4 Minutes 4 Marriage – Security

Welcome back to 4 of the minutes you spend for your spouse!

 Did you talk or think about the love/respect differences between men and women this week? I hope it gave you a new perspective. Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn offer more observations from the Inner Lives books.

 According to the Feldhahns’ research, men are doubly burdened. They feel a strong responsibility to provide for their families. Even in today’s world when women may contribute substantial income, men see the financial responsibility to be theirs. And not only must they provide enough income to give their families all they currently need, but also to provide a secure future: college for their children, a comfortable retirement, or money to support their family in the case of their death.

Add to that their second burden—a secret sense of inadequacy— and you may begin to understand that men are constantly stressed about their work. Many men worry about what others think of them much of the time. Though they love a new challenge, they hope they can figure it out before they are “found out” or humiliated. As confident as men may appear, most of them harbor a constant fear of being exposed as imposters.

These two burdens combine to keep many men working more hours than their wives prefer. What to a woman may seem like time spent unnecessarily away from family seems to men to be time spent insuring they do their job well and keep the job they have. Men are amazed that women don’t realize they work as hard as they do as an act of love and sacrifice for the family.

Unfortunately, another misunderstanding incites conflict between husbands and wives. Men know that women value security, and to men security means financial strength. But what women mean by security is relational strength. Women want assurance that their husbands won’t leave them. One contributor to emotional security is the sense of closeness that grows through time spent together.

A man may want to give his wife security, so he works long hours to promote job security. A woman may see this as a threat to the security of her relationship and interprets his absence as an indication that he doesn’t want to spend time with her. If she encourages him to work less, he worries that he’ll be found inadequate at work and lose his job. If he continues to work extra hours, she will feel emotionally threatened.

A positive side of this mismatch is that husbands may be surprised and relieved to know that given a choice between material things and their husbands’ happiness, women will choose to do without things in order to allow their husbands to find work they love.


Men can bring the kind of security that women really want without giving up their work:

  • Small gestures convey love. Try an email, phone call, or words of appreciation.
  • Be her best friend. Know each other better than anyone else.
  • Make time with her a priority – Outside of traditional (40-50) work hours, don’t let anything else consistently receive more of your time and attention than she is given.
  • Demonstrate your commitment – Does she know you will be there for her no matter what? (Review last week’s suggestions.)
  • Participate in parenting and home life – Share the life you are working so hard to provide.


Women can ease the burdens of men’s sense of financial responsibility and secret fears of incompetence:

  • Live within your means. Discuss ways to relieve financial pressure.
  • Express gratitude and encouragement for your husband’s work and provision, even his extra hours.
  • Reconsider conflict points about money issues in light of a new understanding of the pressure he assumes.
  • Always build up your husband’s confidence, rather than criticize. Affirm him! Sadly, only 1 in 4 men in the book’s survey felt actively appreciated by his family.
  • Make your home his safe haven where he isn’t judged.
  • And finally, “The role of sex cannot be overstated. A great sex life will overshadow and overcome a multitude of impostor messages from the world.” Let him know he still rocks your world.


This final suggestion is from Betty, not the Feldhahns’ books. Consider giving each other the gift of the Sabbath. Reserve Sunday (or an alternate day if necessary) as a family day. Let it be a day free from financial pressures. Make memories together.

Exodus 35:2a: For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD.

Thank you for demonstrating that your marriage is a priority for you by reading this entry!

Betty Arrigotti


            Feldhahn, Shaunti (2004). For Women Only: What you need to know about the inner lives of men, Multnomah Books.

            Feldhahn, Shaunti & Jeff (2006). For Men Only: A straightforward guide to the inner lives of women. Multnomah Books.

4 Minutes B4 Marriage – Ready?

Welcome to “4 Minutes B4 Marriage!”

 Some of you may be already in a serious relationship and talking about marriage. Congratulations on your conscientious consideration of the decision to marry! Good for you for taking time away from your wedding or honeymoon dreams to consider the health of your marriage.

