Summary: The bible clearly tells us that men and women were created differently - equal, but different. The bible does a great jobo of exlaining how male-female relationships break down, and how they are supposed to work. Student Ministry PowerPoint format.

[Relationships – What a Guy Wants]

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:33)

This material was originally presented in PowerPoint format to a high school student ministry. If you have questions or would like the original PowerPoint (minus the video clips, which are too large to email), drop me a note at

Note: much of the concept behind this presentation came from Emerson Eggerichs’ book “Love and Respect”, though he focuses primarily on the New Testament. The tie-in to the curse in Genesis 3 is my own, but the germ of the idea came from a FamilyLife radio broadcast interview with Stu Weber, author of “Four Pillars of a Man’s heart: Bringing Strength into Balance”. Both are excellent sources of fresh insight into the scripture in this area.

[Relationships – What a Guy Wants]

Slide graphic: sign reading “Quiet – Respect Please”

Slide text:

There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand: The way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a maiden (Proverbs 30:18-1)

Valentine’s Day was this last week - a time when cupid supposedly goes around firing little love-arrows into guys and girls and relationships are perfect. Or so the story goes. Actually, even the best relationships have their bumps and bruises.

For the next few weeks, we’re going to talk about relationships. Today we’re going to talk about “What a guy wants.” We’re going to see what the Bible says guys want and why it says they want it. We’ll put the guys on the spot and see if this matches their personal experience. I know some of you ladies are completely baffled by the ways guys behave – you don’t understand how their world works. True? Hopefully, at the end of today’s lesson, some of the mystery will be cleared.

That’s the easy one. Next week, we’ll talk about what a girl wants. We’ll see what the Bible says they want and why it says they want it. I’ll be needing lots of help with that one from Tammy!

I’m taking advantage of the “valentine” season to talk about this because I think it is an extremely important subject. I remember being your age. I wasted huge amounts of time and energy trying to figure out the mysteries of how relationships work. Hopefully these two discussions will help you learn both about yourself, and about “them.” The way men and women react is truly mysterious.

There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand: The way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a maiden (Proverbs 30:18-1)

After these two lessons, we’ll continue the theme by talking about “true love.” Is that a Biblical concept? What does the Bible say love between two people is, why it exists, and how it is designed to work.

On the fourth week, we’ll talk about God’s love for us. God’s love for us is the perfect model of true love. News flash - That deep, soul-mate feeling you are looking for is only going to be found in a relationship with God. If you don’t have that, you are never going to experience love on earth.

But enough about that – today: “What a guy wants.” Girls to the left, guys to the right.

[The Male Relationship Cycle]

Slide graphic: picture of father, son, and dog in boat fishing

Slide graphic: arrows representing cycle “you respect me…” to and from “…I will serve you”, labeled in the center “Male Bonding Cycle”

Military and sports leaders know that the best way to motivate men is to believe in them more than they believe in themselves. The reason men are so easily manipulated in this way goes back to the way God created us.

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it (Genesis 2:15)

Think about that. The Garden of Eden, before the fall when things were “perfect” was not a place where you sat around idle all day. Men were designed to work and take care of things. This commandment was given to Adam before Eve was created (v21). Men need to take care of things – they are driven to be this way by design from the perfect creation of the world.

When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, God cursed Satan and he cursed the earth. Contrary to popular belief, he did not curse Men and Women. He did, though, describe how their lives in the fallen earth would look like.

17To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ’You must not eat of it,’ Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." (Genesis 3:17-19)

Basically, this says “Life is hard, then you die.” Satan was able to mislead Eve. When confronted by God about her disobedience, she blamed Satan. According to 1 Timothy 2:14, Adam was not deceived by Satan, but ate anyway. When confronted by God, Adam didn’t blame Satan, he blamed Eve, then he blamed God himself for having put such a gullible woman in the garden with him. Adam, created by God to take care of things, accused God of having failed to take care of things. God described to Adam that in the fallen world Adam and all men after him would struggle all their lives to successfully take care of things, but the entire world would be against them. Men will struggle all their lives and, in the end, return to the dust of defeat. Men will only find fulfillment through a restoration of their relationship with God.

