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A Husband Answers My Questions about Emotions

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This is a continuation of a series about How Husbands Process Emotions.  I believe that this husband articulates the feelings of a number of husbands – Christian and non-Christian.  It is easy for us to assume that our husbands don’t have feelings if they often don’t verbalize them.  Sometimes, they can be deeply wounded for many years and NEVER verbalize their pain.  That is what my husband did.  He just shut down – and I was completely clueless about how damaging my words had been.  I thought if he was hurt he would tell me.  I sure told him when I was hurting!  

Some husbands DO tell their wives they are hurting – but it comes across as anger. I heard one man remark recently that when a man is yelling –  that is his way of “crying.” He is hurting. The anger is a secondary emotion to his hurt and pain. If your man is angry a lot – I wonder if there is some way to look past the anger to his pain. (If you are not safe, please get experienced, appropriate, godly help ASAP!)

We often expect our men to think, feel, process and talk like we do – but this is not reality!   Our men DO have feelings and we have the power to crush and destroy them or to breathe life and inspiration into their souls.  Thank you SO much to this husband for his willingness to share his perspective.  If any other husbands would like to answer any or all of these questions to help the wives better empathize with and understand how men process emotions, you are welcome to comment.  Thank you!

I would like for this site to be a safe place for men and women to share their emotions.  I consider it to be a great privilege that men are willing to share their hearts with us this week.  So I would ask that comments be respectful of the men who were willing to answer these questions for me, just as we would be respectful of the emotions of other women.  Thanks!

1. How affected are you by your wife’s emotions (good and bad)?

I am extremely affected by my wife’s emotions.  An example this week.  We had a disagreement and she really did not talk to me or acknowledge me for about 4 days.  I got sick and had to leave work.  I felt like I caught the flu.  I believe the stress from us not being connected stressed me out and lowered my immune system, causing me to get physically sick.
 
In the past I have an unable to perform at my job if we our in a terrible disagreement or the relationship is not going well.  I have had to miss work because of this.  So I would say that I am very much affected by my wife’s emotions.
 
She also had the power to support and encourage me and make to excel higher than I probably could on my own.
 

2. If your wife has been disrespectful for a long time, how does her disrespect alter how much her emotions affect you?

With long term disrespect comes an sort of shut down or unplugging by me.  I disconnect and her emotions or how she feels become less important to me.  It is very hard to keep doing the right things and still be disrespected and eventually it is easy to become worn down and just disconnect.
 

3. How important is your wife’s happiness is to you when you feel respected vs. disrespected?

  • When I feel disrespected her happiness is much less important to me.
  • When I feel respected I will do anything in my power to make her happy.
 

4.  If you have a serious disagreement and your wife verbally attacks you and accuses you of things like being unloving, hating her, being a horrible husband, never listening, etc… what do you have to do in your mind to process that kind of negative emotion?

It is easy to become angry and say something terrible back, but the anger is just a shield for the true emotions which is deep hurt.  It usually takes a minimum of a day and sometimes longer before I can organize my thoughts on this and be able to verbally communicate them.

5. Do you think with words when you are working through how you feel or what your emotions are about a conflict with your wife?

I don’t think I ever think in words.  I think in pictures or just thoughts.  I never see words in my mind when thinking through a problem.  
 

6. How difficult is it to put your emotions in words?  Do you need time to be able to do this, or can you talk about emotions immediately during the conflict?

It is very difficult and can take a day or more usually.

7. How safe is it for you to be genuinely honest with your wife about your emotions?  What makes you feel emotionally safe or unsafe with her?

I feel fortunate that from the beginning I have been myself and very honest with my emotions.  The difference between safe versus unsafe is the reaction.  If you try and discuss something and get an hysterical response or some horrible fight, then you are less likely to be so open and honest about that subject in the future.  It is a shame, because if a spouse would just listen and try to communicate without hurtful words or explosive emotions then it is much more likely to foster more open, honest discussions in the future.

8. How would it affect your communication with your wife if you knew that your wife would be on your team and support you even if you were honest about your negative emotions and feelings?

If a spouse would just listen and try to communicate without hurtful words or explosive emotions then it is much more likely to foster more open, honest discussions in the future.
FROM PEACEFULWIFE:
This is why I recommend several principles when we as women are talking about emotional subjects with our men:
  • Be brief.  Think bullet points, not thesis!
  • Boil down your emotions to the basic one word emotion whenever possible and share how you feel without any blame and preferably without a lot of volume.  Your emotions are POWERFUL.  Your husband NEEDS to hear about your feelings.  Many times men can hear our emotions when we just share them in a very simple way.  “I feel sad.”  “I feel angry.”  “I feel lonely.”  “I feel scared.”  “I feel nervous.”  (Laura Doyle “The Surrendered Wife”)
  • Ask directly for what you want/don’t want.  “I want X”  “I don’t want Y.”  (Laura Doyle “The Surrendered Wife”)
  • Remember to be respectful.  A man who feels respected cares a whole lot more about your feelings than a man who feels disrespected does unless he is very Spirit filled.
  • Don’t forget to share all your happy, positive, thankful, playful, joyful emotions, too!  You bless your man when you share the good stuff!
  • Use a calm, pleasant, friendly tone of voice and have a friendly facial expression and body language whenever possible.  He is visual.  Your husband gets more information from your non-verbal communication than he does from your words.
  • Allow him to have a day or more to process his emotions and ideas – especially about really big decisions.  It is a gift you can give to your man to allow him the time his brain needs to hash everything out and come up with the BEST decision – not just the fastest decision.  The quickest solution is not usually the right one!
  • Assume the best about your man, not the worst.   His need for time to himself is not a sign that he doesn’t love you.  It is a sign he DOES care and he wants to thoroughly figure out what he thinks and feels and decide the best way to put words to his ideas in order to not hurt you.
  •  Do not try to pressure or force your man into a deep discussion on the spot about something very important.  Give him a few days notice if possible so he can be prepared.

