Does an orange taste the same as a mango? No. Both are distinct yet delicious and nutritious. This simple analogy can explain the relationship between men and women. Both genders are unique and beneficial to the world. They are best at work when they understand these differences between themselves and the opposite sex. Communication is established, synergy is created, and relationships flourish.
However, when these gender differences are not considered or even observed, life becomes a trial. Both engage in a tug of war that nobody wins. They have unfulfilled expectations of each other. Both want to change each other. But according to Allah’s (swt) grand plan, men and women are deliberately meant to be different in many aspects of life, so they may complement each other and not conflict.
“The Relationship Institute” explains these gender differences well. They state: “A man’s sense of self is defined through his ability to achieve results, through success and accomplishment. Men feel good about themselves by doing things independently as it is a symbol of efficiency, power, and competence. In general, men are more interested in objects and things rather than people and feelings. Men rarely talk about their problems unless they are seeking ‘expert’ advice. For them asking for help, when you can do something yourself, is a sign of weakness.”
Men are more aggressive, combative, and territorial. Their self-esteem is more career-related. Men tend to obsess about money much more than women. Naturally, failure and financial setbacks can cause great devastation in their life. Men also want to appear self-sufficient. They hate to ask for information because it denotes failure.
By nature, men are more logical, analytical, and rational. Emotionally, they have a much more difficult time relating to their feelings. Expression of feelings in their presence can be threatening to them. They may react by withdrawing or attempting to control the situation through a display of control and/or power.
This is what the ‘Relationship Institute’ has to say regarding women: “Women value love, communication, beauty, and relationships. A woman’s sense of self is defined through her feelings and the quality of her relationships. They spend much time supporting, nurturing, and helping each other. Personal expression, in clothes and feelings, is very important. Talking, sharing, and relating is how a woman feels good about herself. For women, offering help is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength; it is a sign of caring to give support.”
“Whoever does righteous deeds, whether male or female, provided he is a believer – We shall surely grant him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward [in Hereafter] according to the best of what they used to do.” (An-Nahl, 16:97)
What a beautiful promise. I wonder if anybody requires any further affirmation. Is this Ayah not enough to raise our self-esteem, no matter which gender we represent? It is based on justice, mercy, and wisdom – everything Islam stands for. It highlights Allah’s (swt) care and compassion.
We should also remember that any member of the opposite gender is our brother or sister in Islam, who has rights upon us that bind us morally and spiritually. And, most importantly, we must recognize that what we may perceive in the opposite gender as a weakness may be his or her strength. It is us who must identify, understand, and remember these differences – we must trust and respect and, most of all, collaborate.