Submission in marriage doesn’t work

Submission doesn’t work for today’s woman. Why?

Well, if we think of it only as catering to the husband’s wants and needs, it becomes emotional and psychological suicide.

However, true submission requires strength.

Inner strength.

Hers. And his.

If we translate the word “submission” into today’s terminology, it simply means “interdependence.” Neither person runs over the other. Instead they work together. As a team. Each playing his/her part.

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

~ The Apostle Paul, Letter to the Ephesians

“Interdependence is a choice only independent people can make. Dependent people cannot choose to become interdependent. They … don’t own enough of themselves.”

~ Steven Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Herein lies the problem.

To “own yourself,” you must possess true internal strength and confidence. Not that you’re invincible, but that you have faith that you and The Lord can handle anything that comes your way.

You aren’t afraid of the struggle and are open to learning something new.

Is Dr. Debi perfect? Ha!

By now, you’d think I’d know myself pretty well, and I do. Yet I’m amazed at how The Lord continually reveals truth to me … not only about others, but also about myself. I thought I was pretty good at that “submission” stuff in my first marriage, but I didn’t realize that I didn’t understand the whole equation.

My own submission wasn’t by choice. It was rooted in fear.

Fear of displeasing my husband … and losing him. After all, my own father had abandoned me when I was a toddler. And because of my fear of doing something “wrong,” I wasn’t a truly strong woman.

My sense of my own value as a woman was way too dependent on my perception of his opinion of me. Consequently, I worked hard to avoid his anger … and lost myself in the process. And I lost my husband, too.

Many women today believe they are strong.

But could their strength also be fear-based? We often have to toughen up (build walls) to help us get through life, and we lose our true strength in the process.

In other words, we develop a defensive strength, rather than a strong sense of (and value for) who we are as women … femininity and all.

Defensive strength causes wives and husbands unnecessary pain. Everyone loses.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Let’s grow stronger & more confident together!

p.s. If the thought of submission (interdependence) causes resentment to rise up within you, then you probably need some healing and a Daily Dose of Self-Confidence. Learn how to get your emotional needs met at the next Women’s Retreat!

Why Marriage Is So Hard

We all know marriage is hard. But why is that? No two people agree 100% of the time. But many couples argue. Almost daily. Neither person feels like they are being heard. Other couples avoid conflict and lose connection in the process. So where do you begin when it seems you can’t win?

Well, you’re going to need to unlearn some things you believe, but just aren’t true about your mate. And you are going to have to replace that misinformation with the Truth about your Gender Differences, Miscommunication, Individual Personality Traits, and Expectations.

When you fall in love, you focus on the beauty of being with one another. And most men and women ignore – sometimes consciously – the underlying misunderstandings and disconnections occur.

But sooner rather than later, they will make your marriage difficult.

After more than 20 years counseling individual and couples, and training other counselors to work with couples, I have observed the primary factors that make marriage so hard.

In each case, instead of enjoying and/or appreciating our individual differences, we resist them. Usually out of fear.

But when couples understand each other’s personality traits and personal history, they begin to find better ways to be together.

They can appreciate and enjoy their differences, while finding healing and growth for each of them, as well as for their marriage.

A Difficult Marriage Does Not Have to End in Divorce

I know the pain of divorce. First my parents’. Then my own. At 40 years of age, I began college to achieve my lifelong goal of becoming a psychologist. Now I work with men and their wives.

Because I don’t want anyone to go through what my family did.
But also because the vast majority of marriages could be saved!

NOTE: Serious issues (such as domestic violence, infidelity, addictions, PTSD, childhood abuse) make marriage really difficult and usually require professional help to resolve. Those issues must be resolved before you can safely and effectively resolve these more universal problems.

What are the most common problems virtually every couple encounters?

I wholeheartedly believe that – with the right information and tools – you can do a lot to get your marriage on track without professional counseling. The following is intended to help you get started on your journey.

