you expect them to say what they really mean.

One of my personal pet peeves: women who don’t believe what I’m saying, or who try to second guess, or apologize incessantly. An example of this scenario is when a friend asks if I can babysit their children. Here’s how the conversations goes.
“Yes, I’d love to have your kids come over today,” I say.
“Are you sure? Are you sure it’s OK? It’s not too inconvenient?” she asks reluctantly.
I respond, “If I weren’t OK with your kids coming over I would have told you ‘no’. Trust me to mean what I say.”
__________________________________________________________________________________________
Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW is a therapist, self & relationship expert, media contributor, and director of Wasatch Family Therapy. Visit www.wasatchfamilytherapy.com for individual, couple, family, & group counseling services designed to strengthen you and your family. We treat mental health and relationship problems in children, adolescents, and adults.

Ask Julie: How Do I Tell My Daughter About Her Dad’s Past?

Q: I have a 6 1/2 year old daughter. My husband was married and divorced before and has 2 children. We

haven’t told her any lies about anything but we haven’t told her the “whole” story about everything.

I didn’t really think she was old enough to need to know or understand. I also want to preserve her innocence as well as foundation about her parent’s marriage. She is getting older now though, and obviously seeing more; her brothers are rarely with us so she knows they have another mom and things like that. I don’t know what or how to tell her; I am just terrified that it will shatter her reality of what her life is and should be to know her Dad was married to someone else before. I know she doesn’t need any details, but she will be asking more questions, and I really don’t know what to say. I know this was a very long question but any help or advice you could give me would be so appreciated. I wish I could come see you for counseling but I do not have the means to do that. Thank you for your emails and advice that you give out to me and others who are in the same situation.

A:  She may not be as traumatized as you think by knowing that her dad was married before, as long as you and your husband have made peace with his past.

Was there some kind of behavior on her dad’s part that led to the divorce like a affair or addiction or abuse in her dad’s past that you’re trying to shield her from? More important than saying the right things to your daughter is to examine your own feelings about the situation. I wonder if you’re projecting your own fears or insecurities about your husband’s previous marriage and children with another woman onto your daughter. Your daughter will take the emotional cues from you on how to think and feel about this situation. The more you can accept your husband’s past, the better your daughter will be able to accept it and integrate it into her life story in a healthy way.

My advice is for you and your husband to talk to your daughter about his past marriage in an honest, straightforward, and simple way. It might sound something like this, “Dad and I love each other very much and we love you. Before we got married, your Dad was married to ____ and they had your brothers. Their marriage ended. Dad and I found each other and fell in love and had you – one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It might be kind of hard to understand this grown up stuff but if you have any questions about it, you can always come to me and Dad.”

Thanks for your email and feel free to drop me a note and let me know how the conversations go! Take good care of you and yours.

Have a question for me? Send me your family relationship and emotional health questions here!

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Self & relationship expert Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW is wife of 22 years and mother of 4, a licensed therapist, a popular media contributor, and director of Wasatch Family Therapy. Listen to Julie’s podcast You and Yours , on B98.7 radio as the Bee’s Family Counselor, and read her national advice columns on Psych Central, and Latter-day Woman Magazine

Date Night Just Got Easier: SL Tribune

A new date night service for married couples called “See You at Seven” was featured in the Salt Lake Tribune’s article “Don’t let dating end with marriage”. It also features a couple of quotes from me about the importance of continuing to date your spouse and why some people married couples stop dating.  Check it out here (my quotes are on pg. 2)

Read article in Salt Lake Tribune

Ask Julie: How do I get hubby to turn off his cell phone?

Ask Julie: How do I get hubby to turn off his cell phone?

Q: “My big question is how do you tell your spouse to turn off his cell phone?

I am a stay-at-home mom so as soon as hubby gets home from work, my mouth keeps going
about my day, then the cell phone rings, but he has to take the call
because that is our income. So what do you do? He has to take the call
no matter what time of day because it could mean more money for us,
but wow, I want him to listen to me. What do I do?”

A: The goal is really less about getting him to turn off his phone, but more about helping him to hear your longing to be closer to him.

The good news is that you’re still trying to figure out how to get your husband’s full attention and to let him know how much you’ve missed him during the day.  My guess is that you’re husband has no idea how much you need him, how much you miss him, and how you look forward to reconnecting with him when he arrives home.  The goal is really less about getting him to turn off his phone, but more about understanding your heart and your longing to be closer to him.

