What I Truly Believe About Men

I talk a lot here about perceptions we have about sexuality that affect our the marital intimacy we experience. I’ve come to understand that we are also hampered at times by what we believe about the opposite sex. Wives often have a perspective about men generally that makes it difficult to trust their own husband.

Wives often have a perspective about men generally that makes it difficult to trust their own husband. Click To Tweet

You know the sort of assumptions I’m talking about, because we’ve all heard them:

Men are pigs.
Men are jerks.
Men are perverts.
Men only want one thing.
Men are idiots.
Men are porn addicts.
Men are selfish.
Men are clueless.

You could probably keep going with Men are phrases you’ve heard in female circles. But let’s move on to what I truly believe about men. Because I don’t believe a single one of those things is inherently true.

What I Truly Believe about Men

What I believe about men colors how I view their approach to sex in marriage. Let’s get started with truths that I’ve observed, heard, studied, and talked to guys directly about.

Men want love. They’re just like us in this regard. Most men desire a long-lasting, committed relationship with a single woman they choose to invest in day after day. Even if he “sowed wild oats” in his premarital days, his deep longing is for a companion with whom he can share life and love. It’s why over two-thirds of adult men are married, and half of single adults say they want to eventually marry. (I suspect a few of those “don’t want to marry” types will change their mind in the future.)  I couldn’t find exact statistics, but doing a bit of head math based on what I found, I think between 80-90% of men get married at some point in their lives.

What distinguishes men and women is that love might look a little different to each. She might define it by a great romance, while he might be content with familiar companionship. She might consider expression of love to include hours of conversational intimacy, while he wants her to go with him on fishing trips. He might think that he said “I love you” last week and that still stands unless he says otherwise (my husband’s inclination), while she wants him to express ongoing appreciation and desire.

When the way you show love differs, you can start doubting that he loves you. Or that the male species in general even wants love. After all, it seems like what he really wants is good cooking, time with the TV remote, and lots of sex (assuming he’s the higher-drive spouse, which he may not be). How can that possibly be love?! I suggest you ask him what love looks like to him.

The Five Love Languages can also help you interpret your husband’s strange priorities. Just because it looks a little different to him doesn’t mean that his love doesn’t run deep and long.

Just because it looks a little different to him doesn't mean that his love doesn't run deep and long. Click To Tweet

Most husbands can easily answer yes to “Would you take a bullet for your wife?” We don’t think that way, but they do. And it means something — just ask another guy.

Men struggle with lust. Your husband is a “red-blooded male,” which means that he’s got eyes, an imagination, functioning body parts, and he ain’t dead yet. God actually created him to be a sexual being who — when everything is firing the way it should — desires physical intimacy. If you and he were living alone like Eve and Adam, I doubt sexual lust would be such an issue. They didn’t have Internet porn, Victoria’s Secret posters, or other women in the Garden of Eden. In the way God intended, Adam’s visual appetite and sexual longing were met by the one woman he knew and loved — Eve.

Sounds nice, right? But it didn’t last. They had another kind of lust — a lust for power — and that led to sin entering the world. When that happened, the world broke, and now we have numerous obstacles to living the life God wants us to have. But let’s not get cynical here. Because God, being GOD, provided for our redemption and equips us to have victory.

That’s why godly married men struggle with lust. Godless men don’t struggle. They give in. So even when I hear terrible statistics about the number of Christian men who have been exposed to or sought out porn, I don’t lose hope. Because a large percentage of them are racked with guilt and know that God wants something better.

As strong as men can be, many of them are in the fight of their lives against the real enemy, Satan, who wants nothing more than for men to give up and our marriages to crumble.

It’s a struggle, not a foregone conclusion. Men aren’t pigs or perverts or porn addicts, just by virtue of being men. Satan is doing his usual: he takes what God gave as a gift (sexual desire) and twists it into something horrible (lust outside of marriage). If a man is struggling to stay out of the quicksand, I’m not going to yell obscenities at him; I’m going to throw the poor guy a rope. And I believe every wife, every church, and the Church in general should be clear about this struggle and poised to bring people out of sin.

Men need tangibles. I truly dislike that getting my guys to clean the house involves me writing a list of to-dos they can work from. I simply don’t understand how they can’t scan the house, like I do, and see everything that would be involved in the simple phrase clean house. But after many discussions with them, and sharing notes with other wives and moms, I’ve stopped fighting biology and accepted that men work better with tangibles.

I think this is so true in marriage too. If you tell a husband you want to be more romantic, what does that mean? What does that look like? Most guys want to know. They might be willing to do what you want, if only they knew what you want. If you tell a hubby that you want to be more affectionate, he might appreciate you telling him that means holding hands while you’re taking a walk, kissing when you part and when you come back together, and having long hugs without overt groping. Now he knows what it looks like.

Many men even take abstract concepts and define them with concrete things: What’s romantic? Flowers. What’s sexy? Lingerie. What’s intimacy? Sex. Breaking it down into aspects they can see in their heads helps them know what to expect and what to do. Men tend to be more task-focused, so translating desires into tangible actions gives him something to work on. But nebulous complaints? What’s a husband to do with that?

Men don’t understand women. Some men do, but they’re a minority. I’m not saying men are idiots or men are clueless. Rather, we ladies aren’t really easier for them to understand than they are for us to understand. Our gender differences run deep, past the exterior distinctions down to our brain structure and chemistry.

I’ve often had to explain to my husband how a woman’s brain works or how women would likely react to a situation that’s different from men. And having two teenage sons, I know this isn’t a singular experience. I live with three men, and none of them understand women. Not really.

