Staying Married: Listen to Your Wife; Talk to Your Husband

My husband forgot about the first Valentine’s Day after our marriage.

I didn’t get so much as a card.

That was what you might call a mistake on his part; one he has learned not to repeat.

The reason he’s learned this is because I told him. I didn’t go home from work that day (I was in the legislature at the time) and hit him with my purse. But I did tell him. And the next Valentine’s Day, I told him in advance.

Which leads me to half my point.

Women, if you want a happy marriage, do not assume that your husband understands what you want. Based on decades of happy marriage to the one and only love of my life, I can tell you that he does not.

He. Doesn’t. Have. A. Clue.

I grew up with an involved father-in-residence and then married another y chromosome type person and have lived out the rest of my life since then with him. This experience has led me to form a theory about the male brain.

It doesn’t think like ours.

From what I can tell, the male of the human species thinks that if he makes sure you go to sleep in a warm bed under a roof that doesn’t leak after eating three square meals and that every man around knows that insulting you will get him in a fight, well then, that’s love. And you should know it.

If he comes home at night and doesn’t dally with other women, if he would rather cut his arm off than raise a hand to you, if he provides for, protects and cossets you, he thinks he’s done everything any woman with half a brain could possibly want. He’s finished. Done. Through. In his mind, he’s got that good husband stuff handled and now it’s time to get a brewski and plop down in front of the television for some football.

You, on the other hand, need to be told that he loves you. You think that all this protecting, providing, cosseting stuff is just a sort of baseline that any decent person would do. You don’t want a bag of groceries … or … well … you do want a bag of groceries, but you want something that feeds your heart as well as your stomach. You want affection. And you want a few complimentary words thrown in with the affection.

The trouble is, he’ll never know this if you don’t tell him. In fact, if your way of telling him is to go off and throw a hissy fit and cry and slam doors and answer “Nothing!” when he asks you what’s wrong, he’ll never figure it out. Nothing comes of that kind of behavior except a husband who is convinced he’s married someone who has mental problems, and a wife who honestly thinks her husband does not love her and that she’s probably unattractive to him to boot.

So, the first half of the point I’m making is, wives, talk to your husbands. Tell him what you want. I don’t mean yell at him and demand what you want. Just … tell him. Be specific. If you want him to take you out to dinner, say so. If you want a box of chocolates, say that. Do not make him try to figure it out. He won’t. Because he can’t. His brain doesn’t think like yours.

After you’ve told him, let it go until the next Valentine’s Day or whatever it is you were telling him about rolls around again. Then, gently, gently remind him. As the big day comes into view (be it your birthday, your anniversary, Valentine’s Day or whatever) start reminding him a few weeks out. You don’t have to make an issue of it. In fact, you shouldn’t make an issue of it. Just use your knowledge of him and your relationship to go about the business of reminding him in the gentlest way possible. If you don’t remind him, he won’t remember. Not, mind you, because he doesn’t love you, but because he’s a man, and their brains don’t think the same way ours do.

Which leads to the second half of my point.

Men, if you want a happy marriage, listen to your wife. When your wife tells you and reminds you, that means she’s handed you the ball and you need to run with it.

Do not quibble about this. Listen to your wife. Go forth and buy chocolates, or make dinner reservations or whatever. It does not matter that you just rotated the tires on her car and filled it up with gas. If she wants dinner and a movie, give her dinner and a movie. And for pete’s sake, tell her she’s pretty. Stand in front of your bathroom mirror with the door locked and practice if you have to, but say it.

Wives, talk to your husbands. Husbands, listen to your wives.

And while you’re at it, forgive one another for the subtle differences between the sexes that make this post necessary. There’s a reason God made us like this. When husbands and wives cooperate with one another this way, love between them grows. Our differences, which can drive us apart if we are stupid about them, can also meld us together for life.

Now, husbands and wives, start talking and listening. Your lives and your family will be the better for it.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

  • http://nebraskaenergyobserver.wordpress.com neenergyobserver

    Yes, please do what she said, and we might have half a chance of making you happy. :-)

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I knew somebody was going to say that. :-)

  • Sus

    Nice post Rebecca.

