Tag Archives: marriage

Q&A with J: Do Women Try to Manipulate Men?

“Just tell me what you want!” he says, exasperated by all her hinting and expectations and … well, manipulation. Because that must be what it is, right? Why else would she play games?

This question, more or less, came up in a series of posts written by Paul Byerly of The Generous Husband and The XY Code. You can go read those posts here:

First You Have to Know – The Generous Husband
Why He Thinks It’s a Game – The XY Code
He’s Not As Careful with His Words – The XY Code

I took issue with the word “game” as a description of what’s happening for most women. In addition to commenting, I had a great online conversation with Paul, at the end of which I volunteered to write a post about why women often aren’t as direct in their communication.

Generally speaking, she’s not trying to manipulate him or make it difficult. Most women who haven’t learned a lot about men’s brains and communication style don’t understand they’re being unclear to him. We honestly believe you should be able to see what we’re saying!

Especially because … sometimes he does.

Case in point: My husband, whom I fondly call Spock because he is super-logical and not instinctively romantic, does not pick up on hints. When he tries, he often guesses wrong. However, we stepped into a local furniture/knick-knack store one time, and I commented on how much I loved a particular painting. I thought nothing of it, because I was simply admiring a product at the store.

Lo and behold, at my next birthday my husband presented me with the painting! It now hangs next to my desk:

Creative, fun, and quirky…like me!

I don’t know why that one time he paid attention to my interest and followed through with the gift. But had I not already known the way his mind generally works, I might have concluded that his willingness to meet my understated desires was selective. Some women might figure: Because he did it this one time, why can’t he do it all the time? 

But it’s not fair to take a one-off and try to force that into a pattern. That would be like thinking that one time I made a perfect meal means I could deliver chef-worthy food every single night. (Not.)

It’s easy to misread one another if we don’t make an effort to understand the inherent differences in our communication styles, which come from our backgrounds, our personalities, and our gender. Not all of the stereotypes will apply to your spouse, but it’s worth asking whether such things are true.

And give one another the benefit of the doubt when your spouse says you misunderstood their intentions. Yes, if you said X, it would mean Y. But for your spouse, saying X might mean Z. Because we think and communicate differently.

Again, I believe God made it this way because, to have a good marriage, we’re then forced to let go of our selfishness, aim to understand our spouse, and stretch ourselves in loving them. The way Christ modeled.

But let me back to the original question: Do women try to manipulate men? Sure, some do. But most of the time, if a wife’s dropping hints and thinks her husband should pick up on them, she’s not trying to manipulate him. She’s lived her life learning how to pick up on subtlety, and her brain is even hardwired better for this task, so it’s difficult to understand why he can’t. Especially when, as I pointed out, now and then something does stick for him.

Meanwhile, ladies, take those moments as a treat, but try to be more direct with the men in your life. I hear from a lot of husbands who feel frustrated because they want to give their wives what they want, but their wives won’t tell them and the guys cannot figure out the hints. Because men are hardwired that way and learned that communication style.

Look, a lot comes down to verses like these: “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10). What would it look like to devote yourselves to one another in communication? Would it be one of you getting his or her own way? And what about honoring? Can we honor one another’s way of looking at things and work together to reach understanding?

Let’s not accuse each other of intentions that aren’t there, but rather work through our differences to reach unity.

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).

Now please go read my guest post at The Generous Husband: Why She Communicates the Way She Does (and It May Not Be What You Think)

Also check out a great podcast episode I just listened to: The Art of Manliness – The Male Brain

And a great one for wives to read: You’re Not Allowed to Complain About Not Getting What You Didn’t Ask For (It’s more balanced than the title conveys.)

Plus one more: Is It Manipulation? Motive Matters from The Forgiven Wife

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5 Holidays to Celebrate with Your Spouse (Besides Valentine’s)

Valentine’s Day is over for 2018! Either you nailed it, or you have 364 days to show love in other ways to your spouse. Actually, how about we all express our appreciation and desire for our beloveds throughout the year!

However, if you like having a little nudge from a holiday, be assured that February 14 is not your only opportunity. On today’s High Five Saturday, let’s talk about five upcoming holidays on which married couples can celebrate their hot, holy, and humorous love!

Blog post title + illustration flip calendar with heart on front

1. Steak & BJ Day

This year: Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The theory behind this holiday, clearly concocted by men, is that Valentine’s Day is for women — what with the emphasis on greeting cards, flowers, candy, and romance. Meanwhile, what does a man really want to get from the love of his life? Two things: steak and a blow job.

However, I know plenty of husbands who enjoy Valentine’s…and plenty of wives who also enjoy steak and giving their husbands fellatio. So perhaps Steak & BJ Day would be a win-win in your marriage!

For tips on giving a great blow job, check out the chapter on oral sex in my book, Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design.

