Chapter 2

Just Treat Her Like One of "the Guys"
A Lifelong Study of the Feminine Nature

Men: All your life you've had friends who are men, and now you're going to spend your life living with a person of the other gender. Rule number one: Don't treat her like you treat the guys.

Women: Does your husband treat you like one of the men in his life? Can't he see that you are different? Help him learn the difference!

The better you understand her femininity, men, the better husband you'll be.

Studying your wife and womanhood must be a lifetime pursuit for the caring husband.

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Like most men, I, Hans, grew up with lots of friends who were guys like me. I did not have many "girl" friends as a young boy — that came later in the teen years. When we're preteen, it is pretty much guys hanging out with guys and girls with girls. The boys do "boy things" like playing with toy guns and tough sports and building model cars. At least it was that way in the '50s and '60s. Today it seems that it is all via video games and electronics, but the nature of the play seems to be the same. Girls, on the other hand, tend to do the "girl things" like riding horses, dressing up, and playing with dolls, jump rope, and crafts. Their play might best be described as the "kinder, gentler" side of the equation.

   Now that I have my own young sons and a daughter, I see the pattern of generations repeat itself. Even though what they do has changed, there is still a big difference in what boys do when they are together and what girls do. But one day it all changes — the boys literally wake up to the fact that girls are not so bad to be around — about the same day that certain hormones start kicking in!

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   Here is where the challenge begins. We begin our social life hanging out with the same sex and learn to treat them a certain way. But when we try to treat the opposite sex the same way, we run into trouble. Young men soon realize that for a young woman there are lots of tender and "female-type things" that he has to learn if he is going to make any progress in the relationship.

   Now let's fast-forward to adulthood. Couples get married, and soon the big adjustment begins. Soon after the honeymoon is over, the man realizes that this person he is now living with is quite different than his latest roommates.

   During my years in college, I, Hans, had roommates as I lived off campus in various apartments. We guys had certain ways of taking care of our lives and things, and there were rarely conflicts. Each of the guys, no matter how many lived in the place, did his own thing. We're talking total independence here, coming and going as one pleases. Checking in with roommates was really not an issue.

   But getting married and living with a female roommate is the dawning of a whole new dimension of experience for most men. Even if you had a sister growing up, that doesn't qualify you for understanding life with a woman.


   It was soon after we got married in 1975 that I realized that I did not really know Donna as I thought I did. We fell madly in love that summer of 1974, and after a short courtship, we were married a year later. It is one thing to date and spend a lot of time together, but another to begin the lifelong adventure of marriage — as in living together twenty-four hours a day: jungle breath, messy hair, no make-up and all!

   When you date and have a disagreement, you can go home and cool off. Most people in the dating / courtship phase of their relationship go

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in and out of emotional intimacy. At times you feel real close, and at other times you feel like breaking up. In those down times you can just not see the other person for a while and let things slowly work themselves out. Not so when you are both living in the same house. Among the many new challenges you face, you have to work things out in the here and now — there is no other place to go.

   For a man, living with a woman is a lifelong challenge — to do it right and to have a growing and satisfying relationship. A big way to drive her crazy is to ignore the differences and treat her like one of the guys.

   The Apostle Peter made this quite clear in his first epistle in the New Testament when he said,

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers — 1 Peter 3:7

Or, look at these same words in another translation:

In the same way you married men should live considerately with [your wives], with an intelligent recognition [of the marriage relation], honoring the woman as [physically] the weaker, but [realizing that you] are joint heirs of the grace [God's unmerited favor] of life, in order that your prayers may not be hindered and cut off — otherwise you cannot pray effectively. (From the Amplified New Testament, copyright 1954, 1958, Lockman Foundation.)


How Not to Blow It

This may seem obvious, but many guys don't see it: "A big way to drive her crazy is to ignore the differences and treat her like one of the guys."

Before we begin to look at specific things that a man needs to watch

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to avoid treating his wife like one of the guys, we have to deal with a thorny issue within this passage from Peter. Many women resent or at least don't particularly like Peter's comment about them being the "weaker partner." What did Peter mean here, and is this a put-down of a woman's strengths?

