One of the greatest issues within marriage is communication. The problem is that men and women communicate in different codes. Because men and women see things through different lenses, it is difficult to for them to decipher the messages that are being sent by their partner.

 

So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. (Gen. 1:27 NIV)

 

This verse establishes that in creating humanity, God created two distinctly different beings. It is imperative to understand that making the effort to understand the differences of our mates will have great impact in turning your house into a home. God designed women and men to function distinctively different with a particular purpose in mind for each. When they come together in harmony (a place where differences actually sync with one another to form a synergistic union) there is nothing more beautiful. Yet, when then harmony is non-existent the chaos that ensues is immensely devastating and demoralizing.

 

As we have already established, the wife’s greatest need in the marriage is LOVE, and the husband’s greatest need in the marriage is RESPECT.
“Angry exchanges are caused when the husband appears careless, depriving his wife of love, and when the wife reacts with criticism and complaints that are vehement, depriving the husband of respect. And why should she be respectful? The stupid oaf doesn’t deserve her respect!” ~ Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

 

What Dr. Eggerichs is explaining is that there is a vicious cycle that erupts from the failure to decipher the codes that our mate is sending. The fact is men and we women do see things differently and failure to realize this and apply it to understanding when we are dealing with our mates leads to a breakdown in communication.

 

What was surprising to me when I first began this study was the fact that couples in the Church are divorcing at a rate equal to or greater than those who are non-believers.

 

“…there is madness in their hearts while they live…” (Eccl. 9:3)

 

The reason that I say there is madness is that with the divorce rate being that high, especially among believers there has to be a level of insanity. What we have is a bunch of adults that find themselves in situations because of a particular type of behavior (selfishness) and yet they continue in the same manner. The problem is our natural proclivity to see things our way inhibits our desire and ability to see things through the eyes of our mate.

 

Books on the topic of marriage are not in lack; there are books on marital communication, finance in the home, becoming a better husband, becoming a better wife and so much more. The problem is those in the church believe they have the truth; however, they are not functioning under the entire truth. They have not committed themselves to obtaining the entire truth. I would even say that believers have adapted secular paradigms concerning marriage which has only served to exacerbate the matter. The cosmic world views that have infiltrated the church has wreaked immeasurable havoc on the Christian marriage.

 

Communicating in Code

 

Earlier, I mentioned that men and women communicate in code. It is a part of our individual and distinct design. Dr. Eggerichs gives a great example of how differently men and women see the same thing. Let’s take a look at his example:

 

“Let’s see how this plays out at home as a couple is getting dressed to start the day.

 

She says, “I have nothing to wear.” (She means she has nothing new.)

He says, “I have nothing to wear.” (He means he has nothing clean)

 

There is no serious danger of conflict here, but the “nothing to wear” line illustrates that we all see things out of our own needs and perceptions.

 

Just the other day, I was working on my computer and Sarah had the radio on in the next room. It was some kind of talk show and just loud enough to derail my train of thought. I yelled to her, ‘Are you listening to that?’ There was no reply. I yelled again, ‘Are you listening to that?’ Still no answer. Finally, I yelled louder, ‘Are you listening to the radio?!’ She yelled back, I have been trying to listen, but you keep interrupting!’ This created a two-minute exchange that almost turned into a serious argument. It seems Sarah was irritated with me because she hadn’t even noticed the radio – she was busy with something else. But she thought I had called to her because there was something on this talk show that I really wanted her to hear. Of course, my real intention was that she turn off the radio if she wasn’t really listening to it. So I was irritated with her because she hadn’t understood me.

 

Finally, it came to me that I hadn’t been very clear about what I had meant, and yelling at her three times wasn’t too loving either. So I apologized. I cite this little misunderstanding to point out that things like this can escalate, particularly if husband and wife are a bit upset with one another about something that happened the day before (or possibly just a few minute ago). In other cases, couples may be experiencing long-term tension, which can escalate when fed by a simple miscommunication.”

