The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...

The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...
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Blog Archive

Sep 15, 2009

An answer to the Thermostat dillemma!

Focus on the Family
Understanding and Accepting Your Mate's Differences

We need to appreciate each other's uniqueness if we hope to live together in harmony.
by James Dobson, Ph.D.

The Gender Gap

My wife, Shirley, and I have been blessed with a wonderful relationship. She is my best friend, and I would rather spend an evening with her than with anyone else on earth. But we are also unique individuals and have struggled at times with our differences.

Our most serious conflict has raged now for forty-plus years, with no solution in sight. The problem is that we operate on entirely different internal heating mechanisms. I am very hot-blooded and prefer a Siberian climate. Shirley has ice in her veins and shivers even in warm surroundings. She has concluded that if we can have only one flesh between us, she's going to make it sweat! She will slip over to the thermostat at home and spin the dial to at least eighty-five degrees. All the bacteria in the house jump for joy and begin reproducing like crazy. Within a few minutes I start to glow and begin throwing open doors and windows. This ridiculous tug-of-war has been going on since our honeymoon and will continue till death do us part. In fact, there have been a few times when I thought death would part us over this difficulty!

What is interesting to me is how many other husbands and wives struggle with this problem. It also plagues men and women who fight over the office thermostat. Why is temperature such a pressure point? Because women typically operate at a lower rate of metabolism than men. This is only one of the countless physiological and emotional differences between the sexes that we must understand if we hope to live together in harmony.

Genesis tells us that the Creator made two sexes, not one, and that He designed each gender for a specific purpose. Take a good look at male and female anatomy and it becomes obvious that we were crafted to "fit" together. This is not only true in a sexual context but psychologically as well. Eve, being suited to Adam's particular needs, was given to him as a "help-meet." Man and woman were each divinely fashioned to complement the other.
We're Not Alike

Even a cursory examination of our biological differences can give us a greater appreciation for the unique and wonderful way we are made. Here is a quick rundown of a few:

1. Men and women differ in every cell of their bodies. This is because each carries a different chromosome pattern that is the basic source of their maleness or femaleness.
2. Women have greater constitutional vitality, perhaps because of this chromosome difference. Normally, women in the United States outlive men by three or four years.
3. Men have a higher rate of basal metabolism than women.
4. The sexes differ in skeletal structure, woman having a shorter head, broader face, less-protruding chin, shorter legs, and longer trunk. The first finger of a woman's hand is usually longer than the third; with men the reverse is true. Men's teeth typically last longer than do those of women.
5. Women have a larger stomach, kidneys, liver and appendix, and have smaller lungs.
6. Women have three important physiological functions totally absent in men — menstruation, pregnancy, and lactation. Each of these significantly influences behavior and feelings. Female hormonal patterns are more complex and varied than male. The glands work differently in the two sexes. For example, a woman's thyroid is larger and more active; it enlarges during menstruation and pregnancy, which makes her more prone to goiter, and is associated with the smooth skin, relatively hairless body, and thin layer of subcutaneous fat that are important elements in the concept of personal beauty. Women are also more responsive emotionally, laughing and crying more readily.
7. Women's blood contains more water (20 percent fewer red cells). Since red cells supply oxygen to the body, she tires more easily and is more prone to faint. Her constitutional viability is therefore strictly a long-range matter. When the working day in British factories under wartime conditions was increased from ten to twelve hours, accidents involving women increased 150 percent; the rate of accidents among men men did not increase significantly.
8. Men are 50 percent stronger than women in brute strength.
9. Women's hearts beat more rapidly (eighty vs. seventy-two beats per minute on average); blood pressure (ten points lower than men) varies from minute to minute; but they have less tendency to high blood pressure -- at least when the comparison is to women who have not yet experienced menopause.
10. Female lung capacity is about 30 percent less than in males.
11. Women can withstand high temperature better than men because their metabolism slows down less.1

And Even More Differences

In addition to these physiological differences, the sexes are blessed with a vast array of unique emotional characteristics. It is a wise and dedicated husband who desires to understand his wife's psychological needs and then sets out to meet them. Is she a morning person? If not, bring her a cup of coffee to help her start the day. Does she want to talk the moment she opens her eyes? It is unlikely -- but if she feels that way, set aside a few minutes each morning for casual conversation. An observant man can discover countless ways to serve and warm the heart of his wife.

