You Want Your Husband to Hear Your Heart—The Answer May Be to First H.E.A.R. Him

A wife longs for her husband to hear her heart. She becomes insecure when he does not. What can she do?

Given your husband has goodwill and wants to do God’s will, I suggest looking in four areas and trying to “H.E.A.R.” your husband.

You Want Your Husband to Hear Your Heart—The Answer May Be to First H.E.A.R. Him

H: Honor his desire to honor God. If there is any positive thing you see in his walk with God, say, “I want to honor your desire to honor God. I have noticed how you _____.” Fill in the blank. While most likely there are things you wish he did in his walk with God that he isn’t currently doing, don’t go there. This exercise is about addressing the positive—how you see your husband honoring God—because it is true, honorable, and right.

Sometimes the Solution in a Troubled Marriage Is to Do Less!

Can a wife be guilty of helping her husband too much? At first glance, that may sound preposterous, right? I mean, of all the burdensome things a wife deals with during the day in managing her home and feeding her marriage, do we really have to add “don’t help husband too much” to her list?

Sometimes the Solution in a Troubled Marriage Is to Do Less!

The events of Genesis 2 speak to this, actually. Take another look at these verses that you are probably more than familiar with already:

  • God created man: “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (v. 7).
  • God put man to work: “Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it” (v. 15).
  • God recognized that man needed help: “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him’” (v. 18).
  • God created the animals, but none were what man needed: “Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, . . . but for Adam there was not a helper suitable for him” (vv. 19, 20).
  • Then in verses 21–23 we are given the creation of Eve out of Adam’s rib in order to be the perfect helper for him.

Did you catch that? Eve was created to be a “helper” for Adam in his work, not to do his work for him. So yes, if by “helping her husband too much” we mean she does it all, to the point in which he feels he is no longer contributing anything, though her heart is no doubt in the right place as she tries to love and serve her husband the best she knows how, she indeed can be guilty of helping her husband too much.

How Have You and Your Spouse Achieved Win-Win in Your Sexual Intimacy? (Part 1)

In the near future, I will be going deeper on the topic of sex in marriage for all of our Love and Respect friends.

The title? Love and Respect (and Sex): Coming Together as Husband and Wife.

Interested in learning more? Would you like to add your stories to the content? Read on, and I’ll show you how.

For over forty years as a pastor-teacher and pastoral counselor, I have exposited 1 Corinthians 7:3–5 with great excitement. In that passage are nuggets of gold for husbands and wives concerning human sexuality. There we learn four beautiful truths that all married believers need to believe, prize, and follow. God calls husbands and wives to honor their:

  •      mutual sexual needs
  •      equal sexual responsibilities
  •      equal sexual say
  •      mutual sexual agreement

One, each of us in marriage must value and validate the way God designed the other with sexual desires, needs, and vulnerabilities (1 Corinthians 7:1–2).

Two, each of us must fulfill our God-given responsibility to meet the other’s sexual need as a reflection of our general concern and devotion to please the other as God calls us to do each day (1 Corinthians 7:3, 33, 34).

Three, we have equal sexual authority given to us by God and have both the right to request more sexual intimacy and the right to ask less, with neither being wrong, just different (1 Corinthians 7:4).

Four, because we have equal say and equal responsibility in meeting mutual sexual needs that differ, God intends for us to find a win-win agreement (7:5).

For this reason, based on Ephesians 5:33, I teach that husbands are to love their wives so much that they seek to respect these mutual sexual needs, equal sexual responsibilities, and equal sexual say, and then find a mutual sexual agreement about sexual intimacy. The same applies to the wife. She is to respect her husband’s inner heart, based on Ephesians 5:33, which means loving him so much that she too recognizes their mutual sexual needs, equal sexual responsibilities, and equal say in order to find mutual sexual agreement.

Love and Respect in the Face of Male and Female Differences

Based on scripture’s command in Ephesians 5:33 for the husband to love his wife and for the wife to respect her husband, Sarah and I have found two challenges.

One, to follow this command unconditionally means we are to love and respect each other even during our male and female differences.