Others might be thinking ahead for when the right person comes along. Good for you for working to be ready for a healthy relationship.

Since the strength of any whole depends on the quality of its parts, the strength of a marriage depends on the maturity and wholeness of both people. Let’s start with a look at ourselves. To be fair to our future spouse, we must ask ourselves, “Am I ready to be part of a committed, lifelong relationship?” We’ll break that question down further:

 Am I ready to make someone’s needs as important to me as my own needs?

  • Can I place a beloved’s needs ahead of my wants?
  • Or others’ wants on the same level of importance to me as my own?
  • If I were to become a parent sooner than expected, am I ready?


Do I accept responsibility for my:

Emotional well-being

  • Am I participating in my relationships with a sense of personal strength, rather than neediness?
  • Do I rely on others to entertain me, console me, validate me, or can I do those things for myself?
  • Do I have areas I know I can grow in, but basically like myself?
  • Can I handle my anger constructively?


  • How is my relationship with God?
  • Do I have a faith community or a strong group of family and friends to offer support in difficult times?
  • Do I attend church whether I have someone to accompany me or not?


  • Do I take care of my health adequately so that others don’t worry about me?
  • Do I make safe choices to protect my health?
  • If something goes wrong, am I willing to reach out for help?
  • Can I recognize signs of depression in myself and get help if necessary?

Contribution to society

  • Do I volunteer as a means of sharing some of the blessings I’ve received?
  • Do I respect my community’s laws?


  • Do I avoid chemical influences on my judgment, whether drugs or excessive alcohol?
  • Am I sensitive to other’s feelings and treat everyone with respect?


  • Am I bettering myself with education and/or work experience so that I could support myself if necessary?
  • Am I living within my means?


  • Is my relationship with my parents troubled? How might that affect my marriage?
  • Have I spent some independent time so that I am not moving directly from my parents’ care to someone else’s?
  • Am I working to come to terms with any childhood traumas, not expecting my beloved to heal them?
  • Have I healed from wounds from previous relationships, or do they affect my current relationship still?

In general, am I ready to be the type of person I would like to be married to?

This email can be read in about 2 minutes. Of course it will take longer if you seriously consider each question. But wait! That’s not all! After you have thought about your answers, if you are in a serious relationship, reread each question and answer it as honestly as you can about your beloved. Next, think about whether (s)he would answer these questions differently about you?

Granted, no one is perfectly mature. We work in the grey areas of “good enough but working to get better.” However, we need to be able to honestly look at ourselves and decide if we are “ready enough” or if we could use more time, or perhaps some personal counseling to be better prepared. Our weaknesses will cause trouble in our marriage. Conversely, the more mature we are, the stronger our part of the marriage will be.

 My prayers are with you,

Betty Arrigotti

4 Minutes 4 Marriage – Spousal differences

Welcome to “4 Minutes 4 Marriage 2008!” 

Watch for “4 Minutes Before Marriage,” which will be added to this blog soon.

            And welcome back to those of you who read entries last Lent. I hope we can cover new facets of relationship enhancement. Like last year, I will refer to couples counselors and relationship specialists to share some of their findings and wisdom.

            A brief introduction, first: My husband and I have been married 30 years and have raised four great daughters. I have a certificate in Spiritual Direction and a Master of Arts in Counseling, which I use to write stories about couples working to keep the “happily” in their “ever after.” That said, let’s jump right in and use our 4 minutes well.

            As we begin this Lenten exploration of marriage, ask yourself, “What do you want your marriage to be like? Close your eyes and imagine your spouse gazing at you with that, “I can’t believe how blessed I am” expression that melts your heart. We want to always feel that blessed, but sometimes our spouse is inexplicably upset. We need to understand him or her more deeply.