   As a matter of fact, I, Hans, can think of many times in our twenty years of marriage when Donna has been much stronger than I. Since confession is good for the soul, here is my list of things where I regularly see more strength in Donna:

In consistent prayer for the family and children

In caring for the needs and concerns of family / friends

In discipline with the children

In tolerance of physical pain and sickness in general

In the courage it takes to deliver four children!

In coping with the physical problems of our children

   It is really unfortunate that some ill-informed men have used these 1 Peter 3 verses against women at times to put them down or "in their place." If they would study the words carefully, a wonderful clarification emerges

   Let's take one more look at the passage and take apart a few of the important words:

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. — 1 Peter 3:7

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   So what exactly did Peter mean with this "weaker partner" comment? There are several key words in this passage for us husbands to zero in on with a laser focus:

Be considerate: A better way to say this would be "dwell with them according to knowledge," or "according to the knowledge you have," as in trying to understand her physical, spiritual and emotional needs. During the days when the New Testament was written, there were many faulty views of men and women and the marriage relationship — pagan views that were certainly below the view of Scripture. Today we have the same issues in our modern culture, and to fight that we need to dwell with our wives, understanding that we look at our relationship from the view of Scripture and what God has to say about it in His Word.

Treat them with respect: Even though, on the one hand, the husband recognizes her weaker power physically as a woman, on the other hand, he should recognize her full equality spiritually as a fellow heir in the grace of God. She deserves his complete honor and is worthy of complete and utter respect as an equal partner in the marital relationship.

Weaker partner: The word weaker is asthenestero in Greek, referring to physical weakness, not intellectual inferiority. Again in the pagan world, women were viewed as tools to be used. Their status was lower, and they were made to look like slaves to the needs of men. Peter fights that view with his treatment of woman as having her feminine side, which reduces some aspects of her physical strength while maintaining all of her worth and dignity. The husband must recognize that her weakness is physical, not intellectual, moral, or even emotional. In this knowledge it is his duty to care for her and protect her from any physical danger or undue burdens.

Heirs with you: This statement should put to rest any accusations that

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woman is in any way inferior to man in her nature. That is why Peter places the statement here so that we see right away that we are fellow heirs — joint heirs — of all the good things that God holds in store for His children. This statement is best understood with the backdrop of a knowledge of the times when these words were written. Today the court protects a wife's rights, but in ancient days things were not that way. A man would pass on his wealth and inheritance to his sons with no right for the wife whatsoever. But heavenly inheritance is not distributed according to earthly custom — our wives are joint heirs of everything!


   Clue number one: Open your eyes! But let's get deeper than just outward looks. In our years of marriage I have seen how Donna differs from my male friends in many ways. Some are quite obvious — absolutely great that God made them that way! But some may not be obvious to the average man.

   Let's explore some of the differences. This is just a small sampling to get you thinking, and we're sure you can come up with many of your own.

   Men and their manners. Now, guys, admit that you have certain behaviors around the men, including the various sounds we emit, gestures we make, and actions we take around our contemporaries, that are really not appropriate at a candlelight dinner with our wives. This would also include how dads act around their sons when there are no females present — a smaller version of the more sophisticated problem when a woman enters the locker room.

   Men's crudeness when displayed in our presence makes us women feel belittled. It reduces our sense of your respect for the special relationship we should have apart from you and your male friends. If you

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have to do these things with your friends, then just bear in mind that we ladies are in another group.

   Those "little" comments. These are the sarcastic, cutting remarks meant to be a put-down. For some reason guys find this barbaric way of communication to be macho and endearing to their same sex. For example, a guy will walk into a room, see his buddy with a strange tie, and ask, "Did your mother-in-law give you that for Christmas?" Or "Did you get that tie in high school?"

   Now if I made a comment like that to Donna, I don't have to tell you the results. But sometimes we cross this threshold and treat our mate too much like we treat the men. Before opening your mouth, guys, try asking yourself whether what you are about to say will come across lovingly. Let love be the ruler by which you measure your words. Think first — then try speaking to her.

