Love and Respect – Part 2
Submitted by Jarvis Howe, M.A.
Last week, I wrote about a major difference between the needs of women and men. In a relationship, a woman’s greatest need is to feel loved and a man’s greatest need is to feel respected. This week, I’m going to talk about some specific ways in which husbands can show love to their wives, in order to fulfill Ephesians 5:25, “husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church.”
What’s the first thing most men do when they get home from work? If this were a Family Feud question, the number one answer on the board would probably be plopping down to watch tv. Grabbing a beer would probably also be a top five response. However, I would be surprised if “having a conversation with their wife,” was listed. Although watching tv and/or drinking beer are stereotypical and may get a chuckle, that is unfortunately the reality for a lot of marriages in this country. The first few minutes that spouses have a chance to reconnect after a day apart can set the tone for the rest of the evening. Men don’t typically feel the need to talk about their day, their feelings, or their experiences as much as women, so it has to be an intentional effort on the part of men. If you come home from work and your wife is cooking dinner, it can go a long way if you simply help set the table, or at the very least hang out with her in the kitchen and talk with her about her day, and share a little bit about your day. Although I know from experience how tempting it is to just say “fine” when asked by your significant other how your day went, it will go a long way to making your wife feel connected to you if she can tell you’re making an effort to connect with her. Tell her a funny thing that happened at work or tell her about a new project you’re working on. Even if you think it is not exciting or worth noting, she will appreciate the effort.
This highlights another difference in communication between the sexes: men prefer “report” talk and women prefer “rapport” talk. Men like to talk about facts and use speaking primarily as a means of exchanging information, whereas women like to talk for the purpose of building relationships and strengthening their sense of connectedness with others. So husbands, the next time your wife is talking your ear off and you just want to watch the game remember, she is not trying to annoy you, she’s trying to get close to you!
A trap all too many men fall into, myself included, is thinking that when a woman brings a problem to you, she wants your help in solving it. As a man, if your best friend comes to you with a problem, most of the time he doesn’t want to process his emotions, he wants help in solving the problem. You give him some advice, he says, “thanks, I’ll try that,” and that’s the end of the conversation. Should be the same with women right? No. Women often just want someone to listen. Talking allows them to process their feelings. A wise husband can use these opportunities (and they will come up frequently) to build a stronger relationship with his wife and make her feel valued. That means stopping what you’re doing, turning and facing her, and listening without jumping in to try to fix her problems. Asking questions every now and then, reflective listening and empathizing (“it sounds like you had a really tough day, I would feel the same way!”), as well as some “yeahs,” “mmm-hmm’s,” and nodding will let her know that you’re genuinely interested in what she’s saying. It should be pointed out that sometimes your wife may indeed be looking for a solution to a problem. If that’s the case, chances are she will tell you.
A final note on showing your wife love: it doesn’t take much. You don’t have to plan some elaborate evening or shower her with presents, but little things can make all the difference. Holding her hand, going for a walk, offering to go out of your way to do something for her like running some errands, surprising her at work to take her out to lunch, and above all, are all things that will show your wife that she is valued, loved, and cherished by you.