I want to tell you about the single primary need of both men and women. I call these the mega-needs because they are the driving forces of how we see life and how we hear everything that is said to us.
Women have four major needs, but their primary need – their mega-need – is security. We see the evidence of this in Ephesians 5. Women need to know they are going to be cared for by a sacrificial, selfless husband who is connected to them emotionally. And because this is a woman's primary need, everything she hears is encrypted through it.
When a husband talks to his wife, he will never succeed in communicating with her if what he says makes her feel less secure. In other words, even though he could be using all the right words, she is listening to more than his words. She is listening to his attitude and the tone of his voice.
She can tell if his heart isn't really connected to hers. She can tell if she isn't really a priority or if he sees her as a burden and a distraction from something else he is more interested in. And if a wife discerns that her husband is distracted or burdened by her, she will not accept his words to the contrary.
For a man to successfully communicate with his wife, he must encrypt every word with security. Regardless of what the conversation is about, she must hear through the tone of his voice and his attitude something like this: Honey, you come first. You are the most important thing in my life, and you are worth anything else I need to sacrifice. You are not a burden to me. You're the love of my life. Even if I don't get what I want, you will get what you want because I will do anything to make sure you are taken care of.
When a wife hears security in her husband's words, she relaxes and can hear what is being said. And of course, a husband must follow through with his words to make sure her need for security is met on every level. And let me tell you, from more than forty years of experience, when you sacrifice to meet your wife's need for security, there is a big payoff. It is worth whatever you have to do.
But men are different. We don't have the same need for security. Our mega-need is honor, so we see life through that lens and hear everything through that filter. Regardless of what is being said to a man, if he discerns disrespect in it, he will reject it.
Early in our marriage I told Karen that the way she said something to me was as important to me as what she was saying. That is the common sentiment of men. Even though we may be big and strong on the outside, we are very tender in our egos.
Because of this, a man will naturally gravitate to the place he gets the most respect and avoid places or people that make him feel disrespected. When a wife is communicating with her husband, she must understand this reality. Everything she says to him must be encrypted with honor and respect. Regardless of what she is saying, he must hear in her attitude and the tone of her voice something like this: Honey, I believe in you. You are a good man and you have what it takes. I am your cheerleader and your biggest fan. We are on the same team and I am committed to you.
I want you wives to know that you are your husbands' equals in every way, and you have the right to say anything you want to say. But there are two important issues to point out. First, the tone of your voice and your attitude must communicate respect. Second, once you have said what you have to say, you cannot try to enforce your words through browbeating, negativity, physical withdrawal, sarcasm, or any other measure that he could interpret as disrespect. You will always have the most influence with your husband when he sees you as an ally and as someone who is meeting his mega-need of respect.
If you married a normal woman, she needs security. If you married a normal man, he needs respect. Learning to speak in your spouse’s language is essential to successful communication. When both spouses learn to encrypt their language with their mate’s mega-need, communication reaches another level as intimacy and passion grow as well.
Watch Jimmy Evans with co-author Allan Kelsey this Monday and Tuesday on LIFE TODAY. Taken from Strengths Based Marriage by Jimmy Evans and Allan Kelsey. Copyright ©2016 by Jimmy Evans and Allan Kelsey. Used by permission of Nelson Books, an imprint of Thomas Nelson. www.thomasnelson.com.