Misunderstanding Gender Differences is the first thing that will make your marriage difficult.

We need to stop criticizing and making fun of our mate’s God-given gender differences. And stop reading stuff from those who claim to help marriages when they are – in fact – teaching that it’s acceptable and normal for you to humiliate your mate. Even in public. Two top Christian Marriage “experts” do that repeatedly. And they dishonor and devalue their own mates in the process. Makes me so very sad … & angry. Please don’t listen to them!

No, wives are not crazy. And husbands are not stupid.

But men and women are different. Always have been. Always will be. We prefer it that way. But our differences go far beyond how physically strong we are or the way we dress.

We are different at the DNA level. No amount of social, physical, or personality adaptations can change that fact.

  • Women have two X chromosomes.
  • Men have only one.

I often think of that missing “leg” (i.e., XX has one more “leg” than XY) as if it were “Adam’s Rib” in the biblical account of Creation. What Adam gained in the beautiful mate God designed especially for him more than made up for what he lost in the process of her creation.

… the man was not created because the woman needed him; the woman was created because the man needed her.


Yes, from the beginning, man is the one who is lacking something.

In the second chapter of Genesis, The Story gets really good. I love the way the Lord shows us more detail about just how He creates Adam. He tells us man is formed from the dust of the ground, and that God Himself breathes into Adam the Breath of Life.

Then He sets the man down – smack in the middle of Eden – with enjoyable and fruitful work to do (pun intended). Adam is now the Resident Gardener with amazing freedom. He can eat anything he wants … except for the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. That sounds easy enough, yes? I’m sure Adam thought so, too.

Now we get to the really good part. Well, it’s actually the “no-so-good” part. That is, what is not-so-good at that point – compared to everything else, which is good – is that Adam is alone. He needs his own Someone. So God does surgery … while Adam’s sleeping, of course. The Lord removes a rib to create his Someone – Someone just for him.

Can you imagine Adam’s excitement when he wakes up?

A totally cool setup – just for him. He already has the whole world at his fingertips. Lots of food. Freedom to putter around in a lavish Garden. Then God gives him a wife, too? She’s the perfect addition to make his life the Paradise God wanted him to enjoy.

That’d be better than having control of the remote, don’t you think? Besides, they were the only two people on Earth at that point … and the football hadn’t been invented yet.

Just think about it. Adam has everything going for him. The Garden is pure pleasure for all his senses. Sight, sound, fragrance, taste, touch.

Nevertheless, the Lord thinks of one thing more He wants for Adam.

God sees Adam’s need, and gives him the Perfect Partner. His Bride is there to rescue him from being alone. Now he has a companion – Someone like him – only different – very different. Someone with whom he can enjoy the pleasures of God’s Creation. Plus they are both totally naked. She’s beautiful beyond words … and totally irresistible.

Adam names her Eve.

He can hardly believe his luck! No competition anywhere. Complete Freedom, and no 2-hour commute to work 5 days a week. Plus Endless Rapture with his Sweet Companion. Sex with her whenever he’s in the mood – which I’m guessing is pretty much all the time.

And Eve’s only desire is to be beside her Dearest Husband, to give herself completely to him, and to bask in his love. She experiences his desire for her as pure Joy and Bliss.

No meals to cook. No dishes to wash. No house to clean. No kids to pick up after. And no dirty laundry to do. Only a totally Hot Husband who adores her. Lucky girl!

Learning to look at gender differences in this way, what seemed difficult in your marriage, at least on the surface, turns into your delight! Just as it was when the two of you first met … only better.

Marriage Is Often Hard Because You Speak Different Languages

At the beginning of each meeting with a couple, I check in to see how things have been going the previous week.

A report from one husband:

“We were sitting at Starbucks, having this great conversation, enjoying the morning. Then all of a sudden, she glazed over and refused to talk. I don’t get it. I couldn’t figure out what happened, and she refused to tell me.”