The way men were created affects the way they approach life. When two men meet for the first time, they will invariably ask each other “what do you do?” Men are task-oriented. They are what they do. If what they are doing is unsuccessful – then they are a personal failure. There are many stories about men who have been stoic and cheerful while battling cancer, then recover only to be totally devastated and traumatized at a later time when they are laid off. Cancer is easier by far to accept than failure in the workplace.

Men understand this about each other. If two guys who are close friends have an argument and the relationship is in danger, they know that the way to restore the male-bond is to support the self esteem of the other – to show respect and admiration for what the other has accomplished. Guys live and breathe on respect. When they get the respect they need, they do what they are design to do – take care of things – serve. This, ladies, is how guys work.

[Men – Designed to Serve]

Slide text: “In the heart of every man are three great desires: a desperate desire for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue” - John Eldredge

Slide video: Opening scene from “Princess Bride” where Wesley and Buttercup are introduced by the narrator. Start with Peter Falk opening the book, end with Wesley saying “As you wish” to Buttercup after taking down the pitcher for her.

In this scene, Buttercup realizes how men work. “When he was saying ‘As you wish’, what he really meant was ‘I love you’”. Men bond by serving – by showing respect. And the reverse – by serving her, he was showing that he valued the relationship and wanted to keep up his end.

Buttercup realizes something that many women never do, that men express love differently than women. They express it through serving. Men are designed to serve.

[The Female Relationship Cycle]

Slide graphic: two women chatting over coffee

Slide graphic: arrows representing a cycle from “You communicate with me…” to “..I will love you” and back, with “Female Bonding Cycle” in the middle.

We can see in Genesis 2 that God intentionally designed and created men and women differently. Adam was created to work in the garden. Eve was created to be Adam’s helper – that means his friend and peer, not his slave. We will spend some time talking about this next week when we talk about how men do not treat women as God intended them to be treated – different but equal.

The Bible says that, when Adam and Eve sinned and the world was cursed, God described to Eve what life would be like in the fallen world. He described a life of unsatisfied relationships.

16 To the woman he said, “… Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." (Genesis 3:16)

Note that this is not a command from God for men to dominate women. This is God describing what life would be like for women in a fallen world.

The curse is rescinded by grace, and she is placed on the same level as her husband that she might be joint-heir with him in the responsibilities and grace of life (1 Peter 3:7)

Today, though, we’re talking about how women don’t understand how God designed men, and how this lack of understanding causes relationships to be painful, lifeless, and unfulfilling.

When the world was young and perfect, God designed men and women to be different, but equal. He designed men to be more task-oriented and women to be more relationship-oriented. Not that tasks are unimportant to women or relationships unimportant to men. It’s like food and water – you need both to live, but you can go a lot longer without food than you can without water. To men, successfully accomplishing tasks is like water, and having successful relationships is like food – a less critical need.

Because women are more relationship oriented than men, communication is very important to them. Many women hate it, but it is a scientific fact that women’s faces wrinkle more than men. This is because they are far more expressive. Men are more naturally poker-faced. It’s harder to tell what a guy is thinking (girls might argue that this is because they aren’t thinking at all). Scientists studying the conversations of men and women have found that when two men who are close friends meet after not having seen each other for a while, their conversation is almost always about what each has done – what they have accomplished. Two close female friends, on the other hand, will typically talk about what each has experienced, what they’ve been through emotionally.

Men and women have a difficult time understanding how the other sex works. Each is baffling to the other. Even men and women who have been married for years and years often don’t understand the things that drive their spouses.

Since today is about how women don’t understand men, let me tell you young women that guys don’t work the way your girlfriends work. Many women expect that when they marry, their relationship with their husband to be just like their best girlfriend. Not going to happen – get that out of your head. Guys work on a whole different set of rules, because God designed men to work differently than women.