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2. International Kissing Day

This Year: Friday, April 13, 2018

This holiday celebrates kissing for kissing’s sake, whether or not it leads to other affectionate activities. Why not devote extra time and focus on smooching with each other on this day?

For more on kissing, check out 5 Kisses You Need to Master and my more extensive tips in the Hot, Holy, and Humorous book.

3. National Sex Day

This Year: Saturday, June 9, 2018

It’s either impossible or a complete waste of my time to track who came up with this holiday. Yet it’s become a hashtag on social media and a goal for some couples to make love on this particular day. Although this year you have a whole Saturday to accomplish this challenge, the holiday actually occurs on June 9 every year. That’s 6/9. Get it?

If you want tips on having great sex…yeah, that’s pretty much my whole blog, as well as my books. But in case you want to know what qualifies as sex, check out this post: What Is Sex?

4. National Romance Awareness Day…oh wait, MONTH!

This Year: Wednesday, August 1, 2018, and beyond!

Apparently, a single day dedicated to romance is insufficient. We need an entire month! Now, research shows it takes about twice that long to really develop a new habit, but a full month of romance might convince you of its benefits so that you’ll keep it going for years to come.

How to do romance well? Three blogs I follow share quite a few romance tips. Check out The Romantic VineyardLove Hope Adventure, and The Generous Wife.

5. Your Anniversary

This year: _____________________, 2018/2019

If you couldn’t fill in that blank, you’d better figure it out quickly! Because of all the marriage holidays one can celebrate, your own anniversary is probably the one your beloved cares most about. It’s the day unique to the two of you and your marriage.

How should you celebrate? I suggest you ask the spouse who cares the most about this day and commemorate the way they want. Within reason, of course. I mean, I’d love to go to Australia for a full week to celebrate our upcoming 25th! But we’re going to Chicago for a few days, because that’s where I’m traveling already for a business trip and it’s what we can afford. Likewise, figure out how you can do your anniversary up big without breaking your back or the bank.

Of course you don’t need any of these holidays to celebrate the love in your marriage. But if you enjoy the special days, find one or more of these to mark on your calendar and start the joyous anticipation now.

Speaking of marriage (as if I do anything else), I had a wonderful opportunity last Saturday to chat with popular Canadian talk show host, Dr. Drew Marshall. I’d love for you to pop over and listen to the 20-minute interview! Click below to find our segment from February 20, 2018, the Valentine’s Day Special.

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Bonjour from France!

Just a shout-out to all of you following and reading the Hot, Holy & Humorous blog! I miss y’all and posting here. But I’m actually on a vacation/business trip. And while I’ve tried to write posts and get them up, the internet in the French countryside is spotty at best. There are short windows of time when the connection is working, but I simply can’t get a whole post — with the research, links, pictures, etc. — done with this service.

I will say that if you can manage to travel, whether it’s all the way to a French Chateau or just up the road to a state park, studies show that it’s for good for couples to experience new activities together. You get the same brain buzz that you had when you were first falling in love. I definitely plan to bring Spock with me next time I travel to Europe (miss you, hubby!).

Why not stoke your marital romance? And if you need more ideas, I encourage you to check out The Romantic Vineyard blog.

Where I’m at now:

Picture of French countryside chateau

Chateau Les Carasses, Languedoc, France

Thinking of and praying for you!

It All Comes Down to This

This has been a hard week in the United States, with the death of citizens and police officers and a lot of mourning, reflection, and conversation. I’ve seen repeated pleas on Facebook from people longing for our citizens to get past this violence and move toward peace and understanding for one another.

After hearing the news, my own fingers hovered above my keyboard as the Facebook status prompt stared back at me. I wanted to say my own piece, to add something brilliant to the discussion.

But I didn’t. I didn’t know what I could add to the discussion. Rather, I just kept thinking that we need to somehow return to the basics.

I see it in violent conflicts across the world, in racial tension here and elsewhere, in churches with internal battles, in our workplaces, communities, and homes. And I see it all the time in marriages. How we miss the opportunity to do what’s right because we don’t really have the foundational principles running through our lives.

Frankly, it’s why my own marriage struggled for so long. Sure, I could break down all the reasons we had problems, explain the inherent difficulties of merging two lives from disparate backgrounds, and on and on. I could even say that God wasn’t answering my many, many prayers that He heal my marriage. Except that God and I know better.

What ultimately improved my marriage was me getting back to the basics. I had to learn how to daily treat my husband the way God wanted me to treat him — with patience, kindness, love, honor, selflessness. And, believe me, I’m still on the journey of learning. As imperfect as I am, I have a long way yet to go.

I know some of you are struggling through some great hardships in your marriage. And you have no idea how things can turn around. I’ve heard some of your stories, and there are some heartbreaking challenges you face. You’re probably questioning your spouse’s love, your marriage’s future, and perhaps even your own faith.

