From the time we are young, we get this wrong impression that finding and winning a great woman will give us satisfaction. Don’t get me wrong – my wife has certainly brought much satisfaction and joy to me life – but there was a point at which I realized that I was expecting her to fill a hole inside my heart that no mortal can fill.
To HONOR is to value something rightly. If we value something in the wrong way – it is actually a dishonor. I was dishonoring my wife by valuing her in a way she could not fulfill.
We often expect the wrong things out of our partners. What are we looking for? Where can we find it?
In this episode of the Manlihood Mancast, Josh Hatcher tells us 5 relationships tips to save you a world of heartache.
Quick relationship tips that will save you a world of heartache.
1. She is not your whole world.
I know we like to say that because it sounds poetic, and it kind of feels like it. But don’t let her be your whole world. Make sure you have some good friends, and that you MAINTAIN those friendships (particularly with other men who build you up). Make sure you have some things that you can do without her. If you wrap your whole identity around her, you’re going to be in trouble if you encounter any problems.
2. You will have problems.
You’re either committed to work through them, or you are not. Make up your mind on the matter now.
3. Each of you is sovereign
Even though there is certainly an element of “submission” to each other involved in marriage – she submits to you – you lay down your life for her (just read ephesians) — it’s especially important to understand that each of you is sovereign. She has a right to her feelings and frustrations, as much as you do. You can’t get butthurt if she sees things from a different perspective, or if she prefers miracle whip to mayo. (I know – that’s probably a dealbreaker) Recognizing and acknowledging her sovereignty, as well as your own will allow you both to understand your value.
4. She doesn’t owe you anything.
You bought her dinner? She doesn’t have to sleep with you. You went to work for 16 hours? She doesn’t OWE you clean dishes. YES. It’s helpful for you to have arrangements and clear expectations of each other. But don’t think for a minute that love is transactional. You can’t purchase or earn affection. No one is indebted to give love to the other. Love is given as a free gift, or it’s not love at all.
5. You teach people how you want them to treat you.
If you tolerate disrespect, and if you give disrespect, you’ll get disrespect. You must set clear expectations of the behavior and communication you want to receive from them, and patiently correct them when they deliver something different.
Complaining, insults, intentionally hurtful words create a spiraling effect. One of you offers them up, the other retaliates.
Don’t expect her to show respect if you don’t. And if she doesn’t – rather than retaliate- calmly correct it and get to the root of why she’s feeling that way. Do it humbly. You very well might be the root of it. You don’t have to tolerate verbally abusive and hurtful language. But if there are patterns established, it will take patience to change those patterns.
“I love you.” People make a big deal about those words, and when they are supposed to be said. We’ve made “I love you” into a holy grail… but Those words mean NOTHING if they aren’t followed up with action. “I love you” and yet, I won’t commit to you. I won’t marry you, because I don’t think I love you permanently. “I love you” and yet – I’ll chew your face off if you don’t do something right. “I love you” and yet – I still love those other hot women on my computer screen. If you really love someone, it has to be more than just words. It has to be words AND action. And the words DO matter – why would you love someone and never tell them? Make sure to tell the people in your life that you love them (your wife, your kids, your parents, even your friends.)
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TRIGGER WARNING: The following post contains old-fashioned ideas about relationships and sexuality. Don’t read if you can’t handle the fact that I might hold ideas that you think are outdated or prudish. Better yet, ready it anyway and give it some thought. The worst that can happen is you might be exposed to someone else’s viewpoint. Most likely, you’ll see that I’m a reasonable person.
Somewhere in our 50 Shades of Tinder and snapchat soaked generation of “thirsty” bros, we’ve completely abandoned some old school ideas that I think really matters.
Yes. I’m old fashioned. I’m okay with that. If you think differently than I do – I am not judging you, I’m not offended by you, and I won’t disrespect you. I think sexuality should be reserved for marriage.
I think sexuality should be gentle, not degrading.
I think that dating shouldn’t be exclusive, and should have strings attached. I think courtship, or “going steady” should be done carefully, and with the goal of marriage in mind.