   Feedback. One of the toughest questions Donna ever asks me is, "Which of these two should I wear?" That's what I call a lose/lose question. No matter which one I choose, it probably isn't going to be the right answer. What she really wants is affirmation like this: "Darling, they're both beautiful, and I'd really be happy with either one. Which one do you think you want to wear?" When she tells me the answer, then she really wants me to affirm her choice. The same would hold true for earrings and just about anything. So what do I do if she puts on something I genuinely don't like? The answer to that question is simple: Nothing! Enjoy whatever she puts on and affirm her choices whenever you can, because unlike the guys, you have been called to love your wives.

   Construction Criticism. Here's a great story about how not to give your wife feedback regarding her looks or her clothing. Two friends of ours,

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who must remain deeply anonymous even to the general region of the country in which they live, recently told us this hilarious story, which certainly wasn't hilarious at the time. If you figure out who they are, we're dead.

   It seems as though the wife had put on some weight due to some physical problems and the medication she was taking. One day her husband, Sam, walked into the bedroom and remarked to his wife, Sara, "Are those panties comfortable?" It seemed obvious from his intonation and comment that he could tell she was having a hard time fitting into things. She said nothing at the time except perhaps a non-committed grunt. But later she went into what she called a "silent rage."

   As soon as Sam left, Sara took out her scissors and cut every single pair of panties up that she had and threw them into the trash — except, of course, the ones she was wearing. She went to Neiman Marcus, the most expensive store she could find at the local mall, marched into the women's wear section, then asked to see the most expensive panties sold. Using the family charge card, she stocked up on the next larger size, top of the line silk panties! The next time Sam saw her in these beautiful new panties, he commented on how attractive they looked. "Thanks," she said with a hint of revenge, "they're new. I thought you'd like them. You'll get the bill soon!"

   Need we draw any conclusions from this story? What you as a husband might think is an innocent little piece of "constructive criticism" can start World War III in your marriage.

   Independence. One principle will hold true chapter after chapter as we look at the things that husbands do to drive their wives crazy. It's the admonition to love our wives. Have you ever noticed that Paul rarely exhorted wives to love their husbands? The reason is obvious to a woman: women have a great capacity to love with a loving instinct that causes love to come much more natural to them. For them to

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express love to a husband is much more natural.

   Furthermore, since they are also creatures who need a great amount of love, Paul was inspired to exhort us husbands to love our wives — because we men tend to be independent. We can go it alone on autopilot without a tremendous need for affection. So we are the ones who need the exhortation to love; our wives don't. That is a bottom-line difference between how we behave with the guys — that is, independently — and how we treat that special one who is our life companion.

   Communication in general. The best illustration I, Hans, ever heard regarding the difference between what men think they communicate to their wives and what their wives actually receive came from Gary Smalley the first summer I went to Promise Keepers. Sixty-five thousand men were gathered together in the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis for a power-packed weekend of male bonding. As Gary Smalley spoke, he asked each one of us to pull one hair out of our heads, hold it up high, drop it, and then let it fall to the ground in front of us. We all did it and were curious about what would happen next. He asked us if we heard the hair as it crunched to the ground. Of course we didn't hear a thing, even though 65,000 hairs fell to the ground at the same time. And you think you have trouble in your bathroom!

   Then Dr. Smalley asked everyone of us to take one of our shoes off

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and hold it high up in front of us. On the count of three he asked us all to drop our shoes at the same time. Well, it sounded like a huge clap of rolling thunder as 65,000 shoes dropped to the floor of the stadium at one time. His point was this: When we think we're sharing a bit of constructive criticism with our wives, we view it as a small little hair we're dropping on her by way of correction. But generally they take it as if we've just hit them over the head with a boot. The moral of the story is this: Men, if you must try to give your wife constructive criticism, remember the hair versus the boot analogy and that timing and tenderness is everything. Wait for those reachable, teachable moments, and don't consider it your calling in life to improve the state of your mate.


   In learning to understand the differences of the woman I have chosen to spend my life with, I need to know her true needs. There was a time when I thought that was a no-brainer — any guy can figure that out. But I have learned that Donna is totally different from any male friends I have or ever will have, and I cannot really understand her needs without some help from the outside.

