Back in February we had our first Marriage Enrichment morning, we were joined by pastor Colin Creighton from Carrickmacross as he helped us consider how to strengthen our marriages. And as we've just looked at the commandment "do not commit adultery" it seemed like a good time to share my notes The command not to commit adultery has a positive element - do all that you can to strengthen your marriage. So, here are my notes, I didn't manage to get everything down, but hopefully it makes sense, please don't hesitate to ask if anything is unclear.
We started with the assumption that every marriage needs strengthening, and Colin assured us that we weren't going to have to share anything with anyone else!
We began the day by thinking about what men and women mean when they say the following:
"I have nothing to wear" -
What does he mean, what does she mean? He means, I've got nothing clean to wear, she means, I'm fed up with my wardrobe and want some new clothes.
"I'll do it later"
"I'll be ready in 5 minutes"
And a few other phrases, these were just amusing examples that showed men and women are different! Colin stressed that we are equal but different.
“It is the difference between men and women, not the sameness, that creates the tension and delight.”
We need to think about how we're different and how we can best communicate to one another.
The following differences come from a helpful book "Love and Respect" by Dr Eggerichs, they are general observations, there will always be exceptions, but these are arguably common differences between men and women:
Colin shared an example he'd seen at a school recently, he'd seen some girls skipping and one of them fell over and hurt herself, the girls stopped skipping immediately and all made sure that she was all right.
He then saw a boy go down in a game of football, what did the boys do? Carry him off to the sideline so that they could carry on their game!
We're wired differently, it's not to say that men are never caring, or women are never tough, but men tend to minimize vulnerability and women will maximize connection.
Men tend to minimize emotions and women tend to be better at processing emotions.
What makes a man defensive and likely to want to run away is criticism and contempt. Because men feel love through being respected, when we are criticized or treated with contempt it makes us withdraw. And the trouble is that withdrawal and being defensive is exactly what tends to drive women crazy. When their husband won't engage or shuts down, the wife is hurt, because the way that she feels loved is by her husband being close to her and opening up to her. And this can lead to what is called the crazy cycle:
What can we do about this? In his book "Love and Respect" Dr Eggerichs suggested a love code to help men love women in a way that they feel loved, and women to love men in a way that they feel loved, again these are generalisations, and there will be some overlap and differences, but they might just fit!
How can the husband show her that he loves her:
Closeness - "she wants you to be close"
Affection and time - men will often find things to do, but does she know that she is top of the list when you get some spare time or do you always fill it with other things? Do you show affection - not just in the bedroom, but before heading out the door - kiss before leaving. We get into business relationship too quickly.
2. Openness - "she wants you to open up"
Men do want to be close, but we're not very good at being 'vulnerable' being open.
Tell her what happened! She wants to know the details of your day! The trivial details aren't trivial. She wants to know what she's afraid of, who her friends are, what her worries are, and she wants you to tell her the same.
One of the biggest killers of openness is the smartphone! Leave it somewhere!
3. Understanding - "Don't try to FIX here, just listen"
They are not looking for a solution, she just wants to talk!
4. Peacemaking "she wants you to say "I'm Sorry"
She needs things resolved! Men are able to put things to one side and think, now it's ok...
5. Loyalty - she needs to know that you committed
Husband saying publicly how great his wife is. He's loyal. He's not looking at porn. Wherever he is, he's got my back.
6. Esteem - "she wants you to honour and cherish her."
Does she feel cherished, that she is my delight, that she's thought about when I'm not around. Buying her flowers shows you were thinking about her.
For the wife trying to understand the creature God has put you with:
Conquest - "he wants you to appreciate his desire to work and achieve.
Wives and work are not meant to be rivals. Wife can resent husbands work because he seems to spend all his time there. But if he's not respected at home, he'll spend more time there. He gets respect at work, so if no respect at home, he'll spend more time at work! Imagine, he has a wife who admires him, and she sends him out. What will happen? He'll come back to the source of his strength, the place where he is cherished most is his home. But if not respected, then he will just go out and not want to come back.
Worst thing - if he tries to talk about work and you show no interest.
2. Headship - "his desire to protect and provide"
Providing & protecting. Give him space to lead. Won't want to try something and then be told he didn't do it right. Too often he is criticized when he tries to lead, so for example a man says to his wife, I don't want you to drive tonight because it's icy" she says "I'll go where I want" - he won't try again. Or when it comes to parenting, if the wife criticizes every attempt that the husband makes in parenting, then he'll not try again, he'll withdraw, it's too risky to be humiliated.
If he loses his job and you say - "there's bills to be paid, you'll never get another job..." if he feels that she is treating him with contempt - he withdraws. But if she says "You have provided every day and I can't ask for more, we'll get through this" then he is empowered.
3. Authority - "appreciate his desire to serve and to lead."
If he's not allowed to make decisions, he'll withdraw. Imagine you're struggling for money, he said I'd like to take you out for dinner. To say no, we're not going out, when he tries to take the lead. Often he won't ask twice.
4. Insight - "appreciate his desire to analyse and counsel"
Ask for his opinion, she respects his thoughts. If he starts talking and she shuts him down, then he won't try again. If she wants to know his advice = respect
5. Relationship - "his desire for shoulder-to-shoulder friendship"
She likes face to face... He likes doing stuff together...
6. Sexuality - "appreciate his desire for sexual intimacy"
For ladies, intimacy leads to sex. For men, other way round "sex leads to intimacy"
We ended by considering how we can a make steps towards what we'd like our marraiges to be like in 20 years. Colin recommended the "Love and respect" book and Kevin Leman "Sheet Music" - you can find links to these and other resources on our website here: https://www.drungchurches.com/familymarriage/
Please get in contact https://www.drungchurches.com/get-in-contact/ if you have any questions or would like to sign up for our next marriage enrichment course.