How To Understand And Enjoy Your Partner’s Differences

Dr Karen Phillip

Psychologist and Health contributor

Oct 12, 2022

Have you ever heard yourself saying things like: “Why can’t he just see how irrational he is being?”, “What’s the reason he can’t understand what I mean, isn’t it obvious?”, “Why can’t he listen to me the way I need?”. 

The problem is you often expect him to think like you, a woman, but he can’t. His gender is different, his life experiences are different, and he processes and thinks so unequivocally different. Expecting him to communicate and understand you equally is thwart with disappointment.

Equality is not just about jobs divided equally, equity in money earned or time spent with the kids. Equality is about the equal understanding of how your partner thinks, what they expect, their capabilities and how each of you understanding your individual life experiences. Knowing how this has allowed each of you to develop into the person you fell in love with and want to share your life with.

Men and women are raised with different parental, social and society programming. Expectations of a boy are different to that of a girl. The way each gender is considered both externally and how we feel internally is different. When we connect we expect our partner to understand us, read our mind, recognise our body language, do and say what we expect and need from them. After they can’t, we can become disappointed or even angry at their failure. This then sends her into a swirl of disarray. We question if we have made a mistake.

We all know communication within any relationship is vital. This conversation has been going on for millennials however many of us remain stuck in the abyss of not knowing and not understanding the how. How do I learn this instead of expecting

  • ‘my partner should know’
  • ‘should understand what I am trying to say’
  • ‘should recognise what I need now.’

Then we have an expectation they should respond or behave in a particular way. When they don’t, we feel disheartened and we often then disconnect.

We become frustrated as we fail to have him understand how we think or what we need. Our expectations are not being met. My partner ‘should’ know me and ‘should’ understand what I need from them, yet they either don’t care or perhaps can’t – yet.

The Solution

We often become so stuck in our problem or issue; we spend so much time and effort concentrating, discussing and going over the ‘What ifs’ and the ‘If only’s’ we lose focus or omit to ascertain the solution we want.

If we have it sorted in our mind, why then can’t our partner understand this so we move forward together to reach the goal. Surely we both want to ensure our relationship is happy, connected and forever.

Once we set the goal on our mind, we must discuss this with our partner, determine if he is on the same page and before you proceed further it is a matter of stopping, sitting, and writing down the steps each of you will proactively take to move toward the goal or outcome you both desire.

This is not about Winning. This is about understanding the other person’s style of communication and processing. Once we get that, we can indeed move forward.

Steps to Become Unequally Equivalent

  1. Remember both partners think and process differently, men slower than women, so one thing at a time is useful to discuss only
  2. When communicating we should never tell, we must ask and continue to be curious until we understand from their perspective and them ours.
  3. We can only openly speak when we feel safe to do so. Listen, enquire and take a moment or three to process before making a comment
  4. Accept his is a good and loving partner. You are both there to enhance your relationship, not destroy it, work together for the same goal.
  5. It has taken time to develop your miscommunication style; it will take time to readjust it.

We all have an inbuilt desire to be right, and while we may be for us, we may not be for them. It isn’t a win win situation, it is a listening, understanding and respecting difference mindset that is needed.

We can achieve a state of emotional security, confidence and respect. We need to be Kind in our exchanges.

Remaining Calm, Kind and Patient is essential.

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By Dr Karen Phillip

Psychologist and Health contributor

Dr Karen Phillip is a counselling psychotherapist and clinical hypnotherapist specialising in parenting and relationships. The widely respected author of “Who Runs Your House, the kids or you?’ and ‘OMG We’re Getting Married’ is also in demand as a speaker and regularly appears on TV and radio.



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