Which I why I think it’s really silly to fault guys for not doing things that we ladies think are obvious. Is it really obvious to him? One of my personal pet peeves is the line of thinking that culminates in such statements as: He should know what I’m thinking. He should know what’s wrong. Why doesn’t he know how I feel? Husbands aren’t psychics.

Husbands aren't psychics. Click To Tweet

Moreover, your heart and mind probably work very differently from his. So of course he doesn’t understand you! Which is one of the reasons God gave us language.

Give the guy a break and explain to him what you — a woman, and a unique woman — are thinking, feeling, and wanting. He doesn’t “get” you, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t willing to listen and try.

Okay, guys, it’s time to shoot holes in my assumptions. Or you wives can add to my list! What would you put on your Man Manifesto — meaning what do you truly believe about men?

68 thoughts on “What I Truly Believe About Men

  1. S

    Thank you, J! I love how pro Biblical world view, pro “Created in His image”-minded you are. This is all exactly what I believe, but never thought it out so succinctly before. This is what I want each of my (6) daughters to grow up knowing and believing. I’m also looking forward to the responses from the guys here, to hear their personal perspectives.

    Reply
  2. libl

    I am terrible at this. I think very little of most men and almost every day I encounter another reason to “hate men.” It is to the point where should hubby leave me a widow, I have absolutely no desire to remarry and put myself through the pain and exhaustion of dealing with another man.

    Too many of my friends have been abused, abandoned, molested, raped, cheated on, and used to ignore the epidemic of misogyny. I have a hard time not finding men guilty until proven innocent.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Do you personally know any great men? Because I do, and I think that’s helped me see beyond the real jerks out there.

      Reply
      1. libl

        Whenever I get stuck in the all men are jerks and pervs mindset I think of my brother. He is a wonderful husband and father. Unfortunately, for every one great man, I can list ten or more who are horrible. I have actually thanked profusely the few gentlemen I have run into for being good men. I try to remember them. I just wish they’d speak up and stand up for gentlemanly behavior around other guys.

        Reply
        1. CJ

          For what it’s worth, my husband landed me because when we met – at age 28 for me, 36 for him – he was the first man in my adult life who was 100% respectful toward me. There are some who make ignorant comments about the fact that he keeps me at home a lot – that he’s controlling, etc. What they don’t know is that he knows – in detail – the abuse and misogyny I experienced before we met (and even afterward, before we mutually committed). He knows I am typically more comfortable at home than I am in social situations, particularly those with unfamiliar males. He works hard to protect me and keep me (feeling) safe, and his leadership decisions reflect this even when others are ignorant to the reasoning behind those decisions.

          The good ones DO exist. I still find one of the best markers is learning about his parents – not just his relationship with them, but their own character. My husband’s parents are humble but very well-respected members of our small town, well-known for being respectful, thoughtful, involved, and loving parents to all of their (many!) children. The fruit of their labours is obvious, and this even though my husband was their “wild” / “rebellious” child.

          As well, as mothers, it is our job (alongside our husbands) to raise the next generation of men to be respectful, caring, and positive in their leadership.

          Reply
          1. Jim Christian

            In the FWIW coloumn however, most women today wait until that 28-32 range to get serious about finding a man to marry. The jerks and bad boys they met when they were younger were likely more interesting than the “nice” guys who are at their feet all set to marry and start families. At 28, suddenly, the women that waited are more interested in the reverse, the man that wants to start a family, especially before it’s “too late” to attract a man to marry. It’s an old story, but the waiting until later mantra works if before it’s “too late” a woman finds a good man. “Too late” of course is measured against a woman losing her looks and reproductive capacity. Many, many women don’t make it because these days, many, many men give up, descend into porn or celibacy. And of course, many men found women younger and married early. You’re one of the lucky ones, CJ! Congrats!

        2. e2

          libl,

          I don’t know your situation and I certainly won’t try to defend jerks and pervs. But, I wonder if we’re not victims of too much media. Jerks and pervs make the evening news, as do the extraordinary heroes from time to time. But I have never once seen a news story saying, “John Doe, a devoted husband, went to work today, did *not* lust after his secretary, and returned home to his wife without going out drinking with the boys. He later bathed his toddlers and put them to bed after reading them a bedtime story.” My belief is that there are more plain old, faithful John Doe’s out there than you may realize, but we get so very little notice precisely because we’re plain old, faithful John Does.

          Reply
          1. J Post author

            I agree entirely with this. I know quite a few solid, good hubbies who love their families. “Faithful John Does” as you say. But I’m not sure I believed that when my marriage was going so badly; that probably colored my perception.

  3. Scott

    J~ This is so excellent!

    I tell couples all the time to ask specifically “What does that look like” when discussing needs. I think you are tight that men more often need clarification on this than do women, but I think it goes both ways.

    Super post!

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Thanks so much, Scott! I agree that it’s helpful on both sides. Maybe I think women are more likely to think their husbands should simply know what to do. Maybe.

      Reply
  4. Danielle

    I understand that a lot of men struggle with lust, but I would like it mentioned that not all do. My husband doesn’t at all. We are completely open and honest with each other about our struggles and it’s not one of his. He sees me and is truly blind to anything besides me, which took me a long time to believe that such a man could exist. I am actually the one who used to have struggles in lust and we have been candid about it. We are each other’s safe place. Just know that there are men that just don’t have an interest in lust, simply loving the woman they have 🙂

    Reply
    1. Todd Dickinson

      I think you make a great point Danielle. I’ve been married for 25 years this May, and it’s not something that I struggle with at all, by God’s grace. I have always felt that I sleep right beside the most beautiful, alluring woman I have ever laid eyes on, and she’s all I ever dreamed of as a teenager fantasizing about my “perfect” woman.
      I think what 99% of men struggle with the most by far, is the innate desire to be respected by our spouses. Our culture today portrays all men as bumbling, stupid, one-genetic-marker-above-an-ape clowns that are to be tolerated, but just barely. So when the world is beating our brains out every day, and our spouses seem to think the world is onto something, that’s what leads us to seek that respect, albeit a counterfeit form, from anyone willing to show it.
      In other words, I really do think that the lack of respect, and sense of disposability that men find at every turn, are the harbingers of all of the sins we fall into.
      All that to say, when I know that my wife respects my opinion, my decision making, my leadership, and my faithfulness, there’s no chance that I am in danger of being a participant in sinful behaviors that are potentially deadly to my marriage. Why in the world would I? I’ve got the one thing in the world that I, and my fellow males of the species need to make all of the other aspects of being a Godly man possible.

