How Do Men Think?


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I am SOOOOO excited about this post!  I believe that if we as women could better understand how God designed our men to operate, think, feel and look at life – we could be so much more accepting, understanding, empathetic and appreciative of their strengths and even their weaknesses.  I believe that if we realize that a man’s brain works very differently from our own, we will be able to allow him the time and space he needs without resenting him, or thinking he is unloving, or assigning evil motives to our husbands – just because they don’t think, talk and act like we do.  This is just a small sample size of men.  I hope to feature some other men with different ways of thinking in future posts on this topic.

Click here for Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 in this series.

MY HUSBAND’S THOUGHT PROCESSES

I asked Greg  (an engineer) if he solves problems at work and home with words in his mind.  The thought had never occurred to me that anyone could solve anything in their head without a constant stream of words.  He amazed me when he said that he doesn’t really use words for solving many problems.

For house projects (carpentry and plumbing, etc) he said he thinks in numbers and pictures, but not words.  And for family and marriage issues and big decisions, he said he thinks more in the form of input and output, logic systems, or a scale.  That really blew my mind!  No wonder he can’t always explain to me how he arrived at a conclusion – he isn’t using words to get there, but he is using a very logical method.  It is just not remotely MY method!

When he judges whether his logic system is working well, he uses my response and happiness as the measure of success – or the “output” of his system.  Wow!

And he said that when his system didn’t produce good results (my happiness) repeatedly – he just shut down the whole thing because the system wasn’t working.  That is the “shut down” I saw for weeks or months in the past. :(

MY DADDY’S EXPLANATION OF HIS THOUGHT PROCESSES

I asked my Daddy about this, too.  He’s also an engineer.  He said that when he is working on the house, he thinks in pictures.  He said when he is working on certain problems “Words are a waste of time and energy.  Pictures are much faster.”

OTHER MEN’S EXPLANATIONS OF HOW THEY THINK

Man 1:

I certainly think through things a lot but  when you are in a position of leadership or authority (like a President) you have to be careful what you say because it could have dire consequences. Imagine if a pastor or priest thought out loud about everything that came into his head. Some of his thoughts may not be healthy for consumption but his position would give credibility to them. This may be a result of hard wiring or it may me a result of how boys are raised into men.

I will say this though. In my head I am isolating variables and thinking about them in words. I am just not speaking those words aloud or writing them down.

It does depend on the problem as to what I am thinking. I can imagine an engineer thinking in pictures because if you are building something you have to visualize it.  I am a chemist so when I am thinking about molecular structures I am definitely not thinking in words. When I am thinking about theology or philosophy I am thinking in words. I think it is hard to generalize.

MAN 2:

I would agree with Greg as well about not really thinking and processing with words. I tend to process alot just as he indicated by thinking about all the different options and if I do this these are the results, if I do this other thing the results change like this.

When it all comes down to it I look at all the options and figure out which is the best result. Sometimes it’s a matter of picking the least bad result because nothing is great, but many times it’s picking from a few good results and you have to consider how many people it will affect as you can’t know how they will see the results either. So I would definately say a majority of the time I focus and process with the right side of my brain. (From PW – the right side of the brain in men and women is where logic and reasoning happens.  For men, this area is not nearly as connected to the verbal center in the left side of the brain as it is for women.  This is a really important difference – that God created very purposefully – I believe – so that men can deeply concentrate and focus on spacial issues and think more efficiently about certain types of problems without the distraction of words and emotions.  That could be extremely helpful in a war situation or even at work.)

I will say that I have a pretty active imagination as well and sometimes while I still think about which choices will affect the outcome and look at all the options there are quite a few times where I will do that with pictures. Sort of a silent film in my head if you will.

I can see the scene unfold before me and based on choices made see how people react or how it unrolls from there. Granted it’s still all just my opinion on how it will happen and I can’t know for sure how someone else will react, but the movies I’ve created in my head to solve problems tend to be correct more than incorrect. So while I believe that I am still processing based on logic, past reactions I’ve seen, etc there is definately a part of my left brain that is in there moving things along as well. Even with that said there are still almost no words taking place. The only time words come up in the movies is when I have to say something to make a choice and see what the reactions are.

