The Will of a Man and the Way of a Woman
Balancing & Blending Better Together
By Robert Crosby, Pamela Crosby
Barbour Publishing, Inc. Copyright © 2016 Robert and Pamela Crosby
All rights reserved.
A great marriage is not when the "perfect couple" comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.
— Dave Meurer
I wondered if he would even see the note taped to the front door before he left home that morning. My day ahead was full of more dirty diapers, baskets of laundry, sinks full of dishes, and planning for the church event I was helping my husband with. No one asked how I was doing. No one called to check in on my day. I had no other family nearby to have coffee with. I was a young wife and a mom of two toddlers, struggling with more loneliness as a married woman than I ever had when single.
Each day Robert went to a job he thoroughly loved, worked with people who inspired him, and served in a role in which he found purpose and community. Each night he would come home, the front door would fling open, and you'd hear, "Daddy's home!" as the kids went shouting his praises as if Superman had just entered the house. By that time of day, I looked like I had been through a war zone.
Dinner usually included one of Robert's favorite dishes, and typically I prepared it while he enjoyed playtime with his two adorable little blond daughters. The moment dinner was over, the TV news went on. While the "king" caught up on world events, I bathed and put the girls to bed in hopes for just a little alone-with-him time to follow. After the fiftieth "Good night, Mommy," I was ready to cuddle and for some attention of my own.
Finally. The first quiet of my day would arrive.
The moments I looked forward to the most were moments with him, with my husband. Cuddle time on the couch with no little voices interrupting the latest romantic movie or bowl of ice cream or late-night cup of coffee (just because we could!) were among my favorite end-of-the-day highlights. But instead, as I entered the room, there he was ... sprawled out on his favorite seven-foot couch, TV remote in hand, snoring like a monsoon. After all, he had worked hard all day. He was really tired. And soon after, he decided to go to bed.
Thus, came the abrupt end of a few hoped-for romantic moments, not to mention the only adult conversations I would have that day. No shared ice cream treat. No hugs. No real time together. No questions about my day.
The nights had become empty. But the rest of the week was always full — full of church events, youth pastor duties, band practices, training sessions, and before I knew it, a new week had begun that seemed somehow strangely similar to the last one. Honestly, more often than not, I felt more like a maid than a wife, but I kept telling myself it was okay because he was so happy in the world in which he was learning to succeed. After all, he was working so hard. I should be really grateful, right? I tried, but still I was so lonely — so lonely and becoming lonelier. I had never thought of myself one day feeling so lonely in marriage. Marriage and loneliness don't make a good couple. In fact, lonely marriage should be an oxymoron.
What is a wife supposed to do with such feelings? I had so much that I wanted to say to him — so much I needed to say. But I didn't want to be that wife — the nagging wife who was never happy enough. Still, those emotions are a difficult thing to shake. Expectations are powerful. What I wanted to tell him was I needed more "him" in my life and more of "us." I wanted life to be like it was before the "I dos." I wanted a return to the spontaneous, the togetherness, the fewer responsibilities, the flirty responses, the tender touches, the getting "the butterflies" from just being in the same room, the love letters. Was it really all gone? Were we really going to grow or act old so soon? Was there something I could do? If so, what was it?
I was desperate to know.
I thought about it a lot.
I prayed about it.
What to do?
Someone once said, "Until the pain of remaining the same hurts more than the pain of changing, we tend to remain the same." Well, by this point my hurt had reached that place. I had to do something about it. At least I had to try something different.
One thing I had noticed and learned about Robert was that he learned a lot when he read books and manuals. I also noticed that the tone of my angry or whiny voice usually made him tune me right out. I knew I couldn't talk to girlfriends because we went to the same church and he was one of the spiritual leaders there, and that wouldn't go well for anyone. Plus, I was committed to protecting the intimate heart of our marriage and not allowing it to become the focus of girl-time chatter.
I hated feeling more like a housekeeper than a wife. I wanted to be the reason he came home. I wanted him to show me he still cared — really cared — about us. After weeks of wrestling with the issue and with myself, I did it. I wrote it down.
I sat at the table and began to pour my heart out in a way he might understand, on paper. I'd write something, read it, and then just throw it away and start over. Putting these feelings to paper took some practice. Finally, after several attempts, I had what I thought was a letter that spoke his language, while maybe not exactly mine. I tried to keep it short, using fewer words while keeping it to the point — honest but kind, respectful but truthful. Not easy.