      I’m very grateful for the woman God made to walk the world with me, and I admire and respect your husband for treasuring you in the manner that he should.

      Reply
  5. Kay

    Hi J, this is brilliant. Just so you know, I’ve been an atheist for the past year or so and I no longer believe in Adam and Eve or the fallen or sin concepts, but brilliant advice is brilliant advice.

    I struggle in my marriage because my wife (still a believer) thinks I’m lazy because I’m always asking for clarification. Thank you for this piece

    Reply
  6. Mike

    Thanks for not bashing men for being tempted to lust. Red blooded Christian men do struggle with all the images that are out there. I think we try hard to remain true to our spouse, but stray thoughts come in and we do feel guilty. When we fail, most Christian pastors, therapists, and writers come down hard on the guys. It is like they are perfect without any faults, and we are without any strength or spirituality for having sinned mentally. Thanks for having some grace for us, and wanting the best even though it is difficult in this sinful world.

    By the way, I am embarrassed that so many men are perceived as “all men are jerks and pervs.” This hurts me. Where are our ethics, morals, etiquette being taught? Don’t men know how to treat women anymore? Have men been so demeaned that they have given up trying to be real men?

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Thanks, Chris! Guess I have learned something about men through the years. (But I’m still learning.)

      Reply
  7. Lynn

    I think there are a couple of reasons why women ‘bash’ men (I’ve done it myself, despite growing up with a good father and two good brothers): first of all, we women, every one of us, have had experience with the worst of male behavior (catcalling, unwanted touch, etc). Secondly, our mothers warned us that men want sex and we must prevent that. (Don’t accept gifts! Have an escape plan if you are alone with him!) And for myself, participating in a number of on-line venues, seeing the nasty things men say about women and their bodies in an anonymous setting is more than just disconcerting. It’s sickening. I often want to respond, “If you don’t like the way women’s bodies look/smell, then get a male partner.”

    I am so blessed to have a wonderful husband who communicates very well and doesn’t mind talking about his life and experiences. I know from our marriage that he is a red-blooded guy with plenty of libido, but he was a truly blameless young man, had two long steady relationships previous to his first marriage that were pure, and he said he didn’t find it difficult to remain pure, even as a teenager. I could hardly believe this, since I was taught that men have almost no control over themselves. How unfair to men, putting them all in one category!

    Reply
  8. Justme

    I am a woman and 5 decades into this life I still don’t understand women.

    Somehow the Lord got it through to me early on that I need to spell things out for my husband. Sure makes life easier.

    Reply
  9. B

    I am a woman. I do not understand men and their need for tangibles. I do not get it!!!

    Most of the men in my family are very intelligent. My husband is incredibly discerning, and very smart. My sons are very smart. I think a lot of men are incredibly smart. I respect them and their intelligence.

    And yet… They cannot “get” the simplest things! Are we sure it just isn’t laziness? I mean, sometimes it seems like they don’t even try. How can they be so smart, and yet not catch on to the simplest of things? Things that are OBVIOUS. Even if given countless hints, swish! Right over their heads sometime. It’s so bizarre. I mean, I think if they’d stop and just mull it over for a minute, things that are painfully obvious would become clear.

    We have missed out on sex like 500 times because I was giving him like every signal in the world, and later he’ll say “oh no! I thought you weren’t interested.” HUH? Seriously? It’s like he wants me to come right out and ask for it, and that’s just not going to happen. He doesn’t ask for it either. He waits to see if I seem like I’m interested, and then misses every YES signal I send him. And so we miss out on a lot of sex. It’s so sad!

    But really, think if he’d just pay a little more attention, he’d catch on. He’s really smart about everything else, so why is this so hard?

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      But he doesn’t.

      When I finally admitted that I was wasting a lot of time and effort getting frustrated and complaining about my husband not taking hints and seeing things I could see, life improved. I just decided to tell him straight-up, and then he knew. Having two sons and reading a lot about how men’s brains work, I truly believe this is simply how it is. Maybe it’s one reason God wants male and female joined up together — so we can complement each other and fill in some gaps.

      And what’s so terrible about saying, “I’m up for making love tonight, if you want”? That’s neither being pushy or a pushover. It’s just stating truth and letting him act accordingly. Try it! 🙂

      Reply
      1. e2

        A funny story about missing signals.

        Because of the messiness of sex, we have a towel handy when making love. One evening, as I entered the bedroom, I saw a towel seductively folded and strategically placed on the bed. A scented candle was burning and I heard the shower running. Even I can read those signals, right?

        The shower was longer than usual; she’s shaving, I think to myself. I prepare myself, but then she emerges from the bathroom in her flannel pjs (her signal for “no sex”). I ask her about the towel and candle and she laughs. It turns out she had colored her hair and was sitting on the bed waiting for it to soak in. The candle was to mask the scent of the coloring.

        Sex was nowhere near her mind. The next time I see a towel and candle, I guarantee I won’t assume it’s an obvious signal that she wants sex. And, she’ll wonder how I can be so clueless.

