In earlier posts I discussed why marriages get in trouble. I’d like to conclude this series of posts on marriage by examining the needs of men and women – which (surprise!) are different. We know they’re different, but we really don’t know exactly how they’re different. Along those lines, the last thing I want to discuss is what women really want from their husbands, and what men really want from their wives.
Needs of a Woman
The two biggest needs for women are love and security. They sort of go hand in hand, because if a woman feels genuinely loved, she will also feel secure. In the passages in the Bible concerning marriage, what are men told to do? “Love your wife.”
Ephesians 5:25a: Husbands, love your wives…
1 Peter 3:7a: Husbands, in the same way, show consideration for your wives in your life together…
Colossians 3:19: Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly.
Women are naturally more loving, but the husbands need to be told to love their wives. This means that the men, while willing to die for their families if necessary, must also demonstrate their love in ways that are meaningful to women.
These include self-sacrificing acts (like devoting more time to the family), giving up some of the things you used to do for the good of the marriage, frequent outward signs of affection (and not just when you want something), remembering her birthday, your anniversary, and other important dates, surprising her with something thoughtful on occasion, and buying her an expensive diamond (OK, we can skip the diamond – besides, it is meaningless if your heart isn’t in it, and they can tell, believe me).
Needs of a Man
What do men want? The other thing that men want most is respect. Women want respect too, of course, but it is a very high priority for men, even though they might not even realize it. You may love a man, but if you act as if you don’t respect him, the relationship is in serious trouble.
Nowhere in the Bible does it tell wives to love their husbands. Women love – that’s what they do. But they don’t always respect. Above I just quoted three verses from those sections of the New Testament having to do with marriage and family relationships. The corresponding commands for wives in those sections have to do with respect. God, our Creator, knows that men need respect, because that’s how God made them. As I read these three verses, look beyond the words, and see what is really behind them:
Ephesians 5:22a: Wives, be subject to your husbands…
1 Peter 3:1a: Wives, in the same way, accept the authority of your husbands…
Colossians 3:18: Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
Looking behind the words of these verses, what are they really saying? We can see that respect is at the heart of the matter. While husbands today don’t have the same kind of authority over the family that men had in the times of the Roman Empire, they still need to be respected. Yet our culture puts down men and many wives disrespect their husbands. Maybe if men were respected more, they would rise to the occasion and be more deserving of that respect.
Obviously this series of posts only scratched the surface of the subject of love, marriage, and the family. But with a 50% divorce rate in this country, we have to start somewhere. We as Christians should pay close attention to what God tells us in the Bible about these subjects, and then put these principles into practice. A damaged or broken relationship means heartache, pain, resentment, and even economic hardship.
It also affects the children. Jesus cares about children. I don’t believe it’s an accident that his comments about children immediately follow his discussion of marriage in Mark 10. As it says in the song, “Jesus Loves the Little Children”:
Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white,
All are precious in His sight,
Jesus loves the little children of the world.
So let us remember that we brought children into this world, and to break up a marriage is to hurt those children we have a responsibility for. That doesn’t mean we stay in a bad marriage, but that we should work hard to fix what is wrong with the marriage. Divorce should be the absolute last option when all else fails, unless, of course, abuse is involved. Then get out, and get out fast!