A man’s instincts tell him that his home is his castle. It’s a place where he can live in comfort without anyone having anymore expectations of him —not even from his wife. And only when there is a genuine crisis at home does he make any real effort to eliminate barriers that might hinder a smoothly running home. Most men think a smoothly running home is the same as a smoothly running relationship. (Ken Nair, from his book, Discovering The Mind Of A Woman)
This is the 2nd of a series that I (Steve) am writing the Marriage Message. Therefore, I’d like to take the opportunity to speak directly to the husbands again. I thought a good follow-up to the last message on The Business of Marriage, would be to address the subject of our male instincts. I’ve found out (the hard way) that if I rely on my instincts in my relationship with Cindy then my marriage is going to “stink” (pun intended). Okay, maybe “stink” isn’t the right word. But I can tell you there were times that my instincts really caused problems.
Instincts in Marriage
Let me give you just one example. Early in our marriage when we were having communication problems, my instincts told me I should stay away from home more. So I worked a lot of unpaid overtime. I reasoned, “If I’m not home, we can’t argue. And if we don’t argue, then everything will be just fine.” That’s bad logic, to say the least!
Now, if you don’t think there’s anything wrong with that logic—stay tuned. I think the rest of this message points to the importance of being more intentional and less instinctive in how we relate to our spouses. I draw from Ken Nair’s book, Discovering The Mind Of A Woman. In it, he paints a picture of how men often think by offering 3 insights.
1. “Husbands do not generally understand the minds of their wives.
2. “Husbands are inclined to be blind to their own faults. And yet alert to their wives’ failures. Also they’re quick to condemn them for their faults.
3. “Husbands often don’t know how to evaluate the circumstances in their marriages from God’s perspective. As a result they miss the opportunity to use those circumstances as building blocks. Few men know how to make the change from just seeing what is happening to also seeing what God is trying to teach them through what is happening.”
Now, I believe that most husbands don’t set out to intentionally sabotage our marriages. But a lot of us are “relationally challenged,” where perceiving our wives’ needs doesn’t come natural to us. (The same can be said of wives perceiving a husband’s needs.) I think Ken offers a good “Litmus Test” for husbands to see just how sensitive we are to our wives’ needs.
The Litmus Test for Husbands:
“You can gauge the sensitivity of your spirit by asking, ‘Am I meeting the needs of my wife’s spirit?’ How will you know it? If your wife is unpleasant, difficult to live with, and frequently depressed and moody, then you’re not ministering to her spirit. If your wife is pleasant, easy to live with, and able to handle the stresses of life confidently, then you are in all likelihood ministering to the needs of her spirit.”
Of course, there are exceptions in that some people aren’t happy no matter what you do for them. They have other issues going on that need to be dealt with.
If we’re going to move from instinctive behavior to intentional behavior we’re also going to have to change some of the root causes for our behavior. And that is being un-Christ-like in our attitudes.
“We as men label women as mysterious and incomprehensible. That is because it takes the responsibility off us to become truly Christ-like in our attitudes and behavior toward our wives. It excuses our unwillingness to genuinely listen to their hearts. It takes extra effort to try to determine how their feelings are being displayed in their eyes, facial expressions and body language.
“Most of all, it provides a rationalization for not listening to our wives when they’re being used by the Spirit of God to point out some of our weaknesses that God wants to deal with.”
Now, Nair begins to drive home for us what it will take to move from Instinctive to Intentional.
“Isn’t it your goal to build your marriage relationship so that the central focus in it is Christ-likeness? Isn’t it about letting your wife know that she can trust you to respond with a Christ-like attitude toward her?
“The position of husband carries with it the charge of being spiritually responsible. And my responsibility to the relationship with my wife is to be just as Jesus’ responsibility to the relationship to the church.”
“One pastor said to me, ‘Whenever I heard the expression laying down your life, I always equated it with being willing to die for my wife. I imagined it like being a Marine jumping on a grenade to prevent his friends in the foxhole from dying. And of course, I have always said, Yes, I would be willing to die for my wife.
“‘But you’re talking about something else here. You’re talking about learning to put my wife first in our marriage. And you’re talking about trying to meet her needs, even before meeting my own needs. If it comes to a situation where it’s a matter of opinion between my wife and me I’m to give her opinions priority over mine. In other words, I’m to put consideration for my wife before my own needs in our everyday living. Boy, that’s going to be rough.’
Christ-like Attitudes and Goals
“Christ-like attitudes produce loving emotions and Christ-like responses. That’s what our wives are trying to help us see—if we’ll only listen for attitudes and emotions rather than only the facts.
“Our goal as husbands is to be in it for the long haul. It is to be committed to understanding our wives and learning to meet their needs. We ought to stick to becoming Christ-like. We are to do this no matter how long it takes our wives to recognize it. And it shouldn’t matter how many sacrifices we have to make.”
Perhaps you’re not clear what Christ-like behavior or attitudes towards our wives is to look like. If so go to Ephesians 5:25-30. Philippians 2:5-8 gives us another good look at this subject.
We also have additional articles that may be helpful in the For Married Men topic of our web site.
Let me again ask husbands to commit to praying that God will reveal any truth in this message. Ask Him to help us to apply it in our behavior towards our wives.
Steve and Cindy Wright
More from Marriage Missions
Filed under: Marriage Messages