  • http://tljax.wordpress.com tl

    That hit the nail right on the head! Thanks, Rebecca. Oh how I wish more people got this! Still, I will probably mention to my wife how much I liked this article rather than actually email the link to her. See? I’m learning!

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      :-)

  • Anna Dawson

    This is lovely. I so wish I’d seen more of this growing up, rather than learning it as an adult. Parents, show your children you love each other!

  • Tari

    I like to your post Rebecca,.. thanks :)

  • Tari

    I mean : I like to read your post Rebecca,.. thanks :)

  • Dr. Peter John Resweber

    This reminds me of a conversation I once had with a good priest friend. As a shrink and a padre, we found numerous similarities in what we dealt with and compared notes quite a bit.

    He once talked about a couple he knew who had been married over fifty years. One day he was sitting with the husband and heard: “You know Father, I don’t get what she still sees in me after so long. But that woman still mystifies and fascinates me.” Later, sitting with the wife he heard essentially the same sentiment: “I don’t get what that old man could still want with me after all these years. But, I swear he still amazes me.”

    My friend paused for a moment and then he continued:

    “Pete, that’s part of why same sex relationships just don’t really make sense. You sit two guys together and they’ll have each other figured out in about twenty minutes. It’s the same with two women. But a man and a woman can spend a lifetime and never completely understand each other.

    If viewed the wrong way, of course, those differences can be an eternal source of frustration and friction. But viewed properly, they can provide endless fascination, discovery and joy.”

  • Dr. Peter John Resweber

    Quid est veritas?

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Etiam. (As applies to my original post and your wonderful story.)

      • Dr. Peter John Resweber

        :)

  • Rod R.

    “…love best motivates a woman and respect most powerfully motivates a man….Though we all need love and respect equally, the felt need differs during conflict, and this difference is as different as pink is from blue! ”

    “…based on Ephesians 5:33, wives love more easily than they respect and husbands respect more easily than they love. Thus, she has a greater felt need for her husband’s love and he has a greater felt need for his wife’s respect. ”

    Source: http://loveandrespect.com/ [Scripture-based enrichment (DVD presentations/workbooks) that has been used in daylong enrichments or series of sessions in parishes by some Worldwide Marriage Encounter areas that minister to Catholic/non-Catholic couples. Other examples of DVD-type presentations utilized are Theology of the Body or Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage or couples giving talks on Five Love Languages.]

  • Rod R.

    Meant to add to previous comment: a husbands love fosters a wife’s respect and a wife’s respect fosters a husband’s love.

  • http://literarylew@wordpress.com lewis chamness

    You are so fine! Thanks so much for this and for all that you do. And, a witty note on the subject from a childhood pastor of mine who had a fine sense of humor—”I didn’t know what happiness was until I got married. Now I remember.”

  • Dr. Peter John Resweber

    Bill,

    I would preface any attempt to allow you to drag me down this rabbit hole by noting that you chose to take a celebration of the beauty of the male/female dynamic and focus on politicization of disagreement.

    With that being said, the lead question I asked is relevant.

    How do you define truth?

    Is it by training?

    Is it by committee?

    Is it by government dictate?

    Should it rather be by objective/verifiable standards?

  • Bill S

    Should it rather be by objective/verifiable standards?

    Yes. Isn’t that what your education was based on? Is Church teaching based on objective/verifiable standards? I doubt it.

    Look at the years of research and experience went into your education. Do you really put the opinions of celibate men above your degree? Do you really believe that there is a god that has told the leaders of Christianity and Islam that homosexuality is evil? Don’t abandon your training to answer me.

    OK. I will stop trying to drag you down the rabbit hole. You don’t need to answer. It’s a rhetorical question.

    • Dr. Peter John Resweber

      Re: “Should it rather be by objective/verifiable standards?
      Yes. Isn’t that what your education was based on?”

      You have heard about the tyranny of “political correctness”; have you not?
      In many cases and on many topics, universities have largely stopped being about the pursuit of truth.

      Re: “Is Church teaching based on objective/verifiable standards? I doubt it.”

      You doubt is unfounded.
      Church teaching is based on truth and the search for same.
      Good science is based on truth and the search for same.
      Truth is objective and cannot contradict itself.

      Anyone who thinks that the faith contradicts good science misunderstands one or the other.

