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Is it degrading to a wife to do shoulder-to-shoulder activities with a husband without talking?

A wife on Facebook commented: “So degrading.”

To some women this shoulder-to-shoulder activity without talking sounds humiliating, demeaning, shameful, undignified, and wretched. Otherwise, these wives are open to hearing more!

One wife wrote, “the ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ approach is a ‘slogan for women-bodybuilders.’”

Another wrote, “Together w/o talking? No way.”


A. Do Mothers Experience a Degrading? 

Shoulder-to-shoulder with a husband only degrades if a mother spending shoulder-to-shoulder time with her seven-year-old son degrades her womanhood. By the way, a husband is someone’s son. As the little girl remains in the woman, the little boy remains in the man. “Come be with me! Come watch me!”

B. Do Women Determine the Quality of Relationships?

Shoulder-to-shoulder demeans only if women determine the quality of relationships. In other words, if talking face to face (sharing the report to build rapport) is the pinnacle and proof of emotional connectedness, then anything below this would degrade women. 

C. Do Men Not Have Quality Relationships?

Shoulder-to-shoulder shames women only if men do not have quality relationships as a result of shoulder-to-shoulder activities without talking. However, men deeply bond with great affection via shoulder-to-shoulder activities.

One gal wrote, “Guys bond waaay differently than we do. We think ‘nothing’s haaaappeninggg’ and they’re really enjoying it (even though they might not say anything and probably don’t look like it to us).”

Interestingly, these men would die for each other in a heartbeat. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). However, some people do not measure the quality of the relationship based on self-sacrifice but by the daily giving of the report to build rapport and connectedness. To some, Jesus’ definition of love does not count when it comes to husband and wife. Only if husbands talk face to face on a daily basis about their heart concerns would they reach the level that women have reached. They think men need upgrading.

D. Do Women Need to Become Men?

Shoulder-to-shoulder is undignified only if women are asked to be like men all the time. I am not calling women to become men. Yet, that there are two in the marriage escapes the notice of some women. God created men differently than women, not worse than women. He created women differently from men, not better than men. Though God created us equal, He did not create us the same. He created us male and female, not wrong, just different.

Of course, if women are better than men, then women are justified in passing judgment on men as inferior when it comes to relationships. In the opinion of too many today, men need to be more like women. We tell men to get in tune with their feminine side but never call for women to get in tune with their masculine side. Men need to do face-to-face talking. Women should do shoulder-to-shoulder without talking.


Am I saying that men do not want to talk face to face? Of course not. Many men want to talk each evening about everything—the sanguine intellectual types. Usually these guys do not talk about matters of the heart that burden their wives. These men are talkers, not listeners. The wife, who chooses to be side by side without chatting with her husband, finds the more quiet husband in the relationship, turning to her and sharing something in his heart. Many wives who write me tell me that their husbands eventually open up and start talking, and openly so. These husbands need to feel assured that their wives are their good, positive friends. Let me insert, this does not mean the man will do this each evening. Best of male friends are not on the phone each evening talking about their relational burdens in order to release their pent-up feelings.


Am I saying that women do not want to do shoulder-to-shoulder activities? Of course not. There are some women married to talkative men who tell their husbands, “Enough already!” As one gal wrote,

“It’s funny, because my husband and I are opposite on this one. He would rather talk and I would rather just, well, not talk!”

However, in addressing what many men need, we are not denouncing what many women need, nor are we arguing that all men need silence and all women crave loquacity. We are talking about what energizes many men. We are not talking about belittling women who are quiet. On this point, guess what happens when a husband lives with a quiet wife? He moves toward her to talk, more often than not. As odd as it seems, when a wife is quiet her husband becomes less quiet!


God made us male and female. Not wrong, just different. Meeting the man’s need for shoulder-to-shoulder does not degrade a woman any more than meeting the woman’s need for face-to-face dishonors the man.

A woman asked other women, “How is this degrading (to women)? It’s quite powerful if you try it...”

Another gal chimed in, “This really works!”


“We work out together. No talking during the workouts.”

“We shoulder-to-shouldered yesterday for five hours making venison brats, breakfast links, and smoked beef sticks. Enjoyed every minute of it.”

A wife wrote her friends, “We should figure out an activity our guys would love doing together and we can tag along ... not talking to them, just being shoulder-to-shoulder with them (and talking to each other of course).”

A husband wrote to me, “I am totally enjoying our face-to-face time and Ronda is even enjoying our shoulder-to-shoulder time and this has come about through what we have learned on how we are different.”

A wife writes, “Do both ... go see a movie he picks, and then go to dinner, her choice! Talk about the movie, the meal, the dessert, her feelings, getting lucky that night!”

It is clear God’s design is perfect. A man’s need for shoulder-to-shoulder connection balances perfectly with a woman’s need for face-to-face talk. It creates a wonderful friendship and loving relationship in your marriage.

Please take a moment and view the video titled “Embrace God’s Design” in the next step.

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Discussion Questions

  1. How can men and women have their respective needs met?
  2. How does Jesus’ love count in your relationship with your spouse? How is John 15:13 relevant in your marriage?
  3. If men and women are made differently, should men and women get in touch with their feminine and masculine side, respectively? Why or why not?
  4. Proverbs 25:24 states that it is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife. How relevant is this to a husband opening up or moving away from his wife?
  5. How has the understanding of shoulder-to-shoulder friendship increased your understanding of the relationship between a husband and wife?
  6. Did you have any objections to the shoulder-to-shoulder model? What were they? Do you feel differently now?
  7. What hopes and plans do you have for your marriage with this new understanding?
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StoS Chapter 5
Mark as Complete
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Face to Face and Shoulder to Shoulder
StoS Chapter 5
StoS Chapter 5