I heard the other day that men and women have only a 5 percent difference in their genetic makeup. However, men and monkeys only have a 2 percent difference. This would mean that men have more in common with monkeys than with women.
I don't know whether that's true or not but one thing all my books and all my experience has taught me as a marriage counselor is that men and women really are fundamentally different. And not just anatomically, either. Because of these differences, men and women are just naturally going to have conflicts.
For example, my experience has shown me that men are much more action-oriented while women are more emotion-oriented. What I mean by this is that whenever there's a problem, men are much more likely to want to create a plan about how to solve it while women are much more likely to want to talk about it, discuss how it made them feel and look for an emotional connection during it. This in itself has caused more couples to come into my office than I can count.
Because of this single unique difference, women will usually complain that they don't feel like their spouse listens to them. Men will usually complain that their wife just wants to complain and doesn't ever do anything to get over it. Because men and women are different there are always conflicts that come up. Some of these conflicts are big and some of these are small. But how do you know if the conflicts you're having with your spouse are "normal" or if they are really causing problems in your relationship?
To answer this question, you need to ask yourself another question. "Is it OK with me?" In other words, instead of looking to an external source to tell you objectively whether you're having real problems or not, look inside yourself to see if you feel OK about the arguments you're having, and if you'd like to finally overcome some of them.
If you feel like your arguments are minor and you're able to shrug them off easily, then the arguments you're having are probably not causing a lot of damage. However, if you find yourself feeling bitter and bring up the same arguments over and over again, then a check-up with a relationship professional could help your relationship immeasurably.
Going to a professional doesn't mean that your relationship is in trouble, it only means that you would like your relationship to be better. By going to a professional and learning about you and your spouse's emotional and cognitive processes, you and your spouse could learn how to express your needs to each other and allow your spouse the opportunity to meet the needs you really want met. And there's nothing more electrifying and passionate than a relationship where both spouses are meeting each other's needs.
Aaron Anderson is a therapist and Director of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. He is a writer, speaker and relationship expert. Checkout his blog for expert information on how to improve your relationship.