No Cheap Sex

Husband and Wife
Husband and Wife

It seems that there is a general disregard for the power of marriage in our culture. With the divorce rate near 60% couples have a greater chance of splitting than they do going the distance. It absolutely breaks my heart when I see couples split. Of course there are a couple of legitimate reasons for couples splitting, but it’s still heartbreaking. God didn’t design us to be in temporary relationships. We were created to be part of a deep covenant; connected to our spouses in relationships that go far beyond any other relationship. But we don’t talk that way much. Certainly Hollywood doesn’t teach us about committed and enduring relationships. There must be a better way of doing things. I think God has set us up for success if we would just pay attention to what he tells us and learn to live it.

Here are five elements on the Bible’s perspective on the powerful bond we call marriage:

1. There’s no such thing as cheap sex. God says in the Old Testament, “If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed and lies with her, he shall give the bride-price for her and make her his wife.” (Exodus 22:16) Wow! One night stands? No such-a-thing in God’s community. Can you imagine if we lived by this principle in our country? The bars would be empty every weekend. Your wingman wouldn’t be the guy who helps you land the girl – he would be the guy to remind you, “You take her home tonight you’re stuck with her EVERY night.” Cheap sex hurts people and does not breed lasting, intimate relationships. Cheap sex does not promote family and thus weakens the nation (I believe strong nations are built on strong families, but that’s a post for another day). Cheap sex is looking for the positive elements of relationship without the commitment and struggle all genuine relationships must endure. In short – it’s not God’s ideal.

2. Marriage is designed to be a lifelong commitment. The Apostle Paul writes, “A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wished….” (1 Corinthians 7:39) I do believe that Jesus and Paul do talk about some exceptions whereby they permit divorce, but God’s IDEAL is still clear – marriage is supposed to be an enduring commitment between a man and a woman.

3. Your spouse influences your life (whether or not you realize it!). I once read that we are a composite of the five people we spend the most time with. That’s simultaneously an interesting and scary thought. But the people we “do life” with end up being who we are like. It’s no wonder that the Bible cautions us to choosing spouses that will bring us closer to God rather than drive us away from God. “Shall we then…act treacherously against our God by marrying foreign women?” (Nehemiah 13:27). Or Paul: “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers….” (2 Corinthians 6:14). Contrary to what some proclaim, these verses are not about racial purity. Even ancient Israel allowed foreigners to be part of the their community and God commanded justice towards them. No, the issue is about the gods that foreign people serve. People who serve different gods and have different spiritualities tend to pull us away from the One True God, Yahweh. This was Solomon’s downfall. The Bible actually doesn’t condemn his multiple wives. It condemns his choice of foreign women that led to worshipping false gods. The person we marry will end up influencing us, so choose wisely.

4. Marriage ought to be respected and honored and not taken too lightly. It’s a commitment and not something to fool around with. God tells us in the New Testament, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” (Hebrews 13:4) That certainly goes against the attitude of our day.

5. Marriage is not the same as merely cohabitating. Though there is no direct command regarding cohabitating, there is a story in the Gospel According to John in which Jesus encounters a women outside of a little town. She begins talking to him and tells Jesus that she has no husband. Jesus answers, “What you’ve said is true. You’ve had multiple husbands and the man you’re with now is not your husband. Yes, what you’ve said is true.” Jesus doesn’t see cohabitating on the same level as a committed, covenantal relationship established by marriage.

So where does that leave us? It leaves us with an incredibly high ideal. God’s ways set the standard for us, and we have fallen short. We need a radical change in our perspective – we need to align our behavior with God’s ideals. It can start today. It can start with you. Are you married? Start looking at your marriage through the God’s perspective. Are you single? Start looking at your dates and relationships from God’s point of view. Do you have kids? Start teaching them what God’s ideal is so that they grow up grounded with a biblical foundation for what they desire in marriage. We can change our perspective. The question is – do we want to?

How about you? What do you think about God’s ideal for marriage?

8 Things Every Husband Needs to Do

Marriage

If you’ve read any of my blogs about marriage and relationships you will know that I believe the Bible calls us to live in mutually submissive and mutually controlling relationships. I am not my own, but I belong to my wife. She belongs to me. I need to submit to my wife’s needs, wants, and desires. She needs to submit to mine. I believe the God calls us to this kind of mutuality. Understanding that groundwork, some of my posts on marriage and relationships will cover biblical principles without expressly quoting the Bible chapter and verse. Like today’s post.