I would also agree with the “can’t explain it with words” comment. There have been many times in my life where if given the time to make a decision I process it and come to a decision and when I put forth what that decision is I am questioned to explain it. When I was younger I actually tried to explain it at times and it never came out well. When I start getting pressured about a topic and can’t explain it well enough I tend to fall back on using more basic words and things like always, never, all the time come out. I’ve learned that to someone who thinks and processes with words those particular words are caustic. As soon as those start coming out there’s not much chance of salvaging the discussion because those words mean something different to me than they do to women. Or more acurately they have more meaning to women than most men.”

OTHER MEN

You are welcome to comment about how you think!  I would love to run several more posts on this topic with a variety of men so that wives can find one who is most like their own husband to empathize with.

Wives, ask your husband sometime about if he thinks with words or pictures or equations or how  – and let me know what he says!

FOR THE MEN:

Check out the comments – I wrote out an explanation of how I used to think and how I think now.  Maybe it might be helpful for some of you – might give you some insights into how your wife might possibly think, too?

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36 Comments on “How Do Men Think?”

  1. Ann
    April 4, 2013 at 7:58 am #

    April, this is very beneficial information. Thank you for these examples. This is so helpful and interesting. Thank you men for taking the time to help us understand you. All the other men reading this – please, even if you feel it is similar to what another wrote, please share this with us. We women really WANT to learn how to be better wives, but we need to be taught. Please help to teach us. Specific examples are tremendously helpful. Thank you and God bless you for helping us women learn so we can work towards better marriages… It is a battle of the flesh and in the spiritual realm, so your input greatly makes a difference.

    • peacefulwife
      April 4, 2013 at 9:06 am #

      Ann – AMEN! YES! I would love for us to have a lot of men respond to this. I think it will be extremely helpful for the women to realize just how differently our men think – and to be able to embrace their masculine ways and work with them instead of against them.

  2. peacefulwife
    April 4, 2013 at 9:03 am #

    FOR THE MEN WHO MAY HAVE MISSED THIS ON MY FB THIS WEEK:
    I figured I would talk about how women think. I can only speak for myself here – but maybe the other ladies would like to chime in, too.

    I think in words. LOTS and LOTS of words. There are videos, too. But the videos are always with words – and they are almost always of conversations from the past.

    Before I learned to yield myself totally to God – and I was trying to be in control of my life and everyone around me myself (as if it was my job to be sovereign) – I constantly had “tapes” playing over and over and over ad nauseam in my head. I couldn’t stop them. It was usually a total replay of the most recent conflict I had been involved in. This would seriously just loop nonstop all day long every waking moment. It was AWFUL. I would remember everything the other person said – complete with tone of voice and body language and facial expressions. I would agonize and torture myself over what I “could have done,” “could have said,” and how I could have handled things better or avoided the conflict. And I would just make myself so anxious trying to “solve” this mess. Sometimes I would work and rework and reword all the possible things I would say the next time I saw the person or the next time a similar conflict happened so I would be “prepared.”

    I also had conversations with myself all the time about what my husband would say when I tried to tell him what we needed to do (since I was right all the time, and everything – and it was my duty to make sure we did “God’s will” as I saw it. I would spend hours going over and over how I was going to argue my case and explain my idea and convince my husband that I was right and we needed to do what I wanted to do. (He REALLY hated that! – I can totally see why now.)

    I would mix prayers in constantly with the incessant loop of worry and ideas about how I was going to control – praying and praying for God to intervene. Telling God what HAD to happen, OR ELSE. Trying to find God’s peace, but not able to. I would have “peace” for 20 seconds, then the obsessing would start again. I would try purposely to NOT THINK ABOUT the situation. And 2 seconds later, I was thinking about it just as much as ever.