Or a wife reports something like this:

“I was talking about what we’d learning in our last session, and he suddenly got angry. He made a sarcastic comment, and then wouldn’t talk anymore. I thought we were making progress. What happened?”

Like the folks at the Tower of Babel, everything seemed to be going well. Then all of a sudden, they lost their ability to communicate. They didn’t realize it, but they were actually speaking different languages … although it still sounded a lot like English to both of them.

So why does that kind of miscommunication happen so often between men and women?

By now, we all know that a man is more sensitive than a woman. And he’s vulnerable to different things than she is. So most of the time, a woman has absolutely no clue that she might be saying or doing anything that could be even remotely related to attack, blame, or criticism.

This is where we need to understand the power of our language, and that words often hold very different meanings for a man than they do for a woman.

For example, I was counseling an engaged couple who had hit a roadblock on their way to the altar (metaphorically, not literally). As they struggled to understand one another, the woman looked at her fiancé and said,

“I hate that I’m causing you so many problems. Maybe you’d be better off without me. Maybe it’d be better if I just walked away.”

You can understand that statement, right? She sounds like she’s willing to sacrifice her happiness for his.

That’s not what he heard at all! What he actually heard was,

“You’d better get your act together, Bud, or I’m outta here.”

He was deeply wounded by her statement and didn’t want it to show. So he stiffened his upper lip, and shut her out … to protect himself.

When I translated how he heard her statement, she looked at us both in disbelief. Then he confirmed my translation from female expressive language into male receptive language.

What she’d said was not what he had heard.

His sensitivity to rejection … to not being good enough … to his failure to please her … had colored the meaning of her words. He was listening though the filter of his emotions … through his vulnerability and intense fear of being found inadequate.

We misinterpret one another’s body language, too.

Dr. Deborah Tannen is an expert in the field of interpersonal communication. She conducted a study of same-sex pairs of children (elementary school through high school) who were asked to take two chairs into a room and wait there for the researcher.

I used to show video clips of this study in my class at Azusa Pacific University. It was amazing to watch.

  • The female pairs were consistently engaged in face-to-face conversation as they were waiting for the experimenter.
  • Conversely, the boys placed their chairs in a side-by-side configuration, rarely saying more than a few words to one another and avoiding eye contact.

So just how do you think this tendency might play out in conversations between men and women?

For a man, the face-to-face approach may make him feel like he’s being challenged … especially if his woman is upset. Instinctively, he prepares to defend himself. And as every football fan knows, the best defense is a good offense. Which tends to be not-so-good for her.

Tip: One of the best ways to get a man – of any age – to talk to you is simply to engage in a joint activity that puts you side-by-side. Then let your conversation flow naturally, and before you know it, he’ll be talking about more serious stuff.

Find an enjoyable activity (or semi-enjoyable activity, like washing dishes) that he would like you to do together that puts you side-by-side.

  • Don’t pressure him to start talking.
  • Just listen and see what happens.

NOTE: For women, the side-by-side approach may feel like her man isn’t that interested in her … or that he simply doesn’t give a rip about whatever she’s saying. If she feels like she’s being ignored, she’ll “hit” harder with her words, trying to get him to respond to her.

Which makes marriage more difficult than it needs to be.

Couples who don’t appreciate their mate’s unique personality will have a harder time with marriage.

Which of these statements is true?

  • Opposites attract.
  • Birds of a feather flock together.

I have a theory about that. Working with all ages throughout the years, I’ve noticed that younger couples tend to pick someone with an opposite personality type. Older couples, however, tend to be drawn to someone who is more like themselves.

At least that’s what I’ve noticed, both in my clinical practice, as well as in my social interactions. What about you? What have you noticed? Is your partner more like you or your opposite, personality-wise.

I have often used a questionnaire to give couples a snapshot of their relationship when we begin working together. Among the characteristics measured are personality traits, which are those aspects of a person’s personality that remain relatively stable over time.