        Reply
    2. John

      “It’s like he wants me to come right out and ask for it, and that’s just not going to happen.”

      WHY. WHY. WHY.

      I’m sure if you said this to your husband he would say, “you are incredibly discerning, smart, and intelligent. Why can’t you get this simple thing that asking for sex or saying you feel like making love is a NATURAL and GOOD thing? Why beat around the bush? Why do I have to read your mind and interpret some “signal”? I just don’t get it.”

      Why do you expect your smart, intelligent, discerning husband to read your mind and get the “hint” and do the obvious thing when you yourself won’t do the smart, intelligent, discerning, and obvious thing: When you feel like making love JUST SAY SO!

      I find this all time time with women, and its a double standard, and I’m sure I’m not the only husband who gets driven to the insane asylum because of it.

      Reply
      1. e2

        B,

        What John said.

        You’ve missed out on sex like 500 times because you refuse to openly say, “I want sex.” I have to honestly wonder if you actually prefer not having sex as long as you can blame your husband for it. I would kill to hear my wife say, “Honey, I want sex.” No, it’s not soft-music, and candlelight romantic, but it would be a real turn on to me.

        Reply
        1. B

          e2,

          The difference is, you and John would say “yes!” Theres a very strong chance my husband will say “no!”

          And why do I have to be the one to say everything? Because he’s the introvert and the lower drive spouse he controls everything. I love him, and I’m learning to believe he loves me. But it’s hard to believe he wants me because he will never say so.

          And you act like I like missing out. Hardly! I came on to him for the first 15 years. I only stopped a few years ago because I started getting rejected repeatedly. I think it would be nice to hear my husband actually express desire for me. He’s never done that, he just used to agree if I came on to him. I’d love to know what it feels like to actually be wanted, and not just “given in to.”

          But I digress…. My original point was, if men paid more attention, perhaps they wouldn’t need the tangibles.

          Reply
          1. MHMC

            I was in that same scenario for 15 years. I came right out and asked for sex 10 times to his one. And 9 out of 10 times he would tell me no. I only said no to him 3 times in our entire marriage. I’ve if those times was when u was pregnant, and sex was becoming uncomfortable. I apologized for nit feeling yo to it, and he said he didn’t mind. Then he told me no for 6 months. I eventually quit asking. The rejection was just too much to take. I was an emotional wreck from feeling unwanted, unloved, and unworthy. And it never got better. Its now been 2 years since we were intimate and in January he filed for divorce, then had the nerve to have an affair and tell me it was because we hadn’t had sex for two years. I’ve never felt so worthless then I do now.

      2. B

        Well, I’ll tell you.

        In our marriage, I, the wife, am the higher drive spouse. Things are getting better between us, but it’s still hard. For many years I was the initiator. I didn’t think much of it, it just was that way.

        We went through a spell of a couple years where his job became extremely stressful and his sex drive dropped even lower. I began to get flat out rejected. Repeatedly. I eventually caught on to the fact that he just didn’t feel that way about me anymore, and I gave up. I promised myself I wouldn’t initiate again because it just made him feel pressured and me feel like a worthless loser.

        Things are better now. We are communicating and he is less stressed. But I do my very best not to initiate (unless I’m desperate). It’s humiliating to have to ask your husband to give you what other husbands are thrilled to just give to their wives. It reinforces the belief that I’m just not good enough.

        I’m working on changing the negative thoughts, but I’m not going to risk the pain and rejection. I’m not going to ask (which I see as no better than begging). So the hints will have to do. If he misses out, he misses out. At least I’m not pressuring him to do something he doesn’t feel like doing.

        Reply
        1. J Post author

          Stress is a definite cause of lowered libido in men. Doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel good about you.

          Reply
        2. e2

          Trust me when I say I understand risking the pain of rejection and I can understand why you would be shy about initiating. But isn’t a hint initiating? Isn’t a missed hint just as painful as asking and being turned down? From your earlier posts, it seems that you interpret his missing your hints as a lack of desire on his part. So, whether he misses your hints or rejects your clear offer, you still feel rejected and undesired. Your subtlety gains you nothing.

          But, with the hint, you throw in the added possibility of misinterpretation. He may be interested, but just misinterpreting your hint. In that situation, you both may want sex, but because you’re both just hinting around, you *both* miss out, like 500 times by your count.

          Reply
          1. B

            Well, no, a hint isn’t exactly initiating. To my way of thinking, if he’s interested, the hint will be obvious. If he misses the hint, it’s not a flat out rejection. I don’t have to feel stupid, like I do if I say, “I want to be with you so badly” and the he says “okay.” And then proceeds to fall asleep to avoid it. I’d rather be hit in the face with a 2×4.

            So while I kinda see your point, I don’t really agree with it.

            If he’s interested but misinterpreting a hint, why doesn’t he just initiate himself?

      3. Lorna

        Because that’s not hot. Admittedly, women could get a little better at seduction, but ultimately it’s more attractive for the man to be the *horny man*.

        Reply
        1. e2

          Lorna,

          I assume you mean that it’s more attractive *to the woman* for the man to be the *horny man*. As a man, I greatly fear that, if I behave as the *horny man*, I will be perceived as a “jerk and perv” as libl put it.

          Reply
    3. Eric V

      Does your husband feel good about sex? Surprisingly, some men feel guilty and ashamed about even having a sex drive and the negative messages about it don’t help.
      It isn’t very encouraging to be told ‘men are pigs’ or ‘men only want one thing’. I still struggle with this. We’ve all read plenty of responses in blogs like “you’re only being nice to get sex!”.

      To ask for something as intimate and profound as sex requires being really vulnerable and emotionally naked. Not so easy for everyone! Easier to keep your head down and pretend you don’t feel it than to risk rejection or shaming. By the way, that shaming can be an internal dialogue as well and not from your spouse.