      Re: “Look at the years of research and experience went into your education. Do you really put the opinions of celibate men above your degree?”

      Your ad hominem attempt to dismiss church teaching notwithstanding, I put the truth above falsehood.

      Re: “Do you really believe that there is a [G]od…”

      Absolutely, the arguments against His existence rarely have more sophistication than juvenile and ill-considered proclamations such as that “It’s a marketing strategy, nothing more”.

      Re: “…that has told the leaders of Christianity and Islam that homosexuality is evil?”

      As I noted above, “Anyone who thinks that the faith contradicts good science misunderstands one or the other”. You obviously misunderstand Catholic teaching which does NOT hold “that homosexuality is evil”.

      Re: “Don’t abandon your training to answer me.”

      I don’t have to abandon my training. My training taught me how to reason and how to think. It taught me how to search for the truth. It taught me how to use that truth to help people. It also taught me that using lies to try to help people catches up with you (or them) sooner or later.

      Re: “You don’t need to answer. It’s a rhetorical question.”

      Actually, I read it as an attempt to get me to choose between my faith and science.
      If so, it failed because you apparently misunderstand both.

    • Oregon Catholic

      “Is Church teaching based on objective/verifiable standards? I doubt it.”

      I never know whether to laugh or shake my head in utter astonishment at the hypocrisy of statements like this. You who make verifiable standards your god are still so blatently willing to reject those same standards when it comes to homosexual sex and the absolute biological ridiculousness of it. The best ‘science’ that most of you can come up with to normalize it is “bonobos do it too”.

  • Dr. Peter John Resweber

    Low blow? Hardly.

    More like a swing and a miss… ;)

    • Dr. Peter John Resweber

      Okay, the post above no longer makes sense with the one it was responding to gone missing…

  • Bill S

    “Okay, the post above no longer makes sense with the one it was responding to gone missing…”

    My comments are routinely deleted when I dis the Church, which I did in my low blow. It’s Ok. I get your point.

    • Dr. Peter John Resweber

      ;)

  • Dr. Peter John Resweber

    Re: “I do prefer verifiable standards to blind faith and unquestioning obedience.”

    Fair enough. Believe it or not, so do I.

    By what verifiable standards do you reject the Catholic Church’s teaching on the subject?

    Careful now… ;) …sloppy reasoning unsubstantiated assertions that “studies say”, and/or mischaracterizations (either of research or of Church doctrine) and will not be accepted.

    • Dr. Peter John Resweber

      TYPO POLICE:
      Delete the last “and” in that last post.
      :(

  • Bill S

    I don’t know how to highlight. I have major problems with what the catechism has to say in the matter. I basically believe that there is nothing disordered or sinful about two people of the same sex engaging in sexual activities and believe that most psychologists would agree. And who determines natural law?

    #2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

    #2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

    #2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

    • Dr. Peter John Resweber

      For the record:

      Neither “I have major problems with…”, nor “I basically believe…”, nor even “most psychologists would agree” constitute what should be accepted as a scientific rebuttal based upon objective data and/or “verifiable standards”.

      The first two are merely restatements of your own (subjective) opinion and the last is exactly the type of unscientific appeal to authority you claim to reject.

  • Dr. Peter John Resweber

    Re: “We all could preface our comments with “it is my personal option/understanding/experience that…””.

    That may be true; but, YOU are the hypocrite who keeps claiming that you want to operate by objective evidence. I actually DO strive to do exactly that. Yet whenever asked to apply logic, evidence and reason – you revert to restating your opinions (all the while suggesting others are unreasonable, close-minded and even hateful for failing to agree with you).

    Re: “I just can’t get you to tell me how you can counsel homosexuals if you have your education and your peers telling you one thing and your faith telling you another thing.”

    I do my best to counsel them consistent with respect for them as a person (a demand of my faith that you seem to ignore) and consistent with the best objective evidence of which I am aware.

    Re: “You won’t bite.”

    Because you’re trying to create a false conflict where one doesn’t have to exist. You have become a hypocrite who castigates others for operating contrary to “science” even as you refuse to hold yourself to the same standard. I suggest that your repeated use of terms like “science” or “verifiable standards” is a scam and hides rank bigotry. It has become no more than a façade over your anti-Catholic prejudices and presuppositions.

