Female and male differences in physiology, psychology, emotional responses, values and perceptions mean that in any heterosexual relationship the two parties that are relating to one another are as alike as chalk and cheese. In fact, they might as well be from different planets.
Differing circulating hormones and inflows of neuro-chemicals have shaped the brains and bodies of men and women from the time they were in the womb, resulting in two totally unique genderised expressions of the human being. When women and men relate in the confined space of a relationship these differences always come to the fore, shattering the commonly held romanticised view of a love match that will continue forever.
Sex is one of the stumbling blocks. In my last blog I described how the effects of testosterone on males and oestrogen and progesterone on females drives sexual desire and readiness in vastly different ways. So much so that it is often a wonder that men and women experience any permanence in relationships at all.
After the initial honeymoon period where bucketfuls of certain hormones drive a passionate sexual frenzy for both of them, couples generally experience the slow-down of desire that signals that they have moved into the ‘settled’ phase of the relationship. It is at this stage that the divergence between the sexes is most obvious.
For the man, what heralds this shift is a need for regular sex with a ready availability (ever-ready would be more appropriate) but not so frequent. Also characteristic for males is a greater or lesser degree of possessiveness that is mediated by the arrival in his brain of male-specific ‘bonding’ hormones.
For the woman driven by other, more female-specific hormones that are equally as potent, there is a move into a more ‘nonchalent’ phase of relating where she becomes less eager for sex and less ready to turn herself inside out to please her man. She goes into a kind of ‘taking for granted’ stage.
Many people do not understand this shift and, whether they be male or female, they often question whether the ‘love fairy’ has ceased sprinkling stardust down on their particular union meaning that they have ‘fallen out of love’
When both females and males understand the biological process that is occurring here, that is, the couple have shifted naturally to a phase in their relating that can now accommodate children, they can go with the shift and learn new behaviours that will ensure the ongoing status of the relationship.
Here are some tips on how to survive the shift:
1. Recognise that the changes, whether they appear subtly or with a bang, are not personal. That means:
For him – she is not refusing your advances because she is tired of you but rather because of a genuine physiological change in the function of her body that is preparing her (subconsciously) for becoming pregnant. She needs to be able to divert her attention and love to the newborn for its survival.
For her – he is not becoming possessive of you because he doesn’t trust you, but rather because his biology is directing him to become protective of you (subconsciously) in anticipation of you being the mother of his children. He is biologically wired to protect his family.
2. Learn how to foster the feelings of connection between you, but in different ways:
For him – try to understand that a woman needs to feel connected and that the more she feels that bond the more readily she will desire your body! Connect to her through listening to her. She needs to talk to feel connected. Touch her often, not sexually, but affectionally. That will kindle her desire. Recognise that she needs a sense of security – it is part of her biological inscription, so hear her fears about money and having a home, without criticism. Soothe her fears with an air of certainty. Women like men to love them unquestioningly and to let them run the show. If you can do that she will follow you anywhere.
For her – try to understand that a man doesn’t connect as easily as a woman – he is not wired as thoroughly for connection. Don’t talk him into a corner. He doesn’t want to hear about his failings in the relationship or what he has or hasn’t done to make the household run smoothly. He hears that as criticism that makes him feel uneasy and inadequate. He would rather connect through sex -touch him affectionally and sexually as often as possible. That keeps his fire stoked and his love barometer high. Then he will cooperate just to get more of the same! And don’t expect him to get on with your relatives or friends the way that you get on with his. Many men feel uncomfortable in forced social settings because it makes them feel that they have to put on a show. If that’s your bag, you take care of that side of things recognising again that it isn’t personal, just the way his brain is wired. Men like their women to be sexy, playful and caring. If you can manage that you’ll have him eating out of your hand.