As you approach this touchy subject with your husband make sure that your goal is not to control his behavior but to deepen your understanding of one another.  Complaining and criticizing rarely get you what you want and often backfire by creating more disconnection.  Ask yourself how you’re doing in really getting his heart about the burden and responsibility he feels in providing for your family in an uncertain economy. What is it like for him to feel so much pressure to be immediately available to his clients, employees, or whatever the case may be even when he’s not at work.

Here’s a great formula for expressing yourself in a kind, clear, and direct way.

I feel _____________________ (your emotion)

when you __________________(his specific behavior)

because I think ______________ (your thought).

It would mean a lot to me if _____________________ (your requested behavior change).

Try something like “I feel sad and scared when you take phone calls while I’m talking to you because I think that I’m not important to you. It would mean a lot to me if you would turn off the phone for 20 mins. right when you get home so I can touch base with you and have your full attention. When you’re gone at work I really miss you. I appreciate how hard you work to provide for our family.”

Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW is a licensed therapist, self & relationship expert, media contributor, and director of Wasatch Family Therapy.  Visit www.wasatchfamilytherapy.com for individual, couple, family, & group counseling services designed to strengthen you and your family. Listen to Julie’s podcast You and Yours on the Women’s Information Network (The Win), and hear Julie every Monday morning at 7AM on B98.7!

Improving Communication Handouts – Plain City

Thanks for a wonderful evening discussing way we can better share our hearts with our loved ones. I’m still working on the handouts so I’ll post that tomorrow.

Remember…

Your spouse, friend, family member is doing what they can to maintain important relationships, even when it feels like they’re pushing you away.

Keep in mind that below the surface we all need to feel safe, connected, loved, valued, appreciated, and “seen”.

Handouts

Click here for workshop handout

Music

Buy Masterpiece CD on DeseretBook.com

Julie de Azevedo

Download Masterpiece CD on iTunes.com

Counseling

Find out more about my therapy practice

Get more marriage and family relationship advice

Watch KSL TV Segments

Music Video

I’d love your feedback about the workshop. Please post comments below.

Marriage Q & A – Is date night too much to ask? & I’m never in the mood!

This marriage Q & A article published yesterday in a local women’s magazine “Wasatch Woman Magazine. I love writing for women! Can you relate to either of these scenarios?

Is date night too much to ask?

Q: My husband and I spend most weekend evenings attending our children’s sporting events and never go out on dates. He says it’s because he wants to make sure we’re there to support our kids during this short time window of time before they grow up, but I’m feeling increasingly resentful, hurt, and neglected by him. What should I do?
(read my answer on pg. 17…)

I just don’t think about sex!

Q: After 10 years of marriage my husband complains that I don’t desire him physically. He feels hurt that I don’t initiate lovemaking and that I’m rarely “in the mood”. I love my husband, find him attractive, but sex rarely crosses my mind. Should I have sex even when I’m not in the mood?  (read my answer on pg 17…)

Can you relate? What advice would you give?

All He Wants for Christmas is You – Studio 5

All He Wants For Christmas is You

but first…a sneak peak behind the scenes on Studio 5 set (& attempt to try out my new iPhone app)


Studio 5 contributor and licensed therapist Julie Hanks, LCSW shares meaningful gifts of self to give your spouse this Christmas.

The most meaningful Christmas gifts don’t require much money, but do require thought, time, and awareness. Though it’s fun to shop and wrap gifts, we ultimately all wish for the same emotional gifts from our spouse — things that can’t be purchased – gifts of self. We all long for reassurance that we are loved and cherished, for comfort when we are sad or hurt or scared, and for validation that our experience matters to the person we love the most. Even if your husband doesn’t have the words to express these wishes, he longs for the same emotional gifts too. Here are some ideas to get you started thinking less about gifts you can buy and more about gifts you can offer from your heart.

1. Gift of Emotions

Tell your emotional truth

Too often, in an effort not to hurt your spouse’s feelings, you may have stopped expressing the full range of emotions – your hurts, your fears, your anger and your joys, and dreams. “I don’t want to be a nag” or “I ‘m supposed to be nice and happy all of the time” are common phrases I hear in my therapy office as reasons women stop expressing themselves. It’s helpful to consider that intimacy means “into-me-see” or see into me. True intimacy requires a deep level of emotional honesty and the tender expression of a full range of emotions, not just the good, happy, nice ones. Your thoughts, your feelings, and your expression of them are what make you uniquely you.

