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January 18, 2019

Years ago, back when I used to frequent bookstores (you know, the kind you drove to and physically walked around in), I came across a book entitled, What Men Know About Women.  Of course, I immediately pulled it from the shelf.  This was a must-have book for me for many reasons.  I opened it to peruse the table of contents and discovered that every page was blank.  All of them.  Brilliant!

After I had a good laugh, I went straight to the counter and bought it for my library.

Sometimes I think I could have written that book.  My wife, 3 grown daughters and our female cat would agree.  Every page would have been blank.  Well, most of them.

In the 1970s (that’s right, back in the 20th Century) I read James Dobson’s, What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Women.  It was the first book I’d ever come across that dared treat the subject.  Dobson was a genius in many ways, not the least of which in his insight into women.  I’d still recommend What Wives Wish as a solid resource.

Lots of books have been written since then to explain how women think and feel, and how men can account for this.  Some of them are even good.

I freely acknowledge that I’m not an authority.  I really wasn’t joking, I’ve got 3 grown daughters and a wife (and a cat) who can attest to this.  But I’ve been married for almost 45 years, and lived to tell about it.  So I’m going with that as credential enough to write about women.  On one level.

My belief about this isn’t original with me.  I didn’t get it from James Dobson, or John Gray, or even Emerson Eggerichs, though they’re all first-rate resources.  I got it from one sentence in one of Paul’s New Testament letters.  From Ephesians 5:33, where the Apostle wrote, addressing men, “each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

In this sentence, Paul identifies the most basic emotional needs of both men and women.  Emerson Eggerichs wrote more than 300 pages of commentary on this in his book, Love and Respect.  His title encapsulates the timeless truth Paul spent relatively few words on.

Men long to be respected.  Women long to be loved.

So there you go.  That ought to take care of it.  Have a nice day.

Except I feel compelled to add some words to this.

When I was in youth ministry, a youth ministry buddy of mine told me, “You know, boys give love to get sex, and girls give sex to get love.”  I’m sure it wasn’t original with him, but the concept has served me well since we had that conversation more than 30 years ago.  I’d amend it to say, “Boys will make the girl think he’s giving love to get sex, and girls will give sex to feel loved.”

I wonder if men and women ever outgrow this principle?  I’d like to think as we age we get more mature, but I know better.  There are men and women well past their teens who are still living out of the “give sext to get love; give love to get sex” paradigm.  I think genuine maturity changes this, but I know many people who should have matured beyond it and haven’t.  You probably do, too.

I believe the Love and Respect thing is never outgrown, though.  Old women still long for love.  Old men still long to be respected.

Men, I’m writing to you right now.  So the two of you who follow me, pay close attention here.

The women in your life will never not need love from you.  Ever.  As long as you’re living, loving them is the second bullet point on your Man/Dad/Husband Job Description.  The first bullet point, according to Jesus, is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)  And the second is love your wife and your daughters.  (Your sons, too, but in a different way.)

“Right.  Got it.  I love her.  I really, really love her.”

Guys, I’ll try to keep this simple.  It’s not simple, really, but I think there are some basics that we men can wrap our minds around.  Here you go: you believing you love your wife (or daughter/s) is not as important as her/them believing you love them.  Wait.  What?

Finding out if anyone (but especially your wife and daughter/s) knows you love them feels tricky to most men.  How do you do that?

I’ll give you the only way I’ve ever found to work.  You ask.  Well, duah.  A question that’s better than, “Hey, do you know that I love you?” would be, “What makes you feel loved most?  What fills your love tank?”  And then you listen.  You may want to take notes.  But you’re listening not for what you think will make her love tank fill, but what she tells you will do this.  That’s the point.

Gary Smalley used to say that the key to your child’s heart (and to your wife’s heart) is to tell them you love them in terms they understand.  That’s what this is about.

So get alone with your wife, guys.  If you can take her out, take her out.  If you can’t go out, plan a few quiet minutes after the kids go to bed, turn off the TV and put your phone down, and initiate a conversation.  Ask her what fills her love tank.  Listen.  I mean, really listen for meaning, not to defend yourself.  And then do what she says will fill her tank.

From → Marriage

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