God designed men to need and love to have hobbies. They need time to recharge and prepare for “slaying the dragons” all day at work like Dr. Laura likes to say. Men love keeping up with all the stats on their favorite teams, racecar drivers, and with all the latest technological gadgets, and hunting and fishing gear. They are designed by God to need and want competition, battles, conquests, victories, hunting and all the surge of adrenaline and emotion that goes with it.
“Excuse me, did you just say ’emotion’?” Why, yes, yes I did! Women are designed by God to have very easy access to emotions and words and emotions flood our thoughts constantly and our greatest emotions swirl around our dearest relationships all day long every day. It’s INTENSE being a woman! But men don’t access their emotions very easily. One of the few things that help men access their emotions is competition, sports, games of strategy and skill, seeking victory over an opponent.
(PS – the other main way men access their emotions is after experiencing the one-flesh relationship with their wives – one of the only times that the bonding hormone, oxytocin, gets anywhere near the levels that women normally experience is in this brief time window. A man must have a physical relationship with his wife to open up his heart. A wife must have an emotional/spiritual relationship to prepare her body. God did this on purpose! We each have to grow, mature and stretch to have a working relationship! But I digress!)
Women bond by talking and emoting.
We love to sit face-to-face and drink coffee or tea and we could sit for 6-8 uninterrupted blissful hours with a girl friend talking about our marriages, our children, our ideas, our dreams, our problems, and anything else that is important to us! And when we want to connect and bond with our husbands, we want to sit down face-to-face and talk and talk. That works REALLY well with girlfriends.
Problem is – our husbands aren’t girls! We sometimes expect them to act like our best girl friends and love to just talk and chat with us for hours. Men aren’t generally wired to be able to do this. They can do it before we get married because it’s part of pursuing us and getting to know us better, and they usually don’t have to do it for long spurts every day of the week when we are dating. And we get the impression that our husbands will be able to verbally and emotionally bond with us for hours every day once we are married, too. That is generally a pretty unrealistic expectation of most men (of course there are exceptions). Men can learn to spend time listening to us and letting us talk. They can learn to appreciate that we need that time in order to feel intimate with them emotionally so we can open up to them physically. But men, in general, don’t need or necessarily want hours of talking and don’t feel better after talking about feelings. We will all be a lot happier when we realize that men are not women!!!
Men bond by sitting shoulder-to-shoulder doing activities together.
There is sometimes some talking – but mostly, there is silence. Men sit together working on projects, or hunting or fishing, or watching their favorite sports. Sometimes they will yell and cheer out loud together, or pick on each other in a friendly way. Lots of times, they just sit quietly. This kind of rocks a woman’s world! Women tend to interpret silence as anger. Men do not! The fact that a man is being quiet and not talking has nothing to do with him being angry. It’s possible he might be angry at his wife, but most likely, he is just resting his brain and not thinking about anything. Really. I know, I am so jealous! I WISH I could turn off my brain sometimes!!!!
So if a woman is interested in building her marriage, she would be wise to take some interest in her man’s hobbies. (For more info, check out “Love and Respect” by Dr. Eggerichs) Here is what I want you to try:
- Ask your husband if you can join him as he is working on a project in the garage/watching a game/going hunting/going fishing
- Plan to be friendly, but silent. You will want to talk. It just doesn’t feel like connecting time if you’re not talking. I KNOW! Hang in there, just sit with him, enjoy his company. Relax. Be still. Smile at him when he looks at you.
- Let HIM lead the conversation.
- It’s ok if he isn’t looking at you when he’s talking. It’s also totally fine if he doesn’t talk at all.
- Do anything necessary to keep yourself focused on the fact that you are bonding with your husband in a way that is important TO HIM. Yes, the laundry is calling your name. The dishes are not getting done. The carpet is filthy. The bathrooms need cleaning. You need to paint your nails. You need to go to the store. Supper needs to get started. You have 10,000 things you could be doing. Yes, it feels like you are wasting your time sitting here doing nothing. BUT TO HIM, this is HUGE bonding time with the woman he loves more than anything in the world. For him to see you voluntarily making the effort to step into HIS world and do things that are important to him is A MASSIVE GIFT to your relationship! This means as much to him as if he took you shopping and you had lunch at a restaurant and talked and laughed for 2 hours.
- Be open to trying things if he wants to teach you something.
- Try to pay attention if he explains about the game, or some players or what he is doing and retain as much of that info as you can to use in the future. He will be SO impressed!!!
- Plan to spend at least about 30 minutes with him like this. It’s up to you how often, but once a month at least! Or shoot for once a week!
- If you are getting really bored, you can silently be praying for him and blessing him.
- Wink and flirt occasionally and let him see that YOU ARE A LOT OF FUN TO HAVE AROUND!
That’s your assignment! Give it a try. LET ME KNOW HOW IT GOES!!!! You may even find out that you even enjoy your husband’s passions and that eventually he might even talk a lot with you and you will feel the bonding with him, too.
Praying for intimate, joyful, healthy, vibrant marriages!!!