What Women Need From Men
Men don’t need man-caves. We need a mountain. And we need to go to that mountain, alone, with God, so we can learn how to give our strength to our wives and girlfriends.
Recently, I pulled the decade old Wild At Heart from my shelf and began looking at some of my favorite passages. In a chapter titled “The Father’s Voice” Eldredge tells how he heard God ask him if he was ready to be initiated.
God initiates a man, explains Eldredge, he calls him out, sets him on a journey and gives him a new name.
Eldredge suggests that men live in bondage to a false self, gaining their identity from everything else but God. He says we even look to women for validation.
Eldredge warns young men: if you see a beautiful woman across the room, you should not engage socially with her at all. Rather, you should go get alone on a mountain somewhere, saving the girl from the relational fractures sure to come from becoming emotionally attached without truly knowing your own identity.
If the man has not yet taken a journey to discover who he is before God, then he’s on the wrong path.
“The masculine journey always takes the man away from the woman, in order that he may come back to her with his question answered.”
That question we, as men, need to ask ourselves is: Who am I, really?
When we can answer that question correctly, then we won’t look to the woman for validation. Rather, we will go to our wives and girlfriends to offer our strength.
“A man does not go to a woman to get his strength,” writes Eldredge, “he goes to her to offer it.”
Offering Our Strength
At the heart of offering our strength is the concept of serving. Christ himself “came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.” Later on in the New Testament Paul reminds men:
“The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing.
“Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness.” (Eph. 5:22-28)
But it’s one thing to say we should offer our strength to women, quite another to live that out. So, what does it mean to offer our strength to our wives or girlfriends?
Offering our strength can mean cleaning the kitchen, doing the floors, and making the bed without being asked. It can mean hanging that painting, again, and again, and again. In short, we can and should serve our wives and girlfriends with our physical strength.
Offering our strength can mean protecting her heart: from other women, during times of pain, by encouraging her in her unique endeavors (like blogging, gardening, tri-athloning, cooking, yoga, whatever). We serve our wives and girlfriends by offering our emotional strength.
Offering our strength can mean initiating times of prayer, times of fasting, family devotions, caroling around the Christmas tree, or being the one who sets the tone before Sunday worship by being, yourself, ready in your heart for worship, firing up the waffle-maker, making the coffee, creating a bit of heaven in your house to foster the beauty of the Sabbath. We serve our wives and girlfriends by offering our spiritual strength.
Too often, however, we attempt to gain strength from our wives and girlfriends by trying to prove something. And that “proving” can often manifest itself in the form of dominance. Leading in a marriage or dating relationship does not equal waving your “I’m a man” Thor-hammer. Rather, it begins with relational fullness with God.
If we, as men, have drifted from God, then our marriages and dating relationships will reflect it. We will struggle with the lies that accompany the false self: perversions of sex, power, dominance, nonchalance—everything the popular culture equates to manliness.
Eldredge encourages men to read the signs in their relationships and do what it takes to keep those relationships thriving. In order to lead by offering our strength we need to establish, and continually renew, the source of our strength.
When I find start looking around for my Thor-hammer, I know I need to get to a mountain; anywhere I can get alone with God to refresh my strength. For what good is all my strength if it doesn’t come from the Fountainhead itself?