Gender and Stress: How men and women deal with stressful situations
We look at how do men and women react in times of stress.
When in situations of stress, both genders act in a certain way because of the different social behavior. Pink will act differently from blue. Blue will retreat into his own shell, wanting to be left alone to brood about his troubles and think or not think at all. With zero tolerance for emotional outbursts and tantrums, he will appear more callous and cold than ever. Pink is like a giant, cranky needy ball of emotions, ready to burst open.
Dr. Andrew Hund, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of United Arab Emirates, says, “[Men] are socialized to be rational and not display emotions, at least not publically. Without an appropriate space to talk about the stress, males tend to keep the stress inside or engage in negative behaviors – such as risk-taking behavior or some might use illegal substances. However, they do talk about occupational-related stress.” Women, on the other hand, are socialized to be emotional or express their emotions. “Their reaction to stress is depression or anxiety. Both of these reactions can result in emotional displays and a strong need to talk about the issues with others,” says Dr. Hund.
Women expect to be heard; they want to talk about it, be solaced, feel protected, and secure. All it really takes to calm her down is a gentle squeeze of the hand and a kind smile, saying, “Honey, trust me, it’s going to be ok.” In a matter of 5 seconds, she will be her composed loving self again.
When you have two antagonistic behaviors together in a relationship that is already strained, how do you manage this situation? The only way out of this dilemma is effective communication and understanding, as Dr. Hund says, “Effective communication is key to resolving conflicts.”
Effective communication doesn’t just mean voicing your opinions or showing your emotions. It also means listening to the other and empathize with emotions, because let’s face it, relationships eventually all about give and take. Women will get frustrated when constantly showing love without any reciprocation because relationships eventually all about give and take.
In addition to effective communication, mutual understanding is imperative to resolve conflict. “The personal needs of each person’s recognition and communication must be met. Critical components are mutual trust, mutual support, genuine communication, realizing conflicts are normal, and mutual respect for the other person,” explains Dr. Hund.
“Mutual trust takes many years to build but can be destroyed quickly. Fostering this is through each person’s unhindered ability to freely express his or her opinion about issues or concerns, without fear of retaliation, mockery, or negative consequences. Mutual support results from a married person’s having the ability to express genuine concern for one another’s welfare, growth, and individual success. Genuine communication consists of two dimensions – openness and authenticity, where each person can speak openly and be listened to without prejudiced.”Dr. Hund
“Accepting conflicts as normal and working them through is a critical factor that acknowledges that each person is unique. Mutual respect for individual differences must also be present. In a marriage, some decisions require that the commitment is a team response that cannot be implemented without this mutual commitment. However, a good marriage will never insist on unnecessary conformity to the demands of the other,”Dr. Hund
Both partners need to understand the importance of giving each other space and support at the same time. Be there emotionally, whilst not suffocating the other. Gently lean on each other without making your partner edgy. Like any other problem in life, for the man and woman to dwell peacefully together, they need to accept the intrinsic behavior of the other and communicate feelings often, for it is in times of adversity that the strength of a relationship is truly put to test.