When we go through crises — whether a country faced with cop/citizen conflict or a despairing marriage — we might do best to breathe and think about returning to basics. What can really make a difference in the moment.

Jesus gave the standard, and it’s one I now try to live my life by. You probably know it as The Golden Rule: “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31).

Marriage Memory Verse 7-9-16

Matthew 7:12 is another source for this statement, and in that passage Jesus says that principle sums up all the law and the prophets. Yep, it all comes down to this — treating others the way you want them to treat you.

What would that look like in your marriage today? What if you really listened to your spouse the way you want to be listened to? What if you valued his opinions the way you want him to value yours? What if you tried to meet his intimacy needs the way you want him to meet yours? What if you prayed for him the way you want him to pray for you? What if you sought the very best for your beloved the way you want him to seek your best?

I give all kinds of advice on this blog, trying to break down what the loving response looks like in a particular situation. And I find inspiration and practical help from others who do the same. But the foundational principle for everything I say comes down to the Golden Rule: Treat your husband or wife with the same loving care you’d like him/her to give you.

Today, let’s all ask ourselves how we’re doing with that. I bet every one of us could do better.

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Are You His Type?

I’m too short for my husband. Our nine-inch different in height means I must stand on tiptoes and he must lean down for us to kiss one another’s lips. When we dance, our bodies don’t quite line up, which I try to compensate for with higher-heels (or higher-heeled cowboy boots). When I ask him to reach stuff on the top shelf, he sometimes looks at me like, “How short are you?” Answer? Not tall. And quite possibly shorter than any of the girls he dated before me.

It would be more convenient if I were a few inches taller. And I think he’d like not bending his neck down so far. But, despite repeated prayers to God when I was a teenager, I stopped growing at some point and that was that.

Am I his type? Not when it comes to height.

Are You His Type?

I’ve heard from wives who believe that their husbands dating women previously with different appearances or noticing other women now who differ greatly from how they look…means hubby doesn’t really like their body or beauty type.

From talking to men, reading their comments and emails, and studying research and information about their “species,” I have some thoughts on that.

He wouldn’t have asked you out, dated you all that time, and married you if he wasn’t attracted to you. By and large, this is truth. A guy might have a brief encounter with a woman he doesn’t find all that physically appealing, but he wouldn’t invest all that time and effort with his eventual wife if he didn’t think she was worth eyeballing, touching, and becoming intimate with. As visual as many men are (and yes, I know not all, and women can be visual too), they are motivated to find a woman who is visually pleasing.

Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. What appeals to one person won’t necessarily appeal to another. If your body type is not the typical definition of gorgeous in our (twisted) society, that doesn’t mean you’re not beautiful. You, my dear, have your own physical, and even sexual, appeal. What matters most is you believing the truth that God created you as a beautiful woman and that you are beautiful in your husband’s eye.

Your attractiveness is strongly affected by your inner beauty. When men are surveyed on which character is more appealing from the TV series Gilligan’s Island, the sexy bombshell Ginger typically loses to the sweet, bubbly, and personable Mary Ann. Sure, the actress who played Mary Ann was pretty, but if you’d switched those actresses’ roles, I think the Mary Ann character would still win out. Because who she is makes her more attractive. Likewise, I remember a conversation with several girls in college about a guy who wasn’t objectively good-looking, but he was so nice, funny, and engaging that every one of us agreed he was highly attractive. Who you are impacts how you appear to those around you, especially your husband. If you’re a happy wife who fights the frump and makes him feel loved, odds are you’re hot in his heart.

Confidence is appealing. Let me be frank, ladies: Wives who constantly complain about their appearance, demand heaps of reassurance, and argue with their husband’s opinion can wear a guy out. Wives who own their beauty, present themselves with confidence, and yes, ask for reassurance when they need it are more appealing. Of course, you won’t immediately flip a switch and have a shot of confidence wash over you. You must intentionally work toward dealing with your self-consciousness, self-doubt, self-flagellation to become more comfortable with your body and your beauty.

Back to my height-challenged existence…

I used to think that my husband got cheated by not getting the tall woman he, I assumed, wanted. I wished God would grant me a belated wish, a medical miracle, and make me grow a few more inches.

But honestly, I’ve learned that my husband doesn’t see it that way. And I no longer view myself negatively either. For him, it’s just a little bending to kiss the woman he loves, a slight adjustment for us to dance in tandem, and appreciation of a physical characteristic that defines me. Even as my body changes – spreading a bit in the middle – he’s in love with the woman he sees, knows, touches, chose.

And why wouldn’t he feel that way? I feel that about him. My husband is not objectively as physically attractive as he was twenty years ago, but to me, he’s absolutely the best looking guy in every room I enter. He’s my type and I’m his type, because our love for each other means: “You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you” (Song of Songs 4:7).

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