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Face-to-Face And Shoulder-to-Shoulder

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Have you noticed that men and women do friendship differently? Typically (and I realize there are always exceptions to the general rule), female friendship involves face-to-face talking and sharing. Best girlfriends share their hearts, dreams and frustrations with one another. Although they enjoy doing activities together, it is the close heart-to-heart sharing that binds them together as “best friends.”

Male friendship, however, generally involves activity or watching an activity shoulder-to-shoulder, without much talking (other than commentary on the activity). Guys hang with other guys that enjoy the same types of activities or hobbies – anything from sports to computers to working on their cars. They are comfortable sitting shoulder-to-shoulder watching TV without talking…or working side-by-side at their favorite hobby. It is the activity that binds them together as “best buds” more than the conversation.

Generally, when a guy and girl is dating, they put their best foot forward and do whatever the other enjoys doing, as a way to get to know one another and even impress one another. A guy is willing to sit and talk face-to-face as he gets to know a girl, especially because she is attentively hanging on to his every word! And a girl is more than happy to sit and watch football, just as a way to be close to him. Attending activities together and going for walks hand in hand is all part of dating – and it works!

But after marriage, things tend to get more complicated. The busyness of life creeps in and things become mundane. A husband can be preoccupied and quieter than when they were dating. And a wife is often too busy to sit and watch her man tinker on the car or computer…or sit and watch the baseball game. Gradually, they drift apart…each irritated with the other for not taking the time to meet their need for face-to-face or shoulder-to-shoulder time.

But when a husband chooses (moves first!) - to take time to talk face-to-face with his wife, his wife is more motivated to be shoulder-to-shoulder with him without talking. Conversely, if a wife moves first and chooses to be shoulder-to-shoulder with her husband without talking, her husband is more motivated to be close and talk face-to-face with her.

This isn’t a magic bullet and it’s not going to work instantly. The deeper the distrust in the marriage, the longer it takes. But eventually what goes around comes around.


Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.
Author, Speaker, Pastor

Questions to Consider

  1. Will you look for ways to be the mature one in your relationship this week?
  2. Men, will you seek to meet your wife’s need to share her heart with you?
  3. Women, will you take the time to sit quietly with your husband at an activity of his choice…without talking?