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Discovering The Mind Of A Woman
By Ken Nair, Leslie H. Stobbe
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 1995 Ken Nair
All rights reserved.
A DISCOVERY THAT CHANGED MY MARRIAGE
If you are a man over forty-five, you might identify with me (and a lot under forty-five may as well!). I was the kind of husband who believed that I loved my wife, but 1 also believed that her role was to make life beneficial for me.
Even though we were both working, when I came home weary with office stress and ready for refreshment, my wife was supposed to be there for me. She was always supposed to provide encouragement, an opportunity to relax, and a hassle-free home environment.
When I look back, I'm embarrassed because I thought I was an excellent example of a good husband. I was not guilty of gross immorality, of severe physical or mental abuse. In spite of my selfishness, my wife loved me and genuinely supported me. In fact, some people thought we had a model marriage that could be used to illustrate what a Christian marriage was like.
I didn't ask the Lord what He thought of our marriage. It never dawned on me to ask Nancy how she felt about it. And because she had such a gentle disposition, she never raised a big stink. So I assumed the Lord must be pleased with my efforts as well.
What I didn't realize was that our marriage was a parody of what God really wanted for us. It was based on misconceptions passed down from generation to generation in the Christian church—liberally influenced by concepts gained through the secular media.
The Lord in His mercy saw fit to shake me up, to destroy my Christian complacency. He wanted me to learn three major biblical concepts absolutely vital to a truly successful marriage —concepts that were not even on the fringe of my understanding about marriage, but whose implementation totally changed my marriage over time.
A CASE OF COLLUSION
When God set out to intervene in how I was behaving toward Nancy, He built a brick wall, and I ran headlong into it. The brick wall resulted from collusion between God, my wife, and my boss. Here's how it happened.
The leaders of a nationally known Christian organization saw that my dedication to their ministry was unlimited (in retrospect, that alone should have been a hint of a problem). So they invited me to join their staff in December 1970.1 considered it a most enviable opportunity, for I knew many men had dreamed of working for this organization—and I was the one who had been invited.
My wife will be the first to admit that she was also excited about this special privilege. After all, she, too, was committed to my commitment to Christian service. So we packed our household furnishings into a moving van and left for our destination in a suburb of Chicago. Since we flew, we arrived several weeks sooner than our furniture did.
We had been in our barren house for three weeks when the leaders of the organization announced a multiday staff retreat several hundred miles away. I was delighted to have a chance for more intensive interaction with other staff members and leaders.
Nancy was not the least bit excited about my news, so she tried to influence my decision to go with some news of her own. The movers had called and informed her that our furniture was about to arrive. And its arrival just happened to be scheduled for the very day we as staff were to leave for the retreat. Not only was she unaccustomed to having her husband away for several days; she was not at all enthused about having to oversee the unloading of a truck full of household furniture and goods. Nor was she thrilled about trying to get the house organized with two young children underfoot and no husband to help.
It was the middle of winter in Chicago, with snow and slush everywhere. And while I was gone, more snow could arrive—and I would not be there to remove it from our walk and driveway.
You guessed it—she became very discouraged and upset over the combination of events. In fact, I got an earful from my very distressed wife. She felt so strongly that I ought to stay home from the retreat to play the roles of husband and father while supervising the movers when they arrived—and helping with the unpacking—that she refused to be swayed to my thinking.
I WAS I EMBARRASSED
I was mortified. I thought, How can my wife embarrass me like this? She's going to ruin my reputation as a husband who has everything and everyone in the family in line. She's going to make me look bad in the eyes of my new boss. And she's going to ruin my chances of being with the staff on this special outing if she continues to insist that I stay home and help her with move-in days. Worse yet, she may ruin my chances of being part of this great ministry. What shall I do?
I tried to explain to her that I had no choice in the matter. After all, it was standard policy and practice at this organization to take getaway retreats.
You see, I was convinced that my business success was more important than anything else in the world—and without her interference I could be successful. Why couldn't she just stay in her place and be a submissive wife?