Two women who are good friends will invest a great deal of time and energy keeping the communication up-to-date, raising and discussing issues and feelings. When the relationship hits a bump, both will want to restore it by venting, communicating, sharing, working things out. When emotional intimacy is reached through this communication, women respond the way God designed them – with love.

Guys, as we have seen, don’t work this way. When a relationship between a guy and a girl breaks down, the guy doesn’t respond in the way the girl expects. He’s using the male cycle, not the female cycle. Girls think that guys are either really stupid or that they just don’t care. Neither is necessarily true.

[Playground Study]

Slide graphic: two pictures, one of young girls skipping rope and hanging out, the other of guys playing basketball

Slide text: under boys picture:

Boys played to accomplish something – to win

Fights result in communication shutdown

Restoration occurs when respect given

Slide text under girls picture:

Girls played to interact – to communicate

Fights result in verbal expression

Restoration occurs when issues are discussed

In a 1981 study entitled “Preschool Children’s Social Strategies”, two psychologists (Gottman and Putallaz) studied boys and girls at play. What they found shed some light on what we are talking about today.

They found that little girls on playground are playing primarily for the relationships, for a means to communicate. Little girls could turn absolutely anything into an excuse to talk. When they fight, they yell, scream, call each other names, but don’t stop communicating until it is worked out and the relationship is restored. They are stressed by unresolved issues.

They found that the little boys played primarily to accomplish some goal - to build something, break something or to just be the winner. They could turn absolutely anything into an excuse to compete. If they fight, they will stop communicating. Restoration usually does not occur until both parties admit to some accomplishment or degree of skill in the other. Unresolved issues are not stressful at all if they are unspoken.

These same two psychologists also found, when studying adults, that when men and women are not getting along, they react differently. If there is a verbal confrontation, the guys heart rate skyrockets, but, no matter how heated the argument, the females blood pressure was stable. On the other hand, if there was a serious problem, and it was not discussed, the guy’s heart rate indicated very little stress, but unresolved conflict caused the girl dramatic physical stress.

[The Relationship Treadmill]

Slide Graphic: teen girl yelling at teen boy, who has his back turned and is rolling his eyes.

Slide text: arrows indicating a cycle, flowing clockwise

12:00 – … Without love …

3:00 – … She Reacts …

6:00 – … Without Respect …

9:00 – … He Reacts …

Center – However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:33)

Bottom – In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. (1 Peter 3:1-2 NASB)

Because men and women work differently, minor problems can escalate into large ones. Women try to get men to step up the communication level (that they need) by engaging them in emotionally charged conversation, pointing out all his flaws. To women, this is the loving thing to do. Men see this (wrongly) as complaining, and offensively disrespectful. Men, because they care about the relationship, try to lead the women to step up the respect level (that they need) by refusing to engage in disrespectful behavior – just walk away. To men, this is the respectful thing to do. Women see this (wrongly) as uncommunicative and unloving. They try even harder to bring issues out into the open, and the cycle spins and spins.

It is better to live in the corner of an attic than in a house with a complaining woman (Proverbs 21:9)

It is better to live in a desert land than with a contentious and vexing woman (Proverbs 21:19)

A wife who brings shame on her husband is like a sickness in his bones (Proverbs 12:4)

In fact, Peter said that if you want to change your husband, you should do it by giving him some of the self-respect he needs. That will prime the pump for his desire to serve you. When you bolster his self-respect, you don’t become a doormat – you get the red carpet rolled out for you.

In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. (1 Peter 3:1-2 NASB)

Society teaches that men must love women unconditionally (Agape love). Society does not teach that women must unconditionally respect men. If he doesn’t deserve respect, you don’t have to give it. For some reason, our society has decided that love should be unconditional, but respect must be earned. The Bible commands women to respect their husbands even if the husbands don’t deserve respect. “How can I be expected to do that? That doesn’t make any sense!” you might say. Women are expected to respect their husbands unconditionally in the same way that men are expected to love their wives unconditionally.