For example, an extrovert is not likely to turn into someone who prefers being alone all the time. And someone who favors stability and avoids change probably won’t suddenly decide they want to “just go with the flow.”

So if these traits are stable, we need to find ways to appreciate and maximize the benefit of each trait. Trying to change another person doesn’t work. It will just make them angry. And more determined theirs is the “correct” way of being.

Finally, we to deepen our expectations.

Your family, friends, pastor, and premarital counselor will tell you that your marriage is not going to be romantic. The romance is going to disappear. That’s a given. You might as well accept it.

So we start to expect that. Then something goes a little sideways. And we automatically think “the honeymoon’s over.”

We set up expectations that are so incredibly low. It’s no wonder we fail.

We’re going to work towards what we believe is possible. And if we’ve been told it’s impossible from the beginning – either from watching our own parents or from people who are trying to give us advice – it won’t work.

The answer to that is to realize that marriage is actually meant to grow and deepen over time. I mean think about it:

  • You marry your best friend.
  • He’s sexy and cute.
  • He’s funny and brilliant.

Why not focus on enjoying all those good things about him?

Then when you look at what is it about him that you don’t get, you want to understand that part of him better. Now you’re on a lifelong treasure hunt to find the good of this guy!

Yes, I have met guys that have been so wounded, who have had put up such strong defenses, that they actually are mean and cruel.

But most of the guys – I would say anywhere from 75 to 95% of men are actually really good guys!

But men don’t understand any more about women than women understand about men.

Men have been told that there’s no way you can understand a woman. Women are beyond a man’s ability to comprehend. So they just shake their heads and give up.

But as women you know that’s not true. We’re really simple and very straightforward. We just use a different language than the guy does.

When I was teaching at Azusa Pacific University, I would tell my undergrad students,

“Don’t marry someone that you like where they are now. The person who seems to fit you perfectly. Instead, marry somebody that you want to spend the rest of your life getting to know. Because it’s going to take that long. It’s a great adventure. There’s so much good inside a spouse. And it’s your job to find that treasure.”

When I was a professor at Azusa Pacific University, I was asked to assist a student with her research. She wanted to expose Hollywood’s unrealistic, high expectations for romance.

I disagreed with her premise. She held to her bias and moved on.

I believe that romantic movies illustrate Our Dream of Loving and Being Loved. But most importantly, those expectations far from being too high.

Our expectations for marriage are too shallow!

I wholeheartedly agree with this statement:

“God didn’t create marriage to frustrate us, test us, or to make us feel unworthy or inadequate. He created marriage to be the most fulfilling and sacred of all human covenants. It was designed to be passionate and rewarding and to meet our deepest needs and desires. And it was meant to last a lifetime.”

Jimmy Evans, Pastor

So What Can One Person Do When a Marriage is Difficult?

If your situation is one of the first four listed, you can seek professional help – with or without your spouse. Working on healing and growing yourself is your best approach.

But if your marriage is best described by one of the latter challenges, learn all you can about how the opposite sex operates. Then experiment by applying the suggestions provided and evaluate the outcome. Remember you will have to be consistent. Otherwise, it feels like manipulation. And manipulation leads to drama, not real change.

I look forward to hearing from you. So let me know how it goes!

Did anything change? Do you have more questions?

Finally, keep learning and, whether you experience success or failure, always remember to keep moving toward your higher calling.

Quick Start Guide to Understanding Men

Do you want to know more about your husband? Learn what Dr. Debi learned about men as a Clinical Psychologist working with men & the women they love for 25+ years.

Get instant access to Dr. Debi’s FREE WORKSHOP for women. Watch it whenever you want & as often as you want. Click here for more info.

Better Couple Communication: Be Careful What You Say

Honest couple communication – especially between husband & wife – is essential for creating connection and lasting joy. But should you be able to say whatever you want to your mate?

I’ve always tried to be careful what I say to My Beloved. But many folks – mostly women, it seems; but some men, too – believe you should be able to say whatever you want to your mate. They call it “just being honest.”

