Men of Courage &
Women of Passion
Caution: A Discussion for ADULTS
By Kyle & Trish Christensen
I (Kyle) have resisted writing this article for some time. It is not a comfortable topic. But as I have sought to work with and help some of my patients discover the underlying root of their health challenges, the discussion of marriage relationships has recurred time and again. It was important, because of the subject matter, that my wife join me in writing this, to ensure the perspective is not one sided.
When a person does not have the support, skills, maturity or experience to adequately deal with the stresses or trauma that comes their way, the subconscious mind will often suppress or stuff down that emotion or experience. The result can be what is referred to as a trapped emotion that can resurface as physical, mental or emotional symptoms. As trapped emotions accumulate in the subconscious mind, we can begin to have symptoms - tight shoulders, fears or anxiety about certain situations, even chronic or degenerative diseases.
Let me give you an example: You are 3 years old and you are trying to put on your socks all by yourself. Try as you might, you can't do it. You get very frustrated and throw your socks down. Observing this, your older sister calls you a baby. You begin to cry saying "I'm not a baby!" "Yes you are! See you're crying like a baby - you baby!" So what do you do? You stop crying, swallow your frustration and humiliation and stuff those emotions down. While this is a silly example, it demonstrates how we can deal with stress. From that point, you may be more cautious to avoid situations where you fail and may be thought of as "a baby". In fact, you may not even be consciously aware of how your behavior has changed.
When it comes to the marriage relationship - [and as a Bible believing Christian, I do support the traditional concept of marriage] - most of us bring to it misinformation and a lack of understanding of what this new relationship really entails. Truly marriage is for our learning and growth - together.
Mainstream media widely broadcasts images of sexuality that often are contrary to that of a healthy monogamous relationship.
Sadly, the healthy counterpoint of a loving, committed enduring relationship is rarely portrayed in contemporary literature and media. The truth is, it is within the grasp of many of us to live and experience a better, passion-filled, creatively-empowered love that is so enticing it makes the counterfeits look as empty as they truly are. Even though people of faith speak out against our permissive culture's values, the healthy counter proposal is rarely discussed.
Many are taught that physical intimacy is dirty or immoral (but then all of a sudden - you are married and these deeply ingrained negative beliefs are suddenly ok). During courtship she is showered with attention and affection, which is one of her basic needs. After the wedding for him the focus shifts to physical intimacy (which is now ok). If she doesn't enjoy it (which can be for many reasons), she can feel used, guilty or taken advantage of. This can lead to withdrawal of her affection (often subconsciously) because every time she gets affectionate, he gets turned on and wants to retired to the bedroom. After time, she feels she would just as soon not have affection as to have to deal with his seemingly ever persistent needs.
As a result, he begins to withdraw. Feeling rejected at home, his energies may turn to work, sports, hunting, or anything to justify being away from home. At work or out with the guys, he gets the some of the positive reinforcement he needs.
Add 10, 20 or 30 years and the hurt, scars and bitterness can be intolerable. Outwardly, a happy, loving and even affectionate couple may be observed, but inwardly they are at war. Often a cold war with ever shifting tactical maneuvers or deliberate squirmishes planned out to inflict damage and pain. Each living a life can plod onward suffering quietly and alone, seeking to find solace and happiness in other arenas.
So What's the Difference
We believe at the root of all of this is a fundamental misunderstanding of the differences between a man and a women. While the Golden Rule (Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you) is a great rule in managing most relationships, it simply does not work within the core needs of a husband and wife. Because, quite honestly, the needs of a man and a woman in a marriage relationship are very different from each other.
While psychological studies may differ, many suggest that her basic needs in a marriage relationship differ from his. This is what seems to resonate true with many couples.
A woman's two most basic needs are
1) To Be Loved and be shown affection
She needs to be hugged and kissed. Told that she is loved and is beautiful - not necessarily sexual, but she needs just basic affection. She may enjoy intimacy with her husband, but it is the affection that she enjoys the most.
2) To Be Taken Care of - or Security -not only financial security but emotional security. She needs someone she can trust with her heart and feelings - totally. She needs someone to talk to and with. Someone who listens without judging or condemning. She needs someone she can just be with - comfortably without having to be on her guard.
1) Intimate Relations
Men have a strong sex drive, not because they are dirty old men, but because God gave it to them. Without it, they wouldn't have a need to get married. Society and culture says (or at least it used to) "If you want intimate relations, you had better get married". So he finds the prettiest girl, falls in love with her, asks her to marry him and they get married.
He expects to have sexual relations ever after. If he does, he's satisfied, but if he doesn't, he begins to feel used and taken advantage of. He's out there working, earning a living to take care of his wife and she doesn't seem to care about meeting his basic need.
Both men and women base their acceptability on sexuality. Most women know they are desirable because men pursue them. But most men don't know because women generally do not pursue. Every time a man initiates intimate relations, he is, in fact, begging for acceptance. If she says, "Yes", he is satisfied for a while, but it is short lived because he had to ask for it. If she pursues him, he feels fantastic for days because she wanted him and found him desirable.
