Drs. Barbara and Michael Grossman talk about the different roles that men and women have and how their hormones and life impacts their own personal growth and development.

Hi, I’m Dr. Michael Grossman. I’m Doctor Barbara Grossmann, and we’re here to talk about fulfilling romantic relationships. 

So I want to think a little bit about the different roles that men and women have, and how their homo physiology plays and impacts how life shows up to them and how it affects their own personal growth and development.



So I want to think about that men and women are different from birth.


So when you have little babies, six months old, babies, if they’re a boy baby, they love to look at moving objects and they’re really into motion and movement. And the girl babies really into faces. They really focus on faces.


And that’s something that comes out of the physiology of the brain, because men have over 10 times the amount of testosterone that women have and women have over 10 times the estrogen that men have, and this affects the brain.


The brains of women and men are different.

We know that when we study PET scans and on other scans of the brain, and we can tell that a man’s brain is very focused on one thing and a woman’s brain is focused on everything all around them.


That would make sense in terms of evolution and survival. That you have, the men who were hunting elephants and lions and bears and so on, and they had to focus on that animal and they couldn’t think about the last upset. They had to focus on that situation so that they could bring home the animal.


And then that family could survive with food. Whereas a woman she was responsible for taking care of the kids, picking the berries, watching out for the weather, watching out for funny animals that come by or other tribes that were unfriendly.


And she had to take care of that and deal with all the kids and all the activities. So her brain is so structured that it really is able to take on many different things at once and be able to do that. And in general, that’s the difference between a man’s brain and a woman’s brain.


And we just know that’s the case. You know, a man comes home from work. He just wants to sit down and relax because now his brain can shut off. And he just wants to watch the television and put the clicker on and watch one channel.


Whereas a woman. She comes home to her home… My God, look at all these things have to be done, and the guy is he doesn’t care about all that stuff. He’s just focused on that TV station. That’s it. And he doesn’t know what’s going on.


Whereas the woman? She sees all the stuff going on, and she’s very much into making sure that everything is taken care of. And that’s a general kind of brain structure difference between man and woman.


Now, the question I have for you, Dr Barbara, is with relationships…


what kind of stresses are going on now that perhaps weren’t there 100 years ago?

Things are not as clear cut as they used to be. Because most of us in America today go to some kind of post-high school, learning experience. And in college, we all learn to think we’re all looking to create a life of work and competence. And so many young men and women both develop their thinking function.


If, after college, you go on to develop your vocational goals and develop really a specialty or develop competency skills that give you some amount of leadership, or decision making or responsibility for others. Your development, whether you’re male or female, becomes very masculine.


You learn to think and problem, solve and strategize, and you learn that too feelings is not how you lead – you lead with your thinking and you think first before you speak and you become very rational, and responsible. And that’s all great.


A version of what you did, what most young people do – even if even if you don’t go to college and you learn a technical skill. You’re an entrepreneur. You still have to, manage competencies that cause you to be responsible and skillful.


And so you have to think before you speak and you have to organize your work. And so an adult function, the adult function of work, really develops thinking.


If you happen to stay home and decided to help children because caretaking is a function that allows a lot of compassion and caretaking, your development is inclined to go in the feeling edge of things.


And while it’s a fabulous division of labor…


it’s also often a very difficult challenge for couples

where the man is very developed in his thinking and the woman is very developed in her feeling could also be the reverse where a man stays home. 

It would be the same thing a man would be developed in connection and feeling and organization, but not so much and strategizing in a complex set of problems. 

And so, having children building a family, sadly, is a challenge for couples and eventually, the disparity of development causes friction in a partnership.


On the other hand, this friction challenges both partners, to grow the partner who has great brain development and thinking development has to grow compassion.


The partner who is very feeling or engine and compassionate has to grow their thinking.


In this way, if you are understanding the meaning of the disappointment and dis-connection at this stage of your life, you can see how I’m describing it intellectually, but you can see how it will force a couple to develop so that they meet in a connection that’s rich with both feelings and thinking.


Where each partner can openly share the depths of their feelings and their desires, their visions for their life and what they want.


And they meet and recreate the relationship on a much richer level. And so this is inevitable and it looks like a tragedy, but it really is a door, an opportunity for great things.


Let me clarify. So you’re saying you’re describing that if the man is out at work and doing his career, the woman staying home with the kids – there’s gonna be a disconnect at a certain point because the man had gone his ways, and woman may not have gone those ways. And that puts pressure on relationship.


Yes. And if they both are into the career, it also ultimately puts pressure on the relationship, even though they’re both growing.


Yes, yes. The pressure is that you have two individuals who are very developed in thinking and strategizing. But the connection to feelings is really lost in the world of work.


Feelings don’t belong and work.


And so, the couple will be…there will be such a mental heady kind of, connection. Without the richness of feelings that the relationship will feel flat and disappointing to them.


It’ll be more like friendship.

It’ll feel like more like you’re problem-solving together and not sharing richly. And passion will be a lot less.


So what we’re teaching in our classes, we’re teaching skills. And the skills allow the couple to grow in their feelings and to grow in they’re thinking.


It presses them in both ways because we have specific exercises that make him look at how are you doing relationship? And so they get a set of skills to learn, which require both developed feelings and thinking.


And that’s what couples need after being married some time, you’re going from the thirties into your forties, you’re gonna need these skills.


What I mean by feeling, I mean reflective feeling. Really deep, all self-understanding, sharing some from one’s greater perception of oneself and your experiences in life, where you really bring a depth of personality that is much richer.


It’s not just, impulsive feeling.

It’s really sharing some really the soul. This creates a great connection and together, partnership is thoroughly enriched, and it’s a great platform to grow your family and to grow your life together as partners.


So what this is so important, that at some point in your growing development going in from your thirties into your forties or somewhere like that, you need to grow and be able to recognize that you have a relationship.


But you’re not the relationship. It’s something you have and you have to work on it. You have to mold it. You have to make it more solid. We only could do it when you can step outside of it and you have skills that you’re going to then bring into that relationship.


When you’re a teenager, you feel like you are your desires. Then you have a desire for this and for that, and if it doesn’t happen… your real upset.


When you’re growing and developing more, you realize that your desires are important, but you have a bigger issue you are now the relationship, you are now the family you’re now you have a bigger, wider net of who and what you are so that your own desires you have to come down and work on them.


What we’re suggesting is that you take our classes and then you’re gonna learn how to, recognize that you have a relationship and you’re gonna make it better.


And you have specific, skills that you need to develop in order to improve your relationship, right?


The skills help you not only satisfy the needs of your family and it also helps you, at the same time, understand what you need. And what you want. So that there isn’t the accumulation of resentments because you’ve sacrificed so much and the self-righteousness that comes from feeling martyred.


Like you’ve given everything and you haven’t gotten what you want. You can balance the needs of others with your own needs. Everyone wins as you grow like that. It’s beautiful to watch.


I want that for all my couples. You want to really journey together and reach these higher levels of integrated developments. You can truly partner together.


Well, thank you all for being here with us. It’s been a pleasure.


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