I am increasingly hearing reports of struggling couples. Many times, these stories include affairs. Sometimes, it has not reached the level of an affair, but the relationship is incredibly dysfunctional and dissatisfying all the same. In the book The Truth About Cheating, M. Gary Neuman presents the findings of his research into the reasons behind husbands' extramarital affairs. What did he find? For the most part, the affairs had very little to do with sex or attractiveness. Rather the affair stemmed from an emotional need the other woman was able to fill, which for the man could be summed up in the word respect. That is, in the course of the marriage, they were not feeling respected, appreciated, supported, believed in, etc. Sometimes the men may not have even been able to articulate those feelings, but when another woman came along and demonstrated interest in what they did, made them feel successful, or gave them a feeling of adequacy; they were hooked.

I can say without a doubt that this accurately describes the sentiments I hear from husbands dissatisfied in their relationships. What is so interesting is that this is far from new material. In fact, this is the wisdom of the Scriptures vindicated. The Apostle Paul writes to the Ephesians:

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
(Eph 5:22-33, NIV)

What is interesting is that while husbands are commanded to love their wives, wives are commanded—not to love their husbands—but to respect them. Just as M. Gary Neuman has discovered, if you want your husband to feel loved, make him feel respected. Neuman is working on a similar study directed at the wives' affairs, and I predict he will find something similar for wives only that the other men will have come along and made them feel loved. That is, he paid attention to her, made her feel special, honored, beautiful, secure, etc.

So, are you dissatisfied in marriage? Check to see whether these unmet needs are at the root. Do you want to bring about the best in your spouse? Make sure you are working hard to meet these needs. Here are some ideas.

Women: Praise your husbands for their successes. Show gratitude for their attempts. Defend them. Support them in their decisions. Be encouraging. Remind them of the things they do well. Speak well of them to others and in public. And trying to be lovable won’t hurt either.

Men: Tell your wives you love them. Tell them how beautiful they are. Leave notes, texts, or voicemails during the day letting them know you are thinking of them. Be playful. Help around the house. Work hard to provide and protect the family. Have a spine. Initiate. Speak well of them to other and in public. And trying to be respectable won’t hurt either.

1 comment:

CA Sparkman said...

I enjoyed your post!
I just recently published a book about the prayers of the Apostle Paul, and thought you may be interested in checking it out. You can preview and even order the book at www.Amazon.com. Just type in Praying The Prayers of the Apostle Paul.

Thanks and God Bless,