Marital Complexity in Today’s Society
We live in a time of familial ambiguity, because we really do not have a model of what today’s family should resemble. It varies according to our changing culture and its changing mores, beliefs, and values. This ambiguity puts our families in jeopardy.
The United States of America has the highest divorce rate of any nation in the world; yet, it claims to be a Christian nation. This means that we must really pay attention to the cultural context in which we raise our families, because our culture impacts us in very subtle ways. The devil is trying to destroy our marriages, even trying to destroy the potential of people getting married. He knows that strong families are the foundation of a strong nation; thus, he seeks to tear the family apart in order to tear the nation down.
With today’s divorce rate being greater than 60% and with the traditional nuclear family decreasing in numbers, many couples are asking themselves the question, “This is hell – what am I to do?” In Matthew 19, Jesus communicated to the Pharisees that people should not get a divorce for any reason other than infidelity:
“Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these sayings, that He departed from Galilee and came to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And great multitudes followed Him and He healed them there. The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?’ And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate. They said to Him, Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away? He said to them, ‘Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery’.” – Matthew 19:1-9
The rationale for Jesus’ thought is that when the two become one flesh, if they are truly one, how can either one of them leave? Who can leave if there is only one in the marriage – if there is only one life in the marriage? If two lives exist separately, it is an indication that the bond that should have been formed between them was never formed. While the meaning of “the two shall become one flesh” refers to sexual activity, there is an emotional bond formed between a man and a woman when they sleep together. Sex tends to bring people closer together emotionally, and when a couple is close, they are more sexual. When isolation occurs in the relationship, it is normally due to the entrance of the four horsemen.
As mentioned earlier, history teaches us about the importance of family. The Roman Empire was one of the strongest empires the world has ever known. However, this great nation fell. The birth rate fell, men became caught up in economics and conquering new civilizations, and motherhood was devalued. Homosexuality became a way of life vs. an alternative lifestyle. First century women enjoyed a freedom that was at least equal to that of today’s feminists. Moral and social decline hit the Roman Empire just before Christianity arrived, and divorce became the normal course of affairs. All of these factors weakened the structures of families and the undermined the values of the social construct called family. Many researchers who have studied the fall of the Roman Empire have concluded that one of the greatest contributors to its demise was the decline of the family. These situations are quite similar to the days in which we live.
The Tender Gender Factor
A critical factor, growing stronger and stronger by the year, is the increasing erasure of distinguishable differences between the genders. The cause may be attributed to many social catalysts such as the increasing social acceptance of alternative lifestyles. For others, such as Rush Limbaugh, Laura Schlessinger, and Florence King, the world (led by America) has become more hostile toward and masculinity and definitive societal roles for males and females. Boys in America are becoming more and more effeminate as “teachers discourage boys from playing aggressively, loudly and competitively, forcing them to include everyone when choosing sides and playing sports.”  Parents raise boys who are “grossly overweight, cry and whine regularly.”  Socially, “everyone gets a ribbon for participation”  – competition is now unfair and hurtful and those boys who are considered troublemakers. Katy Grimes, a journalist of CalWatchdog, attributes the rise to divorce and single motherhood, where the boys come out as either “hellions or sissies.”  Rush Limbaugh and others blame it on feminist women and men’s fashion. Dr. James Dobson wrote a book called, Bringing Up Boys: Practical Advice and Encouragement for Those Shaping the Next Generation of Men, which he hoped, in the midst of the confusion about the role of men in our society and the vilification of masculinity, would relieve the suffering of boys raised in this enviroment. Miss King opines, “The feminization of America has made emotions sacrosanct while condemning as cold and unfeeling rigorous concepts such as duty and honor. Propelled by incessant hosannas to woman’s “finer” this and “softer” that, we make emotional decisions instead of ethical ones and then congratulate ourselves for having “heart.” 
Here are some of the basic ideologies that the feminist movement has advanced concerning gender differences:
Sameness must replace stereotypes in home, church, and society.
Independence must replace interdependence as a lifestyle.
Equal division of labor must replace sexual division of labor at home and work.
Sexual liberation must replace sexual restraint as a personal value.
Careerism must replace being a spouse and a mother as a pursuit in life.
Religion, history, and scientific data are to be reinterpreted in light of feminist ideology.
This philosophy has permeated the whole of society and the world is being greatly impacted by these views. Of course, I don’t believe women ought to be discriminated against in the workforce or the church. However, each gender has been created differently for a reason, and each has a gender capacity that distinguishes them from each other. Due to an inability to tolerate the gender differences, will we now ignore and minimize them?
Chapter Four: Woman, Can You Give Him Something He Can Feel?
