Fort McCoy News May 24, 2013

Seminar encourages couples to appreciate differences

Public Affairs Staff

Problems in relationships don't occur because people are different, but rather when partners don't recognize and appreciate those differences, said Dan Benavides during the seminar "'Did You Hear What I Meant?' The Gender Difference," held at Fort McCoy May 2.

As part of Military Spouse Appreciation, the Army Community Service (ACS) program invited Benavides, a licensed clinical social worker, to Fort McCoy to discuss the differences between males and females and how, despite those differences, they still have strong similarities.

Photo for ACS seminar
Dan Benavides discusses differences between men and women
during the seminar "'Did You Hear What I Meant?' The Gender
Difference," at Fort McCoy. Benavides, a licensed clinical social
worker, will return to the installation June 6 to present a
workshop on the Five Love Languages.

Both men and women have a desire to be in a relationship, to be independent and unique individuals, to be heard and understood, and to please the people they care about, Benavides said.

Men and women, however, have different motivations to do the things they do, he said.

"People don't always understand each other. Men and women are wired differently," he said. "Usually there is a reason why a spouse does something; if you can figure out that reason, you might just understand it."

Men, for example, define their sense of self by their ability to achieve results. Women define their sense of self by the quality of their relationships.

The genders also tend to solve problems in different ways. Men are more internal and women more external.

"When men have a problem we go to the 'man cave' and go inside ourselves and figure it out on our own," Benavides said. "Or we will ask for specific answers to a specific problem."

Women like to talk out their problems and aren't necessarily looking for answers. For women the act of communication leads to closeness in their relationships, he said.

Communication for women is a tool for connecting and showing that they care for their partner. Men show they care through actions.

"By having insight into why men and women think the way they do and respond the way they do, people can understand loved ones and appreciate them more," Benavides said.

Benavides said the topics he discusses are tendencies among the genders and are not ideas that can be applied across the board.

He also said that he does not make judgments on whether a particular gender difference is right or wrong.

Benavides will return to Fort McCoy June 6 to present "Discovering the Love Languages in your Relationship." He will discuss the Five Love Languages and how couples can use that knowledge to improve their relationships.

Benavides said he will discuss specific things that can be done to bridge the gap between the differences in men and women.

The mission of ACS is to assist with readiness of individuals, Families and Army communities by developing, coordinating and delivering services that promote self-reliance, resiliency and stability, said Becky Wapp Sawyer, ACS director.

Benavides provides information to Families that helps improve communication which leads to improved relationships. Improved relationships can lead to strengthening communities, she said.

Sawyer said the ACS staff has had positive experience working with Benavides in the past, and delighted in the opportunity to sponsor the Gender Difference seminar. She said they also are excited about offering the upcoming Love Languages workshop.

The free workshop will be held at McCoy's, building 1571. Dinner will be available for purchase from 5 to 6 p.m. and the program will run from 6 to 9 p.m. Register for the event by May 29 by calling 608-388-3505.