On the other hand, some are too careful about what they say because they’re trying to get a particular response from their partner. Actually, that’s manipulation, and I’ve never seen it work to create true connection in any relationship.

The Psychology of Better Couple Communication

As a Couples Psychologist, I’ve seen both extremes.

“letting it all out” or
“tiptoeing around”

The saddest thing about those who’d like better couple communication is that most don’t even realize what they’re actually doing!

So here are my 5 Reasons for being careful what you say.

1. Words can hurt.

Think before you speak: Could what you are about to say be experienced as attacking, blaming, or criticizing? Just because your feelings are hurt does not give you the right to hurt someone in return.

Two “wrongs” never make a “right.”

A counterattack will not get you the response you’re hoping for when you are hurt, but will instead elicit a defensive response from the one who hurt you. Consider these two options and you would respond to each:

What you just said really hurt.

versus …

You’re such a jerk!

2. Words can heal.

Be kind and gracious toward one another. You may have heard that “hurt people hurt people.” Consider what might be behind the other person’s behavior. Chances are he is acting defensively by being offensive … like I just warned you against doing (see above).

If you’re partnered with someone you love, it’s probably because you really like the person he normally is. So if he is behaving in a way that is “out of character,” it makes more sense to assume he has a good reason for that.  Not an excuse, but a reason. Why not find out what it could be?

You seem really tense today. What’s happening?

If you don’t get an answer that makes sense, you can follow up with …

Ok. I’m sorry I burned the toast, but it seems like it’s more than that. I care about you, and I’m here if you want to talk about whatever else seems to be going on.

Then stop talking. Go on about whatever you would be doing under less stressful circumstances, remaining open to hear what’s troubling him when he’s ready to talk about it. (See also When You Love a Broken Man.)

NOTE: Please know that I am not talking here about anyone who is in an abusive relationship, which requires a different strategy. Here is a quick way to evaluate your situation, and if you are in an abusive relationship, please seek the help of a local mental health professional or Christian Care Connect for additional types of care providers.

3. Words can curse.

Assuming the worst about your mate and saying it aloud is essentially the same as pronouncing a curse upon him. Trust me. You don’t want to speak out that kind of potentially self-fulfilling prophecy! (James 3:10)

You know you’re cursing if you begin with “you always …” or “you never …”

It’s also wise to be aware that saying those things to your friends or relatives – with earshot of your spouse or when he’s not around – still register as curses.

The wise woman builds her house,
But with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. (Proverbs 14:1)

4. Words can bless.

better couple communication be careful what you sayPaul’s admonition to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:5) does not give you permission to tell your mate everything you think is wrong with him.

I believe what Paul means is that you should speak the Truth about how God him: as His Dearly Beloved Child.

The most important thing you can do for your mate is to learn to see him as God sees him. Jesus loves him as the man he is, as well as the man he is becoming. Let’s partner with that!

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
    I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3

5. Words can create.

What we think – and especially what we say – impacts the world around us. And that includes the people you love – as well as the people you don’t.

We all believe the world is in more trouble than it’s ever been. So use the creative power of your words to make the world a better place.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17

Here are a few more words from the Word about words … and reasons to be careful what you say.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Genesis 1:3)

I will proclaim the name of the Lord.
    Oh, praise the greatness of our God! (Deuteronomy 32:3)

As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)

Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” (Revelation 19:9)

Big Changes

Life is different today than it was a year ago. And, with so many unknown curves ahead, things are likely to keep changing. So what can you do to manage what lies ahead?

We are all facing big changes that cause stress and give rise to emotional reactions that affect us personally, as well as how we relate to other people. Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind as you cope with the stress of impending change.

In 2019, life felt more predictable. How could we have known what was ahead? Working at home seemed like an impossible, but desirable dream. Now a lot of people are doing just that. But homeschooling kids while you try to work at home? Who saw that big change coming?

