Hormones: Differences In the Way Men and Women Deal With Stress
I just read John Gray’s book at Amazon Why Mars and Venus Collide: Improving Relationships by Understanding How Men and Women Cope Differently with Stress
and Book Depository Why Mars & Venus Collide and one particular aspect of interest he writes about is Testosterone and Oxytocin, and how stress in this modern era contributes to lowering of these hormones, which has a significant impact on the way we relate to one another.
Biologically we handle stress differently between the sexes, and understanding those differences helps us to be realistic about what we expect from our partners.
Testosterone in men is the hormone that contributes to him feeling in his power. Oxytocin is the hormone in women that helps her to feel attached, bonded and connected. Optimum levels in both men and women of these hormones is what drives stress levels down.
Lots of factors contribute to the lowering of testosterone; if a man doesn’t feel successful at work, if he is depressed, smoking, eating meat pumped full of oestrogen. Factors that lower oxytocin in women are when she feels she doesn’t matter, unsupported, alone and ignored.
Biologically restoring these levels is no different than the actions taken thousands of years ago, where the men went out to hunt and protect, and the women tended to the children and were supported by other women.
In our nuclear families problems can arise when we don’t understand how these hormone levels are vital in keeping our feel good tanks filled up. When a man gets home from work often he needs alone time in order to recharge his testosterone levels, but a woman after a hard day with the children or work, wants to connect and talk, which restores her oxytocin levels. How she interprets his behaviour affects her oxytocin levels.
Ideally, a hug for a woman at the end of the day and letting her talk will calm her stress levels down and then she won’t be too demanding while he goes off and has some alone time to decompress and restore his testosterone levels. But often when he comes home she is overwhelmed with her dual role of work and home, and is waiting for an extra set of hands and ambushes him at the door. And if he isn’t willing to pitch in then he’s accused of being lazy and uncooperative. So it’s a lose/lose situation.
John Gray suggests that we live by the 90/10 solution. For thousands of years women didn’t rely on men to elevate their oxytocin levels, they looked to the community of women around them to do that. So if a woman takes responsibility to fill herself up 90% of the time, then the man will have no problem filling up the other 10%. She is then more likely to allow him his cave time, to regenerate his testosterone, without resenting him for what she may have thought was unhelpfulness and selfishness.
Activities for women that raise oxytocin are to get a massage, have a manicure, take a scented bath, visit a friend, take a yoga class.
Activities that restore men’s testosterone are sports, channel surfing, fixing something.
An understanding of these hormones and how they are vital in lowering our stress levels, and the activities that produce them is key to a harmonious relationship.
What activities can you think of that elevate your hormones, which in turn lower your stress levels?