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!

No Superficial Relationships Please!

old-ladies-texting

My kids have 14 grandmas. Not biologically, of course, but 14 grandmas in our spiritual family. Our community.

Reality television has a strange love for jamming a bunch of strangers together and watching chaos ensue as these strangers attempt to do life, overcome obstacles, lose weight, cook (or whatever the theme of the show is) together. Invariably someone is voted off, tempers flare, and relationships are damaged. You know how the story goes.

But that’s faux community – it’s a cheap, Hollywood-ized version of what people living in community is supposed to look like. Because it’s a sham of what real community is supposed to be the relationships are superficial and short-term. It doesn’t matter who gets the rose, because the odds are that they will not be together long after the reunion show wraps up.

God doesn’t care too much for faux community. He prefers the real deal. He prefers to see people who live together, love together, laugh together, and weep together. Real community is so much more than simply occupying adjacent space to other people. Community is family.

In the Old Testament, community was based on bloodlines and there was a clear hierarchy of how community was based: family -> clan -> tribe -> nation. This is what solidified the Israelites together as the original community of faith. Then Jesus radically changed things up.

As he was gaining fame and attention he was causing embarrassment to his immediate family. The Gospel According to Mark tells us that one time his family even came to his house when there were a ton of people there to see him. The family had one goal – remove Jesus from the public eye and end the embarrassment. So the people told Jesus, “Hey, your mother and brothers and sisters are here!” To that Jesus looks around and says, “Here are my mother, and my brothers, and my sisters – the ones who do the will of God.” He gives a completely new spin on the definition of community. It’s no longer about blood – it’s about a shared spirituality and kinship of faith.

At our church there is a group of ladies, mostly grandmas with a few great-grandmas, who have intentionally taken on the role of surrogate grandparents to me and my kids. It’s wonderful. Even though my parents, grandparents, and in-laws are thousands of miles away God has given us a family to look after us and care for us. I’m glad that my children have those kinds of godly people in their lives to look after them and assist us in raising them. This is real community.

Real community is not content to live in shallow relationships but strives to make meaningful connections where we care for and ARE cared for by others. Here’s the kicker – real community takes a lot of work to build and to maintain. You don’t get it by attending a worship service once a week and sitting in the same row as someone else. You don’t get it by seeing the same parents when you drop off and pick up your kids at school. Real community requires time and energy to know and be known. It requires vulnerability – sharing your life and yourself with others.

It’s not easy – but it’s worth it. I’m glad that my kids have 14 grandmas. Their lives will be richer because of it. My burden as a parent will be lessened because of it. It’s not perfect, and all family has issues, but a family we are. So my question to you is this: Will you accept Jesus’ radical notion of a remade family? Will you put in the time and effort to establish and maintain community with others around you? If so then I’m sure you’ll find your grandmas too.