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The Five Love Needs of Men and Women
By GARY ROSBERG BARBARA ROSBERG
TYNDALE HOUSE PUBLISHERS, INC.Copyright © 2000 Gary and Barbara Rosberg
All right reserved.
Chapter OneUNCONDITIONAL LOVE A Husband's #1 Love Need "You mean you will love me no matter what?"
Gary talks to wives
Unconditional love and acceptance. Isn't that what every one of us searches for as we risk letting other people get close to us? When we open our hearts to another person, our bottom-line desire is to be accepted and loved the way we are, warts and all. We want to be able to drop the mask and be safe. We want unconditional love. We want the real thing. Deep. Lasting. Resilient.
In our national survey, a majority of both men and women told us that unconditional love is their number one love need from their marriage partner. No doubt many would expect the number one need for men to be sex and the number one need for women to be communication, but that was not what we found. Instead, as different as men and women can be, both agreed on this one truth: We all need to be loved unconditionally by our spouses.
When my wife needs my unconditional love, it simply means that she needs me to love her and receive her no matter what. For richer or for poorer. In sickness and in health. You remember the vows. Unconditional love is the commitment that says, "I will stay with you no matterwhat. I will always love you. I will affirm you and support you." Acceptance means, "I will receive you even in the midst of tough times."
Barb and I have found that our love for each other is glorious in the good times-the vacations on the beach, the memory-making experiences with the kids, the times of deep intimacy together with Jesus Christ. It's easy to love in the good times. But when our marriage comes under intense testing, we need unconditional love. Love that won't quit. We need to know we are accepted even when we come up short, even when we can't see beyond our own pain and failures.
You've had those times; I know you have. Times of crisis. Times of unbearable stress. Times when, in your heart of hearts, you wonder whether your husband will draw close to you and love you without question or whether he will turn his back and reject you.
Let me share one of my experiences with this kind of crisis. It was a time when I really needed to hear Barb say, "I'm here, Gary. I'm not leaving. I'm here for you. No matter what."
My crisis began with a phone call to a business client from another state. During the call, I had to take a strong stand on an ethical issue. And the result of that stand was that at the end of the call, I had lost half of my income for the year.
Half of my income!
That phone call sent me into a tailspin, and I knew I needed help to come out of it. More than that, I needed a safe place, a place where my heart, spirit, and soul would be loved unconditionally. No strings. No exceptions. No limits.
I reached for the phone and called Barb. "Something has happened. I just need to know, Barb, that no matter what I have to tell you, you will support me. That we are going to be okay. That the Lord and you will stick by me."
"Gary, you don't even need to qualify it. Yes, I'll support you. And God promises never to abandon us. What happened?"
"Barb, I need to talk to you right away, but I can't do it on the phone. I'll be home in ten minutes. Please, just clear the decks."
When I hung up the phone, I knew my safety net was in place- whether or not I deserved it. I could tell by the tone of Barb's voice that she was mine and I was hers and that we both belonged to God. I knew that regardless of what I was about to tell her, that wouldn't change.
Still, as I drove home, fears pelted my heart. As a man, my roles as provider and protector-the two roles every man feels he has to fulfill- were in jeopardy. I felt like a failure, and I was afraid that I might have put the welfare of my family at risk. So I started to second-guess myself. Maybe we could have worked something out. Should I have taken such a strong stand with this client? What if I misunderstood what he was saying?
Then I thought about the ramifications for my family: How am I going to make up for this significant loss of income? What will Barb and the girls say? What are we going to have to sell to keep ourselves afloat?
At that point God's Spirit began to shove away some of my lingering doubts. I knew that he would provide for all of our needs and that I had made the right decision by confronting the issue. But I still needed to look Barb in the face. I needed to connect to her and know that she thought I had done the right thing. I needed to know that she loved me, that nothing would change between us.
As I walked through the back door, I must have had "that look" on my face because Barb immediately grabbed me and held me. "No matter what, Gary, I am with you," she assured me. "Please, sit down and tell me what happened."
It was one of those "God with skin on" moments, when we needed to reassure each other that we are secure, safe, and one with each other and with the Lord.
