There is a story told
about a middle-aged man walking along a beach in California and
sees a bottle washed ashore. He pops the cork open and out comes
an angel. The angel says, "You can ask whatever you want,
and I will do it for you." The guy says, "Wow, well
— I have always wanted to go to Hawaii, but I am afraid
of flying and going by boat. Could you build me a bridge all the
way from here so I could drive?" The angel said, "Whoa,
a bridge from here to Hawaii — do you realize how much concrete
and how many pylons that would be?" The guy replies,
"Well, I guess you are right, that is asking a lot. Tell
you what, just explain to me how to understand women and we will
call it even!" The angel thought silently for a full
minute, and then said, "Did you want that bridge to be
two lanes or four?"
Many volumes have been written on
the topic of men and women understanding each other. But the clearest,
most concise, and essential advice comes from the Word
of God, as usual. In Ephesians
5:25, the scripture says, "Husbands, love
your wives." Then the immediate command in
5:33 to the wives is, "Let the wife see that
she respects her husband." The difficulty in
these two simple commands is understanding how to do them.
The number one key to women is they
need love. But the husband has to learn his wife’s love
language before she can really feel loved. People are wired by
God differently. A husband usually instinctively knows how he
would perceive he was loved, and typically gives love to his wife
in this manner. However, he might as well be speaking German to
her if her love language is different from his. A short discussion
of these love languages is below.
 Sharing quality time. (This includes
sitting and talking, taking her on dates, going places with her,
spend the night in a hotel, — even shopping!)
 Physical touch or affection.
(This is hugs, kisses, holding hands, rubbing her back or shoulders,
etc., even putting your hand on her arm or knee if you are driving
and she is sitting next to you.)
 Expressing words of affirmation.
(These are positive, uplifting words of acceptance and encouragement
— especially saying "I love you", and especially
 Giving and receiving gifts. (Examples
include buying her flowers, chocolates, jewelry, a card, a meal
out, gifts at birthday, anniversary, Christmas, and especially
for no reason at all.)
 Performing practical acts of
service. (Doing practical, helpful things for her, both what she
wants done and what she did not ask for.) As an example of the
difference in these love languages, a husband might wash his wife’s
car thinking she would know he loves her this way through his
practical act of service, but her main love language might be
sharing quality time — so she does not feel loved at all
because he was not there sitting next to her on the sofa just
talking about his day.
How can you tell which love language
is her main way of perceiving love? It is usually the way she
is most quick to show love to others. Is she the first to take
a meal to a new mom? Then her love language is probably practical
acts of service. Does she always want to hold your hand? Then
it is probably physical touch and affection. Of course, communication
with your wife about this topic is encouraged and she might be
able to clearly articulate her preferences. But if not, observation
as well as "trial and error" can discover what she prefers
and responds to.
Women were created by God with a
major need to feel loved. Men do not have as great a need to feel
loved. Sure, if men voted on it, they would vote to feel loved
— but women are usually the more emotional creations and
they need love like a fish needs water. But they need it in the
way they perceive it as love — so it is important to discover
how they sense they feel loved. If your wife is not perceiving
that she is getting the love she needs, she is like a fish out
of water, unconsciously gasping and groping for what is an essential
element of her life. It is like a twist to an old saying —
"Give me love and nobody gets hurt." If a wife
feels unloved — "ain’t nobody happy"
to paraphrase another old saying. In fact, being starved from
her kind of love long enough can result in the wife being very
unresponsive and emotionally dead. However, steady significant
doses of what she needs — her love language — can
"revive" her as much as putting a fish back into water.
She will begin to act like the woman you dated before marriage
— because that was when you were giving her the kind of
love she recognized and valued. (In fact, you were probably giving
her all five love languages, so you really could not miss speaking
her love specific language.)
Men are wired by God completely different.
The Bible does not command the wife to love her husband, it says
to respect him. This is what men need, but not the military idea
of respect where the wife might say "Yes sir" to the
husband — but a broader application of respect which can
also be expressed in different "languages".
These "languages" to appropriately
"respect" your husband are discussed below.
 Respect his wishes. (This is
what the Bible is addressing when it teaches wives to "obey"
their husbands [as long as they are not asked to sin]. No organization
can have two presidents. The wife is the vice-president, and needs
to remember she is not the president. Note: if she was an employee,
would her behavior get her fired?)
 Respect his reputation or honor.
(Don’t put him down verbally, and especially not in front
of others [even just "joking"], and especially not in
front of his friends or associates. Many men have given their
lives for their families. Is the wife acting in a way that would
make her husband be willing to die for her? )
 Respect his providing. (Don’t
overspend or sink him in debt — even if he does. He is the
primary provider in the vast majority of couples. In a very real
sense, it is his money. But even if you provide half or more of
the income, he is still the head of the family as designated by
 Respect his possessions. (Don’t
take or "borrow" his personal items, even if it is just
his finger nail clippers — get your own. Many wives have
had the attitude, "What’s mine is mine, and what’s
yours is mine." And don’t ever throw or give away
his stuff in the garage or closet without permission. He worked
for that, and the wife does not have the right to just toss it
out in some cavalier fashion.)
 Respect his masculinity. (Don’t
tease him if he can’t get the jar lid open, or talk about
how his body is aging, like his balding hair or his pot belly.
Don’t feminize him and be critical of him. No leader is
perfect, and even the handsome male movie stars sag with time.
The more masculine he feels and therefore acts, the more the wife
will be attracted; just as the more feminine the wife feels and
therefore acts, the more attractive she will be to the husband.)
One point that needs to be addressed
is that when men are angry, women do not feel loved. Husbands
are commissioned in 1st
Peter 3:7 to "Live with your wives in an
understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman."
There are many initiators or reasons for anger in the lives of
most men, but we need to be careful not to vent anger toward our
wives. On the other hand, women need to understand that anger
in men is an exact parallel to women crying. It is just that emotions
in men usually don’t come out as tears, but rather anger.
The emotion of anger is just as normal a response in men when
hurt as tears are in women when hurt. Anger is an emotion that
God not only created in humans, but the Bible says God Himself
even feels angry (Hebrews
5:6), but the key is not to sin when feeling anger (Ephesians
4:26). This is not license for a man to be angry all the time,
and some people need deliverance from a spirit of anger, but this
short discussion can help a wife understand the emotion of anger
in her husband so that she does not incorrectly conclude that
he does not love her.
Concerning what the husband needs,
is this "respect issue" what is known as "the male
ego"? It is really not an ego issue (although some people
need deliverance from a spirit of pride), it is more of a "wired
issue" — how God wired the male species of humans.
It is much more than having a Y chromosome, it is being male the
way God made men to be. If you want to see your man "come
alive" again, just step up the level of "respect"
you are giving him. He probably has one "respect language"
that is more important to him than the others, but he will appreciate
all five languages of respect and respond better to you.
In the same way, as a husband, if
you speak all five love languages to your wife regularly, you
will see her respond to you as never before. Sure, a woman is
more susceptible to emotional changes, and she does have hormone
fluctuations each month that can significantly affect her behavior,
but large doses of love in the way that she perceives love can
negate the problems from the other aspects of being a woman.
Building up marriages,
Dale & Judi Leander