  • Bill S

    “I suggest that your repeated use of terms like “science” or “verifiable standards” is a scam and hides rank bigotry.”

    It’s not bigotry. It’s more like rebellion. I copied the excerpts from the Catechism and said I disagree with what the Church says about homosexuals. I asked you if you agree with what it says and how does it affect your ability to counsel them.

    My comments keep getting deleted so I should just quit while I’m ahead. This article was about straight marriage and I got off track. Sorry if what I said offended you. I was just looking for your professional opinion as it relates to Church teaching on the subject. I don’t agree with it.

    • Dr. Peter John Resweber

      But you don’t even give any evidence of actually understanding the church’s teaching. Additionally, your appeal to the idea of “rebellion” is not inconsistent with bigotry and prejudice. Adolescent rebel against even the best parents (often labeling them unthinking and uncaring tyrants). But eventually, the smart ones grow up. The more I read of your railing and “rebelling” against the church (without applying logic, evidence or reason), the more I am reminded of two great quotes:

      “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he’d learned in seven years.”
      Mark Twain

      “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.” Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

    • Dr. Peter John Resweber

      Follow up and Re: “Sorry if what I said offended you.”

      It did; but, I’ll survive. Keep in mind that my full name it out there on these debates. I am not able to hide behind the semi-anonymity of a pseudonym. Unfortunately, far too many people are far too ready to attack people for speaking freely. In certain countries, states and areas; they are literally making it a crime to disagree with politically correct ideas (regardless of whether those ideas are actually scientific, true or healthy).

      …and Re: “I was just looking for your professional opinion as it relates to Church teaching on the subject.”

      My professional, studied opinion (and I have looked at this issue in depth) is that the Church teaching (properly understood) is entirely consistent with the data.

  • Dr. Peter John Resweber

    Semi-private (actual personal though necessarily public) message to “Bill S”:

    Bill,

    I fully understand (and support) why several of your postings keep getting deleted.

    I also understand that it makes it difficult to follow a conversation if half of it keeps disappearing.

    As Rebecca has said, her blog wasn’t meant to be anyone’s “private therapy”.

    There may be better avenues for exploring the issues that trouble you…

    If you have a way to contact Rebecca privately, ask her to get you in touch.

    (This message serves as my permission to do so.)

    Alternately, I’ve hardly keep my real identity private…

    Google my name if you want to find ways to communicate…

    But, perhaps it’s not fair of you (or of me in encouraging you) to keep hijacking her blog…

    The ball is in your court.

    Respectfully,
    Pete

  • Bill S

    “There may be better avenues for exploring the issues that trouble you…”

    All I’m really doing is questioning the authority of the Catholic Church which demands unquestioning obedience which has no place in a free society. I’m good.

    • Dr. Peter John Resweber

      Your choice; but, you should know that in this public forum I will and must have different tactics and approaches than I could/would in a less contentious setting.

      The tactics of a courtroom or debate arena are not those of a counseling session or private discussion.

      I sense your pain; but, in this setting I will not allow that to unnecessarily distract or delay me from defending the faith.

      In different settings, one may choose to delay responding to certain misunderstandings and even attacks in service of fostering and allowing healing…

  • Bill S

    “My professional, studied opinion (and I have looked at this issue in depth) is that the Church teaching (properly understood) is entirely consistent with the data.”

    If so, it is by sheer coincidence. The Church has had a major hand in defining morality to many people. So much so that people don’t tend to adopt a more utilitarian morality which would be less dogmatic and more pragmatic. I believe that the laws of the land are based more on their utility than on the supposed will of God (who is a fictional character described in the Bible).

    Catholic teaching has been derived mostly from Scripture. I don’t trust anything that has been passed down from more primitive times.

    • Dr. Peter John Resweber

      Re: “If so, it is by sheer coincidence.”

      Or perhaps it is because faith and reason aren’t in natural conflict like you assume them to be.

      Re: “The Church has had a major hand in defining morality to many people.”

      Indeed it has. Thanks to the church, ideas like the value of each human being have triumphed over totalitarian political theories that devalue them.

      Re: “So much so that people don’t tend to adopt a more utilitarian morality which would be less dogmatic and more pragmatic.”

