Read an Excerpt
preparing him for the other woman
By Sheri Rose Shepherd
Multnomah PublishersCopyright © 2006 Sheri Rose Shepherd
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTeach Him to Understand the Heart of a Woman
In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat her with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God's gift of new life. If you don't treat her as you should, your prayers will not be heard. 1 Peter 3:7, NLT
Our God feels very strongly about men living with their wives in an understanding way. In fact, He made this conditional statement in 1 Peter 3:7: "If you don't treat her as you should, your prayers will not be heard."
Sounds like a simple command, doesn't it? Yet it is a distinct challenge for any man to put into action, considering we women are so complex that many times we do not even understand ourselves!
I have several Christian girlfriends who love their husbands yet feel alone in their marriages. They long for their husbands to tune in to their hearts and treat them with understanding rather than try to fix or change them. Now, I know these husbands-they are godly men who love their wives. Yet they often appear completely clueless when it comes to the instruction given in 1 Peter 3:7.
It's as if husbands grew up going to Man School. They have no trouble passing the "guy"courses: Acting Cool 101, Success and Achievement 102, and Sports 400. All of the skills learned in those classes come naturally, and are only reinforced through peer pressure.
On the other hand, while men often pass Getting the Girl 101, most guys flunk out of Understanding Women 101. Why? Because no one teaches this course in the school of married life!
Some men can turn to their own dads for help, but unfortunately, most fathers have the same diploma from Man School hanging on their walls.
Is it any wonder husbands everywhere feel frustrated and alone, trying to master something they were never trained for?
Most of us cannot imagine the world-changing power of one man who has learned how to love, lead, and understand his wife and family.
In the 1990s, the Promise Keepers movement became a national phenomenon, with millions of men marching under one banner. Their cry was for restoration of America's families-starting with their own. Their founder, Coach Bill McCartney, influenced many men with a call to something far greater than business success. Money, prestige, and worldly acclaim held little value for Coach McCartney, who experienced a nearly destroyed marriage before discovering this life-changing truth: "If you want to know the true character of a man, look into his wife's face. Whatever he has invested or withheld can be seen in her eyes."
I have a father who loves being married ... but who, sadly, has been divorced three times from women he deeply loved. Each time I watched him struggle to understand what went wrong.
I believe that when a man walks down the aisle and says "I do," it is his every hope and intention that his marriage be "for life." I'm sure his sincere desire is to understand and take care of the beauty he has chosen as his wife. He longs to be her hero and lead her safely through life.
Yet many times a husband discovers he does not know how to accomplish his God-appointed mission in marriage. Eventually, his attempts at love, leadership, and even heroism miss their mark as his beauty withdraws emotionally from the very one she hoped would rescue her. Sadly, his wife eventually closes up her spirit in order to protect her heart from hurt. Intimacy, happiness, and hope wither into isolation, pain, and despair. Feeling helpless and frustrated, the man she longs for gives up trying.
The result is often an empty marriage, adultery, or divorce, and what began as a love story ends in tragedy.
It was her wedding day, the glorious moment she had dreamed about all her life. There she stood, dressed all in white, ready to say "I do" ... when her husband-to-be dropped a bomb on her heart. He looked into the eyes of his eighteen-year-old bride just hours before the wedding ceremony and confessed, "I can't do this. I am in love with another woman."
There she stood, alone, humiliated, and eight weeks pregnant with a son. To make matters worse, she had nowhere to run: Marriage was her last hope for deliverance from her abusive father.
Like all women, my stepmother, Susie, longed to walk down the aisle with the ideals of love, security, and companionship waiting in a tux at the other end. Instead she found herself alone and scared, her life shattered. Her dream of being rescued and whisked away to a life of happily ever after turned into a nightmare of despair.
How could she possibly succeed at raising a child alone? She had never witnessed a healthy marriage or seen what a loving husband looks like. What hope did her son have of victory, with so much stacked against him?