GENTLEMEN:

Do you have anything you would like to add?

LADIES:

Any questions for me or the men?

How Do Men Process Emotions?

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We spent some time this past week looking at how several different men think and process problems at work and in their marriages.  I’d love to have even more husbands answer these questions to give us a broader picture.  But I’m so thankful for the men who have been willing to answer these questions for us.  They have given us some really helpful information that I believe will bless and benefit many marriages.  The more we can understand how men think and feel – the more empathy we can have for them and the better equipped we will be to communicate effectively and to love and respect them.

Today I want to begin an emphasis on how men process feelings and emotions (For part 2 ,  part 3 and part 4 click here). Not only do men often need time to think through issues by themselves before they are ready to talk about them with their wives (like we talked about in the last series on how men think), but they also often need time to decide how they feel.  And even when they know how they feel – they may need time to put their feelings into words. 

Men DO have feelings and emotions.  They may not show them to us if they don’t feel safe with us.  But they feel, too.  And they feel just as deeply as we do.

It has to be ok for our men to be men – and for each man to be his own unique self.  If they need time to think and process through issues and emotions, then let’s give them the gift of that time without making a bunch of negative assumptions about them having a  lack of loving intentions.  This need for time doesn’t have anything to do with our husbands’ love for us.  It is just the way they are made. If we can embrace and accept these differences between us – conflicts will be much easier to work through!

FROM A CHRISTIAN HUSBAND

I have a very difficult time explaining my emotions, but there is no doubt I feel the emotions. When my wife is happy I feel like I’m the best husband in the world and doing everything right. When she’s sad I feel like I’ve failed as a husband because my one duty is to make my wife feel happy and loved and cherished and sad or hurt is just the opposite of that.

I’ve had that discussion with my wife many times over the last 2-3 years. Because I’m not able to verbalize how/why I feel things it usually comes out that she says she is not responsible for my happiness. That is 100% true, she is not responsible for my happiness. However her emotional state sets the tone for the relationship. If she’s happy then I’m happy, or I could be sad or angry or whatever based on other parts of my life. When she’s happy I’m free to have my emotions based on what’s going on. When she’s sad I’m sad because I feel as if I’ve messed up.  

I might have just had the best day of my life at work and if she’s sad I already know I’m going to be sad.

My experience has been that women when the sympathize / empathize / discuss problems with other women don’t take on the emotional tone of the women they are talking to they have their own emotions are much more in-tune with them. They can still be happy and feel sorrow for someone they talk to. Men on the other hand when we sympathize with someone tend to take on that emotion as well. When men go to a funeral it could be someone we hardly knew, but a good friend of ours is feeling horrible. We go up and say sorry for your loss or whatever strikes us, and we in turn feel horrible as well. I think it comes back to the fact that men like to solve problems. We know deep down that if you are sad we want to be able to solve that but it’s not up to us to solve it so it makes us sad in response partly because you are sad and partly because we can’t do anything more to help the situation.

As to verbalizing emotions, I can say I rarely do that. For better or worse I’ve learned through life that when I try to say what’s wrong –  because I have a harder time explaining the emotion with words – that it tends to not come out the same as what it feels inside. For example if I’m feeling lonely and disconnected I might appear somewhat down and less talkative than normal.

When my wife would ask what’s wrong I have 2 choices:

1) I can say, “Nothing, just trying to process stuff,” which is usually a lie, but tends to produce results that hurt less even if it doesn’t actually solve the problem.

2) I can try to explain that I’m feeling lonely or disconnected and need some intimate / alone time for the 2 of us to get reconnected. That normally turns into an argument that all I want is sex or I’m too needy.

Because I don’t know how to express the feelings using the right words it’s safer to just stay quiet, but that also means that it will never get better.

We all have different ways to express emotions but it’s learning how those close to you express their emotions that really matters.

FROM PEACEFULWIFE

Let’s allow our husbands’ needs and emotions to be just as important as our needs and our emotions in our marriages.  A healthy marriage is a safe place for BOTH spouses to say how they feel, what they need and to feel heard and significant to the other person.

Other husbands – I would love to hear your take on this issue, too.   Thank you!!!   I think that the more we wives can hear from different husbands, the better we can understand our own husbands.

 

How Men Think – Part 3

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This is a continuation from a series.  You can find Part 1 and Part 2 here.  These comments were made by husbands in response to the post “Why Pressuring Your Man to Talk NOW Can Be a Problem”   I am so thankful to the men who were willing to take the time to share their thoughts.  I know this dialogue will be helpful for so many wives and marriages!

