Education Week: Respecting divine gender differences creates unified relationships

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In an Education Week presentation on Friday, licensed clinical social worker Carrie M. Wrigley explained how God given differences between men and women can help couples become stronger and more unified. (Maddi Dayton)

It is the divinely appointed differences between men and women that make successful relationships possible, according to licensed clinical social worker Carrie M. Wrigley.

Wrigley gave an Education Week class on Friday, August 19 about how men and women can use their unique strengths to complement each other.

Research shows the difference in the way men and women think stems from their varying brain structures, according to Wrigley. A man’s brain structure is designed to focus, compartmentalize and sequence, whereas a woman’s physiologically links things and attaches everything together.

Wrigley explained that unity in a relationship comes from using these different mindsets to work together.

“We do not have to be the same to be unified,” Wrigley said. “Unity is about taking different elements and pulling them together in a synthesized way that is ever so much more powerful than just one person alone.”

Wrigley illustrated this principle by splitting the audience into four sections and asking each section to sing a different note. When all four sections sang together, the group created a unified chord.

“Real unity is one of the most dynamic, creativity-unleashing, amazing experiences you can have,” Wrigley said. “In fact, it’s much more difficult and much more exciting to be unified together as a group.”

Gender differences are essential to Heavenly Father’s plan, Wrigley explained. God created men and women to work together as equal partners, as outlined in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”

“We need each other,” Wrigley said. “That is as true a gospel principle as exists in the gospel, that is nowhere more true than in our families — in those close, tender relationships that God set in motion.”

In her counseling experience, Wrigley has found that she is more successful when she respects these gender differences than trying to change them in her clients.

“A vast majority of the time, what I find to be useful with men and counseling is to respect who they are, how their brains work, how they process information and what their values and priorities are,” Wrigley said. “That’s how we move ahead.”

Learning to integrate these gender differences into working through the challenges and different biological stages of life will help a couple become more Christlike, according to Wrigley.

“Our Savior is not just bold, assertive, focused and direct, and he is not just kind, tender, compassionate and empathic. He is both of those things,” Wrigley said. “As we learn to value our different voices, our different strengths and our different contributions, we become indeed disciples of Jesus Christ.”

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