Education Week: Understanding differences in relationships

Camille Baker
Kevin and Denise Miller conduct a session of Education Week on the differences between men and women. (Camille Baker)

The Madsen Recital Hall in the Harris Fine Arts Center filled up quickly, and the additional overflow couldn’t even hold everyone who wanted to attend Denise P. and Kevin R. Miller’s BYU Education Week session titled “He said, she said: men and women in conversation and relationships.”

They started by saying relationships are built on unity and trust.

“Communication is the bridge that helps us get unity and trust,” Kevin Miller said.

Kevin Miller then quoted Stephen R. Covey when he said that the strength of a relationship lies in its differences, not its similarities.

These differences are something Denise and Kevin Miller highlighted during their first session.

Spiritual differences

Denise Miller talked about how spiritual differences between men and women have been present since the beginning.

Adam’s first priority was solving problems, and Eve’s first priorities were relationships and connections, Denise Miller said.

Kevin Miller continued this thought by saying women tend to be relationship-oriented and focus on the process, while men are problem-solving oriented.

“Communication takes time, and we all need to invest in it,” Denise Miller said.

Physiological differences

Kevin Miller discussed how research shows that male and female brains — as organs — are remarkably different.

Explaining this concept, Kevin Miller gave an example of each gender reading the same novel. Men’s brains light up when some sort of action happens, while women’s brains light up when there is a relationship.

Women want to stay in the emotional energy to resolve it, and guys just want to walk out of it to get to the action, according to Kevin Miller.

“I give a problem to Denise, and it’s like a Swiss army knife,” Kevin Miller said, referencing the solutions his wife would bring to him. Kevin Miller said his responses are more like a meat cleaver, ready to just solve the problem.

Men need 30 times more testosterone to do what a woman can do, according to Kevin Miller.

“When I solve a problem, the testosterone comes in and I feel better,” Kevin Miller said. “If there’s a problem and I can’t solve it, I will just shut down because I have to do something because of the testosterone.”

Oxytocin lowers the stress level in women, according to Denise Miller.

The audience then read the following sentence together: “To manage stress chemicals, men need to solve problems, and women need to connect.” This idea sums up the physiological differences men and women face.

Kevin Miller also said women speak anywhere from 5,000 to 20,000 more words a day than men do.

Given the differences between men and women that Kevin and Denise highlighted, Denise Miller said the greatest gift you can give to someone is listening to them.

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