Last week, I asked wives to answer a simple question: Why don’t you comment more often? The answers I received were enlightening. And a little surprising.
The Results of My Survey
Among the reasons were lack of time, agreeing with what was said and having nothing to add, and a few issues with some male commenters. But what caught me off guard was how many women said they did not comment because they didn’t know who would want to hear what they had to say.
Consider these examples:
- I often write a comment … and then don’t post it because I figure I’m not an expert so I doubt my two cents is actually worth anything.
- I generally feel that my words could come across wrong or are not useful as I often speak bluntly.
- I tend to not comment because I always catch myself with “why would my opinion matter?“
- Much like [another commenter] I often wonder why my opinion would even matter, which I know is a little weird considering I don’t have that thought about the comments of others.
While I don’t believe gender differences completely explain this viewpoint, research has shown women are less likely to exhibit boldness than men.
What the Research Shows
According to a commonly cited internal report from Hewlett Packard from the 2010s: “Women…applied for a promotion only when they believed they met 100 percent of the qualifications listed for the job. Men were happy to apply when they thought they could meet 60 percent of the job requirements.” Further studies showed that women didn’t lack confidence in themselves as much as confidence in the system being willing to hire them if they didn’t meet every qualification.
Men have also been shown to be bolder in dating apps, initiating more contacts than women, not by double but four times the number of messages. Certainly some of this is cultural, in that men tend to initiate relationships more often, but it still indicates a bias toward men just going for what they want.
And then there’s the study showing that at meetings where both men and women attend, women speak 25% less than men. Moreover: “Participants who held the floor for a greater percentage of the group’s deliberation were more likely to be seen as influential by the other members of the group. Thus the active use of voice translates into greater perceived influence, as we expected.” Even more discouraging, perhaps, was the researchers’ conclusion that women fare better in homogeneous groups, meaning all women.
So are we ladies really supposed to exist in a world where we only express ourselves fully when in the company of women?
What Are We Missing?
Look, I’m a big fan of gathering into all-female groups at times. I co-host a podcast with that framework, Sex Chat for Christian Wives. I also have a higher-drive wife group, comprised exclusively of women whose libidos are higher than their husbands. And when I speak, I primarily teach women’s groups.
However, I’m really bothered that some of us gals don’t feel like our opinions, our beliefs, our desires are worth expressing, even in mixed company.
And I’ve seen this play out with wives in the bedroom, who have sadly absorbed the message that their sexuality and/or sexual pleasure doesn’t matter as much as their husbands’. When nothing could be further from the truth.
Yet, we have promoted this belief in our culture, both Christian and secular, by talking much more often about the male sex drive, by telling wives their role is to meet their husband’s sexual needs, by presuming that male sex arousal is the sexual cycle for all people (see our “Women’s Sexual Response” episode), and by using scriptures about the mutuality of sexual intimacy to argue that a wife can never say no.
Instead, I want to say unequivocally right now to all of you wives out there: You matter.
The Importance of Women and Their Words
What you feel, what you think, what you believe … is important. What you want, what you need, what you dream about … is valuable. Who you are … is precious.
Just ponder these verses:
- “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26
- “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” Isaiah 49:16a
- “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Luke 12:6-7
- “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27
And in a society that discounted a woman’s testimony as unreliable in court, our Lord Jesus appeared first to women, making them the initial eyewitnesses to His resurrection (Mark 16:1-8). What a message about how He values the words of women!
What This Means about Your Bedroom
I often feel in my ministry as if I’m balancing two disparate concepts I want wives to understand about their sexual intimacy:
- We must lovingly care for our spouse’s sexuality.
- We must speak up for what we need and desire.
Some might say it’s a weaving selflessness and selfishness in the marriage bed. But I think of it as other-focus and self-awareness—an approach that values both of you as equally worthwhile partners in intimacy.
Do you discount your sexual desires? Do you tend to believe his pleasure or climax matters more than your own? Do you hesitate to speak up for yourself and what you want? Do you lack boldness in your bedroom?
Maybe it’s time, or well past time, to value your opinions, express yourself, and create more mutual conversation and sexual intimacy in your marriage.
And hey, comment more here! I’d love to hear what you gals think.
Sources: Harvard Business Review – Why Women Don’t Apply for Jobs Unless They’re 100% Qualified; Forbes – Act Now To Shrink The Confidence Gap; Forbes – The Confidence Gap In Men And Women: Why It Matters And How To Overcome It; The Daily Free Press – Men’s online dating habits more bold than women’s, study finds; Enterpreneur – Head Into Your Next Male-Dominated Meeting Ready to Contribute by Following These Tips; American Political Science Review – Gender Inequality in Deliberative Participation