Women tend to be more insistent, according to various researchers including John Gottman [i] at the University of Washington. Women argue more forcefully in almost half again as many marriages as men.
In the most lopsided arguments where only one argues and the other remains silent, by a ratio of 6 to 1, it is the woman who continues to argue and the man who remains silent. So in these most severe arguments, we see an almost complete separation between men and women.
Overwhelmed and confused. Men are typically more stressed and confused in arguments with women and remain bitter for longer afterward, while women are more comfortable amid verbal jousts, recover from them more quickly, and are ready for another round. Generally, it is fair to say that men are more intimidated in confrontations with women than the other way around.
Men are not blindfolded and gagged in arguments with womenÃ‚Â Ã‚Â Ã¢â‚¬â€ it just seems that way.
Origins: Insistence has been a viable tactic for women, to test the strength of a commitment, while a reluctance to offend has been a more viable for men, who must rely on women to transport their genes into the next generation.
Suggestions: Marriages are better when men and women participate about equally. Amid our typical arguments, we offer a few obvious suggestions for men and for women:
You might realize that men are more vulnerable in conflict than they appear and slower to recover from it.Ã‚Â Be careful to accurately gauge how much stress your accusations inflict, and make allowances.
Implications: If men were ordinarily more forceful in marital squabbles, then an increase in female power would promote equality. But since women are ordinarily more forceful, as observations indicate, the same solution pushes us farther apart. Men withdraw in the face of female accusation, leaving marriages emotionally barren and inhospitable. The challenge is to strike a proper balance, so that men and women can participate together and gain the best from each other.
Adapted from Opposites as Equals by Richard Driscoll, Ph.D., with Nancy Ann Davis, Ph.D.
[i] J. Gottman and R. Levenson, “The Social Psychophysiology of Marriage.” In P. Noller and M. Fitzpatric (eds.), Perspectives on Marital Interaction (Clevedon, Avon, England: Multilingual Matters, 1988), 182Ã¢â‚¬â€œ202.