If a woman gives herself to her husband, she will never feel taken advantage of, but if she only gives in to his pursuits, she may feel taken advantage of. Women - Enjoy giving! Decide that you are going to make him the happiest man around. If a caring man's needs are met, he will do everything he can to meet his wife's needs, especially in an unconditional relationship.
Intimate relations should be the frosting on the cake in a good marriage, but in too many instances it becomes the wedge that destroys marriage - whether it ends in divorce or mutual toleration.
Have the Conversation
If you are in a committed marriage and are truly sincere on making it what it could and should become, we invite you to have "the conversation". What we mean is to talk openly and honestly, without the intent to manipulate "to get what you want or feel you deserve". This conversation must be without ultimatums, without coercion or demands, but with the sole intent of improving the quality of life of the other. Stephen Covey taught that we should: Seek first to Understand, Then to be Understood. This is important.
We invite men to seek the truth of how your wife's needs (To Be Loved and shown non-sexual affection, and to feel secure and cared for) are being met by you. Men begin by asking if these needs as described are really true for her? Is feeling loved and secure something you really think about? Men ask your wife - Do I make you feel loved by me? Do I take good care of you - as a provider, protector and emotionally? Help her to help you reach her needs.
Women ask your husband - Do the needs described for men fit with you? Do I meet your needs for physical intimacy? This can be a tricky one, because of the world we live in. The world has become so focused on illicit relations, if someone has turned to pornography, their minds and expectations can become twisted and distorted with ideas that are not based on a healthy loving monogamous relationship. That is a whole other issue - not to be discussed here.
Personally, we (Kyle & Trish) were both a bit surprised that the other held these needs to be accurate. "Seriously? that's what you really feel?" Understand, that these needs and feelings are God given and neither of you should feel that the other is flawed because of their focus and perspective.
Become Men of Courage
and Women of Passion
Men, have the courage to love your wife. Tell her she is loved. Tell her she is beautiful. Don't make her ask. Her: "Do you love me?" He: "yup!" - doesn't count for much. Do all within your power to make her feel loved and secure. Ask her what you can do. It will take a conscientious effort and real courage before it becomes natural. However, you have got to mean it. This endeavor is not to be construed as a more sophisticated way to manipulate the relationship in to getting more intimacy. You see, women, this is how the male mind can work. More tools, more strategies to fulfill the need. Guys, cleaning the kitchen and tucking the kids in bed, may not justify your expectations in her mind. Men, your heart has got to change. You need to be willing to give, give, and give without the expectation of your needs being met. Damaged relations take time to heal. Your goal is to serve your wife with the things she needs, just as the savior taught us unconditional service and love. This takes real courage and is probably more difficult than slaying dragons.
Women, do all within your power to fulfill your husband's needs. You may need to forgive yourself of past held beliefs that intimacy is for men, or women aren't supposed to enjoy it, or that you shouldn't be forward or pursue your husband. Be willing to talk openly and allow both of you to grow and heal in your relationship that may have become damage. Strive to become a woman of passion who loves deeply and truly and strives to break down heart wall barriers that may have prevented giving your self completely emotionally to your husband.
Commit to respecting the body of your spouse as well as caring for your own. Respect and Serve.
Relationships that are based on the 50/50 rule are doomed to frustration and emotional failure. This is where many become trapped. Often one feels they have given until they no longer can, then dig in their heels until they feel the other has done their part. Conditional love, based on let me see what I get, before I give are most unsatisfying. You will need to work on this TOGETHER. The ideal relationship is base on unconditional love. It requires forgiveness (letting go of past hurts), repentance (changing your heart) and new beginnings. There can be no fault-finding or put downs, no conditions on which we love, but rather this love is built on caring, gentleness, lifting, and the total giving of oneself. Both partners need to be committed and when both are truly committed to serving God by serving and caring for the needs of their spouse the marriage can heal and begin to thrive.
It is not too late to have the love of your life (emotional and physical). Overcoming years of difficulty, particularly when you have become entrenched in cold war tactics can seem insurmountable. However, if both are willing to swallow their pride and truly strive to bless the life of their beloved - based on their needs - rather than seeking your own - things can truly change. New perspectives may need to be acquired. Past hurts and misunderstandings can be healed. Forgiveness can be sought for and granted. Hearts can soften. Lives can grow closer to God and sweetness and tenderness can once again become the heartbeat of your relationship.
We challenge you to have the conversation. Take the necessary steps to bless the life of your spouse - unconditionally, without reservations and with the best of your ability. It will feel awkward in the beginning, but you will become a better person and so will your beloved.
I am so out of my league discussing this topic, but have felt prompted that this needs to discussed and perhaps someone may benefit from these words.
Kyle D. Christensen
February 28, 2014