By Gary Moore
Guys, let me ask you a question. What does security mean to your wife? How does she define it? Is it different from the way you define it?
Let me assure you, your wife defines security differently from you. Generalizing, for men security is defined first as some type of financial security — enough income to pay the mortgage, go on vacation, save for college, etc.
Generalizing again, women define security as emotional security. Now there’s two words that men wouldn’t ever put together. Emotional security. What is that? To a woman that means you’ll always be there for her and the two of you will always be close.
The following question was asked of women participating in a national survey: “If you had to make a choice that you wouldn’t want to make, but you had to, would you rather choose to endure financial insecurity and hardship or would you rather choose to endure an insecurity arising out of the lack of love or closeness in a relationship?” Seventy percent of the women surveyed chose financial hardship.
Surprised researchers drilled down into the demographics of the survey participants. They found that the women who were at that time experiencing financial hardship were even more likely to choose financial hardship over relational insecurity. Really?
If that is so, then how do we men provide the emotional security our wives desire? Almost every woman surveyed said one of the ways is “by being present, available to the family and actually happy in your job if at all possible.” Another popular response was “regularly providing the assurance of your love.” Doing the things that say, “I’d choose you all over again.” And also reassuring her once her insecurity is triggered.
This is especially difficult during times of conflict. Because of the different ways men and women handle stress and conflict, our “normal” response is to “give her space.” After all, that’s the honorable thing to do. But most of the time when she’s upset, she doesn’t need space. She needs reassurance and a hug. You may think, “Hug a porcupine?” Yes. Usually, if you’ll move toward her without comment to give her a hug, the quills will lay down.
Men, we need to build a sense of day-to-day closeness between ourselves and our wives. One of the simple (not necessarily easy) ways to do this is by just listening to her. Listening is one of the most important ways to make her feel loved, secure and close to you. One of the reasons it’s not easy for men to listen is because we are such single taskers. When we’re doing something, we can’t hear anything. Thus, for us to listen, we have to stop what we’re doing, turn to our spouse and listen.
But we’re fixers, not listeners. And if we haven’t intentionally learned how to make this work, we fall into a default mode that works something like this. … Since we’re fixers, we’ve developed the ability to filter out all her feelings and emotions so we can focus on the problem. What we don’t realize is that the feelings and emotions are really what she wants us to listen to.
So, for us to help our wives feel emotionally secure, we have to learn how to filter out the problem and focus in on her feelings and emotions. Sounds simple, but it isn’t easy. This isn’t our default mode. We have to literally ignore the problem and try to pull out all the feelings she’s experiencing. Remember, the way she handles stress is by talking about it. Talking about it is how she figures out how she feels about it. And once she knows how she feels about it, she can deal with it. That’s why her feelings and emotions are so important.
Once you’ve helped her pull out all the feelings she’s experiencing, she’ll feel heard. Guys, she’ll probably figure out a solution on her own, but she can’t feel listened to on her own.
The key is to listen to her feelings — her worries, her hurts, her excitement and her fears. Listening in this way truly does help solve the problem.
So, how do we men provide our wives security? Primarily, it is for us to provide emotional security. Financial security is important too, but not the primary consideration for most women. For most women, the best thing you can provide is more closeness with you. Just remember, providing means a lot more than financial security to a woman.
Gary Moore served as associate pastor at Cloverdale Church of God for the past 14 years. He does couples’ coaching and leads couples’ workshops and retreats called MUM’s the Word. He also does a weekly radio program called Life Point Plus on KBXL 94.1FM at 8:45 a.m. on Fridays. For information on his workshops and retreats, contact him at [email protected].