Men and women in marriage are not as different as we thought! Last Sunday I did some audience response system polling in connection with my message on the marriage relationship out of 1 Peter 3:1-7. While a few of results were somewhat predictable, we had several major men/women stereotypes blown out of the water.
One thing that was not surprising is that this passage of scripture is a very challenging one. Because six of the seven verses deal with women and the “S” word (submission) we were not surprised to find 48% of the women admitting to having “difficulty with this passage of Scripture.” But there were also 39% of the men who agreed with them. You’ll have to listen to the message “Keeping I do from becoming I don’t” online at www.Bridgewoodcc.org and judge for yourself how well I addressed these difficulties.
Here then are the three valuable lessons learned from our polling:
1. Both men and women want spiritual partners! When I asked “Do you wish your partner was more interested in spiritual things?” nearly 7 out of 10 men (68%) and 8 of 10 women (78%) indicated they did. While I expected there to be more women than men who felt that way, I was genuinely surprised at the high percentage of men who also indicated that desire. Anecdotal evidence seems to point to more wives than husbands expressing a longing for their spouses to be more spiritual. That has been my observation as a pastor over the years. And the verses out of 1 Peter 3 encouraging women to hang in there in seeking to influence their men for God addresses that common problem. (vs. 1-2)
But our poll on Sunday caught me off guard when we discovered that same heart cry coming from men. What does this tell us? For me it indicates that both partners in a marriage, men as well as women, want the other to be have a deeper spiritual relationship with God. Both are looking for faith and trust in God in their spouse. It could be said that both want to be encouraged and inspired by one another to go to God and believe Him for the things that challenge their marriage. Also it could be said that both want spouses who are godly in their behavior and Christ-like in their relationship with one another. That is a good thing and should encourage all spouses, no matter which gender, to be everything God has called them to be. It will not only please God, but will be pleasing to your spouse.
2. Being understood is the heart cry of both men and women in marriage! This one was a big surprise to me as well. When we asked “Do you wish your partner understood you and met your needs?” an almost identical high percentage of both men (87%) and women (88%) indicated they did. Again, the common assumption is that men are understanding challenged when it comes to relating to their wives. And that is the challenge Peter is issuing to men as husbands to make it a priority to seek to “live with their wives in an understanding way.” (1 Peter 3:7) But here we find that nearly 9 out of 10 men also have a desire for their wives to understand them. This makes it clear that everyone, both male and female, especially in a marriage relationship, are longing to have their partner understand them and be able to meet their needs. Duh! That is not rocket science, but it should be a wake up call to all spouses, no matter which gender, to make understanding your partner priority number one!
3. Trying to change your partner is a pitfall for both men and women. Although more men than women typically complain about their spouses trying to change them we discovered that over half of the women polled also felt that way. We asked “Do you wish your partner would stop trying to change you?” Two thirds (66.7%) of the men agreed but over half of the women (56.5%) agreed as well. It indicates very clearly that it is a temptation for both sexes to make their spouses a project.
I find this very interesting because we all have an ideal in the back of our minds of who we would prefer our spouses to be and how we would prefer them to treat us. The reality is that holding to an ideal can lead to an ordeal. Trying to change someone else can lead to more problems than solutions. Peter’s advice to wives is also good for men in this regard. Focus on your own spiritual growth, let your actions speak louder than words and entrust your partner to God for any changes that need to take place. (1 Peter 3:1-4)
What are your thoughts about these polling results? I welcome your observations, comments and additions to this conversation.
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