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How Your Differences Strengthen Your Marriage

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
August 19, 2021 6:00 am

How Your Differences Strengthen Your Marriage

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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August 19, 2021 6:00 am

Family physician Dr. Walt Larimore and his wife, Barb, discuss how God designed the unique differences between men and women for our benefit, and how understanding and appreciating those differences can improve your marriage.

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Man, I knew my marriage was falling apart.

I just didn't know how to fix it. I felt like I would always be alone, even if I stayed married. At Focus on the Family's Hope Restored Marriage Intensive, we offer hope to couples in crisis so they can have the marriage they've always dreamed of. For the first time, I felt like my husband truly heard me. I've received some great tools from the counselors that have changed my life and my marriage.

To begin the journey of finding health, go to today. I like black coffee. Sugar and cream.

I don't mind sour things. I have the world's biggest sweet tooth. I'm a saver. I'm a spender. I'm a planner.

I'm in Pulsi. When I'm lost, I'll ask directions quickly. Asking directions is a sign of weakness. I wonder if you ever feel like that couple where you're married and you love each other, but there are some things that are just really different about the two of you. And the question for you is this, maybe, did you ever wonder if maybe God purposely designed those differences, not to frustrate you, but to complement you? We're going to explore that on today's Focus on the Family with Focus president and author Jim Daly.

I'm John Fuller and a fun conversation, Jim, for the next 25 minutes or so. Yeah, you know, John, I think God intended for both to happen. Sometimes it's a frustration and sometimes it's a blessing that opposites attract. And I think he knew what he was doing when he designed it. You know, newlyweds have to be quaking in their boots right now thinking, oh, no, what have I what have I gotten myself into?

Because they've seen it. Gene and I, we had that same experience. We went to premarital counseling thinking we are so much alike. That's why we're in love. And we went to counseling and we walked out going, wow, we are really different, aren't we? Good revelation. Introvert, extrovert, all of those things that we just heard really played out even in my own marriage.

And I think most people's marriages. But today we're going to talk about it and we're going to talk about it with two great friends of the ministry, Dr. Walt and Barb Laramore. And it is great to have you back here at Focus. Great to be back, Jim.

Thanks for having us. We should know, Jim, that in addition to the Laramore's, we have a number of our Focus Leadership Institute students joining us. And it might be a little bit of a revelatory conversation for them. That is a big word to use. It was.

Well, they're college students. They understood. Revelatory.

I like that. Walt and Barb, you guys were here in the 2000s. You spent time here. You were the official physician in residence here at Focus on the Family, Walt.

And we so appreciated that service. And in that, it's a great place to start when we talk about the brain chemistry. Your book, His Brain, Her Brain, highlights those differences and those distinctions. For so long, the culture has been telling us we're all the same. Biologically, there's no difference. But there is, isn't there?

There's no question about it. One of the leading feminists in our country had a situation where she decided, as a single mom, to adopt a child. And she adopted a little boy. And she decided she was going to raise him in a gender-neutral, peaceful, green home, which she did. But when he got up to about two and a half, three years of age, one day she made him a peanut butter sandwich.

And he chewed it into the shape of a gun and shot her several times with it. And she said in a very honest editorial, she said, the only people who believe little boys and little girls come out the same are people who are childless. Well, that's probably true. Because we do see the differences, not only from birth, but in the womb. Now, here's the reality.

When I talk to wives, they, I think, gladly tell me there are differences. Barb, isn't that true? Absolutely. Do you think you and Walter are the same? Oh, heavens no.

Heavens no. I knew from the get-go that we were probably pretty compatible. But we were as different as night and day. Give us some examples of how you saw that.

Oh, my goodness. He is so impulsive. And I'm the non-risk taker of the family. I want to think it through.

I want to plan it out. And he's like, you know, in the spur of the moment, let's do or let's go or, you know. She actually reads directions. I have no idea why.

Oh, and ask for directions? Are you kidding me? I mean, it's the things that we see all the time.

Right. I was going to put on pants this morning that had borne for the last five days. I mean, they were fine. They were nice and clean, I hope. Like someone in my family thought. They were fine.

