Over the past few weeks, we’ve heard from a few of you that are frustrated that we talk so much about what men need in marriage. Several of our recent podcasts and last week’s webinar have been about helping you understand your husband’s needs and how to meet those needs. But you have needs, too. Is marriage only about keeping our men happy?
First, let me explain that we emphasize a husband’s needs more often than a wife’s needs for a reason. Authentic Intimacy is primarily a ministry to women, although we also hear from a lot of men who are reading and listening. I’ve learned that focusing on my needs in marriage has only led me to frustration. My power to change my marriage comes through how I interact with my husband’s needs. So when I teach women, I tend to emphasize the things they can do to change the marriage dynamic.
However, this does not mean that a wife’s needs are irrelevant! If and when God puts me in front of a group of husbands, I will be happy to share with them the keys to unlocking their wive’s hearts (and other parts of their bodies). Ladies, I also think it is important to be able to articulate your needs to your husband. Some men really want to know, “How can I be a great husband?” and “How can I make you feel satisfied in our marriage?” Rather than giving him a deer-in-the-headlight look when he asks what is wrong, it helps to understand and communicate what you desire in marriage.
A marriage that primarily revolves around one person’s needs (whether it is the husband or wife) is an unhealthy marriage. There are seasons when one person in the relationship is weaker and requires more support, but overall, marriage is intended to express an attitude of mutually serving each other.
A husband who is always demanding will not be helped by a wife who is always serving. He needs the challenge and accountability of developing an attitude of love and sacrifice in his heart. While God is the only one who can change and soften a selfish heart, we have the responsibility to speak the truth in love. Jesus taught a particular pattern of confronting a “brother” who has offended us or continues to sin (See Matthew 18:14-16).
This is a generic teaching but also applies to a husband and wife relationship. It doesn’t mean that we pout, manipulate, or nag when we don’t get our needs met. It means that we confront in love with patience and the other qualities expressed in the famous “love passage” (I Corinthians 13:4-7) along with the “gentleness” Peter wrote about (I Peter 3:1-4).
So, for the men reading and for the woman who would like to understand their needs better, here are two things to keep in mind.
I remember one night saying goodnight to Mike. He is now my husband, but at the time we were engaged. He was kissing me in my parents’ driveway and looked up into the sky. He said, “God, I want this one!” I felt special to him. He wanted me! Now after twenty-two years of marriage, I still want to feel that way… that he chooses me.
Emmerson Eggerich’s classic book Love and Respect holds an age-old truth in its title. Men need respect and women need love. As simple as that statement may be, unfolding what it looks like for a woman to feel loved in marriage is a bit complicated. But I think it boils down to this: We want to be chosen… again and again. We want to know we're more important than work, more interesting than watching football, more enticing than a sexy girl that walks by, and more fun than a co-worker.
No man will perfectly love his wife. There will be days and seasons in which he seems pre-occupied with other endeavors. But overall, women feel secure in marriage when they know their husband still chooses her.
In today’s feminist culture, this statement might be rejected. However, over decades of meeting with women, I truly believe that every one of us has a core desire of being protected - emotionally, financially, and spiritually. Many women choose never to trust anyone else to protect and provide for them because they have been wounded by a man (father, boyfriend, ex-husband) who was supposed to protect but didn’t. As long as a woman feels guarded, she can’t be truly intimate in her marriage.
While the average woman is capable of providing for herself (and even her children), she doesn’t want to have to. She longs to be with a man who will “step up” as a caring provider, leader, and protector. When her husband engages in porn, says hurtful things or won’t even bother to look for a job, a wife feels betrayed. The man who is supposed to be safe has become hurtful.
Some men are too selfish or emotionally immature to meet a wife’s needs for love and protection. But in most cases, men fail to meet these needs because they have never learned how to. There are a lot of good men who don’t know how to be good husbands!
The Baby Mama