At the risk of redundancy, I am going to foist one more of these articles on you. This is a topic I am extremely passionate about, and I think we can all benefit from learning more about the way God actually designed men and women. I think a basic misunderstanding of men and women is at the heart of much of the tension that can all too often flare up between the sexes. We each have a tendency to want to project qualities and expectations of our own gender onto the opposite one and then get frustrated when the opposite gender doesn’t behave more like our own. This article will deal with men and women in a relationship, be it married or otherwise, and will also discuss a couple of the needs of men. Then I’ve got some resources I strongly encourage you to check out! Let’s get started…
Ladies, I think it is important to understand what causes and relieves stress in both men and women. One of the biggest hormones that causes our feelings of stress and anxiety is cortisol. It is released in the body during the more stressful times in our lives. Women usually are able to lower their cortisol/stress levels by talking, by sharing their emotions and feeling validated in them by someone else. Women are very intuitive like that. Corpus callosum, remember? Men, on the other hand, lower their cortisol levels by going into their “cave.” That could be staring like a zombie at the tv and flipping through channels, working on the car, mowing the lawn, or sitting there staring. Sometimes video games can be an actual cave zone as well, provided they don’t turn into an escape.
The interesting thing, ladies, is that what can raise the cortisol level in men is to be in an environment where he has to talk, share his emotions, etc, when he isn’t ready. Listening to a group of women talk can make our heads spin, as there are usually several conversations going on at once, and you gals seem to actually be able to follow all of them. That raises our cortisol. We have to get into our cave, zone out, and reorder our heads before we can take that on. I like what Dr Phil Mango describes about how he and his wife worked it out. He says that when he gets in the door from work he tells her that he just needs an hour to “cave”, and after that, he would love to hear about her day and all the little details that women are able to remember. (Let’s face it: my wife remembers conversations from last year, and I don’t know what I had for dinner last night!) It’s a great system because both their needs are being met. He comes in from work and gets a chance to decompress his head from “work mode”, and then he fulfills her need to be listened to and validated.
It can be tough for us guys to simply “change channels” in our heads after a tough day at work. If you recall, we can focus narrowly like a laser, and if we do that for extended periods of time, it takes a while for us to switch over into another mode. Some guys may be quicker than others. The important thing is to recognize this about your man and give him the space he needs. Husbands and wives can meet each others needs so much better when we actually understand what they are, and why we need those specific things.
Speaking of needs, ladies, I’m going to share with you a couple needs of men. The first one applies to a married relationship. A guy needs a frequent, willing sexual partner who gives herself freely to him. Before I say more, and a lot of people start getting all mad, let me clarify. I am not in any way advocating that a woman should provide sex on demand for her husband. A man is supposed to give himself just as fully to his wife as she is to him, and is required, out of love, to respect and cherish her. That being said, ladies, we guys produces ten times more testosterone than women, so biologically, we are wired for it. Sex is also the strongest way a couple can bond, and for us men, it strongly bonds us to our wives both biologically and spiritually.
Neither husband nor wife should refuse their partner if there are no serious reasons to do so. I encourage you wives to not hold sex over your husband’s head as a reward or a “treat.” We husbands need to respect when it’s been a tough day for you or your are ill, or whatever, but sex should never be an incentive through which you control or manipulate your husband. That will cause serious marital problems and in a way is also a form of objectification. Us guys can be suddenly in the mood at the drop of a hat, but we need to recognize that women are not always so instantaneous. A note to you married guys: if you really want to help your wife get “in the mood”, I suggest you clean the kitchen, put away the dishes, fold the laundry, and clean the bathroom. Then proceed to the back rub and a glass of wine.
Another need we guys have is the support and admiration from our wives. I need to clarify again here before people get all crazy. On the surface it looks like I’m saying a guy needs his wife to mindlessly faun over everything he does. That’s not it at all. If we’re being an idiot, we need to know, but I can tell you that having you in our corner can make or break us. Knowing that there is a woman in our life that we are fighting for, caring for, supporting, is what we need to make it through the day. Even after years of marriage, we still want to be the knight in shining armor that wins the heart of our princess over and over again. If we have your support and love, we can keep on going.
On the flip side, ladies, I have to warn you. We need to hear from you about things you need us to do. We need to know when we can do something better. That’s all fine, but nothing will drive your husband away from you further or faster if you nag or criticize him. Nagging and criticizing him will make him view you like his mother, which will build mountains of resentment against you. I know, sometimes it takes us forever to move that pile of junk out of the garage, and we need to do better at timeliness, but I can’t emphasize enough how nagging and criticizing will get you the opposite outcome.
Let me clarify the whole criticizing thing. What I mean is name calling, telling him he is worthless and not a real man, or making a comment or correction on everything we do. That turns many a man away from his wife. Please don’t infer that we men are guiltless as far as all this is concerned. There is no reason a man should disparage his wife and put her down. I’m merely addressing this to you ladies because this whole series is written for you.
This series has barely scratched the surface on all that can be said about masculinity. The whole reason I wanted to share this with you was that I wanted to pique your curiosity. I hope that some of the things mentioned have made you want to learn more about men and women and God’s intentional design for us. I get so tired of the silly gender wars played in politics and by this group and that group. I enjoy reading about how things actually are, the way God made them. We were designed this way for a reason; different, yet complementary. Let us put aside all the struggles and seek the Truth of who we are and how we each reflect the image of God.
Dr Phil Mango– Dr Mango, a Catholic psychotherapist, is the founder of the St Michael’s Institute for the Psychological Sciences. He is based in downtown Manhattan, NY. Dr Mango gives talks around the country on men and women. You can purchase all of his talks from this .
Wild At Heart- Written by John Eldredge, this book is simply outstanding. It is a detailed look in the heart of a man and is great reading for both men and women. I highly encourage you to read this book.
The Kings Men– I can’t say enough good things about the Kings Men. They are a men’s group based out of Pennsylvania, and run several amazing retreats every summer. They are spreading throughout the country and are starting up men’s groups everywhere. Their retreat, Into the Wild, is a great experience for men of all ages, including fathers and sons. You can check out there website here.