Two, not only are we to love each other when these male and female differences between us are highlighted, but we are to also love and respect these male and female differences themselves as part of God’s beautiful design. I would like for you to comment on this from your own experience. But let me provide a fuller explanation.

Love and Respect in the Face of Male and Female Differences

As for the first challenge, if you are like Sarah and me, who have been married since 1973, you don’t always recognize the male and female difference at the moment of conflict. For example, according to a wealth of research, generally speaking a wife and mother is more risk-averse than the husband and father. Specifically when it comes to the children, a woman would rather be safe than sorry. Thus, she informs her husband that the dirt-bike ramp he is building for their son isn’t a good idea. Of course, this husband’s first impulse is to feel she is saying, “You are putting our son in harm’s way. You are a bad dad. You are wrong.”

This leads him to become defensive. Because he is not recognizing that his wife’s fear stems not out of disrespect for him but out of a motherly protective love for their son, his first impulse is not, “Oh, how can I be a loving and respectful husband as my wife tells me I don’t care about the safety of my son?”

His Need for Sexual Intimacy—Not Wrong, Just Different

If there were ever an issue that isn’t really the issue, it is sex. But boy can it become an issue, can’t it? And yet, it’s rarely, if ever, the issue. Allow me to explain.

Sex is a shared act, between husband and wife, as an expression of love to each other. God created sex not only as the means for multiplication but as a gift of pleasure to enjoy within the boundaries of marriage. Sex was meant to be a wonderful experience for both husband and wife.

His Need for Sexual Intimacy— Not Wrong, Just Different

And yet, as I explain in Love & Respect, sexuality does not show up in C.O.U.P.L.E., the six ways a husband shows love to his wife: Closeness, Openness, Understanding, Peacemaking, Loyalty, and Esteem. All of those expressions of love certainly can result in sexual intimacy, but for her they do not have to. She most desires from her husband his emotional closeness, his honest openness, his willingness to simply listen and understand her . . . and so forth. But sex isn’t on the list of her deepest needs from her husband. Having said this, when a husband acts on C.O.U.P.L.E. in an authentic way, a wife desires sex with him! To arouse her sexually, his focus must not be sexual, if you get what I mean.

His Responsibility Scale and Her Relationship Scale

A wife emails, “We began to have our usual discussion about his mom when the subject of priorities came up. This time it was linked to how each of us prioritized life. In short, he prioritizes on a scale of several things: task at hand, commitments, immediacy or emergency, etc. I prioritize based on relationships: a pecking order or hierarchy. This seemed odd to him, as his way seemed odd to me. But the more we talked, the more I thought this might be an instance of “pink” versus “blue”—neither one is wrong, just different.

His Responsibility Scale and Her Relationship Scale

She then asks, “How does each one prioritize things/relationships in life, and how do each work within that structure, if you will? And how do those views affect the marriage relationship?”

Stereotypical Gender Differences, or a Ring of Truth?

Let’s say you and your spouse were faced with an unexpected expenditure that needed to be paid, like a $5,000 car expense due to a major problem with the engine.

This expense overwhelmed and shocked both of you, becoming a problem you had to deal with together, as the two of you decided long ago that decisions on major expenses would best be handled together.

Stereotypical Gender Differences, or a Ring of Truth?

Finding $5,000 to fix the car would mean rearranging some assets, almost like you had to rob Peter to pay Paul. For instance, one obvious possible solution would be to take $5,000 from a savings account that you had established to pay for Christian schooling the following year when your daughter would excitedly enter first grade. But using this money to pay for the unexpected car expenses would put Christian schooling in jeopardy.

As a conscientious and responsible husband and wife with goodwill, how would you initially come at this problem you both had?

Does Galatians 3:28 Do Away with Male and Female Distinctions?

In Galatians 3:28, Paul says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Does this word from the apostle do away with male and female differences, such as those that for years I have distinguished as “pink and blue” and “not wrong, just different”? After all, Paul said there is neither male nor female.

What else could he have meant, some have asked, if not that there are no distinctions between male and female?