It's been five days. Yeah, exactly. But those differences that so dramatically draw us together when we're courting or when we're dating, an early marriage can begin to drive us apart. They can distract us. They can disrupt us. If we don't understand them, Jim, they lead to divorce. And so the purpose of this book was to recognize where those differences came from, that we believe they're divinely designed. And when understood, allow a couple to realize you're stronger together with your differences than you would ever be apart. And that's the good news. That is the good news. And the differences can be celebrated.

You know, it's not any big deal that you have to be ashamed of or anything. They are there because God has put them there. Like Walt said, to bring you together. Right. In the end, that's the goal. And to have more appreciation for the other person. Well, let's start from the beginning.

I think it's a great place to start. When you're in your mother's womb, Walt, you're the physician. What is happening chemically to the little boy and the little girl that is different? Something happens even there.

Oh, no question. In fact, from conception through the first six or eight weeks, the little unborn baby is much more female than male. Irrespective of whether it's going to be a little boy or a little girl. And then there's a surge of hormones that occurs about six or eight weeks. And the little boy, it's a surge of testosterone. And the little girl, it's a surge of estrogen.

And that testosterone surge has a dramatic effect. For example, it makes his little developing bones much harder. So a little boy is born with harder bones than a little girl. And there's one bone that is the hardest in him as he develops. And it's his head.

This is just too good to be true. It's literally born hard. And then another thing that the testosterone does is that it makes his muscles more active. We like to talk about his brain being like a Chester drawers. And he's got a box for everything.

But he can only operate in one box at a time. Because her connection has been preserved. She did not have that testosterone surge. She can multitask much, much better.

She just has one big drawer. It's all okay. I'm in trouble now.

Jean's going to get me for that. No, it's and that has wonderful advantages. But it does make you different. One of the most wonderful ones we learned about was what I like to call the nothing box that guys literally have a box that they can go into in their brain. And their brain does nothing.

It's a great place. And Barb for years would ask me, what are you thinking about? And I would say, he would say nothing. And I would think, well, let's see, what have I done to make him want to avoid a conversation with me? And you start getting in that little thinking, which is totally unproductive. So really, you're overthinking. Yes.

And I thought he was just lying to me and trying to put me off. But that can become a very divisive thing. If she doesn't know, I have that nothing box. And now, Jim, the research is showing the average woman, not even the great woman, but the average woman can hear and independently process seven different audio signals at one time. So she can be talking on the phone, listening to focus on the family on the radio, listening to TV in the other room, listening to one child in another room, another child in another room, and the husband in the garage. And she's processing it all at one time without problem.

That sounds exhausting just thinking about that. Going to the garage. Her brain. Now, his brain, the average guy, not the exceptional guy, the average guy can listen to and process one audio input at a time.

If you don't know that, that can be very destructive. A number of years ago, we were driving to the airport. And so we were listening to the radio. And Barb started to talk to me about something. And I turned the radio off. And she said, you really don't have to do that. And for her brain, I didn't because she could listen to radio and talk.

And I said, no, I do have to do that. Well, that used to cause division, anger. Now that we understand the brain differences, we go, she realizes when I turn that off, I'm honoring her, not dishonoring her. So it's one of hundreds of examples we have in the book that couples can look at. And Jim, some of these male differences, female members of our audience will recognize that in themselves. And some of the female differences, some of the guys.

These are general rules. But as a general rule, we're different when we marry. And if we recognize those differences and understand them, it actually strengthens us. Barb, you've seen this play out very practically because you like to mentor younger couples.

So you probably have seen this. How, as you have alluded to a couple of times here, how have you seen it be destructive in those newlywed couples? Well, newlyweds think that they have to spend every waking minute with each other.

And, you know, yes, you want to because that oxytocin level in her brain is soaring very high and it's a feel good chemical. And, you know, things are still going well and the fairy tale is coming true. But where you see all of this come together is when they start nitpicking at each other. About the differences. About their differences, because they're spending so much time together.

Give us some examples just so we can catch it. You know, she might be the neat nick of the two and he might leave his clothes from the time he comes in the door from the door to the bathroom, to the bedroom, to the den. You know, he doesn't pick up after himself. I'm not going to go there again.