Normal used to be …

  • Going out for dinner & a movie.
  • Hanging out with friends.
  • Attending church.

Now “normal” wears a mask.
Anxiety & depression are increasing.
So are domestic violence & suicidal thoughts.

And we don’t know what is just around the proverbial curve for us. So let’s be mindful as we move forward & learn to take charge of our responses.

1. Big Changes make us more emotional & more defensive.

Big Changes – whether pleasant or unpleasant – are fraught with Feelings … in Floods & Flurries. It’s part of being human, you know. We are designed to respond to/interact with our environment. How dull life would be if nothing ever changed!

Feelings are like gauges or thermometers that tell us something is going on around us & inside us. But we need to learn what to do with those feelings. (I’ll say more about that in a minute.)

Because personal experience – especially when it’s been traumatic – has the power to make us overly cautious. Consequently, our emotions can quickly make us Default. Pulling back into shame and self-protection as a way to survive. Whether the threat is real or only imagined.

The purpose of most of today’s news channels is to elicit enough fear to keep us watching obsessively. We become hypervigilent, and fear starts driving even more fear.

2. Sometimes fear takes us by surprise.

If we’re not mindful and have a system for processing our thoughts and feelings, we can get hijacked by them. We always need to pay attention to them, but we do not always need to ACT on them!

  • Notice something is wrong.
  • Identify the actual feeling (sad, hurt, angry, afraid, guilty, ashamed).
  • Ask yourself what need is being triggered as evidenced by the feeling.
  • Seek a solution to your need. Ask someone who loves you to help by doing something specific, such as holding you or reassuring you that you are not alone.
  • Receive and replay (in your heart & mind) any positive response to your request. If you did not get what you asked for, ask The Lord to meet your need through His infinite resources

The fact is that our brains are always collecting “evidence” to keep us focused on fear … especially painful reminders of past rejection & failure.

3. Big Changes have Rumble Strips to keep us on track.

When we’re driving down the highway, rumble strips are there to warn us that we’re out of our lane, possibly even veering completely off course. Tires suddenly hitting the rumble strips make a loud and distinct noise that’s designed to alert the driver to an adjustment that needs to be made. In fact, the noise can even wake someone who has fallen asleep at the wheel. That’s the whole purpose of rumble strips on the road.

If we’re not mindful and have a system for processing our thoughts and feelings, we can get hijacked by them. We always need to pay attention to them, but we do not always need to ACT on them!

  • Notice something is wrong.
  • Identify the actual feeling (sad, hurt, angry, afraid, guilty, ashamed).
  • Ask your self what need is being triggered as evidenced by the feeling.
  • Seek a solution to your need. Ask someone who loves you to help by doing something specific, such as holding you or reassuring you that you are not alone.
  • Receive and replay (in your heart & mind) any positive response to your request. If you did not get what you asked for, ask The Lord to meet your need through His infinite resources.

What Big Changes are you facing today?

Whether those Big Changes include something you’ve wanted for a long time, or something you have dreaded, you get to choose your response to your own emotions.

What if unpleasant emotions are like rumble strips? Signals that evil is trying to pull us off the very course that Our Creator wants us to take?

  • Evil’s intention is for us to DEFAULT to freak-out mode.
    • Doubt our identity and the Goodness of God.
    • Derail. Over-correct. Drive completely off the road.
  • The Lord’s intention is for us to RESET to who we are in Christ.
    • Run toward Him as Much-Loved Children.
    • Refocus on The Father’s Love. Be restored to A Higher Calling.

Default or Reset?

It takes mindful practice. Lots of practice!
Tough? Yes. And so worth it!

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” ISAIAH 30:21
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Do I Matter to You?

When your mate talks about something that you find boring, what do you do? Do you keep doing what you are doing? Interrupt with something you find more interesting? Wait for him/her to take a breathe & then chime in? Or do you make eye contact & actually listen?