I folded it neatly in a business envelope and taped it to the front door.
Then I waited.
Will he actually notice it? I bought him a new shirt and put it in a gift bag to accompany the note. Hopefully that would help him know I really cared. At least gifts had always gotten my attention. I wasn't exactly sure if they would get his. I didn't want him to get mad. I just wanted him to hear my heart.
With everything in place, I went to bed.
Finding the Note
The note taped to the front door I (Robert here) found the next morning was likely an ordinary to-do list from Pamela. Eager to head off to work while she was still sleeping, I slipped the note in my appointment book and set off to meet my day. I'd check the note later. Right now a schedule chockfull of other "responsibilities" wouldn't wait.
Somewhere around lunchtime, I noticed the note again. It had dropped out of my appointment book and lay on my desk, still untouched. When I opened it to take a quick look, the first sentence caught my attention: "Robert, I don't know what has happened to us." I decided I had better give it a full read.
The full note went something like this:
I don't know what's happened to us. The life we're now living, from my view, is no life at all. At least, this is not what I ever thought life would become. It feels like you're more married to your work than you are to me. I'm confused. And I don't know what to do with all that it's causing me to feel.
I've tried in lots of little ways to talk with you about this, but you just aren't hearing me. You're so creative at your work — I wish you would pour some of your creative energy into our home, into our children, into me.
There are times I almost wish your preoccupation with your work were with another woman, so I could tell her to "bug off!" Something in our relationship is dying, and I don't know what to do about it.
Now we have our second baby, and our girls need more than I can give them by myself. They need a daddy, and I need a husband. Robert, I don't know who to turn to.
For the first time in months, Pamela's hurt and disappointment broke through my addictive self-consumption. I suddenly saw myself as a man busy living out his own interests. I felt alarmed by the desperate tone of her note.
Pamela had expressed her frustrations before. But I'd always viewed them as something she would eventually just "get over." This was different, maybe because I now connected the words in this note with the look I'd been seeing on her face — the look I'd been ignoring, a look of hopelessness and pain. Desperation.
I was embarrassed. While helping other people, had I totally overlooked my wife and family? What was I doing? How had I missed it? After all, I was the pastor. Two hundred teenagers and a couple dozen volunteer youth workers came to me for counsel and advice. Couples came to me for marriage counseling, and my files were full of ideas and prescriptions for enriching the marriage relationship.
After reading the note, I knew this was no yellow light. It was bright red.
When does the heart go out of a marriage? When does the connection between a man and a woman turn to conflict? What causes it? And what does it take to restore it?
Magnetic Push and Pull
Just as surely as there is a magnetic force that draws a man and a woman together, there is one that, conversely, can push them apart. Haven't we all watched it happen again and again in other couples' relationships and felt it in our own? Just like the two sides of a magnet, there is one side to the makeup of a man and a woman that is drawn together powerfully, romantically, and relationally. On the flip side, however, there is another aspect to the male and female composition that can forcefully repel them from each other, poles apart.
A young man and woman meet each other, fall in like, and then fall desperately in love. Most of their waking moments are filled with thoughts of the other. They rearrange their schedules just to have more time together, they ask each other questions constantly with great interest, they date, they talk on the phone, they send romantic cards, e-mails, or texts, they hold hands, and they look into each other's eyes. They pursue each other. The love they share and feel seems to be more than enough to overcome any differences they may discover. The magnetic pull draws them toward each other on multiple levels. From their hearts to their hormones, little else is on their minds.
Then something happens.
Somewhere along the way, the differences become more different than he or she ever thought possible. Driving hopes and dreams come to a halt. Expectations are exhausted. Hopes are suspended. Opinions have collided. Priorities have shifted. Desires have dissolved. The walls can seem insurmountable as the magnetic pull turns into magnetic push.
The Will and the Way
The magnetic principle at work that we are talking about is constantly drawing men and women together and then, all too often, driving them apart. It is a principle. We call it the will of a man and the way of a woman. It has to do with understanding the way God created men and women in the first place. Just one look and it is quite clear that we are designed differently, and the differences are more than just anatomical. An even closer look will reveal that men and women are different by design emotionally and even spiritually as well. Understanding and accepting the emotional and spiritual differences is the key to discovering the high purposes and roles in life God intended for both the man and the woman.