It didn't occur to me that God might be interrupting my pursuit of my ambition through her and this unique combination of circumstances. So I thought she should take this matter up with my boss, thinking he would straighten her out and we'd go about getting on with the retreat. As far as I was concerned, that idea was a stroke of genius. He would explain to her how unreasonable she was. She wouldn't dare dispute his evaluation about her restrictive attitudes!
What I didn't realize was that God had made her resistant, that God was using that attitude in my wife to bring me to some unusual insights.
She called my boss, and he shamed her by saying, "Your husband is a prisoner of your expectations." But even that didn't change her attitude. To my astonishment, she stood her ground and he backed off.
Although the conversation between them was in the morning, I didn't immediately hear from my boss. All day I waited for a report on the conversation. As I was getting ready to walk home, my boss told me that I would not be going on the retreat. Outwardly, I accepted his decision, but inwardly, I was boiling about my wife's interference in my ministry life.
Walking home, I became even more angry. I was thinking, How could she do this to me? She's ruined me. Now I'll never be able to work in a meaningful way in this ministry. I was about thirty yards from home when the Holy Spirit broke through my anger and hit me broadside with some very startling thoughts.
First, He reminded me that the bitterness and resentment within me came from my having to stay home with my family instead of being with others who were practically strangers to me. Then, He reminded me that these thoughts were exactly opposite to how I should have been reacting as a Christian husband and father. In fact, they were also diametrically opposite to the purpose of the ministry I had joined—to build Christian families.
Searching my spirit, I recognized that I didn't really want to put my family first, and I wasn't genuinely seeking to meet my wife's needs. 1 realized I didn't even know how to do that! 1 didn't know how to genuinely love my wife or anyone else, for that matter.
Then came the really disturbing thoughts. How could I be the spiritual leader in our home if I was not sensitive to my wife's spirit? I began to wonder, What really is a spiritual leader?
That moment was the first step in the funeral of Ken Nair's egotistic self-centeredness. It was also the first step in a long journey that has given me a lot of joy.
At that point I asked God to change my focus from angry, reactionary "poor me" attitudes to ones that pleased Him. I specifically pleaded with God for three things:
1. That God would help me learn how to meet the needs of my wife, to understand her mind, her way of thinking, her innermost feelings.
2. That God would show me how to love my wife so that she would be able to experience more than just hearing me say, "I love you." As God's representative, I wanted to have her experience God's loving her through me, to bless her heart through me. That would include learning how to love her from her frame of reference.
3. That I would learn how to be the spiritual leader of my home. That my spirit might become so sensitive that I would become aware of the Holy Spirit leading my spirit.
I had no idea what these three requests would require of me in the future. If I had known then what God would take me through to fulfill my requests, I might have backed off.
So did I instantly become a spiritual leader in my home, sensitive to my wife's spirit? Far from it. My ignorance was such that I went about my tasks that weekend of seeing the furniture put in the right places, unpacking boxes, and so on, without letting my wife know the desires the Holy Spirit had awakened in me. I was so insensitive about communication that I never thought to share my experience with her.
How did Nancy react? She says she was glad I was there to help, that she was at peace that she didn't have to do it all by herself. She was thrilled that she didn't have to face the new community and its environment by herself.
"Ken's attitude that weekend was great. There was no evidence of anger that he had to do it," Nancy says. But it took many months before she realized the major change in attitude that God had worked as a result of that experience.
RADICAL CHRISTLIKENESS NEEDED
You see, I, too, realized only later the radical nature of the three principles of marriage I had stumbled onto as a result of that experience. They have become the foundation stones of my ministry to men ever since then.
In time I began confronting men with what the Holy Spirit had taught me, that Christlikeness is God's first priority for every man. That we as men become Christlike in our responses, in our sensitivity to our wives' spirits. In loving them as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it, we become the spiritual leaders that they will respond to with love and loyalty.
I'm sure you have heard many preachers and Sunday school teachers say that we as Christians ought to be Christlike. But I didn't find anyone in my experience as a Christian who was teaching or demonstrating how to rigorously apply Christlikeness to the husband's role in the marriage relationship or to the father's relationship with his children. Instead, the traditional teaching focused on the need for the wife to be submissive to her husband, no matter what. That teaching had been easy for me to quickly absorb and wholeheartedly accept!