      It may be worth your while to have a serious discussion about this with your husband. You may be surprised by what you learn.

      I really liked this post. It’s nice to read something complimentary of men and that not being the same as women doesn’t make us defective or inferior.

      Reply
      1. B

        Hmmm… Thanks Eric. Something to think about.

        But it’s amazing that he can be so tough and competent and commanding and confident while running a job, and then so vulnerable when it comes to me, or sex with me, or anything emotional? Am I that frightening?

        I don’t get it. I’m far less intimidating than a burly construction worker.

        Reply
        1. e2

          Au contraire, B. There is nothing, absolutely nothing more intimidating to a man than a woman he loves, nor more frightening than having to bare his soul to her.

          Reply
          1. Doc Sneed

            And more so when the comments desires or thoughts in that vunerable state are ridiculed, rejected, rebuffed or minimized and misinterpreted.

    4. Greg

      It’s a scientific fact that women can read/accurately interpret body language more than twice as well as men. I suspect that’s the case for your husband; you’re sending him plenty of signals, but for whatever reason, he’s not capable of reading them (note that some men are much better at reading body language than others).

      I mention this, because I personally know several guys who can’t read the body language even other guys send (like “Uh, please don’t try to start a conversation with me–I just got into work, and haven’t had a chance to get a hot cup of tea.”)

      Reply
  10. e2

    As to men wanting love in a committed relationship, I remember reading a study about 30 years ago comparing the happiness levels of married men, single men, married women and single women. Of the four groups, the happiest of the bunch were married men; the most miserable were single men.

    Reply
    1. Greg

      I can confirm the truth that it’s very difficult being a single man–especially into your late 40s (and some even older). But there are a number of single women my age who have shared that it’s equally hard for them too; especially those who truly desire marital intimacy and having children.

      Reply
  11. JuliusKwedhi

    “Men need tangibles.” That’s so true of me. And for that reason, amongst other things, I prefer writing down things so I don’t forget them easily. And when I do, I always have something to remind me.

    Thank you J for this post. I will share it with my fiancee. We are getting married this coming summer in August, by The LORD’s grace, and I am confident she will appreciate the article.

    Reply
  12. Eric Wiggin

    J, this was a much-needed post, and the number of positive comments said it was also much appreciated. Thank you, thank you!!

    I’ve been married to the same woman for nearly 53 years, had my mother for 96 years before the Lord took her home one year ago, and I’m grandfather to 11 granddaughters and great-granddaughters. I grew up with a sister and a plethora of aunts, grandmothers and female cousins. As a former pastor and teacher (secondary and college), I’ve dealt with thousands of adolescent girls and young women. Yet B’s comment expresses the frustration that millions of men and women have understanding one another: “I am a woman. I do not understand men and their need for tangibles. I do not get it!!!”

    Both Mark Twain and C. S. Lewis have been credited with a comment that I believe resolves this issue, in part at least: Women tend to talk in pronouns, whereas men require nouns. Example: Wife says, “Honey I need the blue bowl from the cupboard in the kitchen.” He finds a dozen blue bowls, and tells her so. But, “It’s right there, Honey. Never mind; I’ll find it myself.”
    This applies in non-sexual contexts, and also to sex. She wants to make love and he doesn’t, and says so. Or she doesn’t, and he does, and says so. She doesn’t “get” why her non-verbal signals are not understood. If she wanted sex, and she met him at the door, freshly bathed and wearing nothing but powder and perfume, he would “get” it, whether or not she is buff, or saggy from having given birth six times. And most guys “get” the flannel PJs example, too.
    My own observation is that women are intuitional; in conversations with each other they depend on subtle clues, including a lot of pronouns. My wife will put the phone down after talking with her sister and say something like, “She told him that it was tomorrow night . . ”
    My response: “Hold it honey. Who told whom that what happens tomorrow night”?
    Men are straight-line thinkers. They need hard facts. Most women depend on feelings and intuition. They can also multi-task, tending several kids while fixing meals and doing the laundry. Businessmen hire secretaries who can multitask, and in essence run the details of the business, while they’re playing golf with the guy they wish to land a contract with. Or there’s the wife who’s car won’t start. She doesn’t give a fig what’s going on under the hood–she just wants it to run. She may actually wish to unload on hubs when she’s had a bad day. She doesn’t want the solution to her problem nearly as much as she wants understanding and love. A new battery may solve the car problem, but what she wants right now is for him to empathize with her re the frustration of her bad day.

    So, wife, you don’t “get” it when he doesn’t understand your needs? Or husband, you wish to cut to the chase and tell her how to solve problem? Most of us require a few years to figure out how the other thinks or feels. But pray with each other and pay attention to one another and to the Word of God’s teachings about compassion and love and putting others’ needs first. The “get it” will eventually take care of itself. Hint: Read Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages, if you need a fast lesson in getting it.
    Eric Wiggin

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Great comment! I think it was Stu Gray in his Stupendous Marriage podcast who said something about how men would rather you start the conversation with the point, then work backward. While women prefer to introduce, build up, then get to the point. That’s been true in my marriage, and I think it relates to your observations too. Thanks!

