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How To Have Fewer Arguments With Your Spouse: Not Wrong, Just Different!

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One of the most popular analogies we use at our Love and Respect Marriage Conferences describes the differences between men and women in terms of pink and blue. Women look at the world through pink sunglasses, while men look at that same world through blue sunglasses.

For example, I have often heard the generalization that women go to movies to excite their emotions and men go to movies to escape their emotions. Even though women may have careers, because most are relationally oriented, they enjoy seeing so-called “chick flicks” that appeal to their love of romance or their heart for families.

Women can be scientists or engineers, but they still have this bent toward the family due to their nurturing nature.

And because most men are oriented toward career and achievement, they enjoy seeing action movies that enable them to block out what happened today at work.

Men can be great husbands and fathers who are quite capable of loving and nurturing, but they still have their "guy" side that likes watching the honorable gladiator defeat his despicable enemy.

Not too many years ago, these same men were little boys building their forts to protect the innocent and conquer their evil foes. And these same women were little girls furnishing their playhouses and caring for those dolls they loved.

These differences between little boys and girls are obvious and intriguing, and they continue into adulthood and show up in movie preferences. In general, men are inspired by movies dealing with honor, and women are inspired with movies dealing with love.

Pink and blue perceptions not only affect seeing; they affect hearing as well.

You and your spouse can hear the very same words, but each of you will hear different messages.

My favorite illustration I give at the Love and Respect Marriage Conference is when a wife says, "I have nothing to wear." She means she has nothing new to wear. When her husband says, "I have nothing to wear," he means he has nothing clean to wear.

But the difference between male and female goes far beyond pink and blue sunglasses and hearing aids, and funny examples.

The biggest pink and blue difference is found in Ephesians 5:33.

God wired a wife to need to feel love and a husband to need to feel respect. This is why God commands the husband to love and the wife to respect. The need for love and respect goes deep into the pink and blue nature.

Here, though, is a critical question: Should a wife judge her husband for failing to see her need for love and should a husband judge his wife for neglecting his need for respect?

For example, a wife wants to talk and connect emotionally, but her husband says, "I'm tired." Is he reporting the facts, or is he rejecting her?

Because a wife usually requests to talk more than her husband requests to talk, his words are interpreted as rejection. Most wives exclaim, "I feel unloved!" Yet, to him the day has been exhausting, and he wants to disengage by watching TV. He does not see himself as unloving!

Is the husband wrong? Though a husband should see the needs of pink, his disinterest in talking does not necessarily make him unloving and therefore wrong, it just makes him different, as blue is different from pink.

On the other side of the equation, is a wife reporting the facts or rejecting her husband when a husband wants to be sexually intimate but his wife says, "I'm tired?”

Because a husband usually pushes for sexual intimacy more than his wife pushes for sexual intimacy (he feels this need in his maleness), her words are interpreted as rejection. He tends to feel disrespected, not unloved. He knows she loves him.  Yet, to her the day has been very tiring, and she wants to bathe, wash her hair, and go to bed early.  She does not see herself as disrespectful!

Is the wife wrong?  Though a wife should see the needs of blue, her disinterest in sex for the evening does not necessarily make her disrespectful and therefore wrong, it just makes her different, as pink is different from blue.

Jesus asked, "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female?" (Matthew 19:4).

In other words, not wrong, just different!  

One husband was challenged to use the phrase, "Not wrong, just different" each and every time his wife did something that irked him. He was told to repeat the phrase a couple of times internally and see if she's simply different about the thing or truly wrong.

He was pleasantly surprised by how few arguments they have had simply because of that little phrase!

-Dr. E

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

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