   I want to meet her needs so that we can have a growing, nurturing relationship and marriage. Marriage can be the greatest relationship in life — if you learn to meet one another's needs. A real turning point came for me when I began to understand that Donna is wired with an entirely different set of blueprints.

   Not too long ago we ran across the best book we have seen on meeting the needs of one another: His Needs, Her Needs by Willard F. Harley, Jr. This is one of those must get books on surviving and thriving in a marriage. If you don't have it, run, don't walk, to your nearest bookstore and get it!



By Dr. Willard F. Harley, Jr.

The Five Needs of Women

1. Affection
2. Conversation
3. Honesty and openness
4. Financial support
5. Family commitment

The Five Needs of Men

1. Sexual fulfillment
2. Recreational companionship
3. An attractive spouse
4. Domestic support
5. Admiration

   Dr. Harley is a licensed clinical psychologist and director of a network

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work of mental health clinics and chemical dependency programs in Minnesota. He has had thirty years of experience as a marriage counselor and has counseled hundreds of marriages — many of them in deep trouble. Dr. Harley believes that marriages can be happy for a lifetime. And he has worked hard at helping bad marriages become good marriages, as well as broken marriages become whole again. For those of you who might have experienced the trauma of having one of the two of you involved in an extramarital affair, we especially recommend his book to you.

   After reading this amazing book, I decided to personalize it for our marriage. The first insight we gained from Dr. Harley is that marital conflict is created one of two ways:

Couples fail to make each other happy, or Couples make each other unhappy.

   In his book, subtitled by the way, "Building an Affair-proof Marriage," Harley tells of the many couples that fall into trouble with extramarital affairs because of this issue of needs not being met. The good news is that even if that has been your experience, there is help possible. Get his book and learn his valuable lessons. We'll share more of his insights in chapter 7 on building good communication skills.

   Our purpose here is not to go into deep marital therapy — we're really not qualified. But we do want to share with you some hints that have helped us in this arena. Specifically, I, Hans, made a list some time ago of the things I can do to meet Donna's needs — to make her happy. Aside from that being the right and honorable thing for me to do for her as her faithful husband, it makes her a whole lot more enjoyable to live with!

   Here is my list, based on Dr. Harley's five basic needs of my wife:

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How to Meet the Needs of My Donna

Donna's Love Bank

Top Ten Ways to Meet Her Needs:

First of all, the five basic needs she has:

1. Affection: her essential cement of the relationship.



Greeting cards

Holding hands

Back rubs (without sex)

The goodnight and good-bye kiss

Call her during the day.

Leave hidden messages while away during travel.

2. Conversation: focused on Donna

Never ask, "About what?" if she asks to talk!

When I get home, try to get alone with her and find out how her day went.

Take her out for coffee or lunch.

Pursue overlapping areas of mutual interest like camping.

Caring partners converse in a caring way.

She needs undivided attention breaks.

3. Honesty and openness

Truthfulness is the key — period.

4. Financial support

Provide for the family's needs.

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5. Family commitment

I need to be a good and consistent father.

Plan to spend quality family time with the whole family, and make sure it is a pattern throughout their growing years.

Agree with Donna and engage with her in family standards, rewards, and punishments.

   I travel a lot, and when I get home from a trip, there is usually a familiar pattern. I am tired and focused on two things: (1) what happened in the city where I was, and (2) getting back into the mountain of things that piled up for me while I was away.

   To fight the battle of neglecting Donna and the kids when I return, I have developed some guidelines to help the reentry process. These are special rules that come into play when I return home. We develop a more complete travel guide for husbands in chapter 5, but here is my short list for starters:



Always plan a special debriefing time with Donna over a lunch or coffee away from home. Ask her questions and listen to her answers.

Take some time off from work to catch up with my chores around the house.

Give her time to warm up to my being involved again in the daily routine.

Take the kids off her back for a few hours.