      Reply
      1. Eric Wiggin

        Thanks, J,

        AS an experienced husband, as well as a fairly good fixer, if I came home and learned that my wife’s day was messed up because her car wouldn’t start, I begin with offering her a major dose of comfort. Then, with my tools, I’d test her car’s alternator and battery. If the battery was shot, I’d drive in my car to an auto parts store (Walmart sells batteries, and they are open all night), purchase a new battery and install it myself. I could count on hugs and kisses–maybe even some lovemaking.
        PS to that last post: I misspoke re my mom. She was 96. I’d had her for only 76 years!
        Eric

        Reply
        1. B

          Well, Eric, you are a good man. When my fairly new used car wouldn’t start and I called him, his first question was “What do you mean it won’t start?!?” And then “Fine. I’ll be there in a minute.” Then he gets there, barely speaks to me, gets mad because the spot I was parked in was facing a bush (when I parked I had no idea the car wouldn’t start). He jumps the car, angrily muttering the whole time. Then says “I’ll see you at home.” And left in a bad mood. He probably said “love you” cause it says it all the time out of habit, thus rendering the words basically meaningless. Empty words.

          Did I feel loved? No. Rescued? No. Like a pain in his rear end? Absolutely. Like a thorn in his side? 100%.

          Now, to clear things up, turns out he wasn’t mad at ME. He was mad that the car was only a year old, and this was like the third problem we’d had with it. He was frustrated about my parking spot. Did he tell me any of this? Nope. Did he reassure me that I hadn’t done anything wrong? Nope. He just got angry, angry, angry. (granted, he was in an angry phase of life, but still…)

          Was there hugging and kissing? No. I said thank you but knew to keep my distance. Was there lovemaking? No. He doesn’t like to make love unless everything is perfect. Timing, emotions, no stress at work, etc.

          He is changing, so that’s good. But the old wounds run deep.

          Anyhow, all of that to say, Eric, you are a good man. And men, if you are angry and frustrated, don’t take it out on your wife.

          And yes, as a woman, I could not care less why the car isn’t workng – just make it work! 😄

          Reply
          1. e2

            B,

            Thank you for the reminder to be clear to my wife why I may be upset. Just today, I got frustrated while we were shopping and snapped at her. She was not the source of my frustration, nor was I upset at anything she had done, but yes I made her feel very unloved.

          2. alchemist

            Well honey, he didn’t say. Which is frustrating. But you didn’t ask either.

            If my husband gets like that I flat out ask him; are you mad at me? Mostly he responds in utmost astonishment. Of COURSE he’s not mad at me. Isn’t it OBVIOUS that he’s mad at the stupid car for breaking? Which is probably what your husband is thinking too.

            Men are not slightly defective women with penises. They are men. They are qualitatively different. You can stand there ’till you are blue in the face asserting that men should take hints if only they would pay more attention. But they can make the equally valid claim that everything would be better if you would just speak mind and not beat about the bush. Deadlock. No-one wins.

            I would contend that dropping hints is the same as initiating. Now I admit that my husband by no means has a low drive. However, sometimes I go do yoga and he falls asleep even though he indicated that he would like to make love earlier the evening. So, when I see he’s tired I ask him if I should wake him up for sex, should he fall asleep in the 30 min it takes me to do my yoga. He usually does fall asleep btw. He can fall asleep in 2 min flat. Does that mean he doesn’t desire me? No. It means he’s 10 years older than me and had a 13 hour work day.

            Maybe you should try the things were you put a marble in a jar or light a candle or light the bat signal when you’re in the mood. It’s a pre-determined sign. So it’s not flat out asking, but it’s not easy to miss. A compromise.

            Here is an article about active listening I thought was very helpful:
            http://sexwithinmarriage.com/active-listening/

            I’m really glad to see you are working hard on trying to understand your husband and improving communication. Sorry if I give too much unsolicited advice. Blessings.

        2. B

          I forgot to state my point. Women aren’t the only ones who don’t communicate clearly.

          Men may not be big hint givers, but my husband and my sons have an annoying habit of just assuming nothing needs an explanation. It’s like, if they know it in their heads, than I should just automatically know it in mine. Then they get mad when they leave out pertinent details and I don’t understand what on earth they are talking about.

          Reply
        3. Jim Christian

          Yeah, Buddy! That’s the ticket, right Mr. Eric? Nothing like when the women need you. There’s one for you, J. We men-folk want to be needed, we wanna be Sir Galahad. And we want to be appreciated in return. Part of that is the “goodies”, the favors, a woman bestows upon her man.

          But that doesn’t change the fact that a man keeps the frame of the sexual relationship appropriate to the overall between he and his wife. For instance, bailing my gal out of a situation (car, her PC and phone, fixing something around here that really needs fixing NOW) sets up the dynamic we have between us for the kind of “all day” seduction that results in a heck of a session that evening, no graphics needed, as I am wont to say. I’ll even grab her up like Galahad grabs Fair Marion (or as John grabs Marsha) and remind her she owes me one, she’ll wink back, I perform the “rescue” (or fix, or whatever it is that’s needed) and our day-long dance that ends in the bedroom begins.

          I don’t know from cad, or jerk or any of that. All I know is, I set up the tone and my gal goes with it and then I proceed to make it good for her because that’s my job. The great circle of sexual romance begins and ends, I think, with the man setting a good and firm and romantic frame, he makes it fun for her and yet leaves no doubt, not a shred, of what is to happen tonight..

          That I am that way might make me a sexist, overbearing, patriarchal pig on a lot of women’s lists and I couldn’t care less about that. But there is no question in my mind that if I didn’t drive our sex life along the way I do, my wife would be like some of the women here (and elsewhere), lost and wondering, “Does he love me, does he want me, does he want me sexually even?”. I leave my gal ZERO doubt that I want her, Zero doubt that we’re to have this life together and without doubt that we do what we do because this is what two people that love each other DO. It is kind, it is loving, and it is inevitable in our marriage.

          I don’t care about feminism and patriarchy, or any of the other dribble the men around me spout for their weakness in not leading the way. It’s a lousy excuse as they wreck their marriages through sloth and weakness and apathy. Women HATE sloth in their men. It’s the man’s obligation to frame the marital relationship this way, to direct it and to be firm, yet loving and good. Because just look at the chaos right here on the pages when man fails his woman in the ways they do.