Does Galatians 3:28 Do Away with Male and Female Distinctions?

Well, first, Paul also said in that verse, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man.” Did he mean that a Jew was no longer a Jew, and if this Jew wished to be a Greek, he could become a Gentile? Could a slave cease being a slave and become a free man simply from wishing it to be true? Of course not. Paul isn’t even hinting at that, nor have even the most liberal scholars suggested that.

A Wife Finally Understands Why Her Husband Kept Misinterpreting Her

I was once talking with another man about his marriage, and he shared with me that whenever he and his wife would get into a fight, she would get “historical.” Curious at his choice of words, I asked him if he meant “hysterical.” He replied, “No, historical. She keeps dredging everything up from the past.”

A Wife Finally Understands Why Her Husband Kept Misinterpreting Her

The truth is, when upset, a wife can get both historical and hysterical. At that moment the husband does not hear what is no doubt his wife’s heart message, “I am feeling unloved and need reassurance of your love.” Instead, he hears, “I do not respect you.” He misinterprets why she is giving him a history lesson of what he did wrong that hurt her. In response, instead of soliciting empathy and an “I’m sorry,” he goes on the defensive because he feels she is saying, “Here is proof again that you are an inadequate husband and human being, and I could never respect you.”

Love and Respect Is a Daily Practice, Not a One-Time Fix

One day I received the following message from a husband that encouraged me greatly, as do so many letters I receive from people who have discovered the Love and respect message:

The reason we came to the conference was because my pastor found out that I had filed for divorce. And he asked if I would go see you. I was so bitter at this point, I told my pastor that I would apply it in my next marriage. He said, “Okay, I’ll pay for the weekend. Just go!” And I really thought nothing you would say could change my mind. It was the most eye-opening weekend of my life. [My wife] and I both wanted the divorce but we really had no good reason, just unhappy. Your conference turned on all kinds of light bulbs for both of us. And it saved our marriage. Emerson, God is using you in a big way. I just wanted to say thank you.

If only this couple had taken to heart Paul’s warning in 1 Corinthians 10:12, which says, “let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.”

Love and Respect is a Daily Practice, Not a One-Time Fix

Because quite sadly, several weeks later this couple got in a major conflict and divorced. After the divorce, he admitted how wrong and foolish he had been. Like this couple, people can receive the insights from the Love and Respect conference, and experience an incredible healing, but just that quickly, re-enter their destructive paths.

That is why I try to warn people that though optimism can surge when you apply the Love and Respect message, they should get ready for a period where things go flat.

How to Solve Disagreements about Spending Money

Have you heard the joke that says, “A man will pay two dollars for an item he needs that is only worth a dollar, whereas a woman will pay a dollar for an item she doesn’t need that is worth two dollars but is on sale”?  

Is that always true? Of course not.

But people laugh at this because they have heard many women in their lives justifying a purchase because “it was on sale!”

On the other hand, while men tend not to do as much shopping as women (though there are exceptions), when they feel they have to have something, they will typically pay more to get it right then and there.

How to Solve Disagreements about Spending Money

Naturally, between husbands and wives, disagreements arise when each finds out what the other did. He asks with emotion, “You did what? You bought something that you didn’t need?” And she firmly states, “What a rip-off! I can’t believe you paid what you did for that thing!”

But each has a reasonable explanation for spending what they did, when they did it, on what they spent it on.

How Do You Define “Healthy” When It Comes to Relationships?

Have you ever noticed how people seem to have different interpretations of or responses to the word “healthy” as they apply it to different things? Every parent loves to hear the news of their “healthy” baby just born and laid in their arms. But they are certainly under no illusion that their child will never be sick. Yes, their “healthy” child will more than likely even end back up in a hospital again one day from being so sick.

Or a “healthy” savings account or 401(k) always lights up the eyes of a hard worker longing for the days of vacation, home renovation, or retirement. But as most people have learned in today’s roller coaster market, there is no guarantee that tomorrow’s balance will be quite as “healthy.” But does that mean we pull all our money out and stash it under our mattress? No, we leave it alone, with faith that the days ahead will once again be “healthy.” And of course they usually are.