In the 9-week marriage class I teach we split the men and women into gender breakout groups to discuss questions and issues. In one session I asked the women to identify 8 things their husbands do that they greatly appreciate. Here is there list:

  1. He pitches in around the house and with the kids – it seems that women don’t want to be the only caregiver and maid in the house. Men, this is our chance to step up and take ownership of the household. Stop passing the buck and figure out how you can be an active participant in running the family. One good method is to list out every task common to households (there are probably about 30-40 regular tasks) and split them up. Volunteer and say, “These 15 that you are already doing I will take off your hands.”
  2. He takes good care of me when I am sick – it is a great feeling to be cared for when you are under the weather. And let’s face it: women tend to be better care-givers than men. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Next time your woman is sick don’t complain about how you have to pick up the slack. Force her to go lie down and volunteer to make dinner, bathe the kids, read bedtime stories, and whatever else she normally does ALL THE TIME anyway.
  3. He takes care of the kids without complaining – whether you fathered them or are a blended family, BE A FATHER to the kids in the house.
  4. He asks what I need to be content and happy – I’ve heard it jokingly said that “Happy wife = Happy life” but IT’S TRUE! Your life will never be happier as when your spouse is happy. Care for her. Nurture her. Find out what her happiness requires and then pursue it diligently. When she knows that you care about her happiness it frees her to think about yours (you both win!).
  5. He helps me with my job/career – your wife has dreams, ambitions, and goals in her life. Don’t think that she’s a bump on a log. Assist (as much as you are able) in helping her realize success in her career.
  6. He does things without me having to ask him to – seriously, take initiative. She doesn’t want to be your momma. She wants to be your partner.
  7. He helps get the kids off to school – SEE NUMBER 3
  8. He has a good sense of humor – Everyone loves to laugh. We bond with people over laughter. If you and your wife find ways to laugh together it will help cement your relationship.

Well, there you have it. It’s what our class came up with. You want a healthy and happy marriage? Put in the work to make it that way.

How about you? What else would you add to this list?

Related Posts:
~ Top 5 Areas of Marriage Conflict and How to Manage

We Asked Women What They Wanted From Marriage Counseling…

Counseling

In the past I wrote about the 9-week marriage class I lead at our church and the breakout group questions. Once we had the men came up with their top 3 fears about being part of the class or participating in marriage counseling. It was a good question for them because EVERY SINGLE ONE of them had been brought to the class by his wife. Clearly it was important to the women.

So we asked the women: what are your top 3 hopes or desires from attending a marriage class?

Any guess as to what they said?

~ We hope this class helps us improve marital communication. This is the perennial issue in marriages. Everyone wants to communicate better. Everyone wants to communicate more. Our society has perpetuated the myth that talking more equals a stronger relationship. It’s simply not true. If a husband and a wife talk more and more yet the way they talk to each other is demeaning and belittling then the communication is going to damage the relationship – not improve it. So we don’t want more communication. We want BETTER communication.

When it comes to communication and prayer even Jesus wants better instead of more. Don’t babble on and on. Instead, simply talk to God in a natural way. Praise him. Thank him. Tell him what you need. Seek his will. Badda bing, badda boom.

Kinda makes all guys feel good to hear Jesus say, “Better, not more.” I’ve heard people give statistics about women needing to speak 20,000 words a day and men only 10,000 (I don’t remember the exact number, but it was ridiculously lopsided). I’m not so sure that’s a valid stat. Men, if we did our part to make communication BETTER then women wouldn’t have to try to compensate with MORE. As couples, let’s take steps to improve the quality of marital communication.

~ We hope this class helps us resolve conflict better. Resolving conflict is a two way street. Fortunately, it’s something we CAN get better at through practice and hard work. I always begin conflict resolution by looking at what Jesus said. If someone wrongs you, take it privately to the person and talk it out calmly. If the other person repents, then bring in a neutral party who can help evaluate. Then if it still doesn’t resolve escalate by adding others.