In studying couple communication, Dr. John Gottman & his team of researchers observed that partners continually make “bids” for one another’s attention, closeness, and reassurance.

do i matter to you?

These bids were made through comments, questions, glances, and/or gestures.

The couples seemed to be asking, on a regular basis:

Are you there?
Do I matter to you?

Sometimes they got the responses they wanted.

If they didn’t, they tried again.

You’ve watched it happen, right?

It’s most obvious with children.

A few moms are relaxing at the park while their toddlers are playing in the sandbox. One particular mom is engrossed in conversation with her friends, and her 3-year-old tries to get her attention.

If he’s unsuccessful, he doesn’t give up.

If at first you don’t succeed try, try again!

He’ll keep calling her; and if she doesn’t respond, he’ll get closer to her … and louder! He may even resort to attacking her to get her to pay attention to his needs.

Couples communicate like that, too.

If a hello or a smile gets no response, partners intensify their bids.

Like the toddler, they may get louder, even attacking or criticizing.

However, strategies like criticism will naturally elicit a negative response (defensiveness) and launch a negative pattern of interactions that could escalate into a full-blown argument.

Not exactly what you were hoping for, right?

A Word (or Two) About Sarcasm

Sarcasm is a common method of asking for attention without seeming to really need anything. Your needs for attention (and your vulnerability) are hidden behind a screen of purported humor.

Sarcasm is also a very effective way of shooting yourself in the foot. It sends a mixed message. In reality, you’re asking for attention. But the message your partner gets is that he or she is dumb, clumsy, or lacks value — not a great way to get the positive attention you’re really looking for.

When a man’s partner doesn’t respond to or even recognize? his bids for attention, he may simply give up trying.

QUESTION: So what can you do with this information? Get involved in your own research by observing your own behavior.

  • How many times and in what ways did you ask for your partner’s attention today?
  • Did you get the response you wanted?
  • How can you increase the effectiveness of your bids?

Helping Your Man Take Leadership

male leadership

First, he needs to know that you are following him. Even if he’s not a very seasoned leader.

Because a man can never become a really great leader if no one is willing to follow him.

In a word, he needs your willingness to submit to his leadership.

  • Submission really means that you trust and respect him.
  • It does not mean that you follow him blindly and mindlessly.

Second, he really needs your feedback.

Both Scripture and research show that men need to be open to the influence of their wives. Otherwise, they’re doomed to fail.

However, your feedback must never be
in the form of criticism, attack, blame, or advice.

What he desperately needs to hear is when he is getting it right … when he’s doing something that pleases you … that makes you happy.

And remember he needs you to help him look good to anyone who’s watching. He’ll stand taller and work harder than you ever thought possible. Yes, just give him that, and he’ll pull out all the stops to please you – more so than you ever imagined.


  • How many women today are willing to submit to their husband’s leadership?
  • What type of feedback do you see most women give to men?
  • What kind of results do they get?

The Wounded Warrior

wounded warrior

God created men to be Warriors. Amazing. Wonderful. And they are. But so many of our men don’t feel at all like those words describe who they are, especially in the eyes of the women they love. And that makes me sad. I hope it makes you sad, too.

I’ve studied the Psychology of Men at both the graduate and the post-doctoral levels, taught at two Christian universities, and written books on this popular subject. I know that:

The Wounded Warrior

As a normal part of growing up, most men experience relational trauma that women don’t. For example, they’re taught to disconnect from their mothers. Shamed into disconnecting. Usually by 3 years of age. As were their fathers. Which means their fathers are also disconnected. Leaving him with no one to help him understand himself.

Male Relational Dread

Not having learned to deal with emotions in relationship when he was a boy, a man often continues to feel intensely afraid of conflict, as well as connection. Bergman (1995) described this emotional experience as male relational dread.

His fear is characterized by a sense of inevitable, never-ending disaster and an expectation of immense and irreparable damage.

