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Growing up in East Texas, certain images of manhood were imprinted on my mind, which have been difficult to erase. John Wayne was the stereotype of a "real man" and "real men don't cry" was the phrase of the day.

Men back then were rough and ready, never tender and sensitive. In the West, where "men were men and wimmin were wimmin," the men brought home the bacon while the women stayed home and cooked it. Male bonding was unheard of and we certainly didn't go off in the woods with a bunch of guys to beat drums and howl!

Male and female roles were well defined, although not always in keeping with biblical principles. As a result I carried certain ideas into my marriage that were wrong and my family suffered for it.

I tried to be the strong one, the tough guy with all the answers. The problem was I didn't even understand the questions!

The first few years of our marriage after our daughters were born were pure hell. I never showed them any real affection, even though I loved them dearly. I didn't realize they needed tenderness and attention from their father. Even if I had known it then, my own personal frustrations hindered me from really opening myself to them.

I considered housework and child care "woman's work" and wouldn't even consider changing the babies' diapers. I ordered my family around like a drill sergeant and expected them to jump whenever I barked out the orders. It is a wonder Pat remained married to me, but I thank God she did.

Now I realize how differently men and women function, particularly in the soulish realm. I could have saved my family a lot of grief had I known it back then.

I just thought Pat's sensitivity and tears on occasions when I was rough with her were her way of manipulating me. That is what I had been taught. I didn't realize women were so affected by what they heard. I didn't realize she needed love words from me.

"Why can't she just be logical, like me?" I would ask myself when she got upset and cried. "Why does she have to resort to emotionalism just because I have yelled at her for the past two days?"

So many men consider women to be fluff balls because of their sensitivity and yet, God designed them to be sensitive and intuitive. Let's look at the two words used in Genesis for man and woman's creation (Genesis chapter 2).

A Physical Basis
Scientists have discovered that the male brain is different from the female brain. During fetal development, around the sixteenth week in a mother's womb when the male organs are positioning, the chromosomes in his brain also change, affecting the communication links between the right and left hemispheres of his brain.

Now he no longer has the same ability to communicate freely his feelings as females do, who have both sides of their brain easily accessible. Thus, the male becomes more logical in his approach to life.

It is not that he doesn't have emotions, but because of the reduced chromosome link between the left and right hemisphere of his brain, he isn't as easily in touch with them, nor can he easily communicate his feelings.

This fact alone brings major problems in a marriage if not understood. It seems women can so easily explain how they feel, and they expect men to do likewise. They are usually more tender and sensitive, unless they have been abused in childhood. It is not typical for them to think logically first about everything.

They tend to approach life with their emotions. Certainly, we can understand God's purposes in creation. If women and men thought alike, life would not only be dull, but why would man need woman? If they were both very logical, and unable to show emotions fully, wouldn't their children suffer from a real lack of affection and care?

It has been said that a woman's mind functions like a computer. Volumes of information are placed within and when the right buttons are pushed, out comes a certain response, although she doesn't always know just how she arrived at her conclusions. The world sometimes calls it woman's intuition. This is not merely a spiritual discernment, their intuition is usually right.

For instance, have you ever noticed that upon making a new acquaintance, perhaps someone who has impressed you greatly, your wife will say something like this: "Honey, I just don't trust them!" when asked, she may or may not know why, but months later you find out she was right all along! It is downright frustrating how right they can be sometimes! Especially when it comes to judging an individual's character.

The male brain functions more like a manually operated adding machine. Information is fed into it, one item at a time as the handle is pulled down to register each amount. Slowly, as information accumulates, a receipt or ticket is printed, eventually adding everything up and producing a grand total.

Unlike the computer, the conclusion can be easily read and understood. Everything is right there before you. You can see all the facts on paper. There is no question as to how the conclusions were calculated.

Men function like that - they are a little slower at understanding their feelings regarding things, or their appraisal of others, but when they do decide something, they usually have logical reasons for their conclusions.

So we are both fearfully and wonderfully made, with different functions for different purposes. But in order to relate to others, we men must learn to communicate feelings, not just facts. We must display emotions, and not just when we are angry.

Our wives and children need affection, not logic, when they are hurting. They need understanding when they are discouraged, not facts. They need to feel loved when they have been misunderstood by others—not criticism.

Sometimes they just need to be held, not ignored when they feel insecure. And we need to talk to them so they can minister to our needs appropriately.

Source: Man, Husband, Father by Buddy Harrison
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers

Author Biography

Buddy Harrison
Web site:
 
Buddy Harrison and his wife, Pat, were co-founders of Faith Christian Fellowship International Church. He served as president of the organization from 1978 until he went home to be with the Lord on November 28, 1998.
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