While Jesus’ words are not specifically geared towards married couples there is a principle we can learn. When we are hurt by someone the best course of action is to handle it personally and calmly with the person face to face. The goal is not to make the other person feel bad. The goal is always to restore relationship and repair the bond between people. This is especially important in marriages. Rather than talking to your buddies or girlfriends about what your spouse did; instead of taking it out on her or mistreating him, approach your partner calmly and lovingly to discuss the offense. Remember that the goal is always restoration and relationship repair. If we could learn to do this then our conflict resolution would be a lot healthier!

~ We hope this class helps strengthen the marriage bond. I hope and pray that this is a goal for all married couples no matter how long you’ve been married. There is always room to grow; always room to improve. Marriage cannot be passive. Things don’t get good by chance. It requires hard work to make relationships flourish. Keep at it. Make communication better. Make conflict resolution better. Read books. Seek a good pastor or counselor. But keep working at it.

God designed us to thrive in relationships – particularly the intimacy of the marriage relationship. Fight for it. Hold on to it. Work at it however you can. Men, last time I told the women that it was their job to help alleviate our fears of marriage counseling. Now it’s our turn. It is our job to help make their hopes a reality. You cannot sit on your butt and hope your marriage turns out ok. As a husband you need to do your part to improve communication and conflict resolution. Don’t settle for “okay” – work for THRIVING!

Ladies, how about you? What else would you hope to get out of marriage counseling or a marriage class? 

Top 3 Fears Men Have About Marriage Counseling

I teach a 9-week class designed to give couples some tools and resources for strengthening their relationship and to grow closer together. At the beginning of each week I have the men and women split into breakout groups to discuss questions from their gender’s point of view. In the very first class of the last cycle I asked the men’s breakout group to identify their top 3 fears about being part of a marriage class or marriage counseling.

 

Can you guess what they came up with?

 

~ I’m afraid that this will bring up even MORE issues between us. Yup, that’s the number one fear my guys had. They were willing to admit that tensions and issues already existed in their marriages. The fear was that intentionally working on the marriage would reveal additional issues.

What would you tell them? I told them that there was a very real possibility that working on a relationship would bring up additional issues. Knowing that more issues might arise is not a reason to avoid counseling or a marriage class. In fact – it’s a good reason to START counseling or attending a class! Every relationship has issues – things to work through. It is better to find a way to address those issues rather than let them fester. Eventually festering problems cause horrible sickness and require amputation. Not a pretty sight.

Man up. Yes, there will be tensions and issues in your relationship. Don’t run from them. Deal with them appropriately.

~ I’m afraid that we’ll realize that we’re not really compatible. As long as they keep their heads in the sand a lot of guys figure that they’ll be able to keep on truckin’ in the marriage. I was lucky enough to snag her, now I just gotta keep a low profile and pretend that everything is okay. She’ll never know we’re not compatible if we simply never work on the marriage.

I’m not sure but I think a lot of this fear stems from the fear of loneliness. We so often desire to be part of an intimate relationship that we alter behavior, change our appearance, or do all sorts of other zany things to attract and woo a partner. If she finds out the real me, if we’re forced to talk and be open, maybe she will not really be compatible with me and we’ll split up.

Here are two things to remember: 1) there are lots of different types of compatibility, just ask EHarmony. While some happily married couples are compatible in areas X, Y, and Z, others might not be and instead are compatible in areas A, B, and C. This leads to number 2) You HAVE to be compatible in some way, shape, or form or you never would have become a couple in the first place. Quit focusing on the negative and start to emphasize the positive that already exists.

~ I’m afraid that I’ll have to talk about my feelings and emotions. As much of a stereotype as that is, it was the men in the class that said it about themselves. Seems men realize that women are much more naturally suited for talking…and talking…and talking about emotions. The fear was that they would be forced to do it as well.

Unfortunately this one is true. You cannot build a relationship without connecting to your spouse on a deeper level. There will be some elements of your emotions and feelings that will need to be discussed. It doesn’t mean you have to turn into a Chatty Cathy (I’m apologize to everyone named Cathy. It’s nothing personal, just the expression). It does mean that you will need to practice expressing what you think and feel.

 

God reveals to us through the Bible that the marriage relationship is built on mutuality. Husband and wife mutually control the other. They mutually submit to the other. They mutually respect each other. It’s not about one person who dominates and one who yields.

