I didn’t have many guy friends before I met my husband.
That didn’t bother me, because I thought I knew exactly how they were wired, based on what I read from books and magazines and watched from movies. For a long time I even thought of myself as a bit of a tomboy, having similar interests like soccer, video games, and cars.
Then I met TJ, fell head over heels in love, got married, and found out just how wrong I was about men. Not totally, but mostly.
For one, they’re much more sensitive, vulnerable, and complex than most people think they are, themselves included. For another, they are very, very different from women.
What was God thinking when He put 2 distinct beings – man and woman – so different from each other together in marriage? Obviously He knew what He was doing, since His plans and purposes are always good.
In the 6 short years that I’ve been married, I can’t say that I’ve unlocked all the mysteries surrounding men and women. I haven’t mastered the intricacies of communication concerning guy-speak and girl-speak – not by a long shot. I haven’t even figured out how to fight effectively and pick the right battles yet. Thankfully, the Lord is still working on those in me and for me.
But one thing the Lord has opened my eyes to, is the heart of every man for his woman and every woman for her man. I speak in the context of marriage, but this holds true for any relationship heading that way as well.
What every husband yearns to do for his wife is this: to provide.
It might sound cheesy or old-fashioned to some, evoking images of stereotypical man-bringing-home-the-bacon while his wife stays home to keep house. It can sound illogical even in the present day and age, where family dynamics come in all forms and variations, with the woman earning just as much or even more than the man, depending on their circumstances.
Even though financial and material needs tend to come to mind when we talk about a man providing for his wife, it doesn’t have to be money-related, and in fact goes way beyond that. A man is happy to provide just about anything he can for the woman he loves – be it security, comfort, encouragement, or joy.
It doesn’t matter if he is rich or poor, a businessman or a student, or whatever his station in life is. Somehow God has inbuilt in every man an innate desire to provide for his mate and family. Every man gets an immense sense of satisfaction and joy as long as he feels like he is able to provide something his wife needs.
Certainly, men feel great when they check off the big ticket items – financial security, a good and safe living environment, leadership and direction for the family. After all, God appointed them to be the head of the household.
But they find fulfilment too in making their wife and kids laugh through bad jokes, or even through acts of service like taking out the trash or setting up the WiFi. It all depends on what they’re good at and what they’re able to give.
And on the women front? Every wife’s heart is geared towards this: helping her husband.
If there was one thing every woman wanted her man to know more than anything else consistently and permanently throughout their marriage, it would be this.
Every suggestion, piece of advice, thought, act, and even comment that a wife makes to her husband – under normal circumstances – is done with the intention of helping him and doing him good. That’s how God crafted women, when He made Eve for Adam – to be a helpmate to men.
This help could be anything from keeping the house and family in good order to lessen her man’s burdens, to checking the alignment as he puts up a picture on the wall, and pretty much everything else concerning him and for him. Even if she’s unable to do the task in full, she’s usually happy to be of help in some way.
We can’t be everything to our spouses, and every marriage is unique. Most usually, we end up giving best in the areas that we’re good at. Ultimately, you need to find what works for you both in your marriage.
For instance, I feel really good when TJ asks my views on work issues and I’m able to offer some clarity and perspective after talking it through with him. And he feels manly knowing he’s not just giving me a comfortable life, but also protection by being my defender against all bugs and creepy-crawlies.
God created man and woman equal. In every place where Jesus is exalted, there’s no question about this, and no need to fight about it. Eve was taken out of Adam’s side for him to love and care for, not from his head to dominate over him, nor from his feet for him to trample on.
While God sees them equal, He also gives them different roles: the man to provide, the woman to help. Some places preach this as a duty for husbands and wives to perform, when there’s really no need to – the desire is already planted in every man and woman for their spouse by God. The sooner we realise this, the quicker we can build upon it.
Granted, the delivery could usually be improved. For the husband, possibly less focus on the one thing and more attention on his wife in other areas, and for the wife, sweeter words and kinder tones, perhaps.
But conflicts arise most typically due to misunderstanding each other’s intentions or not being given opportunity to fulfil these roles.
Husbands feel demoralised and of little value if they don’t feel like they’ve provided. They’ll try their best, putting in long hours at work or even doing what they can at home to make their wife happy, in hope of one day seeing that grateful smile on her face telling him that he’s given her something she needed.
Wives feel frustrated and redundant if they don’t feel like they are able to help or if their intended help is rejected. A wife’s well-meaning counsel can turn to sweet cajoling then desperate nagging and finally despair and indifference if it is repeatedly misconstrued as negativity or criticism. Her greatest hope is that one day her husband will finally realise that she is for him, not against him, and he seeks her advice above others’.
It’s only by grace that I remember to hold back the comments and see past what’s lacking in TJ’s efforts, to thank him with a kiss and a hug for all he’s doing and has done for me. It’s also by grace that he sees beyond my comments to seek to understand my heart behind them, and to consider and accept my explanation.
Jesus brings us back to the heart of it all, and to see the heart of our spouses. Plus He also helps us improve on our delivery.
Because when we encounter Jesus, we encounter grace.