With nowhere else to turn my stepmother took her pain and placed it at the feet of God, the true Father. And what blossomed in its place was a pure, selfless love and single-minded passion for her boy and his future.
As that child grew, he learned the true meaning of the word self-sacrifice. He saw firsthand how determined his mom was to prepare him to become a great husband. Is it any wonder that my stepbrother turned out to be a modern-day hero? Today he loves the Lord with all his heart and is a well-respected man of integrity. After twenty years spent serving our country, he left the military as a highly decorated officer.
My stepmom's mission was accomplished; her training to raise her son to love his wife succeeded. I have never witnessed a man more in love with or tuned in to his wife's and stepchildren's needs than my brother. He exemplifies Christ's love in his home every day.
How can God use broken hearts and lives as tools to train our sons to become godly husbands? The answer is this: Our Father in heaven has all we need to turn our pain into divine purpose and our despair into divine destiny for us and our beloved boys.
If God could use Rahab the prostitute in the lineage of King David and King Jesus ... if He could turn the sin of King David and Bathsheba into a son, King Solomon, who would become the wisest man who ever lived ... then He can certainly use whatever you have done or whatever has been done to you to bring about something significant in your son's life.
Our boys do not have to become the lost generation that does not know how to love and lead a wife and family. Turn your heartache and disappointments into the passion you will need to raise a mighty warrior. Don't beat yourself up any longer for things gone wrong. Instead, use the mistakes made in your own marriage or relationships with men as tutorials. Teach your son what it takes to build a healthy, loving relationship with his future wife.
What saved my stepmom's son from becoming just another statistic is the power of prayer, the devotion of quality time, and the amazing influence a mom can have in her son's life.
A Mother's Influence
A loving mother has the power to teach her son about the tender heart of a woman. Who better to show him how to truly appreciate the way a woman is wired by God Himself?
The time to prepare our boys is now. By using the weapons available to us-our undying love for them, our available time with them, our incomparable influence over them, and our powerful prayers-we can train them to become tender warriors.
God entrusts our beloved sons to us for only a certain number of days. What a great opportunity to invest in their futures by preparing them to love and understand the heart of their future wife.
A Mother in Action
This age range-while your son desires your approval and attention-is the perfect time to teach him how to become a tender warrior and to understand a woman's heart.
1. Teach him to take responsibility. This is your chance to train your son about matters of the heart. To become a great husband, he must take responsibility for the way he treats and relates to girls and mommies. When your son does something to hurt you or any girl, don't make excuses for him; instead, show him what taking responsibility for his actions looks like.
Many times I taught my son to take responsibility by using word pictures that required a response on his part. For example, "If Mommy accidentally drops a hammer on your toe and it hurts you, do I still have to say I'm sorry? Even if I didn't do it on purpose?"
2. Talk about the power of his words. Kids can be cruel to one another. You've heard the phrase, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me"-and you know how untrue it is. Words have the power to hurt or heal, build up or tear down. Look for opportunities to talk to him about the effect his words have on others.
3. Be honest with him about how women think and feel. I am not talking about turning your son into a man who thinks and acts like a girl. Rather, this step is about preparing him now for one of the greatest challenges he will ever face: understanding that his words and actions have the power to either hurt or heal a woman's heart.
Think about all the marriages you've seen in which women are hurting and their husbands have no clue why or how to heal their hearts. This lack of understanding leaves wives wounded, and a wounded wife is not a good thing in a marriage.
4. Help him understand about gender differences. God made girls more naturally tenderhearted than boys. Explain to your son that is why girls get their feelings hurt more easily. Help him understand that He made boys tougher so they can protect girls' hearts and emotions.
Continue to apply all the above and add the following:
1. Keep training him. During this time your son may not seem interested in matters of the heart. But believe me, he is watching and learning more than you realize. Don't give up on your training. Boys do a lot of things at this stage in their lives that hurt moms' and girls' feelings without realizing it. Be on the lookout for those vulnerable teaching moments.