How Do You Define “Healthy” When It Comes to Relationships?

But in marriage, we tend to too often define a “healthy” relationship as one that is very lovey-dovey and romantically giddy. We hold hands while walking around the neighborhood—we’re in a healthy relationship. She is filling well his need for sexual intimacy; he is fulfilling just as well her need for emotional intimacy—they’re clearly in a healthy relationship. He brings her home flowers; she stays up watching Monday Night Football with him—life couldn’t be better; they must be in a healthy relationship.

Who Is He Married to Today—Wonder Woman or Cinderella?

Much has been written and discussed about the “Proverbs 31 woman.” This oracle taught by the king’s mother describes quite the strong woman.

  •      She “works with willing hands” (v. 13).
  •      She “considers a field and buys it” (v. 16).
  •      She “dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong” (v. 17).
  •      She “opens her mouth with wisdom” (v. 26).

Two books later is the Song of Solomon, which reflects on the more intimate aspects of a woman.

Behold, you are beautiful, my love, behold you are beautiful! Your eyes are doves behind your veil. . . . Your lips are like a scarlet thread, and your mouth is lovely. . . . You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you. (Song of Solomon 4)

Who Is He Married to Today—Wonder Woman or Cinderella?

What these beautiful passages tell us is that women are more than capable of being Wonder Woman—strong, wise, independent, a skilled entrepreneur—and yet they also desire to be adored like Cinderella for the feminine beauty God created her as. And I would venture to guess that most husbands agree. They view their wives as strong and beautiful. Wise and precious. Fully capable and incredibly sexy. Wonder Woman and Cinderella.

He’s a Problem-Solver, She’s an Empathy-Giver—Neither Wrong, Just Different

Have you noticed that everyday problems and burdens cannot typically be shared, discussed, and dealt with between you and your spouse in the same way that you have handled similar situations all your life with your same-sex friends or siblings?

For example, a wife comes to her husband with a problem she faces. His first instinct is to try and solve her problem, just as he would with another man who comes to him with a problem. He kicks into solution mode. Most men operate analytically. This is the way he helps his guy friends, who probably say something to him in response like, “I should have come to you weeks ago. Thanks.” They truly appreciate his recommended solution.

However, when he tries to solve his wife’s problem, she will say to him, “I just need you to listen to me and stop trying to fix me.” He is taken back. He is trying to help. Can’t she see that? Instead of words of appreciation such as those he hears from his buddies, he hears her words to mean, “You are an insensitive, unloving jerk.” He feels disrespected, so he pulls back and disengages. He no longer has any interest in understanding and empathizing.

He’s a Problem-Solver, She’s an Empathy-Giver—Neither Wrong, Just Different

She can tell he has turned cold and leaves the room crying. Later, she tells him not to touch her. He withdraws in anger. They are now on the Crazy Cycle: without respect he reacts without love and without love she reacts without respect.

Why does the Crazy Cycle Happen? Speculation versus Facts

Why does the Crazy Cycle happen? Oftentimes, it is because either one or both marriage partners are letting speculation drive their responses instead of facts.

I recall a commercial wherein a wife is informed that her husband is flirting with a woman at the jewelry store. The scene moves forward with the wife coming down the street toward the jewelry store with a rolling pin in hand and a growing crowd marching behind to watch her catch him red-handed. As she enters the store, she observes her smiling husband purchasing a diamond for her. The other female is the clerk behind the counter. This husband was innocent, but the warring wife did not have the facts. Sketchy or misconstrued information is dangerous.

Why does the Crazy Cycle Happen? Speculation versus Facts

We must be careful not to react based on sketchy or misconstrued information. The Bible is very clear that facts must be the basis of evaluation. All of the facts. 

In marriage it is too easy to negatively react based on inadequate or misinterpreted information.

All of us know firsthand how upsetting it is when our spouse jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts. This pains us immensely. We feel disrespected. Unloved. Not trusted. We end up walking on egg shells so as to try avoiding further misunderstandings.