(Source: Dollar Photo Club)

(Source: Dollar Photo Club)

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. We’ve heard that kind of language for ages.

From childhood rhymes, to contemporary literature, to psychological textbooks, people have been talking about the differences between men and women. We’re obsessed with identifying the things that make us uniquely “man” or “woman.”

As a professional counselor,  I’ve enjoyed learning and reading about all these gender theories. But the cold, hard truth about our male-female differences jumped off the page and into my life right after I got married.

Before I begin, I’ll be the first to say that stereotypes can’t and don’t apply to all. There are many men and women (my husband and I included) that don’t fall into all the typical categories that are generally assigned to male and female. God made us each unique, and in our uniqueness, we can’t and won’t always fit the mold.

Yet, even so, I couldn’t help but notice some of the innate differences between my husband and I. From the basics of how  we get ready in the morning, to the complexities of our relational needs – we’ve definitely learned a lot about one another along the way.

The information below may not apply to everyone, but it can still be helpful.

What men need to know about women

1. We don’t want you to fix it —  we just want you to listen.

There’s no concept I’ve had to explain more as a marriage therapist than this one right here. A simple, “Sounds like you’ve had a really hard day” goes so much further than, “Here’s what you should do to make it better.) Women just want to feel validated, supported, and heard…unless maybe there’s a nail sticking out of our head (Click here to watch one of my favorite laugh-out-loud videos about this.)

2. We appreciate the little things.

Believe it or not, when it comes to impressing us, you don’t have to go big or go home. This applies to all things, because what we’re really looking for is thoughtfulness. Kind words, meaningful touch, small acts of service — your love is best communicated in the details. When my husband walks in the door with a beautiful flower he picked along the way, it melts my heart more than 10 dozen roses ever could, because he thought of me in the most unexpected moment. The little things often say the most.

3. Don’t mistake our tears for weakness.

Early on in our dating relationship and marriage, John had to get used to my tears. Growing up with all brothers conditioned him to the idea that tears equal sadness, so seeing my tears of anger, excitement, frustration, and joy took some getting used to. And that’s not to mention “that time of month” tears, “just having one of those days” tears, and “I have no idea why I’m crying” tears. Men, as you learn to understand these tears, remember that they are not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. The strength to be real, vulnerable, and genuine. The strength to be passionate and compassionate, and the strength to actually feel.

4. We wake up looking a whole lot different than when we went to bed.

No matter how many psychology and counseling courses I’ve taken, books I’ve read, or research projects I’ve participated in I still can’t seem to figure out why in the world we women wake up looking like crazy-zombie-people, while our husbands look even cuter. Somehow, we decompose through the night to an almost unrecognizable state in the morning.  It’s something I feel that all men should know so they have an idea of exactly what it is they’re getting into.

5. The worst thing you can do to get us to calm down, is to tell us to relax.

In fact, there’s probably no other word that could get us more riled up! What is it about the word relax that drives us so looney? Not sure, but most women I talk to feel the exact same way. Whether it’s “relax” or some other hot button word remember to always handle us with care.

6. We want to be your partner, not your mother.

Women have the unhealthy tendency of taking care of the men in their lives – and then resenting them. The truth is, we were made to nurture, but in marriage and in healthy relationships, that nurturing needs to be played out in the context of a give-and-take relationship. We want to serve, yet we also need to be served. We want to give, but we also need to feel that we’re receiving. We want to be able to take care of our man, but just as much, we want to feel that he’s taking good care of us.

7. We think a man’s most attractive quality is his heart.

No matter what other messages this world may feed you don’t ever lose sight of this most important thing. Your faith, purity, character, honesty and integrity are more meaningful to any good woman than all else you could offer her. Our culture might make you feel like good guys come out last – but it’s those good guys that we women want to spend the rest of our lives with. (See: What women REALLY want in a man).

It’s true that men and women can often see life in different ways, but the beauty of different perspectives, is that they lend themselves to us doing life together. Here’s to God’s creativity, a creativity that is seen through our genders, in our personalities, and among all of our relationships.

A version of this article originally appeared on the website True Love Dates.

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor, speaker, and author of the book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life. You may also recognize her voice from over 150 articles at Relevant Magazine or Crosswalk.com. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.