So, women, as a partner you need to do everything within your power to help alleviate these fears that we men have. When issues come up we need to know that you will help address the issue in a calm and loving way (no berating, belittling, or combative maneuvers please). We need you to reaffirm the connection and compatibility between us. And we need you to be sensitive to our insensitivity – the fact that many of us HATE sharing our emotions and feelings.

Married couples can work together to build strong relationships. Men, we will have to overcome our fears. Women, you will have to lovingly work with us to overcome our fears. But together we can do it.

 

How about you? What fears do you have about getting into relationship counseling or a class?

I QUIT! What to Know Before You Divorce

Unhappy CoupleI love to use responses from real people in my sermons and my posts. Not too long ago I preached a message called, “What Does the Bible Say About Divorce?” The week before I sent out some private messages to a handful of people I know who are divorced and I asked them each two questions: 1) What did you wish you had known before you divorced that you know now? and 2) What would you tell others in the early stages of the divorce process?

 

Wanna know what they said?

 

1. I wish it had known how much it affects the kids emotionally as well as my own self-esteem – even years later.

This is probably one of the biggies that people face when dealing with divorce – there is an unseen ripple effect that washes through people divorcing and any kids who are products of divorce. There are often identity issues with both adults and kids; people who had their identity wrapped up in notions of “family” or “child” or “spouse” suddenly find themselves cut loose and wandering.

2. You will struggle with resentment, hurt, and anger towards your ex.

While some couples can maintain a friendly interaction after a divorce it is rare. By the time a couple gets to divorce things are usually so fractured and fragmented that an amicable relationship is not possible. And a broken relationship most often causes people to feel hurt and resentment towards the other.

3. It’s not always easy “fun-n-games”; you can’t just get married and check out. You always have to put into it and you’ll only get out what you put in.

One of the biggest problems I face in marriage counseling and marriage classes is that people wait WAY TOO LATE to begin working on their relationships. If we take the time when things are good to set ourselves up for success we’ll have the tools to make it through the rough patches later on. Think about it like driving a car. If you hold the wheel in a fixed position the car will eventually go off the road as the road shifts. So we make constant adjustments in order to stay in our lane. Relationships stay on course when we work to make little adjustments here and there rather than try to jerk the wheel back as the car is careening off the road.

4. The grass ain’t always greener on the other side – you’re gonna take your baggage with you and sometimes that makes the next shot harder.

Ah, yes, the “Things have GOT to be better next time” mentality. Relationship guru John Gottman notes the divorce rate for 2nd marriages is 10% higher than in 1st marriages. So we don’t really learn from previous marriages and improve. We take the same junk from the past and move it into a new relationship. It’s like paying off one credit card by transferring the balance to another card. YOU’VE STILL GOT THE DEBT! And every relationship will have baggage. I once heard it said (for the life of me I can’t remember where I heard or read it) that, since any relationship will have baggage, marriage is simply deciding which set of baggage you want to live with. Things don’t improve if you don’t improve.

5. Divorce is not as easy as you may think.

Yup – that’s pretty much it in a nutshell.

Some people don’t realize that the Bible speaks a good deal about relationships and divorce. In one sentence: God takes marriage seriously and expects that we take it seriously as well. One time Jesus was asked about divorce. They asked: “Why did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He answered: “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.”
Funny thing – expectation of longevity is an indicator of successful long-term relationships. When couples have an expectation that they’ll stick around as long as things are good and as long they are “in love” they tend not to go the distance. Couples who have an understanding that the relationship is a life-long commitment and plan to stick it out no matter what speed bumps come along fare much better in longevity. When we take marriage as seriously as God does we have better odds of successful long-term marriages.

So what can I tell you about making things better?

First – God can heal all broken relationships. Don’t give up all hope – he works miracles.
Second – If you are married, never argue using the word “Divorce” as ammunition. Couples who keep that in their back pocket will always see it as a way out.
Third – Put in effort to make things better rather than throwing in the towel. Read books. Find a pastor or counselor to talk to. Do something.
Fourth – When you’ve exhausted all options sometimes your spouse gives up and walks away. Know that God still loves you, and that no relationship status is going to cause him to turn his back on you.

So…what about you? What do you wish you had known then that you know now? What would you say to those in the rough spot of a pre-divorce marriage?