Women notice after a while that the guy in their lives is no longer the one he was when the relationship started, that he is uncommunicative and uninvolved. The women had believed at the start of the relationship that the level of sharing, the emotional intimacy, would last forever. The dream is dying and they don’t know why. What they don’t realize is that the guy is thinking the same thing. At the start of the relationship, you were his biggest fan, his cheerleader. You made him feel like he could conquer the world. Now that is gone, and all he gets it criticism. He feels that he can’t share his dreams, his ambitions with you any more for fear that you will ridicule them.

Think about this the next time you are in a relationship and some innocent remark of yours seems to deflate the spirit of your significant other all out of proportion to what you would have expected. It may be that you have just hit them below the belt. Again.

So, with so much at risk, who makes the first move? Girls - Why should you be the one to act respectful when he is being so unloving? Guys - Why should you have to act loving after she has been so disrespectful? Who should be the one who acts loving or respectful toward the undeserving other in order to start the positive cycle back up? The answer – the one who is most mature. It will probably take more than one gesture – don’t give up. Proverbs 24:16 says that a righteous person falls many times, but gets back up and tries again. Guys – heads up – you are going to take a hit on this next week when we talk about how guys have failed to measure up.


Slide graphic: cover of record album “The very best of Aretha Franklin – RESPECT”

Slide audio: Aretha Franklin singing RESPECT

How many of you have heard Aretha Franklin sing the song R-E-S-P-E-C-T?

Did you know that Aretha didn’t write it? The song was written by Otis Redding in 1965 as a message to his wife. Listen to the words, and imagine Otis pouring out his heart to his wife…


Find out what it means to me

Giving someone respect does not mean capitulating to them. Next week, when we talk about how God designed women, we’ll talk about those interesting verses about “women submitting to their husbands,” “women are the weaker vessel,” and “husbands should be the head of the house.” It’s going to be an interesting discussion. I can say this – those verses have nothing to do with what most people think they mean, and their true meaning sheds a bright light on how relationships between men and women are supposed to work.

Society approves of the Biblical principle that men should love their wives unconditionally. Ladies, do you think that’s a good idea? Society has not embraced, however, the other half of the coin – that wives should respect their husbands … unconditionally. Many women fear that showing respect for a man means that they would surrender all their rights and become little more than a slave. This is not true any more than it would be to say that a man who showed his wife love will be trampled under her feet.

Think how a bunch of guys out on a basketball court. They all give each other respect. Giving someone else respect doesn’t mean you are inferior to them – just that you acknowledge their skills – their right to be there – their ability to contribute. The basketball court is actually a good metaphor for how this is supposed to work – mutual respect. Men and women should respect each other. Men and women should love each other. You don’t see men commanded in the Bible to respect their wives because it would be unnecessary – men naturally respect. Neither do you see women commanded to love their husbands, because they do that naturally.

Women ask how they can be expected to respect their husbands unconditionally, even when they don’t deserve respect. The answer is that they are expected to in the same way that men are expected to love them unconditionally, even when they don’t deserve love.

Practically every woman I know would be willing to say publicly that they just want someone who loves them more than anyone else in the world, to make them feel special and cherished. No one would think that these women are egomaniacal prima donnas – no, this feeling is perfectly understood and acceptable in our society. But if a man were to publicly say that he is looking for that one woman who respects and admires him more than anyone else in the world, supports him and makes him feel capable of anything – the world would say “how self-centered can you be?” But ladies, politically incorrect though it may be, that is what every guy wants.

You girls may think that it is silly and weak that men’s ego’s are so fragile. You can’t believe how sensitive that great big strong guy can be to even the tiniest little bit of criticism. Why, you are tiny and delicate, but you could take it easily. The difference is that you have attacked him where he is weakest. When you criticize his efforts, you are basically saying “I love you, but I don’t respect you.” “So?,” you say, “That’s not so bad. I wouldn’t be traumatized if someone said that to me!”

