One of the things I love doing is teaching relationship enrichment classes (there are some great materials out there for developing strong and healthy relationships and I’d be happy to direct you to some that I use and have found helpful). I lead a 9-week marriage course called “Happily Ever After”.
Every week we would have gender breakout sessions where the men get together and women get together to discuss a specific question. One of the questions we asked women: What are the top five things that you wished men knew about women?
What would you say? Women, come up with your own “top five” list. Go ahead, I’ll give you a minute…
Here’s what the women in the class said:
- We are sensitive – so be more compassionate. This has nothing to do with the “weaker sex” argument that so often comes up in gender discussions. This is about a normal tendency for women to be more sensitive (and intuitive) than men. Are there women who are insensitive? Yes, of course. Are there are men who are tender and sensitive? Just meet my three year old and you’ll meet a VERY tenderhearted male. But generalizations often exist for a reason, and the women agreed that they tend to be more sensitive than their counterparts. My own associate pastor has jokingly (lovingly?) nicknamed me “Captain Insensitive”.
- We’re not attacking you – don’t be so defensive. Whew, I’m so glad I’m not the only man who gets defensive when his wife starts attacking…I mean criticizing…I mean trying to help us become better men! It often comes down to perspective. While women see their behavior as “helpful” men often perceive it to be threatening and attacking. And the natural response when being attacked is to become defensive. We change the subject, raise our voices, or storm out (none of which is helpful for healthy relationships). So men – let down your defenses a little bit and recognize that her “help” isn’t necessarily an attack. Women (HEAR ME NOW!) – how you initiate your “help” goes a long way in our receiving your words as help or as attack. Choose your words wisely, kindly, and softly and you are far more likely to have positive results in the conversation.
- We want you to show initiative and take responsibility for things that need doing. It seems that women don’t want another kid around the house unless that human being is actually a kid. Men, it’s time to grow up. That means assuming responsibility and doing things that need doing. I preach to myself here – I would love to live the perpetual juvenile life. Video games, movies, someone else cleaning up after me…. That is not the way to create and sustain a healthy marriage, though. Grow up. Do what needs to be done. Last night our church softball team had a late game. I didn’t get home until shortly after 10 p.m. The undisciplined, selfish juvenile in me wanted to kick my feet up and turn on the t.v. But things needed doing, so I didn’t turn on a show. I washed the dirty dishes at the sink and did a load of laundry. There will be time for video games and fun, but balance it with initiative and responsibility around the house and in your marriage.
- We feel underappreciated! Recognize how much we do in our roles. This should be a no-brainer. Everyone wants to be appreciated for what they contribute. This is true for sports teams, businesses, and, yes, marriages and families. It is all too easy to take our spouse for granted. We live with the person day in and day out. Life becomes routine. We forget exactly how much our spouse brings to the table. Even Dave Ramsey talks about the value added from a stay at home spouse/parent – HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS! It is important to regularly and frequently communicate appreciation to your spouse. This goes both ways – I’m not just picking on men. Women, you need to do your part to communicate appreciation to us.
- We don’t want you to keep score about who did what. It’s not a competition. The Latin expression is quid pro quo and means “this for that”. It’s about an exchange. You did this for me so I will do that for you. That kind of scorekeeping does not foster healthy marriages. It keeps us from acting on the other’s behalf unless they’ve acted first. This isn’t the Christian attitude. The Bible tells us to act in the interest of others and to prioritize others above ourselves. No such thing as quid pro quo in Christian relationships.
All said and done, marriage is hard work. I’m sure there are many other things that women wished we knew, but this list of five is a good place to start. So men – are you up to it? Can we treat our wives with the care and understanding they want from us? Can we become the godly, biblically grounded husbands that our wives need us to be?
Women – what else would you add to the list?
Next time: What men wish women knew!