Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Thirteen Years of Secure Borders and a Happy Nest

Men and women are different. It's just an observation I have. I'm going to make another observation and anyone with any considerable education or experience with family counseling or psychotherapy may be able to refine or refute this untrained observation. Also, this observation isn't absolute. it's the sort of observation that is the recognition of a tendency and is not necessarily true in every case.

Men tend to be focused outward. They like to go out, explore, establish borders and assume responsibility for all under their care. Men gain self-respect this way and they expect others to respect their authority. Men are created this way.

Women, especially after they are married, tend to be nesters. Rather than securing borders, they draw in to a single location. They need to protect the nest. Before marriage, they may show interest in the man and follow him out to patrol his borders. After marriage, this changes somewhat to the chagrin of the man.

These patterns can manifest themselves in different ways and to various degrees. A man may find his borders in his occupation, posessions and sporting preferences. A woman may find her nest in her children, her career or her crafts.

Men argue over the location of borders. Women argue over the upkeep of the nest.

Men need to be respected for their borders. Women need to be loved for their nests.

If women change their mode after marrying, men are often perplexed by the change. What happened to the woman who used to follow him out to the borders? He often mistakenly misinterprets this as a waning of respect for his borders. He feels no longer respected. Sometimes the woman actually loses respect for the man and the perception is not a misinterpretation at all. Many men respond by enforcing borders in the nest. Women often misperceive this as a loss of love because their nest is being violated. They respond by marginalizing the man in the nest. She may allow him a small out-of-the way spot for his border to be, but he better leave the rest of the nest alone. She may even feel that the man is supposed to have a particular role in the nest and better leave his borders to take his place in her nest.

Because the nest is within the borders, but the borders are ultimately outside the nest, the conflict is centered in the nest - the realm of the woman. Any disagreement that ensues is debated in terms of the nest, not the borders. This is why the woman often seems to win all the arguments.

I got into a discussion with a few men (godly men) the other night where they made light of the fact that their wives typically win all the arguments. One man is a Christian counsellor, another is a physician, and another is a young fellow who is yet unmarried. The physician joked that the counsellor might actually win arguments with his wife. The young man noted with disdain that this was what he had to look forward to.

I had to speak up at this point. I begged to brag on my wife. I joked that she lets me win some arguments. Then with all seriousness I added that we don't argue. (In fact, we have only raised our voices at each other in anger for about ten seconds in the past thirteen years.) If we disagree on anything we seek God's will for us with all fear and trembling with the gift of our marriage to each other. Being involved in missions and ministry, we recognize that our enemy doesn't like who we are, Who we belong to, and what we are doing and will try to thwart any success we have in the name of our Lord. This is true for our marriage as well. If any couple claims to not have any difficulties with their marriage, they are either not in God's will or are lying.

I thank God for my wife daily. She respects my borders and I love her nest. My borders aren't perfect and her nest isn't perfect, but we are made perfect in grace through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Today, we turn thirteen years old. Happy Anniversary, Honey! I look forward to many more years with you in the service of our Lord.

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