We need some real life. I'll go there then, because this is one of the things for Gene and I, because I have, I keep kind of tidy piles of the the shorts, just the, you know, the pants I wore one day and they're not dirty. Now I've got a pile for that.

Yeah, so if it was the t-shirt I wore from three to eight o'clock last night, you know, I can wear that one again. I'm actually thinking about laundry and all that. So I've got that pile. Then I've got those things. Yeah, the shorts I wore on the weekend and I helped stain the outside of the house and they're kind of dirty.

But next time I stain, I can wear those again. These piles drive Gene nuts, obviously. She doesn't know my categorization.

Right, right. And so, you know, you do get a person like Gene who is very orderly and then you come on the scene and it really disrupts a lot of what's going on in her psyche. Well, you know, Barb, I'm actually pretty orderly on some things like the toothpaste tube, but I have been married 26 years and that one is still one that Gene and I, she won't put the cap back on that thing for some reason. And she says, well, I'm just going to turn around and use it in the morning.

Well, and you know, the easy solution to that is to buy two tubes of toothpaste. You know, I never thought of that, but you'll probably see that one with the cap off. But no, we want to, you know, we want to share. Yeah. But, you know, so that's more like, that's more probably more personality oriented than gender specific.

Would that be fair? Exactly. But another one would be odors. Women, their ability to discern odors and fragrances is almost 10 times greater than the average guy. Especially when they're pregnant. Pregnant.

And during the cycle, there's cyclical changes. So Barb will, she'll say, how long have you been wearing those pants? I'll say, I don't know. She'll smell them. And she'll know. And the closet will reek. It's like carbon 14 dating. Smell them from a distance, I hope.

Yes. And the closet gets gross and stinky. And, you know, I really almost have to pull him upstairs and get him to smell it. But, you know, he can't tell.

Okay. I just got to say, you guys are giving me so much hope for my two boys, right? You are speaking to my heart. So, well, Jim, we've gotten that's stunned us how many letters and notes we've gotten from parents saying, because it's a book written for married couples. But the surprise for us was the notes we've gotten from teachers.

The notes we've gotten from engaged couples and the notes we've gotten from parents saying a mom like Jean saying, understanding these differences allows me to understand those boys differently. Well, but something you said is important because again, for Jean and I, even in that discussion, it's not that she is being hypersensitive to it. She's more inclined to smell those orders.

That's a big difference. The boys and I always say, gosh, mom just, you know, she's just over the top on that. But you're saying it's because she's overwhelmed by it.

Well, and it's important for me to know going to an office to take care of patients, many of whom are female. Now, instead of being kind of resentful of Barb's olfactory skills, now I can appreciate him because she helps me. Well, you're listening to our guest today on Focus on the Family, Dr. Walt Larimore, his wife, Barb. I'm John Fuller.

Our host is Jim Daly. And there is something that I could disclose at this point, I guess the conversation, whatever that might be. Well, so that this difference that you lay out in the book, his brain, her brain and communication, one of the frustrating things that we have is Deena will look at me and just say, can't you say something while we're talking? And I'm just thinking, no, I'm letting it play out here. You have a need to express and I'm not going to try to direct or step into soon. Is that me avoiding a fight or is that me just being a guy?

It's you being a guy. In fact, we had to spend two chapters just talking about not only the communication differences between men and women, the processing differences between men and women. For example, it takes the average male with a certain stress seven times longer to process that than it does the average female. And so it's critical to understand that difference.

And I can share that stat with her, right? Well, but even more important, even more important is for her to understand how because her brain is designed to verbally process her verbal centers, her hearing centers and her emotional processing centers are very highly connected. His emotional processing center isn't connected to his verbal processing at all. It's actually connected to, it's called the spinothalamic tracts.

It's his activity tracts. When he is stressed, he either needs to get alone or he needs to go out and do something. Chop wood. Exactly.

Go fishing, go for a run. When she's stressed, she needs to talk. And most typically to someone who's a female, she cannot process without that talking.

