I can’t tell you how many women I’ve had come in for Portland relationship counseling because they felt like their husband or boyfriend just didn’t care about how they felt. They would share something personal or even painful with him and he wouldn’t even empathize. All he would do was try to “fix” the issue for them—but they weren’t asking for that!

They felt like he was changing the subject because he didn’t care enough to listen, and over time this caused marriage problems to develop. Why couldn’t he just hear them out and be understanding? Why the need to make it about him by rushing into problem-solver mode?

As much as I hate to sound like one of those books that tells you men and women come from different planets… the male and female brains just work differently.

Portland Relationship Counseling Describes How We Process Emotions

What does “differently” mean? That for certain functions, the brain circuitry of men and women does not work the same. I’m not trying to be vague, so let’s look at emotional processing specifically.

Everyone has two systems for processing emotions: the mirror neuron system (MNS) and the parietal junction system (TPJ). To break it down to basics, MNS is what helps us empathize, and TPJ causes us to seek out ways to “fix” emotional issues. Guess which one men use more?

Scientists don’t really understand why yet, but while women can stay in MNS mode for quite a while, men’s brains are built to quickly switch over to TPJ and look for practical answers—even when that’s not what the issue (or you!) requires.

“Fixing” You is Caring, Says Portland Relationship Counseling

For men, the way to show you they care is to look for solutions to your distress. Unfortunately, this is one of those areas where there tends to be a disconnect since women tend to prefer someone who’s able to simply listen and empathize. When men struggle with this, marriage problems occur.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Even though men are “built” to process emotions differently, that doesn’t mean that they can’t learn what it is that you really need—and why. Likewise, women would do well to remind themselves that their male partners aren’t ignoring their anguish when they move into problem-solver mode, it’s their way of showing that they care. With the help of Portland relationship counseling, both of you can understand what the other person is really trying to say.