To turn the tables, what if that guy you really liked were to tell you that “I respect you, but I don’t love you”? How badly would that hurt you? How long would it take for you to get over? Would it surprise you to know that a guy would not be hurt too deeply to hear that said to him? Why? Because God designed guys to need respect more than they need love.

[Get Off My Air Hose]

Slide Graphic: Male and female deep-sea diver, each stepping on the other’s air hose, by accident, and eaching trying desperately to move the other off of their air supply.

Picture a man and a woman – both deep sea diving. They are strolling along the sea floor in those old diving suits with the big bell helmets. Each has a long air hose connecting the helmet to an air tank. The man has a tank labeled “respect”, and the woman has a tank labeled “love.”

A man needs respect like he needs air to breathe, just as a woman needs love. If one steps on the other’s hose, the other is not just going to stand there and die - there will be a reaction. If a man does not get the respect he has to have to live, he will lash out. If the woman is not getting the love she desperately needs, she will lash out.

In a male-female relationship, when the female wants to discuss every problem, she does this because she values the relationship. The male misinterprets this as criticism and disrespect. He refuses to respond, because he values the relationship. She sees the refusal to respond as a lack of caring, and, out of a love of their relationship, “escalates” her attempts to bring him into a discussion, becoming deliberately provoking. He sees this as evidence of her contempt of him, and withdraws further, out of respect for their relationship and a desire to save it. And the relationship cycle spins and spins. If the cycle isn’t stopped, it will reach the point where men feel that it is not possible to win approval from this woman, and women feel that it is not possible to communicate with this man.

What neither understands is that when a woman is critical and complaining, what she is really saying is that you are stepping on her love-supply – she feels unloved and wants you to connect with her. And when a man speaks harshly or not at all, what he is really saying is that you are stepping on his respect-supply – he feels disrespected and wants your approval.

It is sad that most men know they would willingly lay down their lives for the wives they love, but these same wives continually complain that “you don’t love me.”

Some men become workaholics simply because at work they get respect and approval, where they find none at home. Some men are tempted into extra-marital relationships through the tremendous attraction of being with a woman who thinks he is great – who supports his need for self respect. Workaholic, adulterer, these are both clearly wrong, but are both often born out of the same deep need for respect that isn’t being met at home.

When a woman comes home, she wants to hear “I’m glad you’re home. I missed you. Tell me what happened to you day” – communication, emotional intimacy, feeling that they are special.

When a man comes home, he wants to hear “I’m glad your home. I’m proud of you. Tell me what you accomplished today” – successful, appreciated, feeling of accomplishment.

Martha accused Jesus of not caring because he did not communicate about an emotional issue she wanted resolved. Jesus himself – accused of being uncaring.

[Good Intentions, Bad Results]

Slide video: scene from ‘Pirates of the Caribbean” where Will presents the sword to the Governor, Elizabeth’s father. Starting with the Governor admiring and praising the accomplishment, ending with Elizabeth driving off in the carriage.

In this clip from “Pirates of the Caribbean,” watch the lack of communication. Will Turner is desperate for the respect he does not get. He is hungry for praise of his work, even if he can’t admit that it was himself, rather than his boss, who crafted the sword. He is very deliberately treating Elizabeth with deep respect.

Elizabeth wants to engage Will in conversation. She interprets his show of respect as disinterested and unloving, and reacts harshly.

Everyone else knows the two love and respect each other, but they can’t interpret each other’s signals. They aren’t speaking the same language.