In fact, the data shows that women, prisoners who are put into solitary confinement are much more likely to die quickly than men in solitary confinement because they cannot emotionally process without that. So in our marriage, it's been important for, well, there was a situation a couple of years ago where a local ministry had a bunch of staff in a van and the van wrecked and five or six of the staff were killed and a couple of others were in the hospital in the ICU. And when we heard that, my response to that was I just needed some time to think about it, to pray about it, to process it. Barb called her best friend Penny. And we used to get mad about that. Like, why can't she talk to me? Why does she have to talk to Penny? Or why does he go away?

Why can't he talk to me? Now we understand that. But even better are the ways that Barb has taught me to talk. You know, I started thinking about his office situation in seeing patients that if somebody wants to see him, they make an appointment.

So I thought one day, you know, I'm going to try this. I made an appointment with Walt. I had him look me in the eye. The TV was not on. The radio was not on.

There were no children around. And I just went to him and just said, Walt, could I have a little of your time tonight? So I said an appointment. And then I told him I only needed 10 minutes.

So that led him off the hook. He knew that I would not be talking forever and ever and ever. You set a limit for me. I did set a limit.

I thought I could tolerate 10. And then I gave him an agenda item. You know, a patient will make an appointment for a specific need. So I made the appointment and told him up front the time limit and what I needed to talk about. And you know what?

He felt like a free man. No, it works. Jean has done that for us. I mean, she maybe she read his brain, her brain.

I'll ask her tonight. But no, girls, they do this naturally with when women are parenting a little boy, they'll tell their little boy, look at me, look at my eyes, because they know he's so distracted with their little girls. They don't have to do that because she can multitask. And remember how we talked earlier about he has his boxes. It's very hard for him to transition from one box to another box. It takes a little time to close the one box.

So you'll see, you'll hear moms do this. They'll say, Jimmy, 30 minutes to bedtime, 20 minutes to bedtime, 10 minutes to bedtime with their little girls. They tend not to do that because it takes him time to get from that one box to another. And Barb, recognizing that difference, says, if I'm down writing. Yeah, truth be told, I still have to practice out with him. If I have dinner on the stove and almost ready to serve, I have to go downstairs and say, Walt, 15 minutes till dinner.

Do you think you can, you know, close it up, wrap it up, and then I'll go down five minutes later and then five minutes till dinner where I'm serving, whether you're there or not. But the freeing thing is in teaching him how to talk to me, training him in that process, is that I let him know up front whether I want him to fix it or if I want him to help me think through solutions. So you're actually opening the box he needs to go to.

Yes. He's built to fix things. That's part of how God designed him to lead, to fix, to conquer, to conquest, to be in projects to do. He's not nearly as relational as she is. And so for her to say, Walt, I want to talk, you don't need to fix it. And then I don't have to think about how do I fix this because if I do and she doesn't need that, that just angers her, that pushes her away, that doesn't respond to her heart, which is what she needs me to do. Here's the one thing that I've noticed, though, also in that environment, in parenting particularly when you're parenting a boy, I think a mom can feel frustration because she sees it as disrespect that the little boy is not responding.

But he truly, in my opinion, as I've observed it in being a boy, we're not paying attention to you. You know, you're talking to me, but my mind is thinking about superheroes. And you know what?

If I go outside right now, I could play with her. You know, you're out there. And mom's going, wah, wah. I think that's why Peanuts cartoons caught up pretty well with the adult voice in the cartoon always going, wah, wah, wah. That's what boys hear. And knowing this allows you to parent a little boy differently than you're going to parent a little girl, to know that he's not doing that because he's trying to anger you or he's disrespecting you. But when you understand how he was built and this isn't evolutionary, this isn't chance and time, this is God's divine design and scripture clearly indicates that God made male and female different and differently.

Darrell Bock And we should embrace that, understand it, and then learn from it. I want to come to the defense of women because I think, again, for Jean, with her brain wiring and a woman's brain wiring, they're already there. They're all connected, integrated, one big drawer. And I think I can understand from that perspective how a little boy or her husband could frustrate her. Do you feel that way, Barb, at times? It's just frustrating because Walt doesn't get it.

Barb Bock Yeah, it is. But knowing these things that I know now, it helps me kind of approach what I want the end result to be from a little bit different angle. You know, like you said, my brain never turns off. And, you know, sometimes I find myself saying, well, I don't have time for this. You know, you're an adult, let's get it done. But still, it's just the chemical concoctions in his brain that are making him respond to me the way he is responding, and it's not giving me the end result. So I have to think it through. I can either be frustrated and ticked off at him or I can approach it from a different angle.

