Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Are Men Most At Fault In Many Marriages?

We've all seen the commercials haven't we? They're everywhere. Whatever the man is doing - trying to handle the finances, drinking beer, watching football with the guys or just doing a project around the house - he's portrayed as an idiot. And some of us are idiots at times! However, I'm confident that a lot more of us, while flawed, are not the dolts that Madison Avenue likes to think we are.

In the same way, marriage books, seminars and other resources can also intentionally or unintentionally make it sound like perhaps us men really do have a lot more going wrong in us than our mates. I received a question in this regard recently and it's a fair one. Are men really more at fault in most marriages or not? My unscientific and personal experience would suggest as a general rule they are not. Marriages falter and splinter for many reasons and the issues typically involve both spouses.

It didn't used to be true fifteen years ago, but I now see as many men by themselves as I do women regarding a struggling marriage. Women can be abusive to men just like men can be towards women. No, it doesn't happen as often, but it still happens. Problems are never just the fault of one person even though sometimes more fault can be placed on one or the other.

If there's an area, however, where we men do tend to struggle and lag behind our wives it's in the area of communication. Women were wired to be more verbal as a rule and using words is often how they process their emotions. We men tend to want to avoid ever telling our real feelings to anyone, especially our spouses, though sometimes we will disguise them behind other words or expressions.

Humorist Dave Barry put it this way: "Open up. Don't assume that she knows what you're thinking. This will be difficult for guys at first, so it would help if you women would try to 'read between the lines' in determining what the guy is trying to communicate.

Guy statement: "Do we have any peanut butter?"
Inner guy meaning: "I hate my job."
Guy statement: "Is this all we have? Crunchy?"
Inner guy meaning: "I'm not sure I want to stay married."

So men, there is a challenge out there for us to do better when it comes to interacting with the most important person in our world other than God. We're not dorks and we're not idiots. In fact, God has designed US to be the initiators of the things that make marriages healthy including communicating. We need to lead the way even if leading means finding help from someone else in learning how to communicate more effectively.

However, ideally it's when both spouses, while understanding the differences between men and women, make time to communicate, take interest in what the other person feels and needs, and speak with words of life (Proverbs 18:21). It will take practice to get good at this. It will require patience and understanding from both spouses. But the result will be worth it and you will enhance your intimacy of soul when you talk more freely, honestly and safely.

So start with listening to the other person and identifying their feelings. Don't blame or defend, just listen. See if you can say back to them what they are really going through. And if you're the one sharing your heart then make sure the person really gets it before you move on.

Then ask the person what they need from you that would help them feel less that way. What do you need right now from me, honey, that would help you feel less overwhelmed about handling the kids? Or what do you need from me that would help you feel less hurt next time?

Start somewhere and start soon. Maybe then Madison avenue will treat us guys a bit more fairly in those commercials. And then, maybe not.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.


  1. I noticed years ago, while reading Bearenstein Bear books to our little kids, that Mama Bear was usually portrayed as 'right' and Papa Bear seemed to come up a bit short. Kind of a slam to men ... not the kind of 'mama bear' I want to be!

  2. I was going to post the same comment! With about 2 exceptions, we kept those books out of our home. (I think the one about having a new baby was ok, and maybe the one about going to school---it has been awhile and I can't clearly remember).

    This issue is something that is definitely pervasive in our society!