The Difference Between the Male and Female Mind: Moving Stress
My wife and I recently made the decision to pack up our things and move across the country. We’re moving from Provo, UT to Richmond, VA. There’s an opportunity to continue to do some pretty cool work, and we’ve decided to do it.
My wife has been very supportive throughout this process. We’ve talked a lot about what will be best for both of us, for our family, and where we’ll be able to have an impact and make a difference. We talked about things a lot. That’s important in a marriage.
How to Move?
When we first decided we were going to move across the country, I started looking into options of how we could move our stuff. In the past, I’ve only had to pack up my Toyota Camry and drive it to my new destination. But, that was when I didn’t own any furniture, or a mattress, and I hadn’t been gifted a lot of wedding presents. Currently, my wife and I don’t have tons of stuff but it is more than when we started.
So I looked into a couple of different options. I looked at companies where they drop off a storage unit and you pack it up, then they take it across the country. I looked at full service moves — where a bunch of big guys come and load the truck for you. Then, I looked at this one company, ABF, where they deliver you a trailer, and then you pack it up yourself, put doors so that your stuff is separated from the rest of the trailer, and then they fill it with other freight and ship it across the country. It’s actually a really cool idea. ABF is a really big shipping company that’s been around for a long time. It only made sense for them to use their credibility and vast army of trucks to be able to make a couple more bucks.
So we went with ABF and their Upack program. The trailer was delivered on Monday June 15th. We spent the better part of that day boxing up our stuff, putting things away, and starting to load the truck.
Now, this is where I want to talk about the differences in the Male and Female Mind. If you are anything like me, you may have lived your life in ignorance, thinking that men and women think about things the same way. Breaking news: they do not. Now, of course I’m making some generalizations, and every situation, people, and relationship is different. But I think some of the principles that I’ll try and explain can be applied across a range of different people, situations, and relationships.
The Male Mind
When we started packing, my thought process was this:
This is going to be a long stressful process. I want to do all I can so that my wife doesn’t have to worry or think about this. So, I’ll try and do as much as I can, as quickly as I can. That way, this will be easier on my wife.
Yep, that’s exactly how I thought. Was it wrong to think that way? No, I don’t think so! I actually thought it was really sweet and thoughtful for me to think that way. Like I said before, this was going to be a stressful process, and I wanted to make it as easy as possible on my wife. Boy oh boy, I have much to learn, don’t I?
The Female Mind
My wife’s thoughts on how this packing process should go were quite different than my own. My wife’s thought process was this:
I want to help keep everything organized, and I want to work together as a team. My husband values my opinions and organizational skills, and because he values that, he will want my help in packing boxes and packing the truck. This is such a big project, that we have to do this together.
That’s how she was thinking. She wanted to discuss how we were going to pack things. She wanted to do it together. She wanted to make sure things were organized. Was she wrong to think that way? No, not at all! She wanted to be helpful, and most of all, wanted to work as a team.
It was not wrong of either of us to think the way we did. We both had each other’s best intentions at heart, and wanted to do things the right way. The problem? We never told each other how we were thinking. And this caused problems.
When we started packing, we went out and got a whole bunch of boxes. When we got home, I started packing rapidly. I wanted to get this done as quickly as possible, and then move on to packing the truck. My wife disagreed. She told me she wanted to be more organized and pack similar things in the same box. I disagreed and thought, “Why don’t we just throw everything in a box and figure it out when we get there.” But, I relented, and so we started being more organized.
However, over the next couple of days, we went through a lot of “moving stress.” This stress was mainly because I had the mindset of “I want to do everything, so my wife doesn’t have to.” My wife had the mindset of “I want to work as a team and make sure everything is organized.” What ended up happening was this:
I would pack a box, take it into the truck, and start packing the truck up. I got about 25 boxes in there, packed in a way that was acceptable to me. My wife came in, expressed her worries about things breaking in transit (which is a legit concern — people break things while they move all the time), and then wanted to rearrange all of the boxes. I’d then get frustrated that the hour of work I put in originally packing the boxes was a waste. She’d be upset because she thought that I didn’t even care to consult her. We both were frustrated at each other, upset at the situation, and stressed that we weren’t getting this done as quickly as we wanted to. And we still hadn’t told each other what we were thinking — that I wanted to do this for her so she didn’t have to stress, and that she wanted to work more as a team. That was the root cause of our frustration and upset feelings and we hadn’t yet figured that out.
Perhaps the most humorous of this entire situation was that we went the entire time frustrated and upset, repeated the whole procedure a couple of times (where I would pack the truck, thinking that I was being a good husband by doing it for my wife, and then she would get frustrated because she thought that I didn’t think she was smart enough or strong enough to help me pack it, and so we would have to repack the truck — I even got so upset that I threw my George Foreman grill across the truck in a fit of rage). It sounds like we weren’t very smart, but that’s the advantage of retrospect — knowing now what I didn’t know then. In the moment, I didn’t even think to tell my wife that I wanted to do this for her. She probably told me that she wanted to work more together as a team, but I didn’t take it to heart.
If only I would have told my wife,
“Alise, I know this is going to be stressful for us. I want to help you out by trying to get this done as fast as possible. Relax.”
If only my wife would’ve told me,
“Nick, it’s hurting my feelings that you aren’t valuing my opinion, and that you’re not allowing me to help you.”
We didn’t figure this out while we were packing. We figured this out when we had already sent the truck on it’s way, and were already driving across the country. We both were still harboring a couple of hard feelings towards each other. It felt like that packing experience was the most difficult thing that we had to go through so far in our marriage.
When we finally did communicate and tell each other how we were thinking during that process, immediately the hard feelings were gone. We saw how the other person was thinking, and we understood. Now, we wouldn’t have had those hard feelings forever, but we might’ve looked back on that move and thought, “Holy cow. Nick was being so ridiculous in the way he was packing the truck” or “Alise was reorganizing everything, and it was wasting so much time.”
We realized that men and women really do think about things differently. And that’s okay. Alise and I are a team, we love each other, and we’re still learning how to work together. Neither of us had moved all this stuff across the country before. Next time we move, we’ll know a little more about how to do it effectively, as a team.