According to Fisher, men value shared events, even if that "event" is the season finale of Parks and Recreation. They don't need to talk to each other to feel a connection, they just need to take part in the same experience. "Men get more intimacy out of what is called side-by-side doing," Fisher says. "For example two men sitting watching television all afternoon on a Sunday at ball games say almost nothing, but they got great intimacy out of it because they shared an event. I think it comes from millions of years of men sitting behind a bush in the grasslands of Africa, staring straight ahead, trying to hit that buffalo in the head with a rock. You cannot be face to face talking to each other if you're going to do your job." Flash forward to modern times, and this is why men go deaf when watching TV. Fisher agrees: "They're very focused on that TV. They don't hear you. They don't see you."
"Elevated testosterone activity gives you a narrow, deep focus and these men, they're not trying to be rude, they're just literally doing one thing at a time," Fisher explains. "And then of course after you turn off the TV and you go to dinner together, then you'll start talking about all these things and you'll have a wonderful time because now he's focused on something else."
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Women are better multi-taskers says Fisher. And yes, you can quote her on that: "Estrogen flows over the brain in the womb and women who get a lot of estrogen tend to have a lot of connections between the two hemispheres of the brain and between the front and the back of the brain. As a result, they see the big picture, they think long-term, they're very imaginative, and they collect a lot of data and they put those data into very complex patterns."
Because of these connections, women require more interaction with their quality time. "I have a friend who's a bird-watcher," Fisher continues. "He says with men he just goes out there stands side-by-side and looks at the birds. With a woman, she puts her binoculars down, faces him straight on with what's called the anchoring gaze, and talks about the birds that she's seeing."
Understanding gender differences—and cutting your partner some slack—is key to getting the quality time that satisfies both partners. But before you hide the remote and start planning a vacation, consider your own needs. "To focus on quality time as a couple, both people have to start at a place of feeling like they have enough quality time to themselves," says YourTango Expert and relationship coach Melodie Tucker.
From there, Tucker suggests each person figure out which activities are completely separate interests and which can be shared. Two people might not find a given activity equally enjoyable, but they should agree on the shared activity. Ideally, one partner will present his or her interest, and the other's role is to compromise and be open to trying it out. "Take turns," says Tucker. "Men may favor a more action-oriented or task-driven activity. Women want to communicate more."
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