HUSBAND #5

In my experience nothing is so critical it needs to be decided immediately unless it’s a medical emergency or something involving some sort of imminent danger.

As a man I have a gut reaction to almost everything, but that is not a good basis for a decision. I prefer to weigh my gut feelings against the alternatives and what is best for everyone. This can take some time. Making a decision, especially one that the right answer requires sacrifice, is hard.

For example, if a wife refuses her husband it is clearly wrong. However if the husband then cuts himself off emotionally from the wife in retaliation, he is (not) loving her as Christ loved the church. Christian husbands have sinful, selfish desires that we have to master, not only for our own good but for the entire family.

I would suggest that if a husband doesn’t answer right away it should be taken as evidence that he cares enough to not make a rash decision.

HUSBAND #6

I know I don’t mind acting “right now.” Whether that’s an emergency or work, but when there is a problem or a decision to be made I do like to take my time and look at it from many angles, weigh what is best, weigh my motives especially if the talk is about us or me. I want to hear my wife’s heart and mind but am not always ready to respond right away.

I know when I do speak right away, it can cause hard feelings. For some reason, not that anybody is right or wrong, when we are discussing disagreements she can say something and I can say something. But when I say it she feels like I’m telling her she’s wrong whereas I just hear her side of things. I guess what I am saying is, I have to phrase things much more carefully in order to not hurt her feelings and that sometimes takes time for me to come up with those words. In other words, we could say the exact same thing to each other and she comes away crushed and I come away just thinking we haven’t come to agreement yet…so I have to carefully word things. Talks often have more downside than upside due to this and I want to go into it carefully, lovingly and having my homework done.

Also, I’ve learned that if we talk “right now” I’m more excitable or sound more passionate. Now that might sound like a good thing at times but many large men like me no matter how gentle or tender we are (and no matter how our wives know we would never hurt them in a million years) even just a passionate talk can seem dominating, pushy, or bullying no matter what my heart is. My wife knows my heart, but natural instincts sometimes just kick in. I’ve learned with strangers due to my size I can’t look them in the eye too much and must keep my voice low as my size intimidates almost all women and a lot of men…even my wife who knows I care for her more than myself can feel “pushed” no matter my heart if I do not very, very carefully watch my tone, level, and body language.

Anymore we have a level of trust that this is not the case (we both know now that we have the other’s best interest at heart and that we are probably just not understanding each other). When this wasn’t the case, often writing to each helped in place of talking when the topic was particularly deep, hurtful, or important, at least to get the conversation going.

Although it might not sound like it from my post above I process kind of like (the lawyer), and naturally could process things verbally but have found it wasn’t the best way for communication in our marriage. I, too, could overwhelm with words also. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to talk then. It was just more I wanted to keep my foot out of my mouth (my bad) or protect her feelings/emotions. I found that if I can communicate to her & I have heard what she needed to say and I really cared about it and thought it was important but …well like the Bible says be quick to listen and slow to speak. Also, it made her feel heard, I guess – cause that’s what I do best is solve stuff, not listen. I can be a bull in a china shop so I have to check that instinct and that doesn’t come naturally.

My wife knows her heart and mind also (she believe’s she right) but so do I. So if there is something big we don’t see eye to eye on, before inserting foot in mouth or hurting her I need a little time to process it and make sure I’ve thought (and I hope pray) about it.

So I guess what I am saying is it may seem like we are not talking NOW for selfish reasons…but most of the time it was because I was thinking of her. Because unlike many things in a man’s world, she’s tough, able and wise but also delicate and I can’t charge in & start shooting from the hip and throwing anything in my way out of the way. I can’t just solve it. Often times the journey to the solution or answer was as important as the as solution/answer.

How Men Think – Part 2

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This is a continuation of How Do Men Think  and from Why Pressuring Your Man to Talk NOW Can Be a Problem from last week (also check out God Understands Men and Part 3 of this series).  My hope is to showcase a number of different men with different vocational/cultural backgrounds and allow them to explain the way they think and process so that wives might begin to develop an understanding for how differently men and women think.  I’d like for us as wives to develop empathy with our men and for us to embrace their masculinity and work WITH them instead of against them.

It appears that men from different vocations may process issues and problems differently.  I think that is so interesting.  I asked our 11 year old son how he thinks, and he said, “I think in words and pictures.”  It would be a fascinating study to me to watch the progression of how men learn to process and think through problems as they go from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood.

HUSBAND #1 – A LAWYER

A slightly different perspective here.  I tend to process things verbally. (I guess I probably also think in words, rather than symbols or formulas, which is in contrast to one of April’s recent posts about how Respected Husband and others think.) Presumably as a result of my verbal processing approach, I’m a trial lawyer.

So it was no problem for me to have an impromptu discussion with my wife about something, even if it was important. (I agree that if it’s important it’s usually not urgent.) Discussing it with her would assist me in processing the issue and arriving at an answer. Not that these impromptu discussions never were problematic. In fact, they could easily become problematic, just not because I was uncomfortable having the discussion.

Instead, we’d have one of several other problems.