 

Because we tend to base the way we engage others based on past experiences, especially with that particular person; it is easy to get to a point where the wife begins to anticipate being treated in an unloving manner. In the same way, the husband begins to expect to be treated with disrespect and these presupposed dispositions impact the way things are perceived by our spouses.

 

 

The Issue is Never the Issue

 

When listening to and counseling married couples there is one thing most psychologist agree on; the issue almost always isn’t the issue. In other words, what you believe you are fighting about isn’t really the reason. In its simplest form, it boils down to the husband feeling disrespected and the wife is feeling unloved and the subsequent actions initiate the downward spiral of disintegrating communication.

 

The problem is most often, we have a tendency to focus on our own needs and desires and we fail to give the proper attention to our mate’s.

 

The manner in which the husband and wife see things differently can be demonstrated by the very foundational scriptural passage that we are using for this series.

 

However, let each man of you [without exception] love his wife as [being in a sense] his very own self; and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband [[f]that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and [g]that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly]. (Eph. 5:33 AMP)

 

When the woman see this she will focus on the love the man is required to give her and will view her mandates as conditional upon the man executing his responsibilities. She may even feel that what is required of her is a little much based on the fact that she has to deal with this childish behavior all the time.

 

In the same way, when the man sees this he sees that he is owed respect. He focuses on what is required of his wife because it fulfills his most primal need; respect.

 

The problem is that it is not our responsibility in marriage to seek our own needs, but to serve the needs of our mate. This is not our natural inclination by any means, but marriage calls for sacrifice and consideration leading to understanding.

 

I want to reexamine this passage yet again. It calls for a man to love (agape – unconditionally, even to the point of laying down his life for hers) his wife as he loves himself. This very statement calls for sacrifice. It immediately puts the wife at the very minimum on the same level of consideration from her husband as he has for himself. He is not to consider his own needs, but he is to set aside his needs and seek that which is best for his wife.

 

As for the wife; I love the way the Amplified version of the Bible lends to the lucidity of this specific passage.

 

“…and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband [[f]that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and [g]that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly].”

 

The first thing that most women will notice is that the man has one short line and they, for all intensive purposes have a paragraph. Why is this? It is actually fairly simple. The husbands mandate is to love (agape) his wife is self-explanatory. The use of “agape’ by Paul instead of several other words for love that he could have used, says it all. Agape does not have to be expounded upon, by its very definition, it express complete denial of self and total commitment to the one being loved. However, respect needs clarity because a woman’s need for respect is different than a man’s and her view of it is different. This manner of respect is great. This is not a casual respect as in the sense of not being offensive. No, this is a respect that reflects reverence in manner that is above all others except God.

 

]that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and [g]that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly].

 

It calls for the wife to regard, honor him (in action and representation), prefer him (in her demeanor and speech), esteem him (hold him in high regard, Sarah called Abraham Lord), praise him and more. When a wife is able to do this, she energizes and empowers her husband to be what he was designed to be. This is not a call for the wife to show weakness or servility, but respect of the husband’s position.

 

Some of you may be asking, especially the men; Well why aren’t the women called to love (agape) their husbands? The answer is that God created women to naturally love unconditionally. There is no need to mandate that the women express unconditional love. This form of love is proclivous to the woman.

 

So, it is quite simple, yet unfortunately, still difficult. It is simple to see the issue here, but human nature makes it extremely difficult to correct the problem. Fortunately for us we have the Holy Spirit through which we are able to do all that is required of us. It all starts with understanding that it is not about us. The divine institution of marriage was established by God to perpetuate the human race, maintain filial order and to demonstrate the love of Christ to the world. When we read the Bible we find that the most analogous representation of Christ’s love for the Church is the husband’s love for his wife. Consequently, the wife’s reverence for husband is reflective of the Church’s reverence for Christ.

 

As we move forward I look forward to opening so much more up to you in the way of understanding. Remember knowledge is transformed into power as it is properly applied.

 

 

Be blessed.

 

Bishop Rick Wallace

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