Even though he may desperately want connection, a man may interfere with activation of his own attachment system by “withdrawing, striking out, tuning out, changing the subject, joking, being nice, falling silent” (p. 83).

As Bergman has observed in his workshops, men may have sufficient experiential evidence that disconnection is the better, safer, way to go.

“The men—sometimes with good reason—did not trust the women to let go of their images of men and to accept male vulnerability” (p. 83).

[And we haven’t mentioned the reality of abuse. It’s tough enough when it comes from another man. I can only imagine what it’s like for those who have been abused by women.]

So what can be done?

The short answer is that men need empathy. The more difficult task, however, is to get the women in their lives to understand and empathize with them without adding further shame, manipulation, and trauma.

The sadest part of that – most women don’t even recognize what they are doing to the man they expect to protect, love, and cherish them.

Always remember, if a man is defensively withdrawn or angry, he probably has a very good reason.

If society is confused about boys and men, then so may boys and men be confused about themselves. The goal is not to become feminine in the process of increased self-understanding, but to find the freedom to be more fully themselves.

There aren’t many safe places in a man’s world, but men can learn to acknowledge their need for a safe place. Negotiating the world of masculinity is a dangerous endeavor, yet the rewards of doing so successfully are many.

Let’s learn to be wholeheartedly
on the side of the man we love!

Disturbing News


Picking up where we left off Jesus has supper with His disciples and shares disturbing news. One who’s eating with them will betray Him. Jesus will die, and they’re all going to scatter. They can hardly believe their ears. But it’s true.

He prays while they wait.
He’s betrayed and arrested in the Garden.
An interesting place for that to happen, yes?

His trial is mockery, and He is beaten severely.

That same crowd – the one that hailed Him into Jerusalem just a few days before – chooses a criminal to be released for Passover. When asked what to do with Jesus, the people shout,

Crucify Him! … Crucify Him!
(Matthew 27:22-23)

It looks like the enemy is winning.
The Son of God’s beaten. Literally.

To be continued …

Doing Good

Doing Good

Yesterday, I wrote about our Defensive strategy. Today let’s review our Powerful First Line of Offense against the attack of the enemy of our souls. It’s not what we’d think of first, is it?

Jesus begins His ministry. He goes “around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil because God was with him” (Acts 10:38b). Soon He’s very popular. Which doesn’t sit at all well with the religious leaders. It’s time for the Passover, and they’re getting really worried about Trouble in River City. Not that Jesus is opening a pool hall, of course.

He’s just messing with their teachings.

He says dangerous stuff like,
“You have heard that it was said .… But I tell you that ….” (Matthew 5:27-28).

Despite what the people are saying – or maybe because of what the people are saying – the religious leaders don’t like Him at all. And they try to trap Him – more than once.

Can you imagine?

Trying to catch the Son of God doing something wrong? How crazy is that? Of course, they don’t have a clue that He is Who He is. They think He’s just some troublemaker dude from Nazareth. Boy, are they wrong!

At the peak of His popularity, Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey. His disciples are more than pumped about His Kingdom. The people spread their coats on the road ahead of Him. Some are waving palm branches …

The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matthew 21:9)

Well, you can just imagine how well that goes over
with the religious leaders. Their plot thickens.

It is Written

it is written

Virus. Quarantine. Economic uncertainty. We’re all involved in battle right now. What’s your first line of defense?

Picking up where we left off yesterday … Jesus then meets up with John and gets Himself baptized. The Father loves the whole scene and announces how pleased He is with His Son. Then Jesus heads into the desert for 40 days. And guess-who shows up.

That old fallen angel – the one known as the adversary – evidently has no idea Who he is trying to mess with out there. So he pulls a few tricks out of his infamous bag of lies.

Jesus doesn’t fall for any of them.
Instead, He quotes Scripture.

And the enemy takes off.
He can’t stand against the Truth.

Never has. Never will. Remember that.

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan!
For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.
Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
(Matthew 4:8-10)