That's why children tend to share a great deal more with Mom. It's not necessarily because Mom is a better listener or has better responses. It starts with the basic fact that Mom values time as a message of love in and of itself. Time doesn't have to be about getting something done. Maybe moms are better listeners because they spend enough time truly understanding their children and then can respond to their children from being inside the loop instead of sounding like they don't get it. Children will share their deepest thoughts with someone they feel gets them. They also tend to share their biggest fears and concerns when things are calm and they’re just hanging out with Mom. Commonly, a young child will ask the big questions when lying in bed next to his mom, who is just reading or spending quiet time with no other purpose than to show love by being next to her child. That's when she hears the really deep, hard questions, like "What happens when we die?"
Men do not see the correlation between spending time and creating a great marriage. They have difficulty readily seeing how having dinner together or reading side by side, discussing news events and laughing, is going to directly affect their lives. On the other hand, every hour a man spends working gives him a concrete sense of how useful that time was. After that time spent, he'll have fewer calls to make, will have finished the email, will be closer to sending in the report, will have made more money working overtime. This allows him to measure his use of time in a way that he can't when spending it with his wife. Yes, men could measure the time they spent with their wives last night by whether they had sex. Again, a clear accomplishment—and an attitude that drives women mad because it looks like the reason he spent the time was to accomplish that objective. Most men are being nice not only for sex. Rather, they're always looking for a concrete measurement of success, and having sex is a pretty good one.
Men need to learn from all of the women in my study that the true measure of a relationship is the good feelings of being loved and loving another. It's not something anyone can just make happen with a single gesture. If a man buys his wife a beautiful present, he shouldn't be surprised that she's complaining just a few days later that he's not paying her enough attention (yet many men seem shocked if this happens). One big gesture isn't going to do it. He wants her to understand how many hours it took him to work in order to make the money for that present. She wants him to understand that she'd rather have him to herself for all of that time he spent working to make the money for the present. That would be her most precious present.
How Women and Men View Time Differently
• Women view time as a message in itself that they are valued.
• Men view time largely as a vehicle to accomplish tasks.
• Women prefer ongoing time spent with their husbands to big presents.
• Men use presents as a way of giving time, showing they've spent time by working to afford the present.