Marriage & Love
Influence: What Makes Men Tick?
Typically, a man needs a woman more than she needs him. In fact, she can make or break him. This is why marriage is so important in a culture, because it serves to harness masculine aggressiveness for the benefit of the family. Though there are many exceptions in individual cases, single men are more inclined to move from job to job, drink too much, drive too fast, spend money unwisely, and be sexually irresponsible. Commitment to a woman not only channels a man's energy and passions, it also helps to produce a more healthy society. This male-female connectedness is, I think, part of a divine plan.
What a Man Wants
God has given women this powerful influence, and they should use it, not to manipulate or to control men, but to nudge them in the direction of responsibility, commitment, and morality. A man does not want to be nagged, intimidated, or belittled and he will dig in his heels if anyone tries it. To the contrary, what he wants and needs is respect, admiration, and appreciation. When a woman genuinely feels that way about him, and is proud to stand beside him, he gains confidence and is empowered to succeed in a highly competitive world. That is exactly what my wife did for me when I was still in graduate school. She believed in me and told me she couldn't wait to see what God would do with the talent He had given to me. She also instilled that respect for me in our two children.
What a Man Does
It is a wise woman who understands how a man is constructed emotionally, one who encourages him to perform the four critical roles for which he was designed. These roles are to provide for, to protect, to lead, and to give spiritual direction for his family. When he is comfortable in those responsibilities, it affects how he responds to his wife. It makes him want to give her what she needs from him; notably security, kindness, sensitivity, and romantic love. She also wants him to remember their first date, their anniversary, her birthday and the things that please her most. It is a smart man who does.
Here's a silly little story from my childhood that will illustrate the influence that a woman (in this case, a girl) holds. When I was fourteen years old, my mother told me to pick all the cherries off the tree in our backyard. When I had picked the low-hanging cherries, I set up a six-foot ladder and began working my way upward. Finally, I stood on the very top rung and leaned out to harvest the center of the tree. Anybody with an ounce of sense would have recognized what was about to happen, but it never occurred to me.
At that moment of destiny, the prettiest girl in my school happened to be walking by. Her name was Laurie, and she lived in my neighborhood. She said very sweetly, "You had better be careful, or you will fall." Just to have that gorgeous creature standing there worrying about my safety made my heart skip a beat.
I said, "I'll be fine." I then wiggled the lower half of my body to show her that I was fearless and in control. High-octane testosterone was obviously talking to me. That is when my legs suddenly went to the left and the rest of me went to the right. Laurie ran to get my mother, and the two of them leaned over me. I was gasping and groaning and wanting to die. It was horrible.
Don't try to tell me that girls can't affect a guy's behavior for better or worse. Of course they can. Laurie knocked me off my ladder just by showing a bit of concern for me. I hope mothers will teach this principle to their daughters and urge them not to squander their powerful influence. Someday it will be put to better use.
Used with permission from the book, Bringing Up Girls: Practical Advice and Encouragement for Those Shaping the Next Generation of Women by Dr. James Dobson.
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