We can become good at hiding when we find that blaming doesn't get the results we wanted, so now we just don't share at all. Trouble is, we are still experiencing emotions at some level and we sacrifice intimacy with our spouse when we hide our heart from their heart.

But "happily" is still God's plan for us! He desires for us to experience love, friendship, and deep intimacy, but we must come to grips with what is going on in the ever after that is not so happy, and the sooner the better. If we don't, we become disillusioned and defeated and feel as if our expectations were all for naught! This can set us up for a lifetime of marital defeat rather than marital bliss.

Differently Ever After

What is it that we just don't get? God created us male and female from the beginning. Our differences are part of His design. But it seems when sin entered the world, the differences that were once helpful to intimacy became hindrances to intimacy. We can see that our body structures are very different on the outside. That is a good thing! What we react to are the major differences on the inside. We may even blame each other for being different.

The female brain is constructed very differently than the male brain. Females live in the relational and emotional hemispheres of the brain fairly consistently.1 This is due to more connectors between the right and left hemispheres. A female secretes higher levels of oxytocin, sometimes called the "bonding" chemical.2 This chemical is secreted at greater levels during childbirth to aid in the bonding process between the mother and the child. Females reach out to bond in their relationships due to higher oxytocin levels.

Men, on the other hand, secrete very little of this chemical; it is most likely to be at higher levels right after having sexual intercourse. While testosterone drives the male in their sexual desire, they do feel very bonded after sex due to the rise in the oxytocin level. A woman wants to bond before sexual intercourse, while a man feels bonding afterward. We would become less mad about this whole sexual dilemma if we just understood these simple differences as male and female and sought to meet each other's needs. Husbands, bond a little with your wife, and wives, have sex with your husband, and you will both get an oxytocin high! We know it is not that simple—we live in the real world like you do. But if we recognize and appreciate our differences, we can avoid doing the same thing that does not work over and over again.

Entire books have been dedicated to teaching on the male and female brain and chemical differences. Our "happily ever after" is affected when we don't understand that men are more compartmentalized in their approach to life and relationships and emotions, while most women are constantly working out of a relational- and emotional-thinking process. This is why men do not remember emotional experiences as well as women do. They may remember facts about sports events or what is happening on Wall Street, but what our tears were about two weeks ago may elude them.

A woman's brain has been shown not to rest at all, while a man's brain will need mental naps. Beware, ladies, to watch for the stare on his face. He may be taking a mental nap, giving you the signal that a deep emotional connection and conversation is not going to happen! If you don't want to get mad and frustrated or hurt, then wait until that brain of his is awake and alert and trying to make the switch to the relational compartment.

Testosterone is a major player in the male. A man has thirty times more testosterone than a woman has. Testosterone drives the sexual desire and may increase competitiveness and aggression. As we mentioned, women secrete oxytocin, which drives them to bond. In conflict a woman may try to bond with her husband. She does this by trying to talk, relate, get her emotions out, and often because she does not understand the differences, she may expect him to function in similar ways. He has to actively work at going to the compartment in his brain that is relational, emotional. He often does not understand this about himself and perceives her advances as pressure to perform. Often this scenario results in misunderstanding, sometimes leading to anger and frustration.