    This was sheer torture. I HATED this constant video tape playing – but the only way it would stop is if a new conflict happened, and then it would replace the old one. Although, I could bring up any past conflict at any time and experience all of it – every word of it and all of the other person’s emotions and my emotions – just as vividly as I had during the conversation. That is probably why my memory of the other person’s words in a conflict were so easy for me to remember. I heard them over and over thousands and thousands of times.

    I would also obsess about problems and how I was going to solve all of them. I would constantly be thinking of the worst case scenario. What if this happens?? What will I do? How will I handle it? I can’t let that happen!!! I have to make it work out this other way at all costs!

    Then there were all the other daily things I would think about at the same time, too.

    HOW I THINK NOW:

    Now, I still have a lot of things going on. I am still always thinking about the state of different chores around the house when I am home, what each of my children are doing, what I am cooking for supper, what medicine the children have had during the day and when the next dose of each thing is due, the grocery list, and my to-do list like before.

    Instead of worrying and obsessing about past conflicts or future problems – I have peace. All of that internal anxiety is gone almost all the time. If I consciously allow myself to start thinking about what ifs, I could become anxious now. But usually, I quickly realize what I am doing and refocus on Christ and consciously resting in His love and His sovereignty – trusting Him to work out all things for my ultimate good and His glory. Sometimes I have to hash through emotions and consciously die to self.

    Now, I usually have a praise song going all the time in my head (different ones), and I am often thinking about what I want to write about for a post or what I want to say to answer someone in a comment or an email. But it is not worry or obsession. Although, I usually want to try to type whatever I think immediately so that I don’t have to consciously keep trying to remember my train of thought. Sometimes I am thinking about a book I read. Or about a passage of Scripture. Or what I want to write about in my book.

    At the same time as a praise song and ideas for posts/emails are going on in my head, I have the daily stuff, and praises for God, and thanksgiving.

    Then there are “windows” open in my head about things I need to do – get the oil changed, do the grocery shopping, get gas for the car, spend time in the Bible with the children, ….

    It is still a very busy place in my mind – but not stressful. The fear is gone. I am able to listen to God’s voice and His Spirit. I am able to wait and embrace the waiting. And I am able to consciously take my thoughts captive for Christ – most of the time!

    If I am really hormonal, exhausted, or have very low blood sugar – it is easier to slip into the worry. And there are times that I begin to veer towards the old sinful ways – but usually – God helps me recognize things QUICKLY and get back on His narrow path.

  3. Anna Popescu
    April 4, 2013 at 10:22 am #

    April, have you ever read “Men are Like Waffles–Women are Like Spaghetti” by Bill & Pam Farrel? http://www.amazon.com/Men-Like-Waffles-Women-Spaghetti-Understanding/dp/0736919619

    This book is a great insight into how differently men and women think, speak and act. It’s a book you’ll learn a lot from while you chuckle at the differences.

    Thank you for sharing what God puts on your heart about how HE wants marriages to be. You are definitely blessing a ton of people and marriages!

    Blessings!
    ~Anna

    • peacefulwife
      April 4, 2013 at 10:30 pm #

      Anna,
      I have! It is a very good book. I definitely recommend it. Thanks for reminding me!

  4. Carol
    April 4, 2013 at 10:48 am #

    I think about 300 things at one time. Sometimes, when I would talk to my husband about issues I had been thinking about, I would jump all around and expect him to follow. He would say, you know you haven’t finished a complete sentence since you have been talking. Normally after 25 minutes of talking, he would have this glazed look anyway. I must remember that my husband is NOT my girlfriend, mother or sister. He does not want to chitchat about fluffy stuff. He wants “headline news” and not “Entertainment Tonight.”

    Usually my husband would share about 3 anecdotes from his day and that would be it. He would end the conversation by saying “and that’s that.”

    It’s funny that when I talk to my mother or sister on the phone and don’t have much to say, they ask if everything is okay or if I am sick.

