Men, Women and Brain Function

brain 4 Sometime between our third and fourth anniversary, I realized my husband and I made decisions from entirely different paradigms. This realization didn’t  distress me, but it made me  curious. I knew that men’s brains and women’s brains were wired for different functions, but I had hoped there might be crossover. Some common ground where our brains could pause and at least hold hands periodically.

I no longer think this is possible.

I have observed that my husband, when asked a simple question that demands an opinion or a preference, spends an inordinate amount of time pondering before answering. When he finally answers, it is usually tempered with a disclaimer. Talk about irritating.brain 6

I have watched his mood change from mellow to tense if forced to make a knee-jerk decision. He does not like it. More comfortable with 24 hours or so to think. Sometimes I attempt to understand why and how he arrives at  decisions. This is frustrating, an exercise in futility, and usually I am forced to short-circuit the conversation. Call it sensory self-preservation.

For instance, today I asked him questions as an experiment, and here are his honest-to-God, unedited answers:

Me:  What is your favorite color?

Husband’s response: Quizzical, thoughtful look. Hand drifts to chin. “I’d have to think about it. When I was younger, it was purple, but now I have to think about what color the things are that I’ve seen lately that have made me happy.

Me: “Really? You can’t just pull out of your gut your favorite color? Like blue or red?”

Husband: Thoughtful pause. “Maybe it’s blue. Or red.”

brain15Me: “Blue and red together make PURPLE.” Sigh. Next question.

Me: How do you decide on a restaurant?

Husband’s response: “The food. It’s all about the food.”

Me: (Thinking to myself, when it comes to food, his opinions are immediate. This reaction is probably common to all men, which causes the question to be relegated to the moot pile. Quick, think of another question.)

Husband:  Generously elaborating on his decision-making premise: “When I answer a question, I am thinking at a higher level than everyone.”

Me: You are? Seriously? I have been married to you for five years, and I cannot believe it! Wait – define ‘higher’.

Husband: Okay, maybe ‘higher’ is not the right word. But before I answer a question, I try to take what the person is saying and apply how it affects me, how it affects others, and how it affects the world.

Me: Staring at him incredulously. “You do? WHY?”brain 18

Husband: “Because I factor in data. I must have data in order to answer a question. That is why it takes me a while to analyze a question. It’s ingrained.”

Me: “AHH! Interesting. Because when I make a decision it is based on sensory and emotional perceptions. I base a restaurant choice on the atmosphere, not the food! I can pull a favorite color out with no problem, because it never changes. It’s magenta, and always has been. Like flowers, for instance. I love flowers because they not only look beautiful and smell good, they elicit a feeling of romance in me.”

Husband: Silence

Me: Thinking the analyst in him will probably never understand the romantic in me. I pull out my favorite conversation-that-I-do-not-enjoy-or-understand short circuit strategy. “You do know it’s all about the woman, right?”

brain 16

Husband: Closes eyes. Nods.

Me: “Good.”

End of discussion.

Blowing a Fuse Actually Had Nothing To Do With It

grease fire 1

“Fire! Fire! AAAAUUUGGGHHH!” I yelled, startled by the intimidating WHOOO-OOSSHHH  behind my back as I  sliced tomatoes, segmented avocados, and shredded lettuce in preparation for taco night.

My son came running into the kitchen yelling, “What?! What?!”  I was hopping around on one leg, arms akimbo, trying to focus on the best course of action when confronted with a three-foot spire of flame coming from the top of my stove.

“Water! Where’s water?” he yelled, running to the sink. My brain went into hyperdrive, and I at least summoned the presence of mind to remember that water is NOT the answer to a grease fire.

“NO! NO!” I shrieked, “NOT WATER! YOU GOTTA SMOTHER A GREASE FIRE!” By this time, I’d decided one of my raggedy, clean-up towels I kept stacked in the laundry room was the best bet. So I hopped the five steps to the laundry room, grabbed the most bedraggled one, and plunked it on the fire. Little flames sprouted from underneath the edges, valiantly clinging to life. I flapped the towel edges hesitantly, unwilling to pick up the pan until, um, it didn’t actually contain a FIRE. After a few seconds, the flames did not re-appear, so I grabbed the pan and the towel and put it on the deck. Deep sigh of relief. Crisis averted. The pan is history, the towel is in the trash, but at least I don’t need a new kitchen.grease 4

My son was not sure whether he should be perplexed, relieved, or accusatory, and said, “What were you DOING?” I think he chose accusatory. I was too flattened by overly-stimulated adrenal glands to be insulted, and muttered a reply.

grease fire 3I’d put oil in the pan I was going to use to cook the hamburger to heat up on my (cursed) electric stove, and as we all know, electric stoves take for-ev-er to heat up, and so I guess I kind of forgot about the pan behind me on the stove as I was slicing and dicing.

Okay, okay, so I used to be able to multi-task with all the speed and finesse of a well-oiled machine. It is hard to admit one’s physical and intellectual capacities might be a teensy bit rusty due to (cough) aging.

At a certain point, women can’t blame this stuff on menopause anymore.


So my multi-tasking needs to be re-evaluated. A little tweaking, that’s all. Only do two or three things at the same time instead of seven or eight. Minor adjustment.

I guess it’s time to stop and smell the roses instead of race to blow the fuses. (How’s that for an absolutely ridiculous analogy?) The point is, I need to slow down. There is no need to do so many things at once. Why am I rushing? It’s not like there’s a fire to put out somewhere!grease fire 2