The bottom line of the will of a man and the way of a woman is this: a man possesses a unique God-given propensity (i.e., drive) for exercising a strong will in life. This is not to say that all men are "strong-willed"; rather, men are created with a powerful capacity for matters of volition (i.e., the will).
Conversely, a woman possesses a unique God-given propensity for understanding the appropriate ways of life. Similar to the observation of a man's will, a woman has a God-given, unique capacity for considering and responding to the deep emotional dimensions of life and to matters of understanding and discernment.
By now some of you are reading and already saying, "Whoa. Wait a minute. I think you have us reversed. In our case, the wife appears to be the one with the will and the husband with more interest in the way. Are we weird?"
The answer is yes. No, not yes that you are weird, but yes that there are anomalies to this principle that exist. Also, it is important not to confuse personality types, of which there are many, with the soul-centric motivations of the volitional and emotional capacities that undergird the design of men and women.
The will of a man and the way of a woman is a central, God-given, innate motivating drive that exists at the core of our souls. This goes beyond personality styles. When a couple understands the principle of will and way and accepts it, they are well on their way toward discovering the mysterious and magnetic oneness originally intended to be enjoyed in marriage.
This brings us to the first relational practice of the will and the way and the first part of the book: balancing. Moving toward oneness with the person you love involves considering and understanding more of the differences expressed in the will of a man and the way of a woman. Understanding how your different strengths and weaknesses can work together in a complementary fashion is all about balance. This helps build a perspective that adds more purpose to your partnership.
We first began to see the principle of the will and the way at work in our own lives and marriage relationship, over and over again, from early on. Once we began to recognize it at work in a few places, it seemed we could see it almost everywhere. We began to notice it in our extended family and friends — all over the place. But what really caught our attention was when we observed it in one of the most beautiful and meaningful "couple stories" in the Bible — the story of Mary and Joseph.
That's right, the Gospel accounts of God announcing the incarnation to Mary, and then to Joseph, are so revealing — not just in what God said but in the way He said it. It is marvelous and also mysterious. An angel announced and revealed that their marriage would be the place where God's Son would soon emerge. No one in all of history ever received a more amazing, awe-inspiring, or life-altering announcement than this one. Talk about change coming into your lives.
In the next chapter, we will take a closer look at the will and the way in the experiences of Mary and Joseph. We will see how well God knows just how to talk to a man and to a woman and what we can learn from it. We will consider the way this good news was introduced to the world. God did not bring His Son into the world through some elaborate coronation but rather through a simple couple, in the lives of a man and woman. The coming of Jesus wasn't first introduced through some presidential speech; rather, the announcement came in the form of a bit of marriage counseling. A closer look at the manner in which God spoke to and dealt with Mary and Joseph reveals much about what He understands about a man and about a woman, things we believe He wants us to know and understand about each other.
Responding to the Note
When I finished reading Pamela's troubling note that day, I could have simply argued and defended myself. A couple of years earlier, I'm quite sure that's exactly what I would have done. After all, I have so many demands on me, right? My life is full. I'm so busy. So many responsibilities and expectations on me! You know the drill.
Besides, Pamela knew I was going into this type of work when she married me, I reasoned. When I received the note, I could have just rationalized it away. Or I could have attacked her:
What about you?
Remember when you ...?
It drives me nuts whenever you ...!
But none of these "lines" would ever restore anything. I was busted. She had read my mail, and I knew it.
Instead of fighting on, I decided it was time to wise up. So I read the note again, this time slowly and carefully, painful as it was, in order to let the full meaning of it go deep.
Pamela's written words drove home one point loud and clear: our relationship had entered a danger zone. The question now tensing within my stomach was, What am I going to do about this? My will and her way were on a collision course.
As I sat there, thinking and praying, I remembered an old saying: Desperate times call for desperate measures.
So I picked up the phone and called Pamela.
"I read the note," I told her.
"And I really want to talk about it," I continued.
"I don't want to talk," she said. Which I knew meant she really did want to talk, but it wasn't going to be as easy as I might have hoped. She was hurt, deeply so. (Continues...)
Excerpted from The Will of a Man and the Way of a Woman by Robert Crosby, Pamela Crosby. Copyright © 2016 Robert and Pamela Crosby. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.