          Are there cold and sexless women? Sure. But women that are that way become that in a spiritual vacuum, first, without God, a result of a cold and empty heart and soul. But a good and Godly man can lead her out of that and warm her heart, her soul and body and make life good. God equips, he gives men good material to work with, women, but here on the ground, men LEAD.

          Sorry, J, another dissertation. Nonetheless, Sir Galahad, yeah, that’s me! And my Fair and Beautiful Maiden wouldn’t have it any other way! It is a blessing bestowed from on High. I really am not nutty about my God, we have a good relationship. I don’t cause him problems. He gives me good things. And I send spiritual thank you notes all through the day!

          Reply
          1. e2

            Jim C,

            Your method works because your wife likes it and responds to it.

            Not long ago, my wife and I were on a shopping trip. While shopping, she received a telephone call with extremely good news. I gave her a PDA in the store and suggested we celebrate more fully later with a gleam in my eye. She immediately complained that she was exhausted… and then proceeded to shop for two more hours at six more stores. By the time we got home, *I* was exhausted.

            A healthy sexuality requires both an initiator and a willing responder. If either is missing, so is the sex life.

          2. Jim Christian

            E2, you allow your wife to drag you for hours shopping? No wonder she’s not attracted. Women want a strong guy, a guy that has some spine. Allowing yourself to be led like that, bad move. Is she buying stupid-stuff? Women go shopping, men take care of the heavy lifting around the house. Let her take a girlfriend shopping, or better yet, cut it out entirely. That wouldn’t pass my muster, I wouldn’t have it. The shopping you describe is frivolous. Buying according to need doesn’t take hours. I do most of the food shopping (although she goes along most times) because I’m the best chef. We buy food according to need and frankly, what she likes (shrimps, lasagnas, stuffed grape-leaves), I get the stuff together and make it most nights, really good stuff. Hobby. Therapy. Half-Greek. I’m inspired in the kitchen. But she cleans up the house, I do the grass and cars and repairs. If she cooks the fishes, I do the dishes, the reverse if I cook the fishes. There. Equality.

            Another thing that wouldn’t pass muster in my woman is the declaration she’s too tired. My gal doesn’t pull that. Ever. In the past, my reply to my woman was, so what? Get in the shower, get in bed, you’re getting a massage, I don’t care if you sleep through it. Bing-bang-boo, we’re making love like bunnies. It’s a move, a frame that you adapt to your woman and make it clear you won’t be denied. NO woman turns down whole-body massage. Learn it, get good at it. It’s good for the both of you. For all my years, they like it, every single woman that’s passed through my life. I’m giving, they give, it just works.

            Of course, and please take no offense to my question, it would be legitimate and also fair to your wife that I ask: Would your wife compare your love making to a mugging? Maybe your manner in the sack needs a little polish. Sometimes you have to look in the mirror that way. Me, I admitted the truth when I was 16 or so, but I was a more secular dood back then and chased a lot of girls, I needed polish. The polish? Excellent back/body rubs and don’t forget the tootsies. These little little dears (deer) of ours love to have their hooves rubbed down. It doesn’t even have to be with the intent of making love, just because ya love her. But the kindness, the care, the touch, even the non-sexual intent tickles their nerve endings, warms their heart and like I said above, Bing-Bang-Boo, they want you “that way”.

            Ladies, if I’m all wrong about this, I’m, as always, all ears. I’m trying to coach this kid, am I wrong to point him this way?

          3. J Post author

            I get what you’re saying, but… “Women go shopping, men take care of the heavy lifting around the house. Let her take a girlfriend shopping, or better yet, cut it out entirely. That wouldn’t pass my muster, I wouldn’t have it.” Oh my goodness, this would get my spine up in two seconds flat. If my husband said, “I won’t have it,” things would go, let’s say, not well. Yes, I want a strong man, but I don’t want or need a parent who tells me what I can and can’t do. Especially since I contribute both money and value to this household as well.

            I think a lot of your suggestions depend on the two individuals in the marriage. If what you’re doing shows respect, love, and desire, and your wife feels respected, loved, and desired, then keep doing what you’re doing. A few of your tips, however, would turn me off faster than a flipped switch. (You asked. 🙂 )

            Thanks for engaging!

          4. e2

            Jim C.

            I’ll not stand for your judgment of me and my wife. Your comments are based on ignorance, and full of false assumptions and beliefs. I would love to respond point by point, but I frankly don’t have time to educate you on the intricacies of individual relationships.

          5. J Post author

            I agree that there are some assumptions in Jim’s answer that simply don’t apply across the board. We are unique individuals, and one of the best things in marriage we can do is respond particularly to the spouse we have. Some things other men like, but my husband doesn’t; some things other wives like, and I don’t. Thanks for engaging, e2!

      2. e2

        I second Eric’s comment about women’s use of pronouns. Just last night, we were watching a movie where the main character is rescued from a deserted island; he then returns to rescue a pet monkey. While the movie was on, our son returned home to retrieve some tools. He left just as the character on the movie was rescuing the monkey.

        My wife asks, “What did he go back for?”

        “The monkey,” I replied.

        She roared in side splitting laughter, as she was obviously talking about our son, not the movie character.

        My wife’s use of pronouns, combined with my tendency toward literalism, is a constant source of miscommunication in our marriage.