"Barb, I talked to - on the phone. You know that I have sensed something is wrong, deeply wrong, in our business relationship. As a result, I haven't been sleeping, concentrating, or focusing on the ministry. You and the girls haven't gotten my best over the last few days. I've had such deep conviction in my spirit that I needed to confront this guy about his business practices, but I knew that if I did, I would run the risk of losing the contract. Today I called him and asked if I could talk something out with him. Within a few minutes we agreed that we couldn't work together any longer. As quickly as that, our business relationship was over. I know it was the right thing to do, but it is really going to hurt us financially."
"Gary, I am so sorry," Barb said. "You must feel both overwhelmed and scared at the same time."
"I don't know what I'm going to do. What if this means we have to sell the house? I keep wondering if I could have handled it differently."
"Honey, how can I help you most right now?" she said.
"You are doing it, just by listening."
Even as I was saying all this, I was searching her eyes for her real response. What a relief I felt when I saw no panic, no fear. Not even disappointment. Instead, her eyes told me the same thing that her words did: "I'm so sorry this happened to you. But it will be all right. We are going to be okay." With each fear-driven comment I poured out, Barb responded with an encouraging nod or a touch. The circumstances hadn't changed: We were still going to lose a substantial portion of our income for a time. Yet because of Barb's response, everything was different. I knew that I wasn't alone; and I knew that between the Lord and my wife, I was secure.
When I finished telling her why and how I had made the decision to sever the business relationship with this person, Barb looked me in the eye and quietly but confidently reminded me of the truth that often escapes us in the heat of pressure, stress, or trouble. "Gary, God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He will provide for you and for our family," she said. "And no matter what happens, I will stay close to you." And then the words I can never hear often enough: "I'm proud of you, Gary. You did the right thing."
I remember looking at her and thinking, even as the tears rolled down my cheeks, You mean you love me ... even now? And I can't begin to explain the impact her response had on me. Her words, her touch, her look all affirmed my worth as a man and helped me regain my confidence that I was a husband deserving of her respect.
That was unconditional love and acceptance at its finest. And let me tell you, it doesn't get any better than that for a man. When the wife God has given him reminds him that she will always be there for him, that's when he knows the power, real power, of unconditional love and acceptance.
UNCONDITIONAL LOVE STARTS WITH GOD
Barb's response that day became a defining moment in our marriage. But that moment was possible only because, years earlier, Barb and I had been introduced to the One from whom all unconditional love emanates. Let me back up a little....
I grew up in a good home, a moral home. It was a home that was culturally Christian but not biblically Christian, although it wasn't until I was in college that I learned the difference. In fact, I was sitting in a fraternity house when I learned the difference. I was listening to some guys from Campus Crusade for Christ talk about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and I immediately realized two things. The first was that I couldn't "do life" without God, and that his love was there for the asking. All I had to do was ask. It was up to me to humble myself and confess to God that I needed him in my life. The second thing was that he loved me-me, Gary Rosberg-enough to send his Son to live a perfect life on earth and die a sacrificial death for my sins. I knew that God loved people. But I had no idea until that night that he loved me with that kind of sacrificial love. These two truths may seem elementary to you, but they sent shock waves through me.
Why hasn't someone told me this before? was my first response. My second response was to try to disprove the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I was dating Barb at the time and falling in love with her. She was a brand-new Christian herself. After five months of intense study, wrestling with God, and at times almost torturing Barb and the guys God sent into my life with countless questions, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. What finally convinced me? It was the simple yet overwhelming truth that God loved me unconditionally. Completely. Without reservation. Unequivocally. Just as I was. No matter what.
The apostle Paul reminds us, "But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so very much, that even while we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God's special favor that you have been saved!)" (Eph. 2:4-5).
That describes agape love. His great love. His mercy. His grace. These words took on a whole new meaning as I began to come to a true understanding of just how much God really does love me.
And that is the heart of Christ's love for me: He truly loves me without limit. He loved me before I trusted him. Before I knew him. Before I even existed. He loves me even though I fail him miserably, even though I come up short emotionally, spiritually, and relationally. He loves me even though I don't deserve it, which is much of the time. He loves me even though it would be easier not to love me when I disappoint him in my thoughts, words, actions, and deeds. He loves me even though my heart is full of pride and my thoughts are self-centered.