General Differences between Men and Women
God made distinct differences between men and women. For example, women tend to operate out of emotions more so than men. They are stronger physically (generally), and they are able to operate on a number of levels simultaneously. A woman is physically constructed differently from a man. Biologically, women produce more hormones and a menstrual cycle. They retain more fat than men, but they also tend to have a longer lifespan than men. Sexually, there are differences; in terms of sexual arousal, women tend to be like crock-pots and men tend to be like microwave ovens. Men’s testosterone gives them a greater propensity towards sexual desires and thoughts. Further, most women have an innate desire to serve and nurture, unless their culture and/or upbringing have altered this inherent characteristic. I know this is a tender gender issue, but this is also true in the animal kingdom. The male species, as a whole, was designed to lead. This does not mean a woman cannot lead, have not led, or that there are not some female-dominated species, but distinct roles exist in the animal kingdom and in humanity, which places the female in a subordinate role.
Interestingly, though the man, in traditional families, has headship, the female keep or make a home under his supervision. This sphere entails great responsibilities and leadership. Thus, the Bible states that a virtuous woman, “provides food for her household” (v.15b), clothes her household “with scarlet” 921b), and “she watches over the ways of her household” (v.27a). Though God did not give women headship, He gave women one of the most powerful tools in all the earth: influence. A woman does not need to be the power person as long as she has influence. For example, in the beginning, Adam had headship, but ultimately this meant nothing at the time of temptation, because Eve had influence. Eve had more influence over Adam than God and the devil. Influence is a powerful piece, and women must be careful how they use it. Unfortunately, Eve used her influence in a negative way, which influenced Adam to make an ungodly decision and the whole of humanity suffered the consequences.
Exercise: Recall the last time that you strategically used influence on or were influenced by your partner in the midst of a critical decision. Discuss with your partner how the outcome of the situation would have been different without the presence of influence.
God created women with the same four personality types as men: sanguine, melancholy, choleric, and phlegmatic. The unique blend of nature and nurture creates her individuality. However, each woman carries a spirit or attitudinal disposition. Her spirit creates her attitude. Her attitude creates her atmosphere. Her atmosphere creates the accessibility she has to a man. This means that each woman brings a type of environment that a man will either want to live in or run away from. If a woman is with a man who does not want to spend time with her, barring any other factors, it is likely because she is carrying an uninviting spirit. This simply means that a wife has to create a context in which her husband desires to be, whether it’s down time or physical time. A woman cannot “guilt trip” a man into spending time with her. He would rather hang out in other atmospheres, simply because those atmospheres make him feel better than his woman’s atmosphere. (This is a tender gender moment I know, but hang in there!)
The Spirit of a Woman
The spirit of a wife, by nature, should be submission in the marital context. Submission is not a negative word, because we are all submitted to something or someone. Ephesians 5:22 tells us, “Wives, be submitted to your husbands as unto the Lord.” In 1 Peter 3:1, 6, Peter writes, “Wives should not go out of their way to win their husbands with braided hair and costly jewelry, but have a meek and a humble spiritâ€¦” “Use Sarah as an example, as Sarah called her husband Lord.” Submission is predicated upon the order of God. Jesus himself is submitted to God the Father, and the Holy Spirit is submitted to God the Son. Submission is not a negative thing; it is an orderly thing! (Are you having another tender gender moment?)
The Attitude of a Woman
The attitude of a wife should be one of support. In the first epistle to the Corinthians (11:8), Paul explains that, “Man was not made for the woman, but the woman was made for man.” God could have pulled both man and woman out of the ground at the same time, but He was trying to establish order and relationship. Adam’s wife, Eve, was called to be a helper and designed to be a system of support. This is not negative! We dare not allow our views of these God-inspired concepts to be jaded because of their misuse or perversion by men afflicted by the disease of sin. Remember, the Holy Spirit is also called a helper. The only thing that could cause one to despise being a helper is a spirit of pride and the sin-soaked spirit of this world that violates apostolic order in relationships. It’s God’s design, i.e., His relationship structure and order. We either believe that He knew what He was doing or we don’t.
The Atmosphere of a Woman
The atmosphere of a wife should be that of a homebuilder. Any woman who does not have the ability to build a home has missed God if she intends to get married one day! Having a career does not negate this responsibility. She can be in charge at work but must operate in influence at home. Titus 2 tells older women to, “teach the younger women how to love their children, love their husbands, and be keepers of the home.” These are the three things that women tend to think they naturally know how to do. On the contrary, this is learned behavior. If this was not a learned behavior and was a natural behavior, there would be no need for the older women to teach the younger women. This is a marital deficit that is leaving godly marriages crippled and without hope. With these variables missing, it’s all most impossible to have a mutually satisfying marriage. I believe that there is a sense of fulfillment that both persons get out of the relationship through this type of structure that is absent today in the majority of marriages that are racing towards divorce.
Exercise: Based on the explanation of atmosphere above, try to come up with at least four ways to improve the atmosphere of your home, so that your partner will be drawn to your atmosphere like a moth to a flame!