  • Sometimes she wanted a definitive answer at the end of the first discussion of the issue but, while the first discussion was helpful in moving me toward an answer, there might be something that I wanted to think more about or research before I could give a definitive answer.
  • Whether I arrived at an answer in the first discussion or after the additional thinking/research, it wasn’t the answer she wanted. That was definitely a problem.
  • In the first discussion, I might ask some questions and she would perceive those as pushback, negativity, questioning her intelligence, or “cross-examining” her.

The worst situations were when she’d come into one of those impromptu discussions with her mind made up about what she wanted the answer to be but I disagreed. Then no amount of talking would make a difference. Logic didn’t work. Words didn’t work. My motives and intentions were suspect, my spiritual status was suspect, and any assurances or protestations to the contrary were insufficient. There were many occasions when I was the one who wanted to continue a discussion until we had reached a resolution but she would withdraw. It was actually me who was accused of trying to overwhelm her with words.

HUSBAND #2 – CHANGED CAREERS

I started as an electrical engineer, now I am a writer. When I do something like code for a web site, I do not think in words, but the more I write the more I find myself thinking in words. Words have become my primary tools, so it makes sense I use them for more and more.

HUSBAND #3

When I’m working on a project I have a image of what it should look like when I’m done and a general idea of how to get there. From there I follow my general plan and improvise as needed. Where decisions for the family are involved it’s more like the movie playing out how everyone will be affected.

My wife has told me that when things involving the children come up she has a hard time not letting her emotions and fears affecting her. While I think, for a man I’m pretty emotional, I try never to make ANY important decisions when I’m upset or angry.

I also agree with the man who said he looks at all the alternatives,then chooses one-some times the least bad. Especially when dealing with older children (our youngest is 20) making the least bad choice is quite common.The thing is I’ve found how my relationship is affected with that child or person is more important than being right, as long as it doesn’t result in immediate harm to them or others.

HUSBAND #4

It really depends on the situtation. As a husband I tend to visualize various scenarios in my mind and then attempt to anazlye which one is most logical or makes the most sense. At the same time I try to anticipate how my wife will react. Honestly, but not all the time, I may alter a decision based on how I know she will respond. 9 times out of 10 I am correct. I’m not bragging, I just know her after 20 years. So I visualize then analyze, then the words comes from that.

God Understands Men.

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God understands what both men and women NEED to thrive in marriage.  That is why He gave us the commands He did in the Bible.  I am thrilled about today’s post.  This is a continuation of a series I am doing about how men think (part 1, part 3, part 4), process, emote, talk and relate – from interviews with real husbands.  Many thanks to the husband who was willing to candidly answer these questions for me.  His answers amaze me.  My words are in black, his words are in blue.  Other husbands, you are welcome to comment or answer these questions, too.  If you would like me to feature your answers in a post, you may comment on the post and I will be glad to consider using  your comments, too.

Ladies – this is fascinating stuff.  I think this husband’s ability to explain things clearly is going to help some of us really understand how important God’s commands are and that God truly knows what is best for everyone when He gives us commands about marriage.  Our God is completely trustworthy!  And, of course, we are accountable to obey God whether or not we agree with His commands or understand why.

1.  How are men affected when their wives are disrespectful and try to talk/preach/lecture to them about spiritual things/God/the Bible/prayer? What goes on in a man’s mind in that situation?

You don’t want to know. Generally not well at all.  Remember Charlie Browns teacher? Wa, wa wa,waa.

Unless …..it’s spoken sparingly,from a humble heart and in a quiet spirit. Then it can be received much, much more readily.

2.. Why do you think God commands wives whose husbands are far from God to win him without a word (I Peter 3:1-6)? Could you talk about how much a wife’s respect impacts a man vs. her words, please?

Words are wind. And a dripping faucet …respectful actions are really easier to hear and respond to.

We can tune out words but not respect.

3.  How does a wife’s criticism of her husband’s spirituality tend to impact his walk with Christ and his ability to lead and love in the marriage?

He becomes paralyzed with self doubt and becomes more passive.  He won’t share his spirituality for fear of rejection or humiliation

4. If you are working through thinking about a problem in the family/marriage – do you need to think about it for some amount of time before you are able to verbalize it in words? Is it possible to immediately talk about a very difficult relationship problem without first going off by yourself to process internally?

Yes, usually I need time.  

It’s like a puzzle thrown on the floor. The pieces have to be examined and compared to see where they fit. I feel stupid that I can’t serve up a instant analysts like my wife can.

Even after I have processed I am filled with considerable doubt the I have the correct picture .

5. What happens in a man’s mind if his wife presses him or tries to force him to talk before he has had time to think things through the way he needs to?

It’s like taking a test you didn’t study for properly. You guess a lot, and feel unprepared.  Or , I just say what I think she wants to hear.  And maybe get a C+, if I’m lucky.

6.  I am actually very interested to know what goes on in husbands’ minds/hearts/souls when their wives often preach, nag, lecture and verbally try to force their husbands closer to God. I know that God has commanded wives to win their husbands “without words” and I know that God has a lot of very important reasons for this. But I would love to be able to explain the reasons in greater detail to wives.  We are SO verbal – it is extremely counterintuitive for us not to use words about God and things that are most important to us.

A. I would like to know what a wife’s many words do to a husband’s feelings for her and for God if he is far away from God.

B.  Would it be different for a husband who is actually close to God – but whose wife treats him as if he is far from God?

