Building Bridges

Issue # 19 of 43 

David LeClaire
By: David LeClaire


The differences between the genders surface in many daily areas of life. It's quite common that couples will experience conflicts regarding issues such as parenting and the use of discipline, spending money, the use of their time, and household roles and duties. Also, men and women often feel quite differently about how to solve problems, what their priorities should be, and what interests them. If you are in a relationship, many of the differences between the genders in opinion and approach have probably surfaced from time to time. In this weeks column we'll begin to look at some of the areas that create most of the friction because of a lack of understanding or acceptance.

One basic difference between most men and women are their priorities, which affects the choices they make and lifestyles they lead. For example, many men find it more important to work than to spend time with their children. While some men are getting better at achieving balance, historically this imbalance has occurred frequently and created many problems. This is especially true when the top priority of a woman is to be with her man, yet his priority does not necessarily include being with her.

Jack's priority on Sunday is to plant himself on the couch with peanuts and beer and watch 3 football games back-to-back. He feels he deserves this day of relaxation. His wife, Judy, may find that her priority of spending a quality day with the entire family at least once a week is not being met. She can come to resent football, the tv, and Jack. Her options are either nagging, saying nothing, or to approach Jack (but not on a Sunday) in a manner that has him feel that she understands and respects his attraction to a day of rest and watching football, and yet she wants compromise because her priorities are important as well. Judy went with her third option, and now the family spends the day together every other Sunday and Jack can relax on his Sunday without guilt.

As mentioned, women have historically been more motivated by intimacy, love, and family. Many women place their relationship and their children as their unquestionable, number one priority. Even though men tend to appreciate these same things, often they are more motivated by accomplishment, careers, activities, hobbies, and relaxation.

The man who is always out fishing or the man who works 60-80 hours a week is living proof of a slightly different philosophy and set of priorities in action. Many of the men who spend great amounts of time at work say their priority is their family and they are working to provide for them. The difference being in their definition of what having a priority of family means compared to their wife's, whose includes more time and active participation with family members.

Couples may find other differences of priorities. Some may revolve around areas such as making, saving, and spending money, or the amount of time to one's self or together as a couple or family. Instead of listing every possible difference of priorities between men and women, let's just leave it that what's truly important is not how we can get our partner to change but how we can live together harmoniously despite our different perspectives.

David LeClaire has spent much of his time teaching at community college and private school, and lead communications training for Fortune 500 companies. Now a popular and active Seattle area sommelier, this graduate of Central Michigan University led seminars for a wide variety of organizations. LeClaire is the author of "Bridges To A Passionate Partnership." He can be reached at

Building Bridges Table of Contents

Text © 1998, David LeClaire. Part of the original Sideroad.
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