      I’m not sure that I’d want to live under someone’s idea of how I might serve their utilitarian and/or pragmatic goals. That is the way to tyranny. Christianity has instead advanced the idea of the infinite dignity and worth of each individual. Their existence shall not and MUST NOT (ooooh, dogmatism) be subsumed to some “higher societal goals”. Interestingly, it almost always seems to be the powerful who get to define those goals.

      Re: “I believe that the laws of the land are based more on their utility than on the supposed will of God (who is a fictional character described in the Bible).”

      How can you be so sure that God is simply “a fictional character”? Good scientists would recognize that such a thing cannot be proven – only assumed. And, of course, accepting a priori assumptions as fact is the very antithesis of proper scientific reasoning.

      Re: “Catholic teaching has been derived mostly from Scripture. I don’t trust anything that has been passed down from more primitive times.”

      If you throw out everything that “has been passed down from more primitive times” you also eliminate the basis for nearly everything we have. That rejected list includes (but is not limited to) language, logic, algebra, and your beloved scientific method.

      No wonder you can’t reason well. ;)

  • Bill S

    “Or perhaps it is because faith and reason aren’t in natural conflict like you assume them to be.”

    My whole purpose for submitting comments and responses is to try to reconcile the two. My reasoning is in conflict with faith based reasoning and if the latter is correct and I am wrong I want to be convinced.

    “Thanks to the church, ideas like the value of each human being have triumphed over totalitarian political theories that devalue them.”

    That is true. We would not be where we are today without the Church. But we can take it from here. There no longer is any need to keep believing things that are not true but that have made the world a better place to live. I can’t believe something that I know is not true even if that believing brings about positive results.

    “I’m not sure that I’d want to live under someone’s idea of how I might serve their utilitarian and/or pragmatic goals.”

    Me neither unless they are elected by the people.

    “Good scientists would recognize that such a thing cannot be proven – only assumed.”

    Which is exactly why most scientists are atheists or agnostics, the latter being the scientifically appropriate position.

    “If you throw out everything that “has been passed down from more primitive times” you also eliminate the basis for nearly everything we have.

    Not everything passed down continues to retain its value.

    “No wonder you can’t reason well.”

    That certainly seems to be the problem.

    Newport, RI huh? Sweet.

    As a cabbie, I once drove someone there from Logan Airport in Boston. I asked Rebecca to send you my email address. I know she would never send me yours.

    • Dr. Peter John Resweber

      I’ll watch for it (the email address) and desist here for now.

      By the way(1), she doesn’t actually have my email; but, she has other ways to forward things to me.

      By the way (2), Newport was beautiful – it was also a while ago (internet searches often drag up old info ;) ).

    • Dr. Peter John Resweber

      GLITCH/FOLLOW UP:

      Well, apparently she won’t pass your information to me either.

      (It’s frustrating; but, understandable and she has a good reason for her decision.)

      Anyway, she suggested passing along alternate connection hints.

      So, here’s an obvious one.

      The same web search that turns up Rhode Island should also turn up a facebook page that will let you make the connection with this old Cajun.

      I’ll wait/watch for your contact attempt through facebook (unless you don’t use that)…

      By the way, I normally don’t “friend” random people, people that I don’t know and/or people with whom I don’t have mutual/previous connections.

      So, you’ll have to attach a message and/or give me some kind of way to realize that it’s you.

      But, we’ve had enough previous conversations that it shouldn’t be too hard to “clue me in”…

  • http://www.unwalled.wordpress.com Kim

    Great advice Rebecca……..thanks for sharing!

  • Pingback: Recently Read Blogs « Speaking 4 Life

  • Bill S

    I sent you a message on Facebook.

    • Dr. Peter John Resweber

      Re: I sent you a message on Facebook.

      Maybe something is glitching? I don’t see it yet…

      I’ll check back again later to see if it “pops up”.

      • Dr. Peter John Resweber

        Scratch that — found it!!

        Look for follow up over there…

  • http://mywordwall.wordpress.com Imelda

    You just wrote about my husband and I.

    It is easy to forget these things. After many years together, I begin to nurse this idea that somehow my husband knows me so well that he can read my mind already and know what I want without me telling him anything. :-)


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