    God impressed upon my heart that when approaching my husband for talks, I have to make sure the timing is right, my motive is right, and I have to anticipate my husband’s present mood and his reaction.

    • peacefulwife
      April 5, 2013 at 9:32 pm #

      Carol,
      I LOVE THAT! He wants “headline news” and not “Entertainment Tonight.” What a great analogy! :)

  5. Faithful Servant
    April 4, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

    Bless you Carol,

    Your last sentence really is spot-on.

  6. The Marriage Bed (@themarriagebed)
    April 4, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

    It is interesting how our thinking changes over our life, and how we think in different ways about different things.

    I started as an electrical engineer, now I am a writer. When I do something like code for a web site, I do not think in words, but the more I write the more I find myself thinking in words. Words have become my primary tools, so it makes sense I use them for more and more.

    • peacefulwife
      April 4, 2013 at 10:30 pm #

      The Marriage Bed,
      Thank you for sharing! Would you allow me to use your comment in a post about this subject in the near future? I can post it anonymously if you prefer. I love hearing all the different ways men think. This is helpful!

  7. Trish
    April 4, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

    Wow April, I used to do all of these things too, and at times I still do! I was reading your post thinking I could have written this entire post myself. I so want the movie to stop replaying over and over in my head and to stop obsessing over the what if’s of it all. I’ve planned out many conversations before I even have them and have worked myself into a frenzy before I even know the outcome. I am starting to learn how to let things go and be at peace as I learn to rest in God and Know that he has everything in control and no matter what the outcome, it’s all going to work for my good. I also noticed that win I have a Praise song going on in my head I tend to worry and fret less too. I don’t think on all those other things as much and I am relaxed and at peace more. I thank God for this Blog because it is letting me see that I am not the only woman who functions or thinks the way I do. For a while I thought I just did not GET men and never would but now I see that I’m not alone and there is still hope! Thanks for sharing!

    • peacefulwife
      April 5, 2013 at 9:31 pm #

      WOOOHOOO!!!! Trish -this makes me so happy! Thank You, God! What an answer to prayer that He can somehow use me to share this treasure from heaven with other women! Thank you for sharing. I was pretty sure there were a lot of wives who would relate to how I thought and that this might be helpful.

      I can’t wait to see what God has in store for you!

  8. Ted Cox
    April 5, 2013 at 2:02 am #

    My wife Mona and I were discussing this and when I’m working on a project I have a image of what it should look like when I’m done and a general idea of how to get there. From there I follow my general plan and improvise as needed. Where decisions for the family are involved it’s more like the movie playing out how everyone will be affected. My wife has told me that when things involving the children come up she has a hard time not letting her emotions and fears affecting her. While I think, for a man I’m pretty emotional, I try never to make ANY important decisions when I’m upset or angry. I also agree with the man who said he looks at all the alternatives,then chooses one-some times the least bad. Especially when dealing with older children (our youngest is 20) making the least bad choice is quite common.The thing is I’ve found how my relationship is affected with that child or person is more important than being right, as long as it doesn’t result in immediate harm to them or others.

    • peacefulwife
      April 5, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

      Thanks, Ted! I am hoping to do another post about this and I would love to include your comment, please sir!

    • peacefulwife
      April 6, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

      Ted,
      May I please include your comment anonymously without any names in another post about how men think?

      • peacefulwife
        April 6, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

        Ted,
        Also, if I might include what your vocation is in the post, that would be great.

  9. Brittany Y.
    April 5, 2013 at 11:58 am #

    I love my fiance so very much. I cannot imagine my life without him. His thought process still drives me insane at times. I do not understand it because it is entirely different than mine. A small breakthrough for me is that I am learning to accept that his and my timelines for projects are entirely different. We are planning a wedding that is going to happen in a little under five months. To a woman, this is serious crunch time. I have to make decisions a bit faster than usual. I have to seek the Lord greatly so that way He can help me make the correct decisions given my time constraints. For my man though, he processes information at a different speed. This can cause me to worry a lot at times since I feel that I need to know this information right now in order to plan this wedding correctly. Instead we met in the middle. :) Understanding that we have time constraints, I am able to give him deadlines (even though I have been extending them at times) that give him 1-2 weeks to think about something that I would rather have in 2 days. And he is okay with that! I’m glad that he is working with me so that way we can both think about situations without feeling as if though we made the wrong decision. Him taking his time though also helps me to slow down and realize that while I do have a lot to plan, I do not have to worry every second of the day.