I have a lot more old fashioned ideas about this. But I think this is enough to give you my framework. When it comes to courtship and dating (and yes, there is a distinction between the two) there’s something a man must do. HIs toughness, wildness and strength is not TAMED by her – but rather, he is RESTRAINED for her. He treats her gently, picks flowers for her, braids her hair, and as such, she sees in him the true beauty of his affection for her – his RESTRAINT. If a man cares for a woman, treating her gently does not neuter him, does not tame him, does not make him any less tough – no – it’s a chance to prove his love by showing restraint. I think that if he jumps the gun, and enters into a sexual relationship before the proper time (in my opinion, after marriage) then he demonstrates not restraint, but rather shows her his lack of self-control. That same restraint is important in the bedroom after marriage as well. He reserves his sexuality only for her. He also continues to treat her gently. Our porn-saturated culture has normalized the degrading of women during sex. I think that a true gentleman does not descend to calling a woman names, or inflicting pain during sex. That isn’t love, and shouldn’t be portrayed as such. No matter the stage of your relationship – to be a gentleman, you must exercise self-control!
Use your words. Say what you think and feel about her. I don’t know why this is so difficult for many men to do – but it’s essential to building a good relationship. She needs to hear, “Thank you.” How often? You can never say it enough. She needs to hear, “You are beautiful.” How often? You can never say it enough. There are many things unique to your wife that she needs to hear, and I’ll leave that up to you to decode and decipher her. But I can tell you that almost every woman I’ve ever met struggles with self-image, self-worth, self-doubt issues. I think it’s safe to say that it’s a common thing women struggle with. As a husband, your responsibility is to build her up. To affirm her. To use your words to reassure, comfort, and back her up. I would talk about the negative things we say – when we cut down, criticize, and tear her apart with our comments – but honestly, that’s another discussion entirely. All that I will say is to stop. If you have constructive advice or concerns – you need to wrap that in love. For every legitimate criticism, you should have already given her five to ten compliments.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4EDhdAHrOg I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt like the guy in this video. Women are a mystery. I know it may be overgeneralization to say this – so apply whatever amount of common sense is needed to understand it. Women don’t want you to fix their problem, as much as they want to feel understood, acknowledged, or listened to. There are times, obviously, when what she really wants is for you to fix the drain under the kitchen sink. But there are many times, she just needs to air her grievances to her best friend. She doesn’t want you to solve or fix the problem, but to listen to her. This is hard for us. Men are fixers. It’s in our nature as men to find broken things and fix them. Women do want things to be fixed. But more importantly, they just want to be heard, understood, loved, accepted. It may seem counter-intuitive and self-sabotaging to sit in that situation, where she pours her heart out, and you just listen.
You would not think that it is difficult, but learning to listen has been one of the toughest challenges of my relationship with my wife. I’ve always got a solution, and answer, a suggestion. Keeping those quiet long enough to fulfill her actual need, though, the need to be heard and understood – that’s the real challenge.
This, is perhaps the hardest part of love. Men, we see ourselves as leaders. (Which isn’t a bad thing. We’ll get to leadership, and what that means in a minute.) We see ourselves as lovers, we see ourselves in so many ways, but picturing ourselves as servants is so difficult. The truth? No matter where you are in live, you’re a servant to someone. To quote, Bob Dylan, “You’re gonna have to serve somebody. It may be the Devil, it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.” In the case of marriage, you’re either serving yourself, or you are serving her. Are you helping her with chores around the house? Are you providing for her needs? Are you doing things that help her? Are you making sure to please her first in the bedroom? (C’mon guys. You know that matters!) If you want a happy wife, you’ve got to take on the role of a servant. It will make you a great husband. A happy husband. And if you do it well, and if you do it right, she’ll reciprocate. Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. ― Martin Luther King Jr.
How well do you know her? I know that now that my wife and I are approaching the time in our life when we’ve been together longer than apart, I know her well. Very well. I can walk in the room, and without a word, I can tell what she’s thinking, or how she’s feeling. (Not always, of course – women, after all, are always mysterious and surprising sometimes.) As we get older, this relationship changes and morphs. It’s not just physical or emotional. It’s spiritual. I am not saying we are a perfect example – we frustrate each other and annoy each other all the time. But I can tell you that for almost 20 years, I’ve studied her. When we were dating – we started out asking each other questions. When we were engaged, we read books together about marriage -and went through THREE different premarital counseling courses. We knew we were getting married young and making what everyone else thought was a bad decision – so we wanted to make sure we were well equipped to face it. So we started off with a really strong foundation. As we have progressed in our relationship – I’ve always tried to be attentive to her. She thinks I don’t pay attention – but I do. Sometimes I choose NOT to do the thing that she wants me to do – for any number of reasons. But in general, I want to KNOW this woman I married. In the bedroom, I know what she likes. In the kitchen, I know what she likes. If you want to know how to study and learn your wife, I highly recommend you read the book “The 5 Love Languages” as a starting place. It breaks down the different ways that people love, and it will help you understand her, and how to communicate with her.