In my writings and conferences on Love and Respect, I like to use the analogy that men and women are as different as pink is from blue. Women look at the world through pink sunglasses, hear through pink hearing aids, and speak through a pink megaphone; while men do it all with blue.
Which basically means a man and a woman can hear the exact same sentence and interpret it in completely different ways, or even say the exact same thing but mean completely different things with their words.
For example, when a pink woman says she has nothing to wear, she means she has nothing new to wear. But when her husband says he has nothing to wear, he means he has nothing clean to wear. “I have nothing to wear”—the same five words, yet with two completely different meanings. As different as pink is from blue.
And these differences are okay! As I like to also say, they’re not wrong, just different. Because in Genesis, the Scriptures say that God created us “male and female” (5:2), not as one unisex being with little to no differences.
These God-designed pink and blue differences go well beyond what we mean when we say we have nothing to wear. For example, in general, she (pink) has a deep desire for face-to-face communication with her husband, whereas he (blue) is often intimidated by the intimacy of the face-to-face but desires instead to spend shoulder-to-shoulder time with her doing an activity. Or in a conflict, she is wanting him to open up to her and unload his thoughts, but as his heart rate is at 99 bpm when in conflict, he feels the more loving thing to do is to walk away. Or she has a deep need for emotional release with her husband, while he has a deep physical need for sexual release.
Male and female. Pink and blue. Not wrong, just different.
But let me be clear on something. Though based on the very real and biblical idea that men and women were created differently, this does not mean that men do not ever look their wives in the eye, or women do not enjoy an activity with their husband, or that he never unloads emotionally on her, or that she never has a deep desire to be sexually intimate with him.
Men can respond in ways that appear pink but are very much part of being blue. And women can respond in ways that appear blue but are very much part of being pink.
A pastor said about one guy in a Love and Respect class, “He was crying and wondering what was wrong with him since he does like face-to-face communication and wants to apologize to the person face to face, etc. . . . He feels he identifies with more of the pink than the blue. So I did explain to the class that this is bigger than any one specific type. We are hands, feet, etc. and although the same as part of the body we are different even as we express ourselves as blue and pink.”
My son Jonathan, since a little boy, has been coached to say, “I am sorry. Will you forgive me?” That doesn’t make him a pink female. It makes him an honorable man doing the loving thing.
Doing the right thing when the situation demands it is both loving and respectful. For a man to apologize for something he did wrong and doing so face to face with his wife doesn’t make him a woman. It shows his godliness.
I have found, too, that when a wife stonewalls and refuses to talk and shuts the man out, it compels the man to move toward her. It is like a rubber band. As she pulls away, she pulls him toward her. (The same applies when a man pulls away; it draws the wife toward him.) I don’t know if this guy’s wife has shut down on him, but if she has, he will naturally reach out to her to make things right, as he apparently is doing. That hardly makes him less than a man.
In 1 Peter 3:7, Peter writes, “You husbands, in the same way live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman.” The phrase “someone weaker” is translated “weaker vessel” in the King James, but Peter is certainly not making a chauvinistic statement on a woman’s physical capabilities. Scripture is filled with strong women such as Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, who drove a tent peg through the forehead of Sisera, the general of the Canaanite army (Judges 4:11–22)! Peter simply means that a woman desires her man to honor and cherish her as though she is a weaker vessel. But this does not mean that a physically gifted female tennis star or MMA fighter should worry that they are more “blue” just because they can whip up on most guys in their respective sports. Not at all. More power to them!
Having said this, if a man is insecure as a male, then his insecurity can get the better of him. He ends up seeking reassurance that all is okay between his wife and him. Such a reaction is unhealthy given this is a pattern and his wife feels he is too anxious, paranoid, and needy. A wife exacerbates her husband’s insecurity when she communicates that he is too needy and weak. Her comment ignites more of his uncertainty. A dissatisfying cycle ensues.
Also, a challenge needs to be extended to this fellow if he cries a lot in the marriage. At a certain point, most women don’t want to lean on a man who is weeping and seeking her support and affirmation to make him brave. She wants that to be inherently within him.
But a blue male is not pink for apologizing. He is doing the honorable thing by assuring that all is okay between he and his beloved. He is also not pink just because he becomes emotional, even tearing up at times. After all, there is no one he loves and cherishes more than his wife. If his emotions get a hold of him in this way in an intimate moment, he should not be ashamed of revealing how much his wife means to him and that he was bothered as much as he was when things between them seemed on the fritz.
Nor is a pink female blue just because she shows her warrior side too. After all, the mama bear inside her is ready to fight for her children’s lives in a moment’s notice. Why would she also not be able to show her great strength at other times?
Pink and blue may look different for some, as we have seen, but what I have found to be common among all blue and “pinkish” men is that even when he appears to be doing the “pink” thing, it is out of his deep-felt desire for unconditional respect; and even when pink and “blue-ish” women appear to do the “blue” thing, it is still out of her deep-felt desire for unconditional love.
In the end, we go back to God’s word to the married couple in Ephesians 5:33: More than anything else, she desires his love, and he desires her respect. When we appreciate this, though there is cross-over, it increases our self-understanding and sparks mutual understanding. This is a good thing!
- What kind of pink and blue differences have you noticed between you and your spouse? Have you noticed any “pink” tendencies in the blue husband or “blue” tendencies in the pink wife?
- Why should a man not run from his need to still apologize face to face with his wife and try to excuse himself from doing so because “that’s not what a blue husband does”? What is he telling his wife when he does apologize to her and meet her emotional needs in the moment?
- How have you interpreted or been taught Peter’s use of the term “weaker vessel”? Is he making more of a statement on a woman’s physical abilities or on how her husband should cherish her?
- How have you seen a blue husband acting “pink” out of his deep-felt desire for respect? How have you seen a pink wife acting “blue” out of her deep-felt desire for love?
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