What I simply propose here is based on my almost thirty-nine years of marriage, (“street cred”), and the fact that I have listened to hundreds of women in my work in the marriage ministry. I believe
I may have picked up a nugget or two of wisdom I’d love to share.
The similarities in all the diverse voices, and common threads echoed by many women in various stages of life and years of marriage, was uncanny.
So, what are they?
1. Hear what I am not saying.
I realize this is rather ambiguous since we actually say rather a lot. While we may speak of many things seemingly unrelated or unconnected to the matter at hand, we often do not say what the real issue is. Why? We want you to get us, and desire to want to know us deeper without all the cliff notes, hints, and outright statements. We want you to pursue us like you did when we were dating, when you were willing to talk to us for hours and hours.
It takes work, patience, time, effort, and persistence to simply begin to scratch the surface of who we are as a woman. It’s like the end of a ball game when only ten minutes are left on the clock, which really translates into an hour, as the painstakingly hard work of yard by yard results eventually yields a goal.
We are a complex, ever changing, emotional rollercoaster ride that God has put you on. So, buckle up and hang on! We simply will never be one of the guys, where nothing deeper than superficial murmurings will suffice.
We require much more, and the effort you make will be worth it. God made us to complement you in a way that both brings out the best in each of us, as well as the worst at times.
Then there are the moments when we say very little and expect you to deduce where we are failing to be direct. Which leads to number two.
2. We don’t want to have to tell you what’s wrong, or what we want you to do.
Quite frankly, we think you should already know. What seems utterly obvious to us, can be as clear as mud to you. I have finally learned that after decades of marriage, if I start a sentence with these eight little words, “you would think after _____ years of marriage…” this immediately shuts down the channels of communication and he is closed for business.
What this volatile statement does is assume our spouse is a clueless Neanderthal who hasn’t put two and two together for decades. It puts him on the defense or worse closes the door to healthy communication. I am not entirely sure why simply stating what we want or need, is something we women are so reticent to do. It saves a lot of hassle, hurt feelings, and disagreements if we just spit it out in a loving and honest way.
3. We expect you to read our minds.
While I am no more able to read his mind than he is to read mine, we tend to do this all the time. We are not “wired” the same, and we do not communicate in the same manner either. Which takes us back to number two again in needing to articulate clearly, patiently, and lovingly so that our man can understand us, like no one else on the planet can.
4. We state that, “nothing is wrong” when in fact, something is very wrong.
We want you to read our body language and not assume that the words coming out of our mouths echo the sentiments of our hearts or minds. If we are not shutting down out of sheer frustration and exasperation, we may walk, stomp, or run away, crying or fuming if you fail to read all the signs to the contrary, and instead, go on with your day.
Please help us to say what is really on our minds and to have integrity between what we say and what we mean. We really do need your help, and actually want your help, even if we say we don’t. Thus, the vicious cycle continues.
We fail to give you adequate information and it becomes nearly impossible…
5. For you to connect all the dots.
Remember the little activity we did as kids, drawing a line from number to number in a methodical way eventually yielding something identifiable? When you take the time to ask clarifying questions, in a patient and gentle way, you will be rewarded by connecting the dots which helps you understand more clearly what our issue is.
We want you to connect the dots because that is what will bring you closer to not only the heart of the matter, but our heart. This is the place of vulnerability and intimacy, and we will protect it at all costs. Think “into-me-see.” It is here that we will allow you to come to know us in a way that very few know or understand us. The bigger the history of our hearts being abused, the more difficult it is to get there. It is however, a place reserved only for you, if you will take the time to get there.
Bottom line, we are partners in this life-long endeavor called marriage. We are teammates who should lift each other up, step up to serve one another, and step out to have a good time now and then. We need to be assured that we are safe with you, as you lead us in love. Our prayer time together is critical to protect our union and the family we build, fortify, and shove out the door at the proper time. That way we can have you all to ourselves again.
Finally, don’t forget the efforts you made back when we were dating. Don’t let that fire die. Surprise us, be romantic, show us how special we are to you. It really is the little things, done with regularity that make the biggest difference. Make time for us and put us above everything else but God. Give us the best of you, not what is left after everything else. We promise to try and do the same, because each of us deserves it.
When we allow everything and everyone to come before our spouse, our marriage suffers. When that happens, the whole family suffers. It starts and ends with us. Happy wife, happy life as they say. Be a man of prayer and let the Source of all love flow through you to me.
It’s that easy, and that hard. But together with God, we can do it well. “What Husbands Want Their Wives to Know” will follow in short order. Fair is fair, after all.