If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. I Corinthians 13:1-3
We as women, and I am speaking about myself here for the first 15 years of our marriage, too – tend to get SO STUCK on being “RIGHT” about the details of each issue. God designed us to see the details and to think about all of that and take care of those things. It’s important that we see details. I’m glad He designed us that way. It’s good that someone notices the dishes in the sink and the dirt on the floor and the nutritional content of each brand of ice cream.
But we don’t even realize that we have the tendency sometimes to make the little tiny issue we are discussing more important than our men, more important than our relationship, more important than God and more important than harmony and emotional/spiritual intimacy. We focus so completely on our own opinion and what we think is best about a little (and sometimes very unimportant) issue- that we believe we are justified in treating our men with contempt, disdain, disrespect, malice, rage and sometimes verbal abuse. All because we are “right.”
If I am “right” but acting without love and respect toward my man – then I am committing serious sin! Then my sin grossly overshadows my being “right.”
LET’S PICK AN ARBITRARY ISSUE
Maybe I think my guy should open the door for me whenever I am with him. That would be a very chilvalrous and gentlemanly thing for him to do. I’m right about that.
Now, maybe my guy has a different set of priorities. And here is where I want us to get a peek into God’s viewpoint as well as a man’s perspective:
If holding the door open for me is not a guy’s priority – that doesn’t necessarily mean he is WRONG. I tend to think that if I am “right” than any other idea or perspective is “wrong.” That is usually just not true!
I’d like us to think about our guys’ ideas and perspectives as being DIFFERENT instead of “I am right, so therefore he must be wrong.” It’s really not a sin for him not to hold the door open for me. He may not have been raised to do that and it may not be big on his radar screen. It may not be a big deal to him. He might not be trying to be unloving by not holding the door for me. His intentions toward me might be good AND he might not open the door for me.
WHAT WOULD DISRESPECT GET ME IN THIS SITUATION?
The way guys operate is that they treat each other with respect. They ask for things respectfully. They have an honor code that they understand and it’s an unspoken way of communicating – and they know what they mean.
If a man talked to another man the way that a disrespectful, nagging, controlling, angry, contentious woman talked to her man – those would be FIGHTING words. So men either respond to that kind of disrespect by reacting in anger to defend their honor or stonewalling to attempt to keep peace and give the unruly guy a chance to calm down and apologize – or else he will shut the disrepsectful guy out of his life. The disrespectful man may have valid ideas – but other men will not accept his ideas or do things his way because of his disrespectful approach usually.
So, if I nag, harp, insist, demand, cajole, manipulate, pout, whine, cry or try to FORCE my guy to do something – he will probably NOT do it just because of the disrespectful way I approached him. It’s the principle of the matter for him. He may actually agree with me that something is a good idea. But if I approach him in a condescending, rude, arrogant, bossy way – I am pretty much guaranteed my man won’t do what I want. And whether he does what I want or not about the issue – he will shut me out of his heart and not trust me for a long time after that. And he will begin to emotionally back away.
We BOTH lose.
INSISTING on my way and trying to control my guy costs me emotional and spiritual intimacy. I can’t have both. As a woman, I can either try to have control, or I can have connection. I have to decide which is more important to me.
HOW TO APPROACH AN ISSUE RESPECTFULLY
Some examples (just to give a baseline of how this could be done – there are other ways, too!) of how I might be able to bring something to my guy’s attention:
- Honey, I would love it so much if you would please hold the door for me when we go into a building or get in the car. That would make me really feel cherished and loved. Thanks!
- OR – without saying a word, you can just wait at the door and smile at your man and not go through the door until he opens it. Then give him your biggest, most incredibly radiant smile and a very gracious, “Well, aren’t YOU a GENTLEMAN! Thank you SO much!”
If you ask your guy to do something for you- it needs to be with a PLEASANT tone of voice and a SMILE.
THEN – AND THIS IS KEY
I leave it with my man.
I don’t keep talking about it. I don’t keep EXPLAINING myself. Women think that more words will help our men see how right we are and make them change their mind. That is NOT true! Men often interpret long explanations as disrespect. If he doesn’t want to do something, and I won’t drop it and won’t drop it and keep explaining and keep explaining – I am being controlling and not giving him the right to make his own decision. So, now I give him time to think and process what his priorities are going to be. My husband doesn’t always know what he thinks as quickly as I do. Sometimes he needs time to think. That is OK. So I wait. As long as it takes.
He is NOT wrong! He’s different. But just because he doesn’t think, feel and process like I do does not make him wrong. It makes him a man instead of a woman – and it means he is not me. And I don’t know about you – but I am SUPER glad that I am with a MAN! That is what I wanted – a man. I didn’t want to be with a woman! I have learned to let him be a man and not try to make him be like me.
Different does not mean WRONG.
MY GUY IS A GROWN MAN AND IS FREE TO CHOOSE FOR HIMSELF HOW TO USE HIS TIME, WHERE TO PUT HIS ENERGY AND WHAT HE BELIEVES IS HIS TOP PRIORITY!
He may choose any of the following (or even something not on this list) – and that doesn’t mean he is wrong or that he is unloving necessarily:
- to hold the door for me every time without me asking
- to hold the door sometimes when he remembers
- to hold the door when I give him a visual cue to remind him by waiting for him with a smile and friendly expression on my face
- to not hold the door for me because he feels awkward about it or maybe it just slips his mind because it is not a habit of his
He has to be free to make his own decision about what to do when I ask for something. If he does what I want – I can be delighted, smile, praise and thank him! If he does not do what I want – I need to be gracious and not make a big deal out of it. I cannot control him. I can’t force him to do things. If I harp on him and get on his case and berate him for “not being a gentleman” or something, I will tell him very clearly that I don’t respect him and don’t think much of him and that he is a failure in my eyes. Men REALLY hate feeling like failures. They tend to go where they feel like winners.
MY BEING PRIDEFUL, RESENTFUL, UN-FORGIVING AND/OR CONTROLLING ARE SINS THAT GRIEVE GOD’S HEART AND WOUND THE UNITY AND INTIMACY OF MY RELATIONSHIP
If I am “right” about something-
- eating more vegetables and fruit and less fried food is healthier
- smoking is dangerous
- we should read the Bible together (this is my opinion – yes it would be great)
- we should pray daily together (this is my opinion – and it would be a great idea)
- if someone is upset, he should talk about his feelings (women need do to that, but men often don’t process emotions verbally – that is ok!)
- going my way saves 2 minutes on a trip across town
- this line is moving more slowly at Wal-Mart and we should get in the other line
- he ought to tell his boss he can’t spend so much time working late (he may see it differently! He may feel that his job depends on his working overtime)
- brushing one’s teeth after every meal is better than brushing only in the morning
- my expectations of what a gentleman should do (a very subjective topic)
- the guy should always pay for dinner when we are out (that one is kind of subjective, too)
But I don’t have love and respect – (because respect is how men feel loved) – then I am wrong in all the ways that matter most.
I pray that You will help us keep the most important things our priorities! Help us to focus on maintaining our relationship and fellowship with You and the oneness, unity and emotional/spiritual intimacy in our relationships more than focusing on being “right” about all the little daily issues that come up.
Please help us to become the godly women You desire us to be by Your power and Your Spirit working in us! We can’t do this on our own!
In the Name and power of Christ,