The day started out normal enough. It was stormy last night so none of us slept well. The kids were in our room by 3am asking to crawl into bed with Mom and Dad. One succeeded and the other two huddled together in the toddler’s room next door. At daybreak, we hit the snooze button a few times before tumbling out of bed. The remainder of the morning was a mad scramble to get ready and get out the door on time.
I usually drop the older kids off at school on my way to work while my wife stays at home with our youngest. We knew before we left this morning that the kids didn’t have lunch packed, but we also didn’t have time to stop at the grocery store on the way. Mandi could have taken the kids some food later in the day, but it would have been out of her way, so I decided to run to the store and pick up a Lunchable® to take back to the school after I dropped them off. Problem solved. I sent Mandi a quick text to let her know that she didn’t have to worry about the kids’ lunch.
Based on her reaction, this was the most provocative, sensual text message I’ve ever sent. I may have inadvertently stumbled upon an obscure, enigmatic form of ‘sexting’ where you message your wife a list of chores that you’ve accomplished without being asked. This message ignites the fires of passion and she texts you back a declaration of her love and unending devotion. I think I’m onto something here. I honestly think that if I had told her that I also filled up her vehicle with gas, she would have begged me to come straight home.
In Back to the Future Part II, Dr. Emmett L. Brown (Doc) tells Marty that he intends to destroy the time-traveling Delorean. He explains that, “time-traveling is just too dangerous. Better that I devote myself to study the other great mystery of the universe: women.”
I certainly haven’t unravelled the mystery of women yet, but I did learn this principle several years ago and I was reminded of it today. God has created men and women differently!
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” -Genesis 1:27
We are all created in the image of God and share so many similarities, but we cannot deny that there are some differences in the way that we are made. Some of these gender differences will always remain a mystery, just as certain aspects of our wonderfully complex Creator is a mystery. However, recognizing our differences is important because these differences affect your understanding and ability to please your spouse and create a wonderful, fulfilling marriage. In short, you will not change your spouse to think and act just like you, so learn the differences and complement one another.
I actually found out the hard way that these difference don’t work in reverse. We’ve read several excellent books over the years about how to have a successful marriage, and most of them have one chapter for men only and one chapter for women only. In his book, A Celebration of Sex, Dr. Douglas Rosenau, a Christian marriage and family therapist, was no exception. He even gave husbands and wives tips on how to arouse your spouse. To the men he suggested things like, “Clear the table and load the dishwasher after dinner, wash and dry a load of laundry, or watch the kids and give your wife some time alone for a hot bath.” I remember thinking, “Are you kidding me?! This stuff is a turn-on for women?!”
Then I flipped over to the chapter labeled “For Women Only” and read something much more interesting. In my mind, the tips Dr. Doug gave the women on arousing their husbands sounded much more compelling. One item in particular on this list caught my attention, and I thought we’d give it a try since the men’s list just sounded like alot of housework. Tip #3 read,
“Don’t wear any underwear to a social gathering, and tell your husband on the way out the door. You’ll drive him crazy all day!”
The next opportunity we had to attend a “social gathering” was on a Sunday. At a church. Where I was leading worship.
That Sunday morning while I was driving, I looked over at my beautiful bride in the passenger’s seat, lowered my voice and said, “Hey, guess what… I’m not wearing any underwear…” I probably don’t need to tell you that this statement did not achieve the intended results. When I got the car back on the road, between punches and through clenched teeth I could just make out Mandi saying, “You’re not wearing underwear?! You’ve got to lead worship!!” For the sake of the people involved, I won’t tell you when or where I was singing that day.
There really should be a warning label on marriage books like that, so consider my example before you try to reverse roles. It was a hard lesson learned, but we look back on it and laugh now. Mandi and I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Rosenau just a few weeks ago at a marriage retreat with the 10,000 Fathers Worship School and I shared our story with him over dinner. He got a kick out of it, but he also took the opportunity to say, “I told you so.”
We are created different, but we should celebrate those differences and complement one another, not try to change each other. I’m an extrovert and Mandi is an introvert so it used to drive me crazy when she would avoid calling someone on the phone. I would try to “fix” her by forcing her to make calls, even if it was something simple like ordering pizza. Now I understand more about her personality and her comfort level and I truly have her best interests at heart. I’m perfectly capable of ordering pizza and I know she really appreciates not having to speak to people over the phone. Neither is right or wrong; just different and complementary.
Become an expert on your spouse. Check out Gary Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages, and learn how to speak your spouse’s language. Take a personality profile together like the Myers-Briggs test to learn more about one another and how your personalities differ. Above all, God’s Word tells us to “put on a heart of compassion and patience” (Colossians 3:12). If you love your wife, then you’ll want to know her, to understand her, to have empathy for her so you can love her more. It’s what we want in marriage: to know and be known by another in the safety of unconditional love.
Now if you’ll excuse me, the dishwasher just finished a cycle and I think I hear my wife calling my name.
If you’d like to know more about some of the resources that I mentioned, click here to see a list of books that have been a tremendous help to me and Mandi in our marriage and as we raise a family. God Bless.