   Finally, I have developed a summary short list of things I try to remember to do more than anything else to meet her needs. If I have

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just a little bit of energy or time for expressing love, I know these are the top proven methods to fill her love bank:



1. Sit and listen to her day.

2. Bring her flowers.

3. Send or leave her cards.

4. Take the kids of her hands for a spell.


   Scott is a husband hero of grand proportions. His wife is not well, and he has learned through years of struggle what it means to love your wife and care for her as a "tender" vessel needing nurturing and special care.

   Just a couple of weeks ago I, Hans, had the opportunity to attend a special summit meeting on the East Coast of Christian leaders who are in similar types of ministry. Scott was there, but not for long. This once-a-year summit, a small intimate gathering of high-potency influencers, is always something that I look forward to. It's a chance to rub shoulders with men who are in similar positions that I am in, and a great opportunity to receive encouragement. So much of my life involves giving to others, and this is one of the few times of the year that I am on the receiving end and able to receive encouragement from others who understand the unique challenges of my position. I go for male bonding and to get my needs met from other men.

   We all arrived at the retreat center in Pennsylvania on a cold evening in February. In fact, Scott and I flew in on the same plane from Chicago. At the airport he called his wife and discovered that she was not doing well with an ongoing illness she struggles with. Later that

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night, after we had concluded our evening session, he called his wife again to learn that she was not doing well at all. In the morning after breakfast we each shared our personal prayer requests around the breakfast table.

   When Scott concluded his sharing, he told us that he needed to take off and go back home to care for his wife. It was not that she was in any critical danger, but she was feeling very much alone and sensed a helplessness without her husband by her side. We laid our hands on Scott, prayed for him and his dear wife, and sent him on his way with our blessing. He had come all of this way to one of the most important weekends in his calendar year, and then he turned right around and went home to stand next to his lifetime partner and helpmeet. The nineteen of us who remained at the meeting agreed unanimously that Scott is a hero husband

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for doing the right thing in a moment like this. She needed his support and his protection in the face of uncertainty, and Scott chose to lay aside his own needs to meet hers. Sounds a lot to us like Christ loving the church in the way He gave Himself for her.



Just Let Her Know You Care

from Ruth Ryan

Ruth Ryan, wife of the legendary pitcher Nolan Ryan, recalls the one moment that stands out for her in Ryan's illustrious 26-year career:
   "It probably happened the first time on the baseball diamond in Alvin, Texas, in the mid-1960s. Then it happened repeatedly for three decades after that. Inevitably, sometime during a game, Nolan would pop up out of the dugout and scan the stands behind home plate, looking for me. He would find my face and grin at me, maybe snapping his head up in a quick nod as if to say, 'There you are; I am glad.' I'd wave and flash him a smile. Then he would duck under the roof and turn back to the game.
   It was a simple moment, never noted in record books or career summaries. But of all the moments in all the games,
it was the one most important to me." (From Ruth Ryan's book, Covering Home. Word Books, as quoted on page 87 of Reader's Digest, Sept. 1995.)


   If you're convinced that your wife is not really just like the other people in your life, then try to sort out some of the ways that she differs. Specifically:

1. For Both of You:

   Read 1 Peter 3:7 together and discuss its meaning. What do these words mean to you in your marriage? Look up the passage in several commentaries and write down the explanations that you find. Then read the passage in several other translations.

2. Husbands:

   How would you apply 1 Peter 3:7 in your marriage? Take some time to write some notes in your journal about how you should use the truths in this verse as you relate to your wife.

3. Husbands:

   Go through our list of annoying things that husbands do to turn off their wives that we discussed in this chapter under the heading, "How She Differs from the Guys." Do you find any habits here that you are guilty of? Try discussing them with your wife and see how she feels. Better yet, work at being more of a gentleman in private and see what difference it makes.

4. Both of You Together:

   Go away for a weekend, or at least overnight, to a nice hotel where you can relax for a quiet evening. Then on the next morning take a

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couple of hours to discuss the five needs of a wife from Dr. Harley's list. If you are committed to understanding your spouse and meeting her needs ask her to help you make your personal application list.

5. Wives:

   Do not hold any list that your husband makes in good faith over his head as a tool against him. Give him grace and encourage him when he hits a home run. Remember this is a process that can take many months and years to develop.

Chapter Three  ||  Table of Contents