And God Made Them Different, Pt. 2
Study Guide, February18, 2018
Pastor Clay Olsen
Some of the wisest, yet most unusual wedding vows I ever came across were spoken by a Bride that after the Minister said, “Do you take this man for better or worse…” she said, “Well, he ain’t gettin’ any better, and he cain’t get no worse…so I takes him just as he is!” That was a wise woman! That saved the both of them from a lot of unrealistic expectations.
We thought we ought to continue on a course we started last week of exploring some remarkable ways that God made men and women different, as well as made them with similar needs. And wisdom in relationships is found in better understanding these differences and in better assisting one another in these similar needs.
Last time we noted that some of the differences are simply biological, of course. So consider some more differences, like even with ‘blood’. Men have heavier blood, with 20% more red blood cells. And since red blood cells supply oxygen to the body cells, that explains why women tire more easily and are more prone to fainting. Men also have thicker skin and thus bruise less easily. Men also even have thicker skulls than women. (Resist from reading between the lines here Ladies…) Then, women have larger kidneys and liver, but men’s lungs are larger, so that’s why men and women even breathe differently. And women’s metabolism is normally lower than man’s…so that might have something to do with why women can withstand heat better and men can withstand cold better. Also, on average, men possess 50% percent more brute strength than women since 40% of a man’s body weight is muscle, compared to 23% for a woman. And when it comes to lifespans, well, women tend to outlive men by three to four years.1
Here’s a remarkable difference that we learned from Dr. Dobson’s study of ‘Understanding Boys’. At about six or seven weeks in the development of a pre-born baby boy a ‘hormonal bath’ alters the structure of the little boy’s brain. The rope of nerve fibers, called the ‘corpus callosum’, that connects the two sides of the brain are changed in this hormonal wash or bath. And from then on the number of electrical transmissions that flow from one side to the other are more limited in the male than in the female; with women having up to four times as many neurons connecting the right and left side of their brain. And this has life long implications for both men and women. It explains why, as we pointed out last time, men think rather compartmentally and women think globally.
One implication has to do with the emotional component. For example: Because of this change in the ‘corpus callosum’ a man will have to think longer about what he believes and feels—especially about something with an emotional component. A woman, on the other hand, will typically be able to access her prior experience from both hemispheres and discern almost instantly how she feels about it. 2 That’s why if a woman asks a man how he feels about something, and he says, “I don’t know…I’ll have to think about it”…well, that might sound really weird to a woman, but it makes perfect sense to a guy. Remember, women have an enhanced ability to combine thoughts and even memories with their emotions, but guys don’t have quite this same access. So if a woman asks her husband if he likes her new hairstyle, and he doesn’t answer immediately…it doesn’t instantly mean ‘No’… he’s just waiting for his thinking about it and his feeling about it to come to a conclusion…with no doubt the answer being “Absolutely!” But anyway, this explains the silence.
Here’s something that occurs very differently between men and women’s brains as well. Men and women make decisions about things very differently, such as how they go about asking for things they want or need. Women develop from childhood a kind of language known as ‘hint language’ when asking for something she wants or needs. A woman may say, “Honey, do you feel like going out to dinner and seeing a movie tonight?, when what she really means is, “I want to go out to dinner and see a movie tonight”. Unfortunately, men often do not get the hint. This is due to the fact that ‘hint language’ is not a part of men’s language style, since men tend to take language pretty much ‘straight up’, or they focus on the content of the message instead of hidden meanings. So when a guy gets a question like that, “Do you feel like going out…” he’s thinking about how he feels about going out. And when his thoughts tell him, ‘well, there’s that big race on the tube tonight’ and then when his feelings remind him how good he feels about racing, he thinks, “No, I’m fine…but thanks for asking…not realizing that she’s standing there thinking, “That was cold…don’t you even care that I want us to go out and do something special together like have dinner and talking and going see a movie?” 3 He didn’t get that ‘hint’ at all!
Now that might be a stretch in an example, but women should not assume that men understand ‘Hint language’. Rather, do understand that men love it when women tell them exactly what they want or need instead of dropping hints. Guys have a hard time with hints. Especially, young boys. When a Mom says to their daughter, ‘Would you like to clean up your room?’ The girl tunes in and thinks, “Mom wants me to clean up my room. So ‘Okay’”. But when a Mom says that to her son, the boy thinks, “Whoa…what? Do I want to clean up my room? What I would like is to go get some pizza!” Guys don’t handle hints well. Just tell them exactly what you want them to do. They can take it!
On the other hand, remember that motto for men by the Apostle Peter: “Guys, try to live with your wives in an ‘understanding way’? There’s actually a ‘key’ that opens up better understanding for both men and women. But think about it in terms of the guys here. When, for example, husbands think more in terms of ‘serving their wives’ rather than in being served they will come to not only bless their wives more and more, they will also come to understand more and more things about their wife, like even more about this other language that their wife speaks. Serving your wife opens the door to understanding your wife, and vice versa. Plus, it is through serving that you will discover a greater sense of joy than you could have ever reached without this attempt at seeking to serve her more and more and to understand her better and better.