A. Since I am not in this place now it is hard to answer fully. I know this – she can share her concern about it and with a humble and honestly caring heart-speak. But after that the win him “without words” come in to play. Non verbal cues of judgement and condemnation will make him RUN, from God, it is so subtle. But love and respect for the long run will be the best motivator .

BFor the wife who treats her husband as if he’s far from God, but he’s not – yes it would be quite a bit different. The spiritual disconnect would be huge. True closeness will be compromised. It’s huge. Not that they won’t get along and have a fair relationship. Just not what they both really want. She may wonder why he doesn’t take her spiritual point of view seriously. How can he? Love, acceptance, security and respect first – then we can talk about differences safely.

How Do Men Think?


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I am SOOOOO excited about this post!  I believe that if we as women could better understand how God designed our men to operate, think, feel and look at life – we could be so much more accepting, understanding, empathetic and appreciative of their strengths and even their weaknesses.  I believe that if we realize that a man’s brain works very differently from our own, we will be able to allow him the time and space he needs without resenting him, or thinking he is unloving, or assigning evil motives to our husbands – just because they don’t think, talk and act like we do.  This is just a small sample size of men.  I hope to feature some other men with different ways of thinking in future posts on this topic.

Click here for Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 in this series.

MY HUSBAND’S THOUGHT PROCESSES

I asked Greg  (an engineer) if he solves problems at work and home with words in his mind.  The thought had never occurred to me that anyone could solve anything in their head without a constant stream of words.  He amazed me when he said that he doesn’t really use words for solving many problems.

For house projects (carpentry and plumbing, etc) he said he thinks in numbers and pictures, but not words.  And for family and marriage issues and big decisions, he said he thinks more in the form of input and output, logic systems, or a scale.  That really blew my mind!  No wonder he can’t always explain to me how he arrived at a conclusion – he isn’t using words to get there, but he is using a very logical method.  It is just not remotely MY method!

When he judges whether his logic system is working well, he uses my response and happiness as the measure of success – or the “output” of his system.  Wow!

And he said that when his system didn’t produce good results (my happiness) repeatedly – he just shut down the whole thing because the system wasn’t working.  That is the “shut down” I saw for weeks or months in the past. 🙁

MY DADDY’S EXPLANATION OF HIS THOUGHT PROCESSES

I asked my Daddy about this, too.  He’s also an engineer.  He said that when he is working on the house, he thinks in pictures.  He said when he is working on certain problems “Words are a waste of time and energy.  Pictures are much faster.”

OTHER MEN’S EXPLANATIONS OF HOW THEY THINK

Man 1:

I certainly think through things a lot but  when you are in a position of leadership or authority (like a President) you have to be careful what you say because it could have dire consequences. Imagine if a pastor or priest thought out loud about everything that came into his head. Some of his thoughts may not be healthy for consumption but his position would give credibility to them. This may be a result of hard wiring or it may me a result of how boys are raised into men.

I will say this though. In my head I am isolating variables and thinking about them in words. I am just not speaking those words aloud or writing them down.

It does depend on the problem as to what I am thinking. I can imagine an engineer thinking in pictures because if you are building something you have to visualize it.  I am a chemist so when I am thinking about molecular structures I am definitely not thinking in words. When I am thinking about theology or philosophy I am thinking in words. I think it is hard to generalize.

MAN 2:

I would agree with Greg as well about not really thinking and processing with words. I tend to process alot just as he indicated by thinking about all the different options and if I do this these are the results, if I do this other thing the results change like this.

When it all comes down to it I look at all the options and figure out which is the best result. Sometimes it’s a matter of picking the least bad result because nothing is great, but many times it’s picking from a few good results and you have to consider how many people it will affect as you can’t know how they will see the results either. So I would definately say a majority of the time I focus and process with the right side of my brain. (From PW – the right side of the brain in men and women is where logic and reasoning happens.  For men, this area is not nearly as connected to the verbal center in the left side of the brain as it is for women.  This is a really important difference – that God created very purposefully – I believe – so that men can deeply concentrate and focus on spacial issues and think more efficiently about certain types of problems without the distraction of words and emotions.  That could be extremely helpful in a war situation or even at work.)

I will say that I have a pretty active imagination as well and sometimes while I still think about which choices will affect the outcome and look at all the options there are quite a few times where I will do that with pictures. Sort of a silent film in my head if you will.

I can see the scene unfold before me and based on choices made see how people react or how it unrolls from there. Granted it’s still all just my opinion on how it will happen and I can’t know for sure how someone else will react, but the movies I’ve created in my head to solve problems tend to be correct more than incorrect. So while I believe that I am still processing based on logic, past reactions I’ve seen, etc there is definately a part of my left brain that is in there moving things along as well. Even with that said there are still almost no words taking place. The only time words come up in the movies is when I have to say something to make a choice and see what the reactions are.

I would also agree with the “can’t explain it with words” comment. There have been many times in my life where if given the time to make a decision I process it and come to a decision and when I put forth what that decision is I am questioned to explain it. When I was younger I actually tried to explain it at times and it never came out well. When I start getting pressured about a topic and can’t explain it well enough I tend to fall back on using more basic words and things like always, never, all the time come out. I’ve learned that to someone who thinks and processes with words those particular words are caustic. As soon as those start coming out there’s not much chance of salvaging the discussion because those words mean something different to me than they do to women. Or more acurately they have more meaning to women than most men.”