    One last thing I want to mention is the theme of the wedding. This may not seem like a big deal to some, but it really put me down a few notches in order to make my fiance happy. He wanted the theme of the wedding to be Assassin’s Creed and Butterflies. I was on board for the butterflies, not the video game. I said no as soon as it left his mouth. I know I told him months ago that I would consider that theme, but it really just drove me nuts. He seemed okay with it being shot down, but I knew that he really wanted it. This was a wedding. Not a birthday party, right? We started thinking of other theme ideas, but all of them felt like something was missing to me. I still really wanted butterflies, but I had nothing to go with it. I wanted something that would also represent the passions of my future husband. I prayed about it and asked the Lord what to do. All I could think of was “What would make him happy?” Last night I talked to him and decided that I would allow the AC/Butterfly theme for the wedding. While one of my bridesmaids flipped out and more people probably will, all that matter to me in that moment was making him happy. While I am still partially skeptical about how this is going to work out, I know for a fact that my fiance will appreciate this and will definitely surprise me in the end with the results.

    Again, I don’t know if any of this seems important to the rest of you, but this means the world to me. I am learning to understand his thought process. I am learning to deal with things that I don’t get. I am also trying to work WITH them so that he can be happy as well. Why should I be the only happy person? My thought there is that while he may be happy because I am happy, I want him to be happy because of what I give to him as well. It matters to me. My decisions used to not always reflect this. His happiness meant the world to me, but my decisions were not what always showed that. I would make decisions based on what the world thought was cool. I would make decisions based on what I thought was “perfect”. Instead I want to make decisions based on what is truly just right for us as long as the Lord approves. With that, it also really helps me to understand what he has to do every single day. Why? Because that is how he works. He wants me to be happy. If I can just do the same then I am one step closer to really understanding who he is as a person and one step farther away from being who I used to be.

    I wrote a lot, but I felt I should post these thoughts from a growing young woman in Christ. :)

    • peacefulwife
      April 5, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

      Thank you for sharing, Brittany! I am so glad you are learning these things now!!! That is a huge answer to prayer for me – that other women who come behind me might have some kind of godly model to follow and not be left in the dark about all of this stuff. I love what God is doing in you! And I can’t wait to see His plans for your future.

  10. Nicole Elliott
    April 16, 2013 at 4:55 pm #

    this was super interesting and eye opening–who ever thought of thinking without using words??!! (in my mind thinking is ONLY when you use words in your mind!) thanks so much for sharing, it definitely helped explain my hubby as he has an engineering type mind as well! :)

    • peacefulwife
      April 16, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

      This definitely helps me be more gracious with giving my husband time to process and think and then turn things into words. :)

  11. kls
    September 29, 2013 at 11:55 pm #

    Wow!!! I’m in my second marriage. The first lasted sixteen yrs. This one we are going on ten and ahalf. I’ve been sooo frustrated bc I’ve observed that I had a different partner but many issues were the same song n dance. I came across this blog just this morning and by this evening God supplied opportunity to apply the understanding I received from this blog. It is now late night and my husband is up spending quiet time with me. He’s even planned a vacation day tomorrow just to spend the day with me tomorrow! !! God bless you for being obedient. What a difference an open heart and a quiet humble spirit makes!

    • peacefulwife
      September 30, 2013 at 6:28 am #

      kls,

      I’m so glad to hear that God is speaking to you and helping you to understand your husband better! That is wonderful! THANK YOU, GOD! :)

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