[The Respect Challenge]

Slide graphic: Superman

Slide text:

I respect and admire _______ because

A _________

B _________

C _________

Most likely many of the guys here have also not understood the way they are made. I challenge you to this test – both guys and girls. Think of a guy (man or boy, doesn’t matter – just male) who’s relationship with you could use an improvement. Write down that name on the handout. Now, no matter how awful that person has been to you, you can think of three things about that person you respect and admire. Write them down. Maybe it’s your father, and he’s always on your case. Never a kind word. Never approves of anything you say or do. Not much to admire there. But you could say that you admire that this man gets up every day and works to put a roof over your head and food on the table. Maybe you don’t think this makes up for his faults, but it is something worthy of respect. Whatever it is, be honest. Don’t write it down if you don’t believe it. Ladies, you will have to be especially careful to write down something he does, not something he is. Remember, with guys, it needs to be something he accomplished.

Now, make a point of going up to this guy and, before he can be his usual rotten self, just tell him that we were talking about respect this Sunday, and you thought of him, and wrote down three things that you really respect and admire about him. Then turn around and walk away. Don’t say what the three things were – just say you have something to do and leave the room. And start counting. One-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, … I think you will be absolutely shocked by the reaction you get.

Dr. Eggerichs uses this challenge in his marriage counseling. One wife did this, feeling more than a little silly, and the husband practically screamed as he ran after her “What?!? – What was it you admire about me?!” Somewhat stunned by his reaction, she read out the list. He took the paper in shaking hands, looked up with tears in his eyes and said “let me take you out to dinner – where would you like to go?” Actually, she told him, she was tired, it was late, and she had to get up early the next day, but maybe they could go out Friday. “It’s a date!,” he said. A few minutes later, she heard dishes rattling in the kitchen. It was her husband who had not helped in the kitchen in 10 years. When men feel respected, they naturally begin to serve. It is the way they are designed to respond to respect. All the nagging and complaining in the world could not have done what those few words of respect did.

Think about this – girls will give guys pretty little cards covered with little X’s and O’s telling the guy that the girl loves them dearly. Guys don’t keep them, unless maybe to keep from getting in trouble by throwing them out. These cards just don’t mean the same to a guy as they do to a girl. But you give a guy the tear-off at the bottom of today’s handout, telling him three reasons why you respect and admire him – he will keep it forever. Forever. It will be the possession he rushes into a burning house to save. Guys need respect like they need air to breathe.

You can try this more than once, in fact, you should use all the time and for the rest of your lives. It doesn’t even matter if the guy is someone in this room who knows exactly what you are doing. As long as he can tell that you are being honest when you say that you admire these things about him – it will work. Yes, it may be a little manipulative, but it works!

Just remember, stoking the relationship furnace is a cycle – a cycle with two people in it. If the relationship is dying, maybe it’s not all the other person’s fault.

[I Am a Knight!]

Slide video: Scene from the end of movie “A Knight’s Tale” when they arrive for the tournament in England, and William is told that they officials have found that his is not really a knight, and is urged by his friends to flee.

In this clip from “A Knight’s Tale,” it is clear that Will and Rosalind are looking at the situation from completely different points of view.

When Rosalind finds out that William is not a noble, the most important thing to him is to find out if she still respects him.

She keeps talking about love. He keeps talking about respect. As much as he wants her love, he needs her respect more.

Notice when he says that “the one thing they can’t take away is my pride,” which seems to pass right over her. Seconds later, she says that “love is the one thing they can’t take from you.”

Two different worlds – love and respect.

It isn’t easy keeping a relationship together. The Bible acknowledges this, and has a great deal to say about how tow people who honestly care about each other can become distant. The Bible also clearly explains how relationships were designed to work from the beginning, and how to keep yours spinning.

Today, we gave the girls a lot of grief about not respecting guys. You guys are probably going to leave here feeling pretty smug, and you girls may be feeling a little bruised. Hang in there and come back next week. We’ll turn the tables and talk about the failings of men.

Let’s pray.

Thank you father for designing us for relationships. Thank you for caring enough about us to take the time in your precious word how to make our relationships healthy and strong. May we the love and respect we show each other be such a powerful force that the world thirst for what we have, and seeks the source of our love, Christ.