        Reply
  13. Eric Wiggin

    It seems that this topic has hit home with a lot of readers, and has also hit a few raw nerves. So I need to clarify a couple of things. First, a quote from B: “He jumps the car, angrily muttering the whole time. Then says “I’ll see you at home.” And left in a bad mood.”
    I’ve done the same thing as her husband, and left my wife upset more times than I can count. I’ve also yelled at her when I meant that she (not “the car”) was the source of my frustration. One point that I needed to make–and here I’m doing what someone rightly said that men do–is to assume all readers understood what I failed to specifically state: my 53 years of marriage fact was not to set myself up as an authority. Many of these issues took me 30 years of being married to figure out. SHAME ON ME! But when my heart was right, the Lord began to put before my eyes information I needed to understand my wife–stuff I hadn’t learned by taking 16 hours of college psychology. For example, I read Dr. Kevin Leman’s comment that the sexiest thing a man can do is to take out the garbage. OOPS! I’d been letting HER do that. I took our the garbage and she changed. Voila!

    The Bible states that the Apostle Peter was a married man (despite some opinions to the contrary). Peter writes that a husband is to live with his wife “according to knowledge” (1 Pet. 3:7, KJV). IOW, a godly husband will seek knowledge about how to understand his wife (and himself) and apply this in daily living. However, not until I was ready to make these applications, rather than charging ahead with my own egotistical notions of what a woman should be, did the Lord begin to show me these things.

    In defense of B’s husband, It very often is NOT the wife that the husband is reacting to, but a situation in which neither of them is at fault (eg. a car that won’t start). But many wives–mine included–don’t see it this way in the heat of the moment. They see an angry man, and assume that he’s angry at her. “Cease from anger and forsake wrath,” Solomon wrote in Proverbs. It took me years to let go my pride and apply that verse to me–Eric. See 1 John 2:16, in which the “world” is described as 1. Lust; 2. Covetousness; 3. Pride. Pride is always the basis of the other two broad areas of sin. Men, we need to learn to let go our pride, let God take control, and be kind and gentle with our wives.

    Eric

    Reply
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  15. B

    This comment is in reply to Jim’s comment about shopping, etc. and J’s reply to him.

    To Jim, I can only say – ?????????????

    And to J, for the first time I agree 100% with everything you said. Jim’s ideas would make me shut down in an instant, and I have a pretty high drive. Well, for MY husband, I do. But if he acted like that, my drive would fly out the window in a hurry.

    E2, you know I have some issues I’m working through in my own life with my husband, as you do with your wife. I don’t know your wife, but I can say in my opinion, your approach is more loving than Jim’s, and I don’t think your wife would respond well to his suggestions. I could be wrong, but based on my instant visceral reaction to Jim’s comment, I wouldn’t suggest going that route.

    If anything, this exchange has made me all the more appreciative of my own husband. He is very strong, very manly, and yes – I love it. He doesn’t cook, but he appreciates my cooking, and he takes me out often. I don’t shop often, nor does he. I don’t like shopping and my body image causes me great frustration – and so – if I need something, my husband will often offer to go along to help me, because he enjoys spending time with me, and he knows I will get frustrated and come home empty handed – but when he encourages me and keeps my spirits up, it goes much better. Even when I start to get exhausted from Christmas shopping for our large family, he will go and help me wrap it up. (No pun intended). My husband is great at getting things done, being efficient, and keeping my spirits up. Recently I’ve been starting to allow myself to see that he actually does love me. A lot.

    So Jim, thanks I guess. After getting past my initial aversion to your comment, it made me a LOT more appreciative of my own husband. Your wife may like your approach, to each his (or her) own. But I am going to continue loving my own husband, and making a much stronger effort to accept his love and appreciate the wonderful man that he is.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      So it’s funny about the shopping…because I am the hunter-shopper, while my husband is the browser-shopper. Sometimes the typical just doesn’t apply.

      I think your answer here is wise, especially “making a much stronger effort to accept his love and appreciate the wonderful man that he is.” Our husbands are wonderful in their own ways!

      Reply
      1. e2

        Our shopping trip was a date night. I enjoy shopping with my wife. She doesn’t drag me, and she is far, far from a frivolous shopper or spender. The things we were looking for were for our home. Telling me that NO woman would refuse a body massage is like telling B that all men are horn dogs. Neither is true. My wife has refused body massages, not because she’s malicious, but because she’s exhausted and wants sleep. At those times, I would never dream of ordering her to get ready for sex. These are the reasons I stated that Jim’s response was “ignorant.” I meant that word clinically, not as a pejorative.

        Reply
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  17. alchemist

    In response to Jim:

    My clothes shopping can take 8-12 hours. Depending on how much I need and what all I need. It is exactly because I am not frivolous that it takes that long. I’m not buying anything I don’t look and feel fabulous in. Of course, I wouldn’t subject my poor husband to that, just like he doesn’t drag me along to junk yards to go find parts for his ancient cars.

    I think I get the general intent of your comment. But you are a bit… abrasive. Maybe your wife is into that. A lot of women wouldn’t be. I personally have issues with people being all authoritarian towards me. It presses all my passive aggressive buttons. It’s not pretty. My husband is very gentle with me. He’s also very observant. He often knows what I want and need before I do. Then he gently suggest I do what would make me feel better. If he told me like that “go get in the shower and come get a massage woman” I would get angry and resist. Even if it was exactly what I needed.

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  20. DL

    I haven’t read all the posts, but enough to hear a lot of the blame game. “If only the other partner would _______.” “They did/didn’t _______, so I will/won’t _______.”

    Emerson Eggerich, in his book, Love & Respect, had a great way to decide who should initiate good behavior and good will: The person who is the most mature. If you’re the most mature person in the relationship, then it’s YOUR place to take the lead in doing what’s right to get where you want/need to be as a couple. If you’re not the most mature person, then admit your problem, grow up, and become that person.

    Disclaimer: Lest some Type A and/or self-righteous types think this automatically qualifies them, refer to Philippians 2:5-8.

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