Giving Your Partner a Voice…

In the marriage class I teach (a 9-week course on developing and maintaining healthy relationships) we regularly do breakout groups of men and women to discuss a certain question of issue. It’s often amusing to see how men and women differ in their approach to issues. There was one question from the last session that caught me off-guard because both men and women had the EXACT same answers.

The question?

What are your top 5 areas that you would like for your spouse to ask you about before acting?

This particular night we were discussing the issue of sharing power and decision-making within the marriage. And yes – the men and women all wanted their spouses to dialogue before acting in the same areas of life.

 

Any guesses what they came up with?

 

1. Making major purchases or big financial decisions

This was #1 for both men and women. Face it – when we work hard for our money or towards a financial goal we’d like some input before our spouse goes off and makes a major purchase or a big financial decision that will affect the whole family. Sadly, many of us lack impulse control and the understanding that we should consult our spouses before making such decisions. Sometimes we fall into the “It’s my money and I’ll spend it however I please!” mentality.

That’s true if you’re single, but not if you’re married. I’ve never yet met a happily married couple that maintains separate accounts. Separate accounts indicates that couples have not understood the biblical concept of two becoming one. Separate accounts means that you’re withholding part of yourself from your spouse, and relationships cannot grow in intimacy if you’re forever holding part of yourself back. It’s not YOUR money and MY money – it’s OUR money. We will decide together how we will live, spend, save, and give.

Why don’t we consult our spouses sometimes? It’s basically selfish. Our spouse might veto what we want, so we don’t even ask. If you stop to think about it you find it’s really a juvenile and selfish mentality. It does not help build trust and respect in the marriage. Intimacy in marriage means that you both work together towards common goals. It means you give your partner an opportunity to veto and a voice in the process.

2. Making plans to do things

Both men and women disliked when their spouses made plans for them without checking with them beforehand. I understand that some opportunities have to be acted upon immediately, but usually there is time to consult with our spouses before we pull the trigger on making plans.

A good practice is to tell the people with whom you want to make plans, “I’m not sure of our schedule yet. Let me check with my spouse and I’ll get back to you soon.” Giving your spouse a voice in making plans really is about respect. It tells your spouse, “I care about your opinion and what you want to do more than I care about the immediacy of making plans.”

3. Making spiritual decisions for the family

This is gender-neutral – we each have the capability of making spiritual decisions for our spouse. Which church will we go to (or place of worship if you’re not Christian)? Which spiritual activities are we going to participate in? Since tastes, abilities, and personalities differ so much from person to person it is unwise for one person to make decisions for the couple. Talk about it and decide together the how, where, and what of practicing your spirituality.

4. Making a major job change

“But it’s MY job! Why do I have to talk to my spouse first?” It’s really about doing life together. When you are single you are only looking after yourself. You make decisions for the good of one, and when you shift course the only one affected is you. In a marriage, every course you take is going to affect your partner. Making a major job change can affect the family situation, housing, cash flow, reaching goals, and a handful of other issues. Give your partner the respect of discussing major job changes before acting on them. Remember – this isn’t about MY life…it’s about OUR life (yes, that was supposed to be singular).

5. Household issues like child discipline and paying bills

Let’s be honest, you don’t have to have a committee meeting every time there is a bill to be paid, but both partners should be aware of the bills. Both partners should have a say in parenting goals and values and how to achieve those through discipline/rewards. Passive spouses, don’t just surrender control of household issues to your partner. Aggressive spouses, don’t just seize control from your partner. Share life together and mutually decide the who, how, and what of managing household issues. While you won’t always see eye to eye you can still be on the same page.

In the end, our goal is to create a oneness, a unity within the marriage. It is not about two roommates doing life individually under the same room and sleeping in the same bed. Marriage is about leaving the two behind and moving forward as a single entity. No longer ME but now WE.

How about you? What would you like your partner to ask you about before acting?

What Men Wish Women Knew

So the marriage class I teach has breakout sessions where the men and women split to discuss a question or issue. One of the group tasks was to come up with a list of the top 5 things you wish the other gender knew about you. My last post was what the women wished their husbands knew about them. As promised, today is the other half of the coin: The Top 5 Things Men Wish Women Knew (and only fitting being that it’s Father’s Day).