Exercise: For each of the above characteristics of a woman, comment on how not having the proper spirit, attitude, and atmosphere could do harm to a marital relationship.
If a woman does not have the proper spirit, the consequences could be:
If a woman does not have the proper attitude, the consequences could be:
If a woman does not have the proper atmosphere, the consequences could be:
Influence through submission, with support and home-builder is such a powerful combination that the Bible states, in 1 Peter 3:1, a woman can win her unsaved husband over by her conduct. Thus, in the marital context, the first step toward healthy marital toleration, in my opinion, lies in the court of the woman.
The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands. – Proverbs 14:1 
If a woman wants to build her home and not tear it down with her own hands, there are certain differences that she must understand about men. Her influence must be aware and educated on these differences in order to work toward a marriage that stays together and glorifies God. If a woman does not understand and accept these differences, she will become offended without cause. God designed these differences.
Men are givers. A man gives a woman a seed, and she gives him a child. A man gives a woman a house, and she gives him a home. Men are not naturally receivers. Men who are very comfortable receiving will be takers in a relationship. A man who is leeching or living off of a woman is not fit for a relationship. Adam was a provider, not a taker. Don’t fall into the trap of connecting with a man that you feel needs you in order to make it. This is dysfunctional and will eventually hurt you. A functional man must be responsible! If your husband is not being responsible, you must stop rewarding irresponsibility. The pressure of responsibility is one that every man must experience on a daily basis.
Men operate from raw data. Men tend to be more analytical. Men tend to respond to what you say, not how you feel. Thus, if women do not articulate how they feel, the man will not be able to respond to it.
Men are unilateral in their brain usage. This means that they can only focused on one significant thing at a time. A man has a God-gifted ability to stay focused, and this is what a woman should want vs. having a man whose focus is all over the place.
Eighty percent (80%) of men are left-brained. Men tend to be competitive, fix-it-all’s, ego-driven and goal-oriented. A man has a caretaker mentality, but he is not going to compete with a woman over that position. Every man has something inside of him that should make him want to protect and provide for his woman and his family.
Men tend to talk less than women. The average man speaks about 7,000 words a day, and the average woman speaks about 20,000 words a day. The problem is that by the time a man gets home, he has used up most of his words, right at the time when the woman is ready to shift into high gear! The average man is not going to talk to a woman as much as she wants to be talked to. When a woman tries to make a man talk, she will pull from his conflict vocabulary rather than his comfort vocabulary, as he will try to get her off of him. Some women do not realize that they enjoy having conflict with their man, simply because it pulls more words out of him than he would normally speak to her. In addition to women speaking more words per day, studies also reveal they talk twice as fast. So, in relation to men, women are the “real” fast talkers.
Men are visual. They are motivated by sight as opposed to women, who are motivated by touch. Advertisers understand this well, so they will often market products to men by placing some type of sexual visual with the product they are trying to sell. Women should accept this fact and make efforts to be physically appealing to their partners.
Men are more sexual than women. On the average, a sexual thought passes through a man’s mind every 30 seconds. If you take away a man’s sex drive, you would take away the aggression that makes him the caretaker and provider that he is.
Men are ego-centered. Men are driven by the strong conviction that they can do and accomplish anything. This is what makes it hard for them to admit that they need help and what makes it hard for them to cry. As a result, anything that will take a man to an emotional level and make him lose control he will avoid.
A man is a warrior by nature. Men love to compete, and they are always looking for a good fight or something to conquer. This is one reason men are usually involved in competitive sports. If a woman ever tries to compete with her husband, she may not lose the verbal battle, but she will lose the ultimate battle because a man will not be defeated. He is a warrior who is groomed to win the battle or to die trying to win.
Men never truly grow up. They are just big boys with bigger toys. They tend to need maternal nurture when they are sick or discouraged.
Men have a short attention span. Men cannot talk for a long time about one topic. They will tend to jump around to address various issues, because they tend to have a limited number of words in their vocabulary that they can use.
Men tend to be insecure. A man needs a woman to feel secure. If the woman every decreases his security, she becomes a potential enemy. Eve came to make Adam whole, not the opposite.
A man gets his esteem through what he does. This is different from women who get esteem through whom they are connected to. Men define themselves differently, oftentimes by their occupations, achievements, or other areas that they have conquered.
Exercise: Choose three of the characteristics above that you never fully understood before, and comment on them. Does this help you to understand why you are the way you are (if you are male) or why your partner does the things he does (if you are female)?
Women who try to change their men are doomed for failure, and if a woman does try to change the traits of a man, she is officially declaring war! Rather than try to change men, women must use their godly influence and soft skills to try and move their men to modify their behaviors to a level that is tolerable.
For example, the worst thing a woman can do is to try to give her husband advice, because this is simply veiled criticism. Offering a man unsolicited advice is the equivalent of telling a man that he does not know what he is doing! Further, this is also considered being a contentious woman. Women must learn to