After 27 years, my brother finally got to spend a week getting to know his big sister and little nephew. We were thrilled to have him visit us and show him around DC. We got to take in many of the sites, and do fun things that we have missed out on all these years. It was an incredible, life-altering experience, that will last with me forever, but I understand that to fully process what just happened will take some time.

My situation is perhaps a bit extreme, but many of us in our lifetime will have an incredibly emotional experience that will require us to slow down from our normal routine way of life in order to allow our brains to think through our feelings and any new information gleaned from the situation at hand.

It is sadly my experience that men do not allow themselves much time to decompress. Most men I know simply unwind by watching a movie in silence or vegging out in front of the tv. Meanwhile, women are much better about planning trips to the spa, a Girls Night Out with friends, making time to go to the gym, write in a journal or just pull out a box of tissues and have a good cry. But, in relationships with men, they often want to talk about something upsetting right away, they can be very clingy, and often they suffocate a relationship by not allowing the other the space he needs to work things out in his own head.

For relationships to thrive, I think it is important to understand that we all process information and emotions at different rates and in a variety of ways. We need to be sensitive to each other’s needs, be honest with one another when we need space or time on our own, repect our differences and encourage our partners to be kind to themselves, without passing judgment on how we may each choose to unwind.

My brother and I are not wired the same, and I think many people were concerned about how we would get along this week, but by being open and honest with each other about our needs and respecting each other’s boundaries, we got through an incredibly emotional week together with a far deeper sense of understanding and love than I ever could have imagined.