 

What do you think they came up with? Men, come up with your own “top five” list. Go ahead, I’ll give you a minute…

 

Here’s what the men in the class said:

 

  1. Sometimes we’re really thinking about nothing. Okay, I’ll grant that ever living, waking human being has something going through his head. There is never “un-thought.” But some thoughts are simply meant to be just that – a private thought. We don’t always have something that needs to be shared with the entire class. If I’m looking at my steak and look lost in thought it’s probably because I’m wondering if they cooked it medium or medium well. If I’m watching the ball game and look pensive it’s probably because I’m wondering how a professional sports team could have made such bone-headed draft and coaching choices when obviously I could be doing a much better job at a fraction of the cost. But just because we have those kinds of thoughts doesn’t mean that we consider them “share-worthy.”  It’s no big deal so, if asked what we’re thinking about, we answer, “Nothing.” It’s not about not sharing – it’s about the fact that it’s a fleeting thought about something insignificant. Don’t sweat us on the thinking and feeling question. Sometimes it’s like you turn on the spotlight and act like a detective in some cheesy film noir. If we agree to talk about the important stuff will you agree to ease up on the throttle when we say, “Nothing”?
  2. We don’t need to “engage” to be together. We are not women. We connect in different ways (yes, these are generalities, but they often hold true). I went to hang out with some friends for this year’s Superbowl. There were 12-15 couples there. It was interesting to see how the couples naturally divided during the evening. The women all gathered around the table to chat, share, eat – whatever they were doing. Engaging meant social interaction and dialogue. Not so much with the men. We were all sitting facing the same direction – the screen. There wasn’t a whole lot of dialogue, but there was camaraderie. We were together. While we men need to do a better job at connecting with you in ways that are meaningful to you, please recognize that we don’t need to be socially engaged to think that we’re being together with you. Sometimes it’s enough to be in the same room at the same time (even if we’re not doing the same thing).
  3. We love you but we don’t need to be joined at the hip. You don’t have to wait until our schedules coincide so that we can go to Wal-Mart together. Seriously. No…SERIOUSLY! Please go run the errands you need to run without us. It might make the marriage smoother if we had different tasks that we accomplished privately.  And, just like you need “girl-time” with your friends, please stop giving us grief about our buddies. Hear me now: marriage does not get strong without quality time, and you cannot get quality without QUANTITY time. We have to do our part to build into the relationship. That is why my family is very big on family meal time. It’s intentional time to build into family. But please let us surgically detach ourselves every once in a while for our sanity and yours.
  4. You never have to ask about sex – we’re in the mood. We’re men. Cliché? Yep. Truth? You betcha! There is actually a biblical principle in play here – the Apostle Paul tells married couples not to deprive each other sexually unless it is by mutual consent for spiritual purposes (even then, he tells couples to get back together). The Bible also says that marriage is not about individual ownership but about co-ownership. My do not belong to me, but I belong to my wife. Similarly, she belongs to me. God created the marriage relationship to be sexually fulfilling, and he seemed to create men with a stronger libido than women (not always, but we’re talking generalities, remember?). So you don’t have to ask. Yup – we’re ready.
  5. Just because you “need to talk” doesn’t mean “WE” need to talk. One of the most dreaded phrases to a man’s ears is the “we need to talk” phrase. It automatically puts us on the defensive and we ask ourselves, “What did I do this time?” But an issue you’re having isn’t necessarily one that needs to be discussed AT THAT MOMENT. Find a good time and a good place to talk. When you finally discern when that time and place is choose your words wisely to initiate conversation! Do not ever begin a conversation with words that put us on the defensive. Start with calming words, not inciting words. Relationship expert Dr. John Gottman calls this the “soft start-up.” By beginning wisely you have a better chance of having a successful conversation with us.

 

Well, there you have it. I’m sure there are other things men could come up with, but this is what the men in the class thought of. What about it, women? Think you can help make our lives easier by learning these things and adjusting your behavior to fit? Can you be as sensitive to your husbands’ needs and desires as you are to your girlfriends’? Can you be the godly, biblically grounded wives  that we need you to be?

 

Men – what else would you add to the list?

What Women Wish Men Knew

Men and womenOne 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:

  1. 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”.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!