OTHER MEN

You are welcome to comment about how you think!  I would love to run several more posts on this topic with a variety of men so that wives can find one who is most like their own husband to empathize with.

Wives, ask your husband sometime about if he thinks with words or pictures or equations or how  – and let me know what he says!

FOR THE MEN:

Check out the comments – I wrote out an explanation of how I used to think and how I think now.  Maybe it might be helpful for some of you – might give you some insights into how your wife might possibly think, too?

A Wife’s New “Problem”

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This is an email from a wife I have been corresponding with for many months.  God has changed her heart and her perspective dramatically – and He is healing this marriage.  What God is doing in this wife and husband and marriage is so beautiful, I asked her if she might let me share!
Please keep in mind that she has been working on respect and biblical submission for at least about 6 months or so.  And please remember that each wife, husband and marriage will have their own story and timeline.  The most important thing is that we stay close to God, feast on His Word and desire to submit ourselves completely to Christ.  He will handle the timing and results for His glory.
FROM A WIFE:
Things are so good between me and my husband lately … Since I have taken an interest in his business , taking walks with him and going to his basketball games – it’s like we are best friends now.

Now, I’m finding he wants to do EVERYTHING with me! hehehe

I NEVER had this ‘problem’ before- instead it felt like I was always asking him to do things with me and he didn’t really seems to want to. But now,  for example  I might just get back from gym and he would like me to go for a walk with him … Occasionally I say no because I’m so tired and he seems disappointed … Last night I went with him and realised that before when we went walking we would often just each listen to music or a sermon on our iPhones but the past 5-6 walks I realised we have the head phones in our ears but neither of us ends up playing anything on the iPhone as we were too busy talking the whole time.
Now he always asks me to come with him on errands and to anything he is doing (if I am home)
Maybe he asked me before too, but I only wanted to spend time together on MY TERMS…
  • “Why should I go walking with him, he is just trying to fit me into his routine , he can come to gym with me if he really wants to spend time together”
  • “Why should I help him with work ? He is just trying to get free labor out of me – if he wants to be workaholic that’s up to him – I’m having no part in it”
  • “Why should I go on errands with him? He doesn’t want to carve out time and take me on a date and he things dragging me along on an errand it going to cut it?”
  • “Why should I go and watch him play basketball?  It’s so boring! And besides its just a silly game why does he care so much about it? He could be spending that time with me!”
Those are the things I used to think – and add to that almost daily complaining and criticizing and I think I’m beginning to see why things are so different now. 
I NEVER realized the beauty and power of tapping into the things my husband loves and joining in where I can. I now LOVE his passion for basketball and feel so relieved he didn’t allow me to completely snuff it out!
With his business I have found ways to be involved that I enjoy like making the website and marketing.
The walks they have become such great times for conversation.
I read somewhere that to be attractive to a man a woman needs a perfect balance of 2 qualities. Playfulness and independence.
Independence meaning:
  • Not being clingy/needy
  • Being emotionally mature (From Peacefulwife – and I would add … spiritually mature – finding your joy, acceptance and purpose in Christ)
  • Not panicking if at moments you feel your husband is withdrawing or not responding exactly as you’d like every moment …
And at the same time remembering to be playful, light hearted and fun.
I have consciously been thinking of this and I think it makes me a happier person to be around as opposed to constant complaining and nagging.

The Walls Are Beginning to Crack

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An email from a wife – thank you for your willingness to allow me to share your story!!!  I know many wives will be SO VERY BLESSED by reading this post!
It’s been about 8 or 9 months since I discovered and started truly respecting my husband, and there is much healing that still needs to take place.  It is honestly still lonely at times. (From Peacefulwife – things were still often lonely for me the first 2.5 years of this journey many times as well in my marriage)  But, the Lord has become my Rock, the absolute source of my strength, and I KNOW that great changes have taken place in me, though it’s not something my husband really acknowledges!  

A real breakthrough for ME came the other night when we had a pretty deep conversation about our marriage.

