Why did he give you tools for Mother’s Day, again!? Why will she buy you shoes for Father’s Day? It might not be a lack of caring, thoughtlessness, or selfishness. Very simply, men shop like men and women shop like women.
I heard a friend relate that her unhappy husband had asked, “How do you show me you love me?” As she repeated her response, the problem was clear. We all believe in the admonition to “treat others as we want to be treated,” but she was treating her husband like he was a woman. Even though men and women are equal, they are not the same. As much as modern society wants to make it not so, some differences appear to be God-given.
Learning to think like a man or to think like a woman, may be the secret to relationships after all. It sounds easy, but watching men wander around the mall before Mothers’ Day, hoping to discover what women really want, reveals most men are clueless.
Modern society is strongly advocating a self-centered life. I believe in the advice given to Emma McKay nearly a century ago. “Now my darling daughter… A woman wants to study the likes and dislikes of her husband and try hard to do everything to accord with his likes… I think it is right and possible…When a true man sees his wife doing everything she can for his pleasure will he not do likewise for his wife? Surely he will, then there is mutual compensation and mutual happiness.”
Men are often straight forward. When there is a problem, they would like to proceed into fixing it, without much discussion. Sometimes this leads to a lot of extra work and poorly conceived solutions. Other times, it works perfectly well at getting things done.
I hear women lament, “All my husband wants is sex.” To a man, being so easy to please might seem like a good thing. Surprisingly, women see it quite differently. Remember, however, that sex is God created, God ordained, and God celebrated. Becoming one flesh and multiplying are His ideas. Handled correctly, and in appropriate amount, physical intimacy was divinely designed to act as a bond, not a wedge.
Each couple needs to find the appropriate balance and timing for physical intimacy that works best for them. For example, after an emotionally and physically stressful day, most men don’t want to unwind with a hot bath and a good book. Likewise, when the wife has been fighting to keep the kids dressed, homework done, and the house from falling apart, suggesting that de-stressing through physical intimacy may result in his premature death!
Women are complex. They see connections that men often overlook. They are very good at analyzing how problems affect the rest of life. Sometimes this can add unnecessary stress, but very often it adds depth and meaning to life’s experiences.
I hear men complain, “All she wants to do is talk and shop.” I’m no genius, but the man that dreams of talking and shopping is only found in books—written by women! I’m still amazed at how another pair of shoes—just slightly different from what she already has–can make my wife so happy.
This desire for continually beautifying may also be divinely designed. God’s creation of the earth illustrates that He values variety and beauty. Have you ever considered why He took the time to create so many slightly different types of trees, flowers, birds, rocks, etc., etc. Why not just make one type of tree and call it good?
Spouse Specific Thinking: Talking and Observing
Because your spouse is inherently different from you, learning their likes, wants and desires won’t come naturally. Generalizations, like those above, are good, but not enough. For specifics, no one can educate you on the likes and dislikes of your spouse better than they can. For most couples, 1) talking, and 2) observing will be the most beneficial tools. Do not be offended if your spouse of many years still asks what you like or want—remember that it doesn’t come naturally. After nearly 25 years of marriage, I’m still learning about my wonderful wife.
In conclusion, it comes down to this: Is your spouse’s happiness your greatest desire? If so, then making the effort to learn and do those things he or she likes is the course you should pursue. If you have chosen your spouse wisely, they in turn will do the same. Each of you will have your needs and wants met, selfishness will die, and your love will increase as you continue to better serve each other.