Which brings us back to the similar needs of men and women, which when acted upon brings an amazing harmony to all these differences. Like the surprising need we just mentioned, which we also saw last time. Again, remember the amazing revelation: God’s requirements are also our basic needs. Deut 10:12- “Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul…” NASU
Last time we talked about most of these except for this one about ‘serving’. Did you know that both men and women have a basic similar need to ‘serve God’? Remember even Jesus said: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 NASU Of course that was the ultimate demonstration of service. But what we find is that in serving others we are fulfilled. Just before Jesus said what He did about His coming to serve He said: “…whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.” Mark 10:43-44 NASU
Particularly in, say a husband and wife relationship, as you humble yourself in service to your spouse and others you then rise in their esteem of you. Or as you pour yourself out in service God sees to it that you are filled in significance and satisfaction.
It was fascinating that in our Men’s Life Group study that on the section discussing things we can do right now to find healing for our emotional and spiritual lives it focused on ‘serving others’. And one of the discussions said that the famous psychiatrist Karl Menninger was once asked what he thought someone should do if on the brink of a nervous breakdown. He said, “(I would tell them) leave your home, find someone in need, and do something to help that person.” Wow! What a surprising therapy, huh? And what a commentary on how a person’s sense of significance and satisfaction are directly related to their service to God and others.
This is actually built right into a marital relationship between a man and a woman. Before the Apostle Paul elaborates on directions for husbands and wives he starts with this exhortation: Eph 5:21- “Be willing to serve each other out of respect for Christ.” ERV That is the starting place in successful relationships. And since serving God and others is really a basic need of ours, then by the husband serving the wife and the wife serving the husband, each are getting one of their own basic needs met even as they focus on seeking to meet the basic needs of their spouse.
Now, remember, every discipline of right living, righteous living, holy living, is an acquired taste. The natural bent of our human natures is to seek to be served rather that seeking to serve others. So you have to stick with it. It’s like sowing and reaping…keep sowing good seeds of service and you will begin to reap the fruit of significance and satisfaction in your relationship and your own personal well being.
Speaking of differences, there is actually a very specific difference that the Apostle Paul points out at the end of that chapter of directions for husbands and wives. And when men and women catch this and remember this and adjust how they relate to one another according to this, it changes everything in their relationship for the better. It is absolutely fascinating. Notice: Eph 5:33- “Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.” NASU
After an entire letter of the Apostle spelling out our similar needs as brothers and sisters in Christ, he then pointedly states: But here’s one very different need between you: “Husbands: love your wife; Wives; respect your husbands.” And with this statement the Scriptures point out that the basic need of a woman is ‘love’ and the basic need of a man is ‘respect’. And when men understand this about women and women understand this about men is changes everything in their relationship with one another.
In a remarkable book called ‘Love and Respect’ the author said that we could think about these Biblical needs in terms of a woman needing love just like she needs air to breathe and a man needing respect just like he needs air to breathe. He said when a husband is being unloving towards his wife it’s like stepping on her air hose…her spirit deflates. And when a wife is being disrespectful towards her husband it’s like stepping on his air hose…he shuts down. Often both spouses have goodwill toward each other, but they are not recognizing this difference between each others needs. For example: She criticizes out of love, but he hears only disrespect. He distances himself to prevent things from escalating, which he thinks of as being the honorable thing to do, but she sees it as a failure to be loving. And round and round it goes. He calls this the ‘Crazy Cycle’.
It’s like this counselor has explained to couples in counseling in that whenever a wife is complaining, criticizing, or crying, she is sending her encoded message: “I want your love.” And whenever a husband is speaking strongly or sometimes not speaking at all, he is sending his encoded message: “I want your respect.” 4 And interestingly enough, neither of these is about earning this love or respect at the time, rather it’s about sacrificially giving to the other what is most needed at the time. Remember, Biblical love is ‘sacrificial love’ and Biblical respect is ‘sacrificial respect’. It’s not about condoning or agreeing with the behavior at the time. If so, we would all be in big trouble with our God right now because Rom 5:8 reveals to us: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Biblical love and respect are both sacrificial since they are based upon giving what the other one needs, regardless of if they first deserve it. That’s what makes it sacrificial. But it’s also these sacrifices that then have great impacts on people’s lives, like Jesus’ sacrifice for us.
And that’s why we find that in this counsel in Ephesians for marriage relationships it’s all about ‘sacrifice’, based upon the sacrificial example of Jesus. Eph 5:22-33- “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.” NASU
And that says it all, so we’ll just say; God made men and women different so that by the grace of God they could celebrate their unique designs and by the power of God they can compliment each another as they worship and serve God for the glory of God and the gain of one another.
1. From the book by Gary Smalley and Steve Scott, If Only He Knew: What No Woman Can Resist
2. From the book by Dr. James Dobson, Understanding Boys
3. From the book by Bruce Christopher, Why Are Women So Strange and Men So Weird?
4. From the book by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, Love and Respect, p 40