The emotional differences between you and your partner will influence every aspect of your relationship. Briefly stated, in women, love is linked to self-esteem. For a man, romantic experiences with his wife are warm and enjoyable and memorable -- but are not considered necessary. For a woman, they are her lifeblood. Her confidence, her sexual response, and her zest for living are often directly related to those tender moments when she feels deeply loved and appreciated by her man. That is why flowers and candy and cards are more meaningful to her than to him. This is why she is continually trying to pull him away from the television set or the newspaper, and not vice versa. This is why the anniversary is critically important to her and why she never forgets it. That is why he had better not forget it!

This need for romantic love is not some quirk or peculiarity of the wife, as some husbands may think. It is the way God designed the human female, and the sooner men understand this, the better they will be equipped to increase the level of intimacy in their marriages.

Men also need to realize that women tend to care more about the home and everything in it. I don't know whether your wife or fiancee has a nesting instinct, but for years I have observed this feminine interest in the details of the family dwelling. Admittedly, not every woman lives in a neat house. I know some messy ladies whose mothers must have been frightened by garbage trucks when they were pregnant! Yet even these women show a genuine concern for their house and what is in it. Husbands sometimes fail to comprehend the significance of this female inclination.

Shirley and I recognized that we had differing perspectives several years ago when we purchased a gas barbecue unit for use in our backyard. We hired a plumber to install the device and left for the day. When we returned, we both observed that the barbecue was mounted about eight inches too high. Shirley and I stood looking at the appliance, and our reactions were quite different.

I said, "Yes, it's true. The plumber made a mistake. The barbecue is a bit too high. By the way, what's for dinner tonight?"

Shirley reacted more emphatically. "I don't think I can stand that thing sticking up in the air like that!"

I could have lived the rest of my life without ever thinking about the barbecue mounting again, but to Shirley it was a big deal. Why? Because we see the home differently. So we called the plumber and had him lower the unit about eight inches.

Husbands aren't the only ones who need to be aware of their partners' needs, of course. I suggest that wives tune in to their husbands' quirks and interests as well. For example, a survey taken several years ago to determine what men care about most yielded surprising results. Men did not long for expensive furniture, well-equipped garages, or a private study. What they wanted most was tranquility at home. Competition in the workplace today is so fierce, and the stresses of pleasing a boss and surviving professionally are so severe, that the home needs to be a haven to which a man can retreat. It is a smart woman who tries to make her home what her husband needs it to be.

Of course, many women also work, and their husbands are not the only ones in need of tranquility. This is a major problem in two-career families. It is even more difficult in the single-parent situation. I know no simple solution to those stress points, although I'm convinced that emotional instability and even physical illness can occur in the absence of a "safe place." Creating an environment at home to meet that need should be given priority, regardless of the family structure.

Well, so much for this short discourse on gender distinctiveness. I have attempted to show not only that males and females are different -- which any bloke can see -- but also that God authored those differences and we should appreciate them. It is our uniqueness that gives freshness and vitality to a relationship. How boring it would be if the sexes were identical! How redundant it would have been for the Creator to put Adam to sleep and then fashion yet another man from his rib!

No, He brought forth a woman and gave her to Adam. He put greater toughness and aggressiveness in the man, and more softness and nurturance in the woman -- and suited them to one another's needs. And in their relationship, He symbolized the mystical bond between the believer and Christ Himself. What an incredible concept!

I say to you, husbands and wives, celebrate your uniqueness and learn to compromise when male and female individuality collide. Or as an unnamed Frenchman once said, "Vive la difference!" He must have been a happily married man.
From Love for a Lifetime, published by Multnomah Gifts. Copyright © 2003, James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.
1Taken from Dr. Paul Popenoe, "Are Women Really Different?" Family Life 31 (February 1971).

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