2. Validate his feelings. The Word of God says to be angry, yet not sin. There are more than two thousand references in the Bible to the emotions of God. Do not shut your son down; rather, teach him to understand what he is feeling and how to work through it.
3. Let him know you understand his heart. Every son wants to feel understood and related to. He will learn the most about how to minister to a woman's heart through the way you minister to him, so take the time to tune in and hear his heart.
4. Pray with him when he is hurting. By taking the time to pray with your son, you are training him now to always turn to his heavenly Father for healing, hope, and guidance. Someday he will teach that habit to his own children.
The teenage years are the most opportune time to teach sons about tuning in to a woman's heart. Continue to apply all the above and add the following:
1. Take advantage of this time. By this age he is attracted to girls but has relatively little idea how to sort out his feelings-let alone understand the strange and confusing emotions of girls! Take notice every time your son has a crush on a girl; let him know you are there to help him understand her heart.
2. Get him to tune in to his own heart. The majority of husbands out there do not tune in to their wives' hearts because they don't understand their own feelings and emotions. They were taught by society that being strong means shutting down their feelings.
Yes, men are hardwired to be strong; however, they also need to be sensitive to matters of the heart in order to become mighty men of God. King David was just as strong and mighty in understanding matters of the heart as he was in his manhood and faith.
When my son is emotionally hurt, I try to get him to recognize and talk about his feelings. When he is struggling to understand the actions or reactions of a girl he likes, we discuss it and I offer a woman's point of view on the matter.
3. Try to keep it lighthearted, yet real. Be honest and relatable when talking to your son about girls. If you want him to open up, start off with an intriguing comment like, "I know something about girls that you don't ...!" That usually does the trick.
Sometimes when I am teaching my son Jake about how women think, he'll get a perplexed look on his face and then blurt out, "Women are so bizarre!" My response is usually, "Well, men are emotionally challenged!" We have a lot of fun laughing together about the differences between men and women.
4. Never make him feel stupid about things he does not understand. If you do, you will lose your influence. Be a good listener, and get directly to the point when you have an answer.
5. Relate to him through popular culture. When things happen in his life with girls that he just does not "get," try to talk to him about it on his level. Using an illustration from a popular "chick flick" can be a valuable tool in helping him understand how women feel and think.
6. Don't make male-bashing comments. Many women who have been hurt by men are bitter and pass this negativity on to their sons. Eventually, the mothers lose their credibility, and the emotional connection with their sons is lost. Remember, all of this may not come naturally for your son, so be patient and positive as you enter with him into the world of girls.
7. Get him to think about the girl's feelings. If you can help your son do this rather than trying to fix her problems, you will be aiding him in a big way. This is one of the keys to tenderness with his future wife-whether he can relate to her or not.
Ask him probing questions like, "What do you think she was feeling when she said that?" When your young man makes an effort to see things from a girl's point of view, he is well on his way to being a loving leader.
8. Have him pray. When your son is struggling to understand you, his sister, or his female friends, encourage him to stop and pray for guidance. Remind him that God created women and that He promises us wisdom if we ask for it-even about something as mysterious as the mind of a woman!
If your son is uncomfortable praying about the issue, don't force it. Instead, offer to pray for him. As he grows in faith and maturity, he'll begin taking the initiative of a leader.
9. Affirm him. When your son does something to show that he loves and understands you, let him know how much it means to you. Tell him what an understanding husband he will make someday. Speak life into his future marriage with love notes, words of praise, and affirming actions.
10. Teach him that women get their feelings hurt easily. Here is my favorite illustration on this subject: When you hit someone with a two-by-four-whether you did it on purpose or by accident-the pain is still real.
11. Help him tune in to his own heart. Train your son to recognize his own emotions as well as the emotions of others. You do not want to put the pressure on his future wife to spend many frustrating years of their marriage retraining your son to tune in to her heart.
Excerpted from preparing him for the other woman by Sheri Rose Shepherd Copyright © 2006 by Sheri Rose Shepherd. Excerpted by permission.
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