‘Tis woman’s whole existence.
In millions of homes everyday there are men leaving for work who probably have as their last words, “Who can understand a woman? What makes her act that way?”
This lack of understanding between the sexes arises from the fact that women are not like men. They do not think as men do. They are different in temperament, characteristics and needs. They have a different world of responsibility and therefore a different set of problems.
And yet women can be understood. To gain such an understanding is to gain a liberating education – one that is essential for the ying and yang balance in marriage. The following are some of the most basic needs and characteristics to understand if you (men) are to live with a woman in peace and happiness.
These two needs have to do with love. They are: virtuous love and romantic love. It would be easier to explain this if the English language had a separate word for each, for these are not the same emotion. Both however, are essential to a woman’s happiness and feeling of security with her husband.
Virtuous love is a concern for the welfare and happiness of another person. So far as the wife is concerned, she must know that her husband will stand by her in all circumstances. Whatever trouble or concerns she has are also his. She knows that he will never desert her whatever her need. When ill or discouraged, she has a true and loyal friend. This assurance is rooted in her confidence that her husband loves her not only because she is pretty or young or vivacious, but because she is a human being who has needs.
It seems that a man who loves a woman romantically would also love her with virtuous love. One would think so, but this is not necessarily true. A man may have tender romantic feelings for her and at the same time be selfish. It may be that what she does for him is more important than what he does for her. Should she fail in anyway to meet expectations, his feelings for her no longer remain. These are subtle concerns usually more than expressed doubts. But her fear of this is terribly disturbing. She must feel secure in her love for her husband and his love for her.
A man may resent any implication that he lacks virtuous love for his wife. He may defend himself saying that he has always provided for her, been faithful and done many things to make her comfortable and happy. He will remember times when he has sacrificed and gone beyond the call of duty. But, in spite of many kindnesses through the years, if she doubts his deepest concern when she is in distress, he appears to be, in her eyes, a fair weather friend. A woman must have the assurance that her husband will stand by her in all circumstances – not just when he feels like it – if she is to feel truly loved.
If a man lacks this virtuous love, his romantic love will strike her as superficial and insincere. She may regard his tenderness as manipulative. It will be difficult to forget her hurt when she has been deserted or neglected.
Romantic love is a tender soul-stirring feeling a man and woman experience for one another. It is, in fact, the all consuming emotion that brings them to marriage in the first place After marriage, a man only needs a vague assurance that his wife really loves him. In a woman this need is intense. It continues from day to day for the rest of her life. Few men realise this need. Neglect brings much unhappiness and frustation to women.
The story is told of a man who told his wife on their wedding day:
“I want you to know that I love you. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have married you. I expect to continue to love you, but don’t expect me to say any more about it. Remember! I’ve already said it.”
She was speechless, and, guided by her instinct, said:
“Oh, I can’t remember something like that. I think you will have to remind me again and again.”
For a woman to flourish she must have this assurance just as plants need sunshine and water. Deprive her of this and her soul withers away and dies.
A man of my acquaintance who loved his wife dearly suffered the tragic loss of her in death. He was left with four small children and in this predicament decided to find a second wife. His new bride had never been married and suddenly found herself with a family and full household. She entered marriage hopefully and determined to succeed in her responsibilities.
Her husband loved her to a degree, but never sufficiently to allow her to forget his first wife. He grieved her death openly. His attitude was that his new wife was fortunate to get a ready-made family of adorable children and a husband to provide for her. He felt he was giving her everything she required and deserved. His appreciation was the type he would extend to a housekeeper.
Denying her the love and tenderness every woman needs affected her tragically. I saw a withering effect take place, observed the tender blossom fade on the vine until she was reduced to a common drudge. She lost the vitality she formerly had and became harsh and disagreeable. His lack of love for her destroyed her finer qualities.
Men are not harmed by the lack of love to the same degree women are. A normal man, if denied love, usually throws himself into his work and finds compensating fulfilment there. Or he may concentrate on achievements outside his work where he obtains admiration or praise which is his greater need. He manages to survive and make a fairly adequate life for himself. Not so with a woman. If she is denied love, she will suffer as no man could comprehend. Her whole existence shakes at the foundations.
If men realised this need in women and the pain experienced when she is unloved, it would be difficult to imagine how he could be so cruel as to tell his wife he no longer loves her, or that he is interested in another woman. It seems there would be some compassion for her suffering that would prevent this cruelty. He would be driven to plead to God for insight to sustain him until love could be rekindled.