Read an Excerpt
Lasting Relationships Don't Just Happen
'An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.' Proverbs 31:10
JIM STARED SILENTLY at the television set while Carol ached inside, wondering why he was angry at her again. They had only been married a year, and Carol could already see their relationship deteriorating. She couldn't help but wonder if she would soon join the millions of other couples whose marriages have ended in divorce. When she finally broke the silence by asking Jim what was wrong, he refused to answer her. Hurting for a few minutes, she repeated the question. His response wounded her so deeply she began to doubt her adequacy as a wife.
He said, 'I'm sick and tired of you taking everything so seriously. You're just too sensitive! If I had known you were this emotional, I probably never would have married you. But since we are married, I think you need to do your part. Cut out the overreacting and stop being so touchy about what I say and do. If we're going to have any kind of marriage, you have to stop being so childish!'
Sound familiar? With these harsh words, Jim unknowingly has set their relationship on a destructive path leading to some very unattractive changes---changes, which will likely lead to the ultimate disintegration of their relationship. Jim's main problem, shared by thousands of other husbands, is that he fails to understand the basic difference between the natures of men and women. Jim has taken two of his wife's greatest natural strengths, her sensitivity and intuitive awareness of life, and labeled them weaknesses. In response to Jim's reproof, Carol, like thousands of other wives, will begin to form a calloused, hardened attitude toward life in general and Jim in particular. If their marriage lasts more than a few years, Jim will find to his dismay that Carol's sensitivity has finally been subdued and that he has lost most or all of his attraction to her. If only he could remember that her sensitivity was one of the first things that attracted him. If only he understood that her alertness was one of her greatest strengths, and if he began treating her with tenderness, gentleness, and kindness, their relationship would grow stronger and more fulfilling.
The emotional and mental differences between men and women (described in detail in chapter 3) can become insurmountable obstacles to a lasting, fulfilling relationship when ignored or misunderstood. However, those same differences, when recognized and appreciated, can become stepping-stones to a meaningful, fulfilling relationship.
Women, for example, have a tremendous advantage in two of life's most important areas: loving God and loving others (Matt. 22:36--40). Women have an intuitive ability to develop meaningful relationships and a desire for intimate communication, and this gives them the edge in what Jesus described as the two greatest commandments. Loving God and others is building relationships. God said that it was not good for man to dwell alone, and He created a significant Helper and Completer---woman. Men definitely need help with making and maintaining relationships, but how women help so that men listen and receive it is the thrust of this book.
When a woman understands her strengths for what they are, her self-image will be practically indestructible, no matter how her husband belittles her. When both husband and wife understand each other and begin to respond to one another accordingly, their relationship can blossom into the marriage they dreamed of. Carol can begin to make Jim aware of her deeper needs for love, assurance, and security, without feeling selfish for desiring fulfillment of her needs. Unfortunately, at the rate Jim and Carol are going, it probably won't be long before they join the ranks of the one-million-plus couples divorced each year in the United States.
But don't despair! Your marriage does not have to become part of these awesome statistics. With the right tools, you can carve a more fulfilling marriage out of a seemingly hopeless one, and this book will provide you with many of those tools. But the tools by themselves will never get the job done. They have to be picked up and used properly and consistently if they are to bring the intended results.
If your husband is willing to work beside you, you'll strengthen your marriage that much faster. That's why I believe the greatest benefits will result when this book is used in conjunction with the book for your husband, If Only He Knew. When a husband understands his wife's needs and learns how to meet those needs, the relationship will grow more quickly.
In counseling, I have found that if I can get the husband to do his part first, it's much easier for the wife to carry out her responsibilities in the relationship with greater enthusiasm and commitment. Unfortunately, women are usually more concerned about deepening their marital relationships than men. That's why your book was written first; I felt that you would be the one with the greater interest in strengthening your marriage and the one to initiate change in the relationship.
I also believe that you will be the key to motivate your husband to read his book. Consequently, a whole chapter in this book (chapter 5) explains how to motivate your husband to read his corresponding book, If Only He Knew. If he reads his book carefully, I feel confident that he will begin to become aware of the special person you really are and will begin treating you with more tenderness, gentleness, sensitivity, and understanding.
If your relationship with your husband is less than you desire and he shows little concern for your feelings, you may at first find it difficult to take the steps given in this book. However, if you are willing to overlook his lack of response for the moment and put forth some extra effort, the ideas presented in this book can work. I am also confident that your husband's desire for a better relationship will increase in response to the changes he sees in you.
I have spoken to hundreds and hundreds of married women. I found very few who did not want an improvement in their relationships with their husbands. Some women were more content than others, but most of them longed for more loving and romantic husbands. Many said they wanted their husbands to love them more than he loved anyone or anything. You might think, 'That's impossible. There's not a man alive who loves like that!' But I have personally seen a growing number of husbands transformed into 'impossible' lovers. The changes necessary don't just happen though, men make them happen when they know what to do!