Darrell Bock That's good. Walt, I want to ask you as a physician, because this one kicks around, you know, here at Focus on the Family, we get really difficult calls at times, and we want those calls to come. But people that are experiencing depression, people that are having difficulty in their marriage because of these communication battles, how do you as a Christian and a physician, much like Dr. Luke, I'm sure, bring your faith together? We're chemically charged. You know, God uses these elements in this life to create our bodies and our brain, and we fire in certain ways. How do you reconcile that theologically that when a person has biochemical depression, how do you sort that through as a physician and a Christian? Where is God in all of that? Dr. Darrell Bock Well, Jim, it's a fallen world. It's not the world that was created.

It's not the Garden of Eden, and so since the fall, since we as humans chose to go our own way, things have changed. So one way I like with my depressed patients, because for decades in the Christian world, depression was considered the result of sin or sinfulness. It wasn't seen as a biological disorder. So I would often have to explain to Christians who are suffering from chemical depression, that's kind of like diabetes, and diabetes, the pancreas isn't making as much insulin as it's supposed to. Insulin brings the blood sugar down.

So if you don't make as much insulin, the blood sugar goes up. The same thing can happen in the brain. If the brain's not making enough, say, of serotonin, if that levels low, then depression goes up. Chronic stress can lower serotonin. Certain types of diet can lower serotonin.

Not having enough light can lower serotonin. So there can be a variety of causes, including genetic causes. And so I find in my patients that beginning to understand the brain's design, it's a little three-pound organ, but it uses 20% of the blood flow, 25% of the oxygen, 20% of the calories we take in.

There are more connections in the brain per second than in all of the computers in Colorado in a minute. I mean, it's this amazing organ. Man was made one way, and it's really interesting because the Hebrew word there, Jim, is a word that's used for the making of a pot or a container. It's something that's a little bit rough, a little bit practical, a little bit rural, but it's designed to protect something. When you look at the Hebrew word that describes the creation of woman, it's a completely different word. It's a word that describes the creation of something very complex, very intricate, very precious, of great value. And then you begin to see, at least for me, when I understood those two words, that part of my design is to protect Barb, that she has great value. And that's why scripture in the New Testament tells me that it's my responsibility to honor her, to cherish her, to nourish her. She's built to respond to that, and she, in Scripture, is given the admonition to admire and to respect and to compliment me, and I respond to that.

Well, these differences, and we have four chapters of these differences. He needs respect. She needs love.

He needs conquest. She needs security. We talk about biologically where those come from, but biblically where they come from. And, Jim, the best picture I have in my mind is that you take two pieces of wood, different species of wood, different grains, different strength, different purpose. But if their dovetails are perfectly cut, when those two pieces of wood are put together, say, as a drawer, they now have a new function, a new purpose. They're stronger together than they ever were apart.

They're still different, but they have this new function. And this biblical design for his brain, her brain, for he and she, is that if God's calling you to marriage, he's calling you to be something together that you never can be apart. You're still different, but you were made different and differently. Jim, it's a great picture. Dr. Walt Laramore, his wife Barb Laramore, authors of the book His Brain, Her Brain, and I'm sure people will find it very helpful in their marriage communication and their newlywed steps. Thanks for being with us. Good to be with you guys.

Good to be here. What a great and insightful conversation with Dr. Walt and Barb Laramore today on Focus on the Family. It really is always great to have them on and to have that reminder about God's unique design for males and females and how marriage seems to really enunciate those differences between us.

Now, Laramore's book, His Brain, Her Brain, goes much deeper into the topic, offering perspective and practical tools to help make those differences work for your marriage. We'd love to send a copy of that book. It's our way of saying thank you when you donate today to the Ministry of Focus on the Family. Make a monthly pledge or a one-time gift of any amount when you call 800, the letter A in the word family, 800-232-6459, or look for the contact details in the episode notes. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller, inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive on your job opportunities here at Focus.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-14 15:06:53 / 2023-09-14 15:18:55 / 12

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