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The difference between men and women

standard March 2, 2011 15 responses

Men and women are different. No doubt about it. And the standing joke is that guys will never understand women, but really, it’s equally challenging to understand men.

So here is my very simple explanation that will shed some light on the issue.

Picture a closet.

Savvy Sassy Closet!

You open the doors and you see clothes hanging, you see sweaters folded, you see shoes neatly lined up. (This is assuming you are not opening my closet. In fact, never open my closet. We don’t have enough insurance to cover you getting hit in the head with something.)

Everything is on display so that you can decide what to wear and how to accessorize without having to open a million drawers.

That’s how a woman’s head works. All aspects of her life are on display at all times. Kids, work, home, husbands, friends. It’s all there, visible at all times. This is why a woman can totally be “in the moment” doing something (wink, wink) and still know that there’s not enough milk in the fridge for breakfast.

While a mom is at work she can still process information about school or doctor’s appointments, or even plans for date night.

While a woman is at home she can be cooking dinner, doing the laundry, and thinking about a nagging work project.

Women have multi-tasking brains. 

Now picture a filing cabinet. 

Each drawer is clearly labeled “Work,” “Home,” “Kids,” “Buddies,” “Significant other.”

Know what’s special about filing cabinets? Only one drawer can be open at a time.

That’s exactly how a man’s brain works.

When he goes to work, he opens the “work” drawer and all the others remain tightly closed. When he’s at work he’s at work, it’s not that he doesn’t remember to make the doctor’s appointment, it’s that the doctor’s appointment info is in the home drawer and that drawer is closed.

When he’s with his buddies, the “buddies” drawer is open. He’s with his buddies, so he’s not thinking about the milk or the diapers you asked him to pick up on the way. He’s not going to think of those until he pushes open the house door and slides open the “home” drawer.

Men have mono-tasking brains.

You can argue that these fundamental differences date way back to when men hunted and needed to be 100% present in the hunt so they could survive and women just gathered so they could be thinking of many things at once.

Whatever the reason, doesn’t matter, fact is, you cannot expect people to be who they aren’t. So getting mad at a guy for not remembering that preschool ended early today or to grab some dish-detergent on his way home from soccer practice is fruitless.

Setting calendar reminders that will ping and force the home drawer open while he’s at work or placing strategic post-its on his steering wheel to open the drawer early – that’s how you can be sure he’s going to be where you want him to be when you need him to be there.

And before you ask, I haven’t yet found the solution to getting him to pick up his socks. Sorry. The closet analogy only goes so far. You’re on your own for the rest.

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15 responses

  • Aha! You are SOOO right.

    And for the socks? You leave them. That’s what I did. Even vacuumed AROUND them. He ran out of clean. Suddenly all the socks were picked up.

    Round two: socks mostly getting picked up. One sock wound up getting stuck in the couch cushion. But I could see it. Left it. Then my mom found it. In front of him.

    All socks make it to hamper now.

  • Spot on! This is why my husband stopped getting mad at me for texting him so many reminders. He resigned himself to the fact that yes, I was right, he was going to probably forget.

  • I like this description!! My multi tasking gets me in trouble, because I can never FOCUS on one thing, and it always takes me much longer than I think it will! Sometimes I really wish I could have a file cabinet, but being a Work-At_Home mom, that is wishful thinking!

  • What? There are differences? Love this analogy! You might save many a union with this one. I’d like to add, woman’s closets have padded hangers, absolutely no wire hangers. We are wired differently, for sure, but we don’t hang our cashmere & silk on such wires.

  • This post is brilliant! I saw a news story once on a research study about how men’s and women’s brains work differently. Both groups were given headphones and asked to listen to a story on tape. About 1/3 after the first story started, a second story began, overlapping the first. Both groups were asked to ignore the second story and just focus on the first. Turns out, the women couldn’t do it – they were trying to hard to process both stories at once. The men fared much better with being able to comprehend the first story from beginning to end. VERY interesting, and makes your analogy all the more spot-on! 🙂

  • Anonymous

    You are correct in everything you say… Except that you forgot to mention that the door to the closet is closed and LOCKED.

    We men will take your word for it about all the wonderful organization of the contents of the closet, and the multitasking ability and simultaneous streams of thought and all the rest. But all we see is a closed, blank, featureless, LOCKED door. And we couldn’t even hazard a decent guess as to what might be going on in there at any given moment.

    But you will continue to insist the door’s open, the light’s on, and everything’s in full view.

    That, to me, is the REAL difference between us.

  • ROFL!! You are TOO freakin’ right! Haha!

  • “…you cannot expect people to be who they aren’t.” Amen!! LOL

  • Finally, a woman who gets us…

  • I couldn’t have happened upon your post at a more timely moment: just yesterday my husband and I were arguing about who needs to plan, cook and shop for meals for my picky 2-year old. I just spent the entire day with her and my sick 9-month old and Hubby had the gall – when I asked him if he cooked anything for Jane while he was cooking his own non-toddler friendly dinner – to say, “I worked all day and then I went to the grocery store on the way home. What else do you want me to do?” (If only I had the luxury of leisurely going “grocery shopping” — he didn’t buy a toddler-friendly thing on his trip to the store — without two babies in tow).

    You should have seen what ensued next! Instead of boring you with the showdown, I just wanted to comment that your observation is dead on. Our argument ended with Hubby’s apology and “Just tell me what you want me to do and I’ll do it. I need to know my responsibilities and what’s on my list and I’ll do whatever it is you tell me.”

    So we’re leaving our division of labor at that: I do all of the thinking, planning and worrying and he does the execution on my bulleted list. I was hoping for some relief from all the mom multi-tasking, but turns out that Hubby has admitted his inability to think beyond his particular “cabinets” at hand so I guess I better start organizing his “home filing” to make sure he gets through it all!

  • You nailed it! Beautiful.
    I CAN’T do two things at once. My wife doesn’t get that. She’ll ask me to do something and while I’m do it ask me to do another thing. I look her in the eye and remind her I’m linear.
    When I am cooking, I can cut with a sharp knife and talk at the same time. You want dinner on time? Leave me alone for the 10 minutes I’m prepping.

  • I’m not saying I don’t agree that women are generally better multi-taskers, but I think that we do too much to let men off the hook. They don’t multi-task or remember these things because they ultimately believe it’s our responsibility. As I mentioned on Twitter, it will be interesting to see how this plays out in my house, where my DH is just about to become a SAHD, and it will now be his responsibility to keep track of these things. What I’ve already learned is that while he handles the responsibility differently than I do, he is absolutely capable of handling it.

    I’ll be sure to report back as time wears on! In the meantime, ladies, don’t write your husbands off as being too preocupied to do these things. Just make sure they know which are their responsibility, and then back off and let them do it their way!

  • I think this type of generalization is basically correct, in that most men lean that way and most women lean the other, but only in the same way that most men are taller than most women. If you divided a room of people by height and said “everyone over 5’7″ should use this bathroom and everyone under should us the other” you wouldn’t have an even division by sex. There are men who can multitask and women who can’t, its just a trend (I’m very male in my thinking, maybe that’s why I’m a scientist, and why we keep running out of milk).

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