This is to introduce the book, His Brain, Her Brain: How Divinely Designed Differences Can Strengthen Your Marriage, by Walt and Barb Larimore (Zondervan, 2008). Walt Larimore is a medical doctor who has brought the current brain research in application to relationships. Barb Larimore helps to interpret the masculine and scientific side of things for a broader audience and provide both a woman’s perspective and examples of the theories in daily life. They use italics to set off paragraphs of her direct statements.
The authors write as conservative Christians. They do not leverage the research for support of either the complementarian or egalitarian theological positions on men and women in marriage or church leadership. The goal is well-conceived to provide information so that men and women can appropriately value each other and do better in relationships. The authors are clearly experienced as marriage counselors to Christians. The book works as a helpful application of science to getting along with each other.
I found the presentation to be affirming of both genders with strong appreciation in the hormonal and structural differences that God made. Much of the evidence about hormonal chemistry as it affects behaviors that are part of male and female differences helped me understand myself as a man, my sons, my daughter, and my wife. I learned many helpful things about how to understand my wife, and I am less impatient with her feminine ways that are rooted in a much different chemistry than mine. I was able to explain some of my interests that are baffling to her, such as why it’s normal for men to enjoy aggression and athletic competition. Now I get it and I can help her get it too.
The authors do not address the possible objection that the present state of neurological differences in men and women is the result of evolutionary adaption under pressure from social forces. I do not think this is a weakness of the book. They take as a given that men and women are created by God in the ways we discover through science.
This book is important for our stock of knowledge in the context of a culture that seems to be teaching us to diminish the differences between men and women as socially constructed and superficial. I think that what seems to be a de-emphasis on gender differences as distinctive strengths can lead to further devaluing of women and men. I do not want to be driven to a middle muddle by which everyone is expected to function in some sort of a gender commonality. Our culture is confused about what it means to be a man and woman. This book helps to clarify that we are not the same. We have different strengths that I hope will be recognized and appreciated in women and men alike.
1. Different by Divine Design
2. Different as Night and Day
3. Differences in How We Perceive Our World
4. Differences in How We Process Input from Our World
5. Differences in How We Communicate with Our World
6. Decoding Our Communication Differences
7. Sex on the Brain
8. Sex by God’s Design
9. His Brain—Conquest; Her Brain—Nurture
10. His Brain—Provision; Her Brain—Security
11. His Brain—Respect; Her Brain—Love
12. Created to Be One by God’s Design
13. Cherish, Honor, Nurture by God’s Design