He finally came around to telling me he has built walls around himself to protect him from the hurt (not just from me, but also from some things that have happened in his past.)  He said that he could not function (ie. wake up each morning and go to work and do what he has to do) without those walls.
Amazingly, for just a minute, I heard the old him in his tone of voice – the man that I first married! That really opened my eyes to see that he is still there!  It’s like he’s trapped inside a cage, but HE IS STILL THERE! (What had been so hard for me all these months was thinking that he had just changed and wasn’t who he once was.)  The love that flooded through my soul for him was enormous, because I was able to see all the hardness is just those walls, it is not him!  
All this time I had been able to love him with a sacrificial / agape love (providing meals for him, doing his laundry, etc.), but really struggled to love him with a phileo / tender and affectionate kind of love. (If you recall I’m reading Feminine Appeal  by Carolyn Mahaney which discusses the important difference between these two types of love.)  I know now that he desperately needs phileo love from me.  It isn’t enough for me to simply name off a list of all the ways I respect him, but from deep within my heart, directly from the throne of God, an outpouring of an abiding love that is real.  (I likened it to being Mary, who sat at the feet of Jesus, rather than Martha, who was so distracted with all the things that had to be done!)
So, my prayer now is that the Lord would somehow tear down those walls and remove the bitterness and help him to forgive.  I pray that the Lord would enable me to saturate my husband with His love in a way he needs it most, and that my heart would remain soft toward him even in the times when he doesn’t reciprocate my love.
FROM PEACEFULWIFE
YES!!!!!!!!
I love these lightbulb moments!  Yes!  Our husbands need us to love them in a friendly, affectionate, tender way.  They need to know we LIKE them.  They need our real smiles and real appreciation. Listing things we respect about them verbally really doesn’t cut it for men.  Words don’t impress them much.  They want to see our tenderness, understanding and friendship in our attitudes and actions.  They want to SEE that trust and faith in our eyes, that adoring smile.  They want to know that we look up to them as our heroes. 
I know I have shared before – at first I thought I could just be “respectFUL” and that would be enough.  NOPE!  It’s not.  Men need to see that we actually and truly see things in them to respect and admire.  They need to know we are genuinely proud of them for the good things they do.  They need to know that we appreciate all that they are and all that they do for us and our families.  They need to know that we see them as they are and ACCEPT them without trying to change them.  They need to see that their hearts are safe here with us.  They need to see REAL, HONEST, UNFEIGNED respect from the heart.  They can tell if we are being respectful vs. we actually respect them for who they are as men and we genuinely LIKE them.
Please pray with me for this wife and her marriage and for the hundreds and thousands of other marriages of those who will read this that the walls will come down and that we might love and respect our men in the ways that matter most to them and brings great glory to God!

What Guys Think about the Importance of Modesty

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I deeply appreciate the willingness of these Christian single guys to talk about this issue so candidly and clearly with us.  This is a critically important issue for our brothers in Christ.  They need our prayers, our understanding, our support, cooperation and consideration.

GUY #1:

It’s funny, the members of my church (soldiers) must be in uniform during Holiness Meetings (The Salvation Army church service) and it is not the most flattering uniform (and shouldn’t be). The uniform “enforces” modesty on women; and I will agree, their appearance is not a distraction in church. The attendees or non-soldiers can dress as they please.

When I see a woman from my church outside of church in her street clothing, sometimes it is “night and day”

I mean, a lot of today’s fashions on women….are well…a bit arousing; and to be fair I am not saying the woman is trying to be a “tease” or is actively trying to put a guy in this situation…but

Women, you have no idea what your God given body and image does to men. 

A woman who dresses modestly is not a prude or boring. It means she has CLASS. It means she respects herself, and knows what her body can do to a guy.

GUY #2

I really appreciate modesty. It’s really annoying to have a barely dressed woman pass by or sit next to me on the bus. Yet should we speak up, we get called controlling or perverts. It’s not like we can have absolute control over our reactions.
Can I control myself no matter what a woman’s wearing? Yes. Am I comfortable when women are immodest? Absolutely not.
Yes they can wear what they like but we pay a price for their choices.

GUY #3

I see the intense feeling a guy gets from an immodest woman as a warning that she does not respect him nor care about him. In nature the most beautiful creatures tend to be the most dangerous. Tree frogs for instance are very pretty but very toxic! Translating that too woman means the same in my opinion. Once a man accepts that immodest women are more likely to support his destruction such women don’t look very attractive because you can see their spiritual ugliness like a deadly contagious disease. If a man doesn’t want to catch he doesn’t look.

GUY #4

I think there are many women who really don’t know the effect their modesty or lack of modesty have had on men, and they are probably the ones who behave somewhat naively, but with good intent. They don’t want to mislead men, but they don’t know where to draw the line between “modest” and “immodest” in ways that honor men.  Or, they believe they are already as “modest” as they need to be, while still feeling beautiful or comfortable according to society’s standards.

These good-willed women often have different definitions and standards of beauty than men. They would be surprised with how simply and non-legalistically we view beauty, and how easy it is for them to be modest, comfortable, and amazingly beautiful to us all at the same time.

There are also many women who know very well the effect their clothing and behavior have on men (that is why they do it), and they have made decisions to dress and act in specific ways to elicit reactions from men whose person and arousal responses do not belong to them.

They may believe they are just flattering themselves, “building-up their confidence,” or “using what God gave them,” but

really they are stealing emotions from men they don’t care about, and have no intentions to satisfy the responses they stir-up. It is false advertising – a deceit – a lie!

A young Christian woman made the following quote about modesty: (paraphrased)
“Women should dress like a flower to be looked at, valued, and appreciated, not like a sandwich to be bitten.”

Are you ladies dressing in ways that make us want to value and appreciate the beauty God has given you, or in ways that make us want to “take a bite?”

I believe God wants women to save this powerful “come take a bite” attraction for their husbands alone, and many men would appreciate the reduced stress, temptations, and distractions that such a choice would have on them in public, at work, or at church.

I don’t think women need to work so hard to follow society’s definition of beauty to look or feel attractive. God has a much different idea of beauty and modesty than society has told women, and godly men want to see more women choose to reflect that type of beauty.

FROM PEACEFULWIFE

Godly beauty is described in I Peter 3:3-6.  It is a “gentle and peaceful/stilled/quiet/calm spirit… that does not give way to hysterical fear.”  That is what is of great worth in God’s sight – and that is what is beautiful to godly men, too.