Bottom line? He loves me, no matter what. He accepts me, no matter what. And that's how I know what unconditional love is-because I've been to the Source.
UNCONDITIONAL LOVE CHANGES LIVES
But that's God, some of you may be thinking. How does unconditional love and acceptance operate practically on a human level?
Matt and Melanie
Let me tell you how it worked, on both levels, for Matt and Melanie. Two summers ago, Matt got on a bus with a group of men from his church and headed to a Promise Keepers conference. His wife, Melanie, and his kids were thrilled and excited; they had been praying for Matt for several years, and now those prayers might be answered. And they were. Matt made a personal commitment to Christ at the conference and returned home with a new, redeemed lease on life. He began meeting weekly with a men's Bible study and accountability group, and he was growing spiritually.
Then Matt started getting negative vibes from the guys at the office. "What happened to Matt? Isn't he taking this religion thing a bit too far?" On top of that, his parents voiced concern that he had gone off the deep end, that perhaps he was being too extreme.
Over the next few months Matt's faith commitment began to diminish, and he returned to old patterns: excessive work schedules, meeting with the gang for drinks after work. By caving in to the belief that he could "manage" his own sin rather than be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit's work in him, he drifted further and further from his walk with Christ and his reenergized marriage.
Melanie's hopes for a distinctively Christian marriage and family were folding before her eyes. Yet she knew she had made her own commitment when she took her marriage vows, and that meant loving Matt in spite of her fear of losing all that she held dear. Her staunch Christian friends echoed this truth. "Love him unconditionally," they encouraged her. "You've seen God work in Matt. You know it's possible. Don't give up. Ever."
So Melanie continued to love her husband, even though he did things that disappointed her deeply or when he behaved in ways that made it difficult for her to love him.
Matt is very aware of Melanie's love for him, and he realizes that he often doesn't deserve it. Thankfully, he is beginning to show signs of returning to his commitment to follow Christ.
Patty and Jeff
Jeff grew up on a farm with three brothers, and Jeff's dad always made time for fishing, hunting, and playing sports with his boys. Jeff loves to hunt, and he looked forward to sharing the experience with his own son, Zachary. Jeff's wife, Patty, however, grew up in the city and didn't share Jeff's passion for autumn days in a cornfield with a rifle. Besides that, she was worried. She thought Zach was too young and inexperienced to go on a hunting trip. "He's shot his new gun only a few times at the rifle range," she told Jeff. "Please don't take him out. Not yet. He isn't ready." Jeff dismissed his wife's fears. She just didn't understand what an important family tradition this was for father and son.
So Jeff and Zachary headed for the woods on a Saturday morning, and they had a great day. Zach even got his first deer. As Jeff drove home that night, he knew that he and Zach had drawn closer because of the shared experience and the time together. He began thinking of ways that he might continue to deepen the relationship with his son.
Suddenly, an oncoming car crested the next hill at high speed and swerved into their lane. Jeff survived the terrible crash. Zach was killed instantly.
It has been three years since the accident, and although Patty knows the accident was not Jeff's fault, she is still haunted by the voices that continue to ring in her mind: If only they hadn't gone out that day. If only Jeff had listened to me. If only ... The pain of their loss and the pressure on their marriage often seem unbearable. Yet God continues to call Patty to love her husband-no matter what. And she is. Meanwhile, Jeff himself is just beginning to feel some relief from his own guilt and pain. God is pumping new life into their relationship, and much of it is due to Patty's unconditional love for Jeff.
Marge and Ben
Ben is another man who knows what it means to be loved no matter what. After twenty-three years in his career, Ben was worn out, exhausted from trying to climb the corporate ladder. One morning he happened to catch a television infomercial that promised him all the luxuries of life if he would just attend an upcoming seminar in a local hotel. So Ben went to the seminar-and was promptly overwhelmed with the potential of the program as he watched the videos and studied the brochures. He and Marge had always discussed any expenditure over one hundred dollars. But that day he caved in to his greed and withdrew all their savings as well as cashed in their retirement fund to invest in this get-rich-quick enterprise. It was such a sure thing. It had worked for so many.
Excerpted from The Five Love Needs of Men and Women by GARY ROSBERG BARBARA ROSBERG Copyright © 2000 by Gary and Barbara Rosberg. Excerpted by permission.
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