            Shaunti Feldhahn set out to understand men better, particularly their inner thoughts. She asked questions of more than 1000 men and later, with her husband Jeff, probed the thoughts of more than 1000 women. They used personal interviews as well as professional surveys. The results are found in two fascinating little books, For Women Only: What you need to know about the inner lives of men, and For Men Only: A straightforward guide to the inner lives of women. These books reinforce what anyone who is married knows—men and women think differently—but record some surprising findings. (Generalization alert – of course there are many exceptions to everything in the books.)

            Studying the answers of men, Shaunti found that what men want most deeply in a relationship is to be admired or respected by the woman in their life. Given a choice on the survey between feeling loved and feeling respected by their wives, most men chose respected. Being loved is not enough to them. Men need to feel respected in order to feel loved.

            This is news to women, who would (in general) choose being loved over being admired. Of course we all want both! But it becomes clearer as women read about this deep-seated need of men that our little sarcasms, our teasing in public, our seemingly insignificant put-downs devastate our men, though they would feel weak to admit it.

            In The Inner Lives of Women, what seemed obvious to me but surprising to men is that what women most deeply need in their relationships is reassurance of their man’s love. We don’t assume we are loved because we have a ring on our finger. We need to hear it often and experience it in the way we are treated. Women want to be pursued the way we were before we were married. We need to know we still “rock their world.”

            In today’s society women are bombarded by media, and sadly by friends, of stories of men leaving their wives for other women. We’ve been told men are visual and we watch ourselves become less visually beautiful as our bodies sag from childbearing, our skin surrenders to wrinkles, and our hair turns grey or thins. We are afraid we will lose the men we love. We need reassurance every day that we are still the love of their life.

            Seventy percent of women reported that they think about the health of their relationship often or every day. This astounded men. When the relationship is under stress, most women feel like nothing else is right until it is resolved. And it isn’t enough that a woman knows she is loved. If she doesn’t feel loved, she will remain insecure.

            Triggers for a woman’s insecurity include conflict, her husband’s withdrawal (the way men often respond to conflict), his silence (she may jump to the conclusion that something is wrong), absence, unresolved relationship issues, or exhaustion.


            WOMEN: Refrain from misdirected humor at our husbands’ expense. Instead, we can give them a priceless gift. Tell them how much we really do admire and respect them. Even better, let them overhear us complimenting them to our friends and watch how they stand taller!

            Men often interpret women’s desire to control things as a sign of disrespect. What to women is simple reminding, to men comes across as criticism or distrust. They know what needs to be done, but may simply place a different level of priority on it. When women ask a question to better understand their husband’s decisions, men perceive us to be questioning their judgment. As hard as it is for today’s women who have striven to be considered equals, men need us to defer to them sometimes. They need to know that we trust their judgment, their ability to figure things out, that they don’t need us to tell them how to do things. Men are highly sensitive to disrespect, even when none was intended.

            Shaunti quotes one man, “If a man’s wife is supportive and believes in him, he can conquer the world—or at least his little corner of it.”

            MEN: Be aware of your wife’s insecurity and provide reassurance of your love. Particularly during an argument, tell her you are upset, but that you love her dearly. When you need space, silence, or time to yourself, assure her it isn’t about her. Realize, too, that when she is upset, she doesn’t need space, she needs to be hugged. When she needs to talk about your relationship, try not to be defensive. She doesn’t mean to be critical; she simply wants to problem solve in order to be closer to you.

            The deal is never done. Husbands must continue to woo the woman of their dreams, even when they think they have won her. Wives must continue to support their husbands by showing their deep-felt admiration.

            What do you think? Does any of this ring true for you? Ask your spouse if it does for him or her. It might lead to a very interesting conversation.

Betty Arrigotti


            So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.      Ephesians 5:33


            Feldhahn, Shaunti (2004). For Women Only: What you need to know about the inner lives of men, Multnomah Books.

            Feldhahn, Shaunti & Jeff (2006). For Men Only: A straightforward guide to the inner lives of women. Multnomah Books.

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