Yes, women are strange creatures. A woman will hide her feelings, mulling them over until she thinks herself into despair. She worries about her problems; she worries about her family; she worries about her church, neighbors, and career. Eventually, her fear turns into depression. She masks her pain, deceiving herself and everyone else until she explodes at the slightest provocation.
Does this sound like someone in your life? Perhaps it is your wife. Remarkably, as her husband, you make a more significant difference in her life than anyone else. By learning about a few basic needs exclusive to a woman’s nature, men can help their wives grow into the beautiful person God designed them to be.
A woman releases her pent up emotions by talking about her thoughts. Talking is how she finds solutions. She needs someone she can trust in her life and who will listen when she is willing to share.
She needs a man with whom she feels safe, who allows her to expose her soul and share her innermost self. If he doesn’t listen to her without criticism, judgment, or rejection, she will find someone else to share this part of her life. Consequently, the marriage suffers a loss of intimacy and trust. A husband with a sympathetic ear is rare, but men can learn the art of listening.
Why do so few men understand women? Who knows? God wired us differently. Our human nature thinks everyone deals with the world the same way we do. Men believe women should manage information and behave a certain way because they would behave the same way in their place. We can compare men and women to bananas and strawberries. Both are fruit, but each has its own form, flavor, and texture. They taste fabulous by themselves but combine them and get a fantastic fruit salad with each part keeps its own characteristics.
Marriage is like a fruit salad. A man and a woman: each with unique shapes, textures, and flavors, are complete by themselves. Nevertheless, when you combine them, you get a brand new creation. However, both must keep their identity.
When his wife cries, her husband embraces her and wants to solve her problems. Once she gets a few intelligible words out through her sniffles, he holds his head back; sometimes, he is even stupid enough to laugh. He then says, “Oh, is that all. It’s so is simple. Here is what you need to do.”
It dumbfounds him when she stops talking, looks at him, and says, “Never mind! I’ll figure it out myself,” as she walks away, slamming the door. Now she is angry and frustrated as well as depressed.
He has no clue why she didn’t throw her arms around him, give him a passionate kiss, and thank him for all his wisdom. Men want to give women a solution after hearing a few details. Never mind that they heard only a few of the facts. They don’t want to listen to it all. They have the answer, whether their wives want it or not. Overall, they are probably correct, though seldom appreciated.
The resulting argument adds pressure to an already strained relationship. Women don’t want the answers given to them. It defeats the purpose. Men get aggravated when women reject their quick fixes, but women must process their own way to find the answer.
God designed your partner to keep her emotions in, releasing them as she speaks. Through talking, she verbalizes her thoughts. Her feelings begin to unravel, and confusion dissipates, allowing her to identify the answer staring her in the face. Her husband could have offered the same solution. Nevertheless, because of her confused emotions, she wasn’t ready for it.
We could resolve so many marriage problems if we understood that God made genders with different needs. Our desires, our thinking processes, and our needs are all different. Understanding them can help us make positive strides in relating to one another.
There are four characteristics every woman needs from her husband for her sense of security and completeness. By understanding them, he can make a tremendous difference in his marriage, transform his home, change the atmosphere from disappointment, confusion, and indifference to peace and oneness of spirit and purpose.
The first is the sound guidance of a spiritual leader. As a strong spiritual leader, a man can provide many of her needs. Spiritual leadership reveals a man’s spiritual health and shows the direction he is going.
A wife aches for guidance when her husband fails to be the spiritual leader. God didn’t intend for her to be the spiritual leader of the family. If he fails here, he exposes her to worry she wasn’t meant to experience. Her life feels out of control. The resulting fear and helplessness force her to make decisions she shouldn’t make, causing her to accept the consequences and sometimes blame her husband if she makes the wrong choice.
As her spiritual leader, she needs to trust her husband’s desire for a relationship with God is sincere. He proves this when he reads the Bible, prays, pays tithes, and faithfully attends church. She needs to see him build strong convictions on Scripture and consistently follow his beliefs.
The next thing a wife needs is reassurance that no other woman can meet needs in his life. This is the next fundamental need common to all women. She needs him to assure her she is special. God made her for a “helpmate.” The needs she is meeting in his life must be relevant. The more valuable they are, the more he should compliment and appreciate her.
A man tends to hide his real needs from his wife, wanting her to admire him and think of him as a success. For a wife to honor him, she must see his humility. He will receive and keep her love more quickly by sharing his failures with her than he will by sharing only his successes. It would be best if he did not only describe his needs but also relate to her precisely what she can do to help meet them. We encounter many needs in our lives that only a spouse can satisfy. She can help protect him against other women with wrong motives. We live in a world permeated with sensuality and passion. She can give him the joy of a physical love without guilt.
Her need for security and steadfastness will make him want to make sound decisions instead of hasty ones. It grieves a man when his wife suffers because of his poor choices. When he understands how his choices affect his entire family, he takes more time and examines the consequences before acting rashly.