God calls us to dress modestly – for good reason.

I pray we might desire to dress to show respect to our Lord, and to show respect for our own bodies, our sexuality, and the men around us.  This attitude of desiring to draw attention to God instead of to our bodies is very honoring to Him!

RELATED ARTICLES

http://lessonsofmercy.wordpress.com/2013/03/10/id-never-be-a/ (a post from my dear friend, Kayla, about the effects seeing a woman in a bikini can have on guys – and what we as believing women can do about it)

Is the Issue of Modesty Relevant in 2013?

Why I Wear Skirts Daily – Part 1

Why I Wear Skirts Daily – Part 2

Shaunti Feldhahn’s book “For Women Only” and for teenage girls “For Young Women Only” are great resources into the inner thought lives of men

Why the “Rapid Fire” Method of Talking Doesn’t Work with Our Men.

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My husband actually asked me to write this post and it is an honor to write about this topic!

Greg and I have been talking about how differently men and women process, speak and think during conversations. What I am about to share with you is REALLY FOREIGN to our female minds – but it is fascinating to me to discover more about how men think and process and how we can learn to better communicate with them.  So I am excited to share this information with you and I think it will prove to be very helpful.

SHAUNTI FELDHAN’S book FOR WOMEN ONLY

(a new, revised version just came out this past week!  It is REALLY good!)

Shaunti describes that a woman’s mind is like a computer with many “windows” always open at the same time.  We are ALWAYS thinking about something – usually way more than one or two things.  That is part of why we are good with details and multi-tasking.  We can jump back and forth between the windows very easily and quickly.  We can close windows as we check things off of our to-do list.  It is our goal to close as many windows as possible – too many windows open is very stressful – we can actually crash if we get too overloaded.   And with our verbal skills, we can and do talk about all the windows all at the same time sometimes.

Men don’t think like that.  Shaunti describes that a man’s mind is like a computer that only opens one “window” at a time.  And – they have the ability to close that window and have NOTHING on the screen!?!?  (I have to admit, I am pretty jealous of that ability!)  It’s important for us to acknowledge and appreciate this when we have conversations with our men.  And it is also important to keep in mind that most men do not process emotions verbally the way we usually do.

WHAT THIS MEANS IN CONVERSATION:

Sometimes, we are thinking about a certain issue all day, or a number of issues.  And when our husband walks through the door, we blast him with 10 different things in “rapid fire” succession.    My husband says that a wife may already be to her 8th point, but her husband is still back on #1.  He gets overwhelmed with so many issues and so many words coming at him so quickly.

It’s not that husbands are “slow” or “dumb.”  Not at all!  They can just have one window open at a time – which makes it possible for them to really concentrate on something and not be distracted – that is a great thing for their jobs many times!

My husband can best hear me if I:

  • wait for a time when my husband is rested, in a decent mood and available for me to talk with him whenever possible.
  • only bring up one issue at a time.
  • don’t overload him or flood him with thousands of words – too many words can drown a man and make it really hard for him to decide what to focus on.
  • think “bullet points” not “thesis” or “filibuster.”
  • keep my voice calm and voice and words pleasant (emotionally charged words, especially with negative emotions take men much longer to process – up to 8 hours according to His Brain Her Brain by Dr. Walt Larimore MD.)
  • realize that he may need time to process and decide what he thinks.
  • realize that he doesn’t make decisions quickly like I do, and that is not wrong!  It doesn’t mean he doesn’t care or doesn’t love me or is withholding his answer purposely.  It means he is opening each window and closing it and opening another and thinking and weighing things carefully.

Let’s think of it as if we were throwing balls to our husband.  Each issue is a new ball.  Some people are really talented at juggling many balls – I am not one of those people!  Some people can only handle catching one ball at a time.  That’s me!

Let’s throw him one ball at a time.  And let him catch the ball you threw (and open that window and think about that issue and process it) before throwing another “ball”.

LET YOUR HUSBAND ANSWER FOR HIMSELF

When we have been having imaginary conversations all day long in our minds and assume we know what our husbands are going to say and then we are already angry at them before they even walk in the door for things they haven’t even said – that is really overwhelming and frustrating for our men.   Not to mention – it is disrespectful.

I used to do this A LOT!  My husband says he – and other husbands – appreciate it if we don’t assume we know what they will say and if we will actually give them the chance to answer for themselves.

Let’s focus on

  • praying for God’s wisdom for ourselves and for our husbands.
  • narrowing down what we want to say and boiling it down to the basics so that our husbands can actually hear what is important to us.
  • knowing our own desires and feelings and expressing that.
  • being open to our husband’s unique masculine perspective and wisdom.
  • listening to what God may want to tell us through our husbands.
  • living in TODAY, not in the future.
  • trusting God’s sovereignty to guide us and our husbands.
  • praising God.
  • not arguing or complaining.
  • listening attentively when our husbands do have something to say to us.
  • being present when our husbands speak and stopping our other activity when at all possible.
  • being thankful for all the blessings God has given to us.
  • resting in God’s love and our husbands’ love.
  • generously and joyfully giving our husbands time to think if needed.
  • appreciating the differences between masculinity and femininity.
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