A women’s ministry leader once told me, “With a woman, if something is unsettled in her marriage or dating relationship, it’s like nothing is right with the world until that is resolved.” Whether it’s a single woman wondering why her latest date won’t call her back or a woman married fifty years, we are relational creatures. It is so hard to thrive in life, if we’re not thriving in relationships!
So, how do you help women thrive in relationship with their spouse?
In more than thirteen years of research, I’ve found one secret that can make all the difference: help women understand a few key things about men.
For women, everything can change when we learn a few simple, eye-opening truths about the way men think and feel. If we can help women “see” just a few of those things, and apply them, it is amazing how much more they can enjoy their relationships.
Here’s an example you can use to help the women you lead understand the men in their life:
Men look confident but secretly have more self-doubt and vulnerability than we realize. He most wants to be good at what he does and to know that his spouse thinks he is good at what he does. Feeling appreciated is like oxygen to a man. Yet at the same time, a man’s most private question is, “Am I any good as a husband, a father, a businessman? Am I adequate? Do I measure up?” And every day, he looks to the woman in his life for clues to the answer to that question.
How do you take this simple truth and help the woman who comes to you apply it in her life?
Ask her to consider how she speaks to him. For example, a simple question such as, ‘Why did you let the kids stay up so late on a school night?’ can actually imply, ‘I think you’re incompetent, you do not measure up as a father, get out of my way.’ Remind her that he likely deeply wants to be a great dad – but also doubts his ability to be one. And now, in his mind, she just confirmed he’s incompetent, so it will be a whole lot better next time not to try.
Yes, according to research, that is truly how men think. All the time.
Help her to rethink her choice of words and tone. For example, to say, “Thanks so much for taking the kids while I went to my women’s Bible study but help me understand: you know it’s a school night, did you want some more ‘dad time’ with them? What was going on?”
And there is even another possible way for her to respond: Just say, “Thanks” and don’t ask the question at all! Encourage her to choose to trust that he is capable but may just have different judgment from her – and that is okay. It is so hard for us to let go enough to do that, but it frees a man up to be a dad the way he desires to be, the way God has called him to be.
Tell the women you minister to, the vast majority of married men (more than 99% on my surveys) deeply care about their wives. He wants to be the man his wife needs. A dating relationship is a bit different, but among the single men in my research it was clear a man is looking for a woman who will be safe with his tender heart, and can believe in him despite his inevitable mistakes. Tell your women to choose to believe in her man and watch him become so.
Question: How can you help women apply this simple truth in their relationships?