Ask for what you really want

Sending clear signals about what you need emotionally from your spouse can be difficult. It requires an internal awareness and a willingness to ask deeper questions that go below the surface. Behind every complaint and criticism you have for your spouse is an emotional plea for closeness. Practice going below the complaint and expressing the emotional need directly. Instead of saying, “You always work so much! Are you going to be working until 8PM forever? I’m sick of eating dinner alone.” try saying, “I want to spend more time with you. I’m afraid that I’m not important to you. Can we plan a date night for this weekend?” Trust me. Being direct with your emotional needs is a gift to him.

More gifts of emotion:

Write a handwritten love letter describing in detail what you love your spouse and what they mean to you.

Write an apology of letter or forgiveness for past hurts.

Share your “Bucket List” with your spouse.

2. Gift of Attention

Push the pause button

When is the last time you really listened to your spouse? Do often find that you’re so busy with children, household chores, or other commitments that you rarely look your spouse in the eye and talk? If your conversations with your hubby are while you’re multitasking – unloading the dishwasher or texting or watching TV, you may want to practice “pushing the pause button”. If you’re focused on other things, you’ll miss the meaning behind what your hubby is trying to tell you. Too often couples I see in my practice are so distracted by other activities or so busy reacting from their own intense emotions that they completely bypass the emotional meaning of their spouse’s expression.

Here’s an example of how this might play out in a therapy session. In an effort to reach out to his wife John says, “I really miss you. You’ve been so preoccupied since our son was born. Let’s spend some alone time together.”

Megan responds defensively, “I’m trying to be a good mother. You know this is all new for me. I’m overwhelmed and I’m trying to be there for you – can’t you see that? Megan, flooded by her own emotions missed John’s main message of, “I miss you. I need you” and she heard some version of “You’re not good enough.”

If Megan had “paused” her emotions response and slowed down her reaction enough to hear his emotional message she might have said something like, “Oh, John, you really miss me and want to spend time together. Thank you for reassuring me of that.” Then once John is heard, Megan can share with John how she is feeling about the transition to motherhood. Putting your emotions temporarily on hold and really hearing your spouse is truly a gift.

Learn to speak his love language

Ask your hubby how he feels most loved and learn to be more proficient in his “language”. Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, identified distinct categories of how people experience love: physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, and gifts. Couples often give love in their own language instead of in their partner’s language. For example, if your husband’s primary love language is acts of service then make a special home cooked meal, or surprise him by doing all of his household chores. If his language is physical touch, actively approach him for a hug and kiss, hold his hand, sit by him, initiate physical intimacy more often. Offering love in his language will help him feel deeply loved by you.

More gifts of attention:

Ask him about the times he feels most loved and cherished. Take notes and do something from his list every day for a week.

Plan a candlelight dinner, turn off all electronics, and talk.

Plan a playful night of physical intimacy with your spouse.

3. Gift of Memories

Keep track of the good stuff

Do you keep a mental note of your spouse’s failings, or of past hurts or offenses? This year try write your hubby a Christmas letter recounting all of the good times, family milestones, and positive relationship moments. I knew a couple who did this for a few decades now enjoy a beautiful book containing years of personal expressions celebrating their memories of each year, significant family events, and the evolution of their love. To reflect on tender feelings and focus on the positive memories created through the years will validated that your husband is indeed cherished and loved.

Revisit the romance

Often I hear couples complain that they feel more like roommates than lovers.

After the initial infatuation of new relationships has faded, reclaiming and rekindling those romantic feelings takes…effort.

When is the last time you talked with your spouse about early romantic feelings that brought you together, browsed through your wedding photo book, or looked through photos of your favorite vacations? You don’t have to take a trip to the location of your honeymoon or first date to rekindle romance, just take a trip with your hubby down memory lane.

More gifts of memories:

Create a photo book of your favorite memories.

Create a relationship soundtrack CD with a mix of songs that have special meaning to you.

Plan a date to revisit a visiting a romantic location that has special meaning to you as a couple.

Learn more about my therapy practice