Summary: Men and women are different. Surprised?
1. The Female always makes the Rules.
2. The Rules are subject to change at any time without prior notification.
3. No Male can possibly know all the Rules.
4. If the Female suspects the Male knows all the Rules, she must immediately change some or all of the Rules.
5. The Female is never wrong.
6. If the Female is wrong, it is because of a flagrant Misunderstanding, which was a direct result of something the Male did or said wrong.
7. If Rule 6 applies, the Male must apologize IMMEDIATELY for causing the Misunderstanding.
8. The Female can change her mind at any given point in time.
9. The Male must never change his mind without express written consent from the Female.
10. The Female has every right to be angry or upset at any time.
11. The Male must remain calm at all times, unless the Female wants him to be angry or upset.
12. The Female must under no circumstances let the Male know whether or not she wants him to be angry or upset.
13. Any attempt to document these Rules could result in bodily harm to the Male.
Those "rules" are funny because they contain a grain of truth. Men do sometimes find women to be mysterious creatures, their motivations obscure, their emotions inscrutable, their behavior perplexing.
"The great question that has never been answered and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is ’What does a woman want?’" -- Sigmund Freud
Nor is their any greater clarity in the other direction. Men often appear equally alien to women. Their methods of communication (or rather, non-communication) with one another, their obsession with the TV remote control and their infuriating habit of using it to watch fifteen shows simultaneously, their ability to remember the 1993 passing percentage of quarterback Troy Aikman while forgetting your anniversary . . . No wonder author John Gray concluded that "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus".
My goal this morning is not to unravel all the complexities of male-female relationships. But I would like for us to gain insight about how and why we differ. The goal is to give us some tools to understand these differences and deal effectively with them. Not just tolerate one another, but actually to appreciate and celebrate our differences. The result can be relationships in which affection, intimacy, and fulfillment all increase while anger and frustration decrease.
Would you like that? Have you given up on improving your relationship?
Why do this? Why learn to understand, appreciate, and fulfill one another’s needs?
· First, because you have an obligation to do so. Your spouse has made a vow to meet these needs only in the marriage relationship. They have nowhere else to (legitimately) go.
· Second, because if you don’t someone else may. (Not that this excuses adultery or makes the innocent party responsible). Any of us is vulnerable to temptation. If you want to protect your mate from temptation, you should meet their needs.
Transition: Why do husbands and wives often fail to meet their spouse’s deepest needs?
Selfishness and ignorance. Ignorance is the inability to understand and appreciate the other’s needs. Selfishness is an unwillingness to meet those needs. One is a heart problem, and the other is a head problem. One can be solved by information, the other only by repentance. But both must be addressed in order for the relationship to improve.
Men and women are different (surprise!)
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them . . . . God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
-- Genesis 1:27, 31 (NIV)
· First, men and women are different by design. It is no accident that we see and experience the world differently.
· Second, the one who designed us differently is God. Our differences are not merely accidents of evolution, nor are they convenient social constructs invented by man. God had a purpose for our differences.
· Third, the differences between us are "very good." Not inherently negative or destructive, not merely neutral or tolerable, but good. To the extent that they become destructive, it is because they have been twisted by sin.
The greatest needs
· Men and women have similar needs, but they rank them differently. These are broad generalizations:
An attractive spouse
Honesty and openness
The ranking itself is not Biblically revealed (see Willard Harley, "His Needs, Her Needs"), so not authoritative. But it is a good general description of the differences between men and women.