A wife instills godly character in the children and discerns their needs. She is probably with them more than her husband, and as a mother, she often has insight into their lives he may not have. She serves as a buffer during a conflict and is usually an arbitrator.
She will become discouraged if she feels her husband is more concerned with the needs of employers, employees, colleagues, friends, and church members than with her needs. She wants to be an essential part of his world. If she is not, her world begins to discourage and close in on her.
Third, she needs him to cherish her and enjoy setting aside time for a personal conversation. There is a difference between loving her and cherishing a woman. Most men love their wives, whether they show it or not. Few men cherish them. He cherishes her when he knows her as a person, protects her, and compliments her to others.
Wives must know that they are an essential part of his world and that he loves her beyond what she does for him. He needs to show her that he loves her for her sake and let her know he longs to be with her. She wants to ensure that her qualities that he fell in love with are still relevant to him. He needs to repeat expressions of his love to her often.
Men experience much of their self-worth and respect from their profession, and women get much of their value confirmation from their husbands. Even women with successful careers receive most of their affirmation at home.
A man can show how he appreciates her in small ways. He can go a long way to prove he adores her by giving her the same courtesy he gives to other women. Take the few extra seconds required to open the car door for her. He can open the door for her in public, pull out her chair and wait until she sits down before he sits down in a restaurant. He can help her with her coat and lift heavy objects for her. He shows the world how valuable she is to him when he does these things in public. This message doesn’t miss a wife’s attention. She will shine for weeks.
We left a restaurant several years ago, and my husband opened the car door for me. Our seventeen-year-old son opened the rear car door for our fourteen-year-old daughter. The woman in the booth seated next to where we had been sitting saw this through the window and hit her husband. My daughter and I laughed. However, I was smart enough to realize how fortunate I was that my husband enjoyed “showing me off in public.”
A wife needs intimate conversation, which is possible only when you share oneness of spirit. She needs to communicate her experiences and thoughts about them so that she can express her confused feelings. She needs to know he is listening and not eager to go away and do something else. One way to ensure intimate conversation is to have a fixed time planned for it. Ultimately, the most intimate conversation level occurs when a woman can trust him with the secrets of her deepest emotions.
Many wives have genuine fears they never share with their husbands. There are several reasons for this. Sometimes she feels guilty for her feelings and hopes that they will go away. She may fear criticism and rejection from her husband. She often wants to reduce his load. Sometimes she knows he won’t have an answer and feels that there is no point disturbing him.
A man can help his wife overcome these fears by giving her the respect and courtesy of listening to her and encouraging her to talk. Whatever she has to say matters to her. He must be careful not to belittle her or make what she has to say seem insignificant. If he does, she will find someone else to talk to, and the marriage will suffer.
Mike and Tina are so busy during the day that they sit up talking late many nights. Late nights are usually the only time they are alone. As a woman, Tina often has emotions bottled up. Through the years, her wise husband has been a sounding board. Many times, he never says anything. He will usually say, “Urn-hum, yeah. Right.” He draws her out with well-worded questions that help her work through harbored doubts and fears.
A woman finds solutions on her own as she talks out her thoughts. She gets frustrated when things stay inside. It can be confounding and cause her to have feelings of insecurity and self-worth issues. By getting them out, she can “see” them and put them into perspective.
A wife’s fourth need is protection in areas where she feels inadequate. She needs insight, primarily from her husband. She wants boundaries expressing his concern for her. If he fails her now, she will feel neglected. She wants him to be aware of her spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical strengths and weaknesses. She also wants him to have the wisdom and courage to give loving but firm guidance so that she won’t go beyond her limits. She may occasionally ask him for something she doesn’t want just to test him. She wants him to be sensitive to her real needs and the dangers she faces. If he gives her everything she wants, without question, she will be insecure. He should understand his wife so well that he can be strong or lenient when she needs it. She appreciates and respects loving firmness when they both believe it is appropriate.
The head’s primary function is to develop, train, and protect the rest of our body so that the whole person can accomplish God’s plan. Scripturally the husband is to be the head of his wife (Ephesians 5:23). As the family’s spiritual leader, it is his responsibility to set the standard in his home. When he treats their mother with clear expressions of love, his children will follow her and admire him as a man of courage and integrity. By learning to meet his spouse’s basic needs, she will respond with acts of kindness and expressions of respect for him that, until now, he only imagined.
Dr. Sharon Schuetz has been a Christian since she and her husband, Pastor Michael Schuetz gave their hearts to God on November 15, 1978. They have ministered together since 1989 and together they have pastored seven different churches. Sharon was the senior pastor of their first church while Michael served as co-pastor. In the other churches, Michael served as senior pastor and Sharon his co-pastor. She has been licensed to counsel through the National Christian Counselors Association in Sarasota, FL since 1993.