So in reading the responses to my wife’s blog on what I described as “stupid woman pride”, I decided to post a corollary to this for men. Just as much as wives have areas of irrationality when it comes to their dealings with their husbands, husbands have equal irrationality when it comes to their dealings with their wives. If “woman pride” is the pride associated with the refusal to work with your husband in describing your needs, then I would say that “stupid man pride” is the pride associated with the refusal to understand your wife. Once again, this is not talking about the hidden areas of personal pride that we do not know about. This is the pride of pretending to be oblivious about your wife’s needs because you believe that she shouldn’t have those needs (since you don’t have them) or ignoring your wife’s needs because you believe that those needs are invalid. So because you have ignored or neglected these needs, you act clueless when your wife explodes on a seemingly unrelated topic.
The reason that I denote this as stupid pride is because in making your wife contentious and irritable by being prideful, you harm your own life. Now matter how much we would try to deny it, very few things make a husband as miserable as a highly frustrated, irritable, and contentious wife. It’s even more foolish when Solomon comments about the effect of a contentious woman in four different passages:
It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop than with a contentious woman in a wide house. Proverbs 21:9 (also repeated in Proverbs 25:24)
It is better to dwell in a desert land than with a contentious and fretful woman. Proverbs 21:19
A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike. Proverbs 27:15
Many Christian men know those scriptures and love to quote it when it’s convenient for them. However, I don’t know of a lot of Christian men who quote this scripture:
As coals are to hot embers, and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to inflame strife. Proverbs 26:21
We usually think of a contentious person as somewhat who is loud and boisterous (usually in reference to women), but the definition of a contentious person is simply someone who causes strife. For a man, this contentious spirit can manifest itself by simply causing irritations in others, whether it’s done in a boisterous manner or in quiet manner. Now, by my observation, there are women who are naturally contentious and then there are women who become contentious. As much as many Christian men would like to believe that all contentious women have a character flaw that needs to be worked out by the Holy Spirit, there is a reality that many husbands should realize that they are a legitimate source for their wife’s contentions. For many Christian men, their pride and refusal to understand their wives is like fire on wood (and many men know from their experience the result of inflaming strife in their wives!). Now a good question to ask is why would any man have this sort of pride?
The quick and easy answer is that it’s easier to point out flaws in your wife than to look at yourself as husbands and deal with your own ego and pride. Another reason that I suspect is that you want your wife to act more like a man to make your life easier. Scripture commands us as husbands to live with our wives in an understanding manner. Living in an understanding manner does not mean that you just tolerate her differences or secretly hope that she changes overtime, but it simply means to acknowledge that she is different than you. This is one of those statements that should be repeated: your wife never thought or acted like you before you were married and she never will after you’re married. You knew that the woman that you deeply love is much more sensitive and emotional than you for awhile and that those sensibilities can lead her to being somewhat irrational at times and to having much different needs than you. Now, as a man, you can refuse to accept this and constantly frustrate yourself (as we all probably did at some point) or you can accept it and learn how to understand your wife. Now just as much as it takes a great deal of patience and grace for your wife to understand you, it takes just as much patience and grace for you to understand your wife. The difference is that, as a husband, your prayer life is hindered if you refuse to live in an understanding way with your wife (cf. 1 Peter 3:7).
Ever since my wife became pregnant, I realized that my wife’s needs have increased and have become much more pronounced than before we were married. One of those needs that have become much more pronounced in recent months has been verbal affirmation that I believe that she is beautiful, even though she is pregnant. Now admittedly, empathy is not one of my strong suits, and I’m generally of the view that very few men can be genuinely empathetic with a pregnant wife (since men will never know what it feels like to be pregnant). Now there are number of times when it is obvious that my wife needs positive affirmation about her attractiveness. Now stupid man pride says: “I’ve told her this like 100 times and in particular, I remember telling her this like 4 times yesterday. Why do I have to keep doing this?” Now I can accept that this is a legitimate need and re-affirm her, or I can pretend to be oblivious to those needs just because she didn’t verbalize it. During the times that I’ve chosen not to be reaffirming, I realize that I have a much more irritable wife.
I challenge those men who read this article to take the time out to check your ego at the door and deal with this pride. If we would be honest with ourselves, we, as men, are without excuse. Most of the time it is not an issue that women are so overly complicated; it’s simply that we have not taken the time out to understand our wives. Think about it: If we learn the strengths and weaknesses of a Cover 2 coverage in football, the benefits of a triangle-and-two defense in basketball, and all of the random things that we learn about sports, then we can surely learn to understand our wives. It is only stubborn pride that keeps us from doing this, and it is only stubborn pride that makes us feel justified when we choose not to understand their needs.