What I didn't recognize, and I still find most men don't recognize, is the full significance of Ephesians 5:25–27:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish (italics mine).
We basically stop reading and internalizing what God is teaching us after the first part, "Husbands, love your wives." As a result we don't get the full implication of what it means to love our wives as Christ loved the church. If we did, we would begin to discover the minds and spirits of our wives, and that discovery would transform the marriage relationship —just as that recognition totally changed how I have responded to my wife ever since then.
THIS COULD BE DANGEROUS!
Yet before I share with you what I have learned during the nearly twenty-five years since that experience, I need to sound an alert. One of my experiences may help you understand why.
I once watched as a friend did something at a packed-out convention that helped me immensely. Months before the weeklong convention began, it was sold out. Despite that, several hundred showed up, hoping to register on the first day. They were told that if they waited around, there might be a few seats because of cancellations.
Imagine the anticipation as hundreds of people waited nearly three hours to see if there would be any vacancies. Many people expressed their reasons for needing to get in. Finally, the convention began, and my friend said, "We have enough room to let these people in."
"Great," I said. "Let me go tell them."
I wanted to go over to them, get their attention, and tell them, "I've got good news for you. You can all get in." But my friend said, "I'll take care of it." He got their attention by saying, "We have good news and bad news. First the good news. It seems as though there is enough room for you to get in tonight."
The crowd rippled with anticipation. Then he added, "Now the bad news. You probably will have to stand all evening (three hours), which means you will be in the back of the auditorium where it will be difficult to see and to hear. Then, too, if the people who had already registered before you show up tomorrow night, you won't be able to get in for the rest of the week. With this in mind, do you still want to attend?"
Of course, everyone did—but they had been prepared and couldn't later complain that they had been uncomfortable or couldn't see or hear well.
This book requires a similar "good news, bad news" introduction. The good news is that if you apply what is in this book, you will reap the following benefits:
You will gain genuine peace in the home.
You will develop unbelievable communication skills.
You will have a much richer love life with your wife.
You will have more spiritually/emotionally balanced children.
You will have better relationships at your workplace.
Your children will learn how to have better and more successful marriage relationships. You will help them avoid many of the pitfalls you experienced.
God will be able to bless you in many more ways because of your obedience to dying to self.
The bad news is that there will be times when you will experience extreme pressure and stress as the flesh struggles to stay in control. You will get so angry as you read this book that you will want to throw it off a cliff, or jump up and down on it and destroy it. There is no shortcut to Christlikeness—and being Christlike is so radically different from what we have called Christianity today that it happens only through a new focus and radical obedience to Jesus Christ. In Hebrews 2:10, we read, "For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." There is no other pathway to Christlikeness.
Thousands of men have attended the Discovery Seminars I present. And almost without exception their wives would admit the need for more Christlike leadership in the home. Most of the men would admit that they were hearing information they have never heard before. They would admit that they didn't know how to practice the biblical principles being taught in this book or the seminars. But less than 5 percent have asked for help in becoming more Christlike.
I remember one seminar led by a friend that was attended by twelve hundred people. At the end, he asked how many people felt excited about what they heard. Applause and cheers broke out. He followed that by asking me to stand, announcing that I was the one who had taught him the principles they were so excited about. He invited anyone who wanted to be trained as I had trained him to get in contact with me. He publicly asked if I would wait and meet them. I agreed. Only one man inquired about the training. And he was there only because his wife dragged him there.
People who have sought discipling range from having typical marriages to high-conflict marriages. Some were already separated and divorced—they were up against the proverbial brick wall. Even though he knew things were bad, one man had to get shot and almost killed by his Christian wife before he got serious about effecting change. Yet of those more than five hundred who have let themselves be discipled on how to be a Christlike husband, all have regained their wives' love and loyalty. I've enjoyed being part of some wonderful remarriage ceremonies!
In this book you will learn how to discover the mind of a woman—the woman who is your wife. The price to pay is that of dying to self and becoming truly Christlike. If you are ready to follow Christ in obedience to His Word, turn the page to chapter 2 to start the ride of your life.
Excerpted from Discovering The Mind Of A Woman by Ken Nair, Leslie H. Stobbe. Copyright © 1995 Ken Nair. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
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