Fighting Our Instincts in Marriage – MM #132

Instincts castle-2480210_1920A 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.

Three Instincts:

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.

Nair says:

“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.

Prayerfully Consider:

“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

Print Post

Filed under: Marriage Messages

Join the Discussion

Please observe the following guidelines:

  • Try to be as positive as possible when you make a comment.
  • If there is name-calling, or profane language, it will be deleted.
  • The same goes with hurtful comments targeted at belittling others; we won't post them.
  • Recommendations for people to divorce will be edited out–that's a decision between them and God, not us.
  • If you have a criticism, please make it constructive.
  • Be mindful that this is an international ministry where cultural differences need to be considered.
  • Please honor the fact this is a Christ-centered web site.

We review all comments before posting them to reduce spam and offensive content.


7 responses to “Fighting Our Instincts in Marriage – MM #132

  1. (Kenya) Thank you so much for the eye opener in this weeks message. May the Lord reward you for your ministry. I have been married for 7 years and had always wondered what’s up… till I read the message and I just laughed. It was like you were telling me a secret that I thought my husband was keeping from me.

  2. (USA)  Ken Nair is about one of the worst writers on this topic. His books, especially, “Knowing the Mind of a Woman” basically blame men for all marital woes.

    The bottom line is Ken says that if a marriage is bad, if a wife is mis-behaving, having an affair or whatever, then it’s likely due to some failure of her husband.

    I’ll dig out a bit more, but the bottom line is Ken Nair is about as scriptural as the DaVinci Code, and even less useful when it comes to an understanding of a Biblical marriage.

    It’s not to say that we shouldn’t understand our wives, we should. But to accept blame for their choices isn’t exactly the same as dying for your spouse.

    So I would not advise anyone seeking solid Biblical guidance to spend much effort on the writings of Ken Nair.

  3. (USA)  To counter the thoughts of Ken Nair, I’d suggest Paul Coughlin, “No More Christian Nice Guy”

    Jesus was not a “Breck Girl” blue eyed gentle lamb carrying creature. He spoke his mind with conviction about sin. He was sarcastic, and offensive, calling the Scribes and Pharasees “whitewashed tombs” and “broods of vipers.” He got angry.

    I doubt folks would recognize the REAL Jesus after the image we’ve been sold for years.

    Jesus wasn’t abusive, but he didn’t endlessly suffer fools. He had little patience for his disciples asking how long he would have to repeat what he said until they got it.

    He certainly did lay down his life for his bride, the church. But he was never the blue eyed, well groomed “Breck Girl” Jesus we see on display in many churches.

    So if there is an instinct you want to fight, fight the one that leads you to put your faith in such a Jesus. A Jesus who didn’t exist.

    If you are a man, don’t become that Jesus that never existed. If you are a wife or a mother, don’t accept that from your children or your husband.

    Jesus made WINE as his first miracle. He hung out with sinners, he poked fun at the religious leaders of the day, he was not afraid when he confronted both the political and religious leaders of the day. He called sin sin, he didn’t make excuses. He showed grace WHILE being against sin. He was sarcastic, he was angry.

    But he was not afraid. He wasn’t afraid he would offend. In fact, it seemed at times he sought to offend.

    One of the most common phrases in scripture is “fear not.”

    So men, don’t be afraid of being a real Jesus. Women, don’t fear a real man who seeks to model the real Jesus in your life.

    Your instincts will tell you to fear such behavior. Fight those instincts and embrace such behaviors.

  4. (USA)  Good comment Tony. I think Jesus was definitely in all you said but remember to compare scripture with scripture. I haven’t read that author but Steve is merely talking about having self control and not giving into your flesh when it comes to dealing with the hardships of marriage.

    It sounds to me, that you may hold to a legalistic, overbearing brand of Christianity and quite likely that you are tempted to be a bit self-rightous. I think you “ranted” while Steve, on the otherhand, was teaching and being transparent and authentic.

    So even though you don’t like the author, or Steve’s message, you might not want to “throw out the baby with the bath water.”

    Do you get angry when you feel you are not in control?

    What Steve wrote helped me and “broke up some of the hardness in my heart.” Thank you Steve and Cindy for your thoughts.

    1. (USA)  I have compared scripture with scripture and Ken Nair is way off scripture. I’d like to think I’m far from self righteous. But I’m also far from the self-loathing that comes across in Ken Nair’s writings. After all, I’m a child of God just as all of us are. Any greatness I have is not from me, but from Christ. I’ve made that abundantly clear in my writings here.

      So when someone speaks foolishness, such as men are to blame when women sin and/or act out in marriage, I’m going to call shenanigans on such a statement. I can say that and still own the fact that I too am a sinner, saved not by my own works, but grace alone.

      Anyone who tries to tell you that one sex or the other is more sinful is selling you a lie. So when Ken Nair says husbands are the largest problem in a marriage, he’s selling you a lie that is in no way biblical.

      Scriptures says we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. It doesn’t say husbands do this more than wives, or wives do this more than husbands. It’s very clear, ALL.

      So I think Ken Nair’s message is equally dangerous as those churches that teach that men are all but kings and women should follow blindly. Sure, like Ken Nair, they probably present some biblical truths. However, the message is dangerous because each presents it’s own sort of justification for an entitlement mentality.

      I get angry when I see injustice. I get angry when I see lies being presented as a biblical truth. Think of it as the kind of anger Jesus had on display in the temple courtyard when he overturned the tables of the money changers.

      Remember, anger is not bad, nor is it a sin. In fact, I’d suggest that if one never got angry, they might want to question if Christ is really in their heart and life. The lack of anger may indicate that you are not as full of Christ as you might think. That is not a license to be angry. It is a suggestion that you examine your thinking and see if you are excluding something that is very much a part of Christ, righteous anger.

  5. (USA) Hello, I agree with Tony on the Ken Nair Book. I have lived with an angry wife for 20 years. Last year was a sex starved year. Believe me, there are times when I struggle with the desire to have sex with my wife. It is not just sex but the whole marriage oneness that comes with two people putting each other first. I truly have done all the outside stuff. I come home from work and I do dishes always. My wife would disagree with that. If I missed once in 30 days, she would call me a liar for saying always. I mentioned my desire for sex this morning and she went ballistic. I wanted sex yesterday and the whole month before. I shave and shower and iron and take her places and try to hug her all the time. If I mention my need for sex she tells me that since she owns my body, she can just tell me to shut the sex drive off. She got that from Ken Nairs book.

    I don’t know too many Christian husbands who are the jerks, the guy Ken is talking about. His book is the Bible of my wife’s HeWomen ManHater Club. They are a group of women who make it a mission to hate their husbands. At least until they divorce them. It might not be that bad, but I cringe everytime she talks about them getting together. I love all the blogs associated with Focus and Family Life Today. I have listened to them and supported them for over 30 years. I have read Ken Nair’s book more than once and find it depressing. His take on Christian sex is degrading to marriage.

  6. Hello! Really love your discussions and would really like to be a part of in terms of my marriage. I can never trust my husband because I’ve come across things like email and social media chit chats. It concerns close relations. As much as I pray and try to think positive about our marriage, it haunts me like crazy. The ultimatum for me really is to walk out. Jokes, telephone calls and visits from female cousins gives me the creeps. Would love to hear from you.