Women have a deep need to feel safe and secure. When they do not feel safe, they scramble to
try put up barriers for self-protection.
Sometimes the feeling of being insecure is a legitimate, obvious reason,
such as walking through a high crime area of town. Other times the feeling of being insecure is
due to false perceptions of a situation, such as assuming her husband does not
want to talk to because he is angry with her.
These generalizations will not apply to all women and
relationships. Our culture has changed
drastically with gender roles being blurred.
However, I do believe that these issues ring true for most women and
apply to most marriages.
Women, by nature, are nesters. They want to have a secure place to live, the
ability to provide food to their family, and make sure that the basic needs are
met. When financial difficulties come
into play, this basic need feels like it is put in jeopardy. Often times this
can be a cause of major communication break downs in a marriage
relationship. She wants to feel safe and
secure, but her husband often misunderstands her heart in this matter. Her need
for security can come across as selfishness, being money hungry, or demanding. A husband will often feel inadequate to meet
the financial demands of his wife, or feel that her expectations are
unrealistic. When a woman feels unsafe
about the financial situation, she may demand control of the finances to try to
make sure that needs are met for her family.
Implementing a budget can help significantly in this
area. Making sure that money is
available for the primary needs of the family can put her at ease. Dave Ramsey recommends spending all of your
money on paper before you spend a dime.
This means being intentional about where your money goes and planning
ahead for emergencies. Couples will
usually discover that peace and happiness is not so much about how much money
they make, but about how well the steward the money available to them.
Have your heard of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? It is an interesting concept. The basis
behind it is that people must focus on basic survival needs before they are
able to focus on relational needs. When
someone is in survival mode, they can be hostile. Once the basic needs are met, they have a sense
of security allowing them to form relationships and help meet the needs of
others. The desire for love is a basic human need, but is secondary to having
food and shelter.
The idea of an enemy lurking can be terrifying to a
woman. Whether it is fear of being
robbed, raped, or killed, many women have a sense of worry about their own
wellbeing and for their children. Most women recognize that they could easily
be outpowered by a man and want to feel a sense of control over their surroundings. A woman who has previously experienced an
attack will typically be more vulnerable to fears. Wives look to their husbands to feel safe.
They want to know that their husband has a plan to protect his family in case
of an emergency. This can range from an
armed robbery to the threat of a spider in the living room. Most women will look to their husband to be
the hero to step in and protect them from a threat.
Having a plan in place for emergency situations can help
reduce anxiety for women. What is the
plan if her car breaks down on the side of the road? What is the plan if someone tries to break
into the home? Do you have a plan in place for natural disasters? Taking the
time to talk through perceived threats and coming up with a game plan can help
reduce anxiety and give her a sense of security. Perhaps a self defense class is necessary. If
she feels vulnerable it may help to have pepper spray or a stun gun to feel
safe. The big issue is having open
communication in your relationship about expectations and understanding what
she needs to feel safe. Some women
struggle deeply with feeling unsafe while others feel very little threat.
The primary issue behind emotional security is trust in the
relationship. Can she trust telling her
husband how she feels without it being used against her or ignored? Will he understand her intentions? Will he respond lovingly? If the answer is no, she will build an
emotional wall for self-protection. Her
experience growing up will influence her ability to trust, to communicate, and
to have healthy perceptions.
Insecurities from childhood can have a significant impact on the
marriage, but can be addressed and overcome with some work.
Healthy communication skills can help wives feel safe,
heard, and understood. Active listening
is a good way to reflect what has been said to help the other person feel
understood and it shows empathy.
Learning to use I statements reduces blaming and communicates
responsibility for your own emotions rather than putting the responsibility on
your spouse. When your spouse is communicating a difficulty, it helps to listen
and ask questions rather than offering advice.
When they are done processing the situation, you can ask if they want
ideas, but focus on listening to understand rather than trying to fix it. It is also helpful to have healthy coping
skills to stay calm. Defensiveness will
lead to arguments, which can quickly spiral out of control. If you feel angry and defensive, it is best
to ask for a few minutes to yourself to calm down. You can resume the conversation when the
anger has subsided.
A wife wants to know that she is the only woman for her
husband. Sometimes her fears of being
cheated on come from past experience, insecurity about herself, or they are
based on a real threat. A husband can’t change his wife’s self-talk and
self-image, but he can encourage and support her. He can be deliberate about telling her why he
loves her, the beauty he sees in her, and to give her physical affection. Oxytocin is released through physical touch
and it is the chemical component leading to attachment. It is a necessary aspect in healthy
relationships. The sexual relationship
is vital to maintaining a healthy marriage.
Men tend to crave sex the longer they go without it, however, women tend
to lose interest the longer they go without.
Marriages with the highest satisfaction report having sex 2-3 times a
Husbands can help their wives feel safe by being
transparent. Secretive behavior usually
leads to her assuming the worse possible scenario. Sharing passwords to social media, having
access to one another’s phones, and having open communication of daily
activities can reduce suspicion.
Offering information about who you are out with, what the activities
entailed, and where you were can also reduce anxieties. The third degree is generally not necessary
when trust is established and information freely flows.
Pornography is a sneaky enemy to intimacy that impacts a
huge percentage of marriages. It leads
to a reduction in sexual satisfaction and makes the wife feel insecure in most
situations. She feels compared to the
unrealistic images and feels that someone else has invaded her bedroom. When her husband gets gratification from
other images, it also makes her feel unneeded. Also, if there is a history of
adultery, healing is necessary to reestablish trust and intimacy. When a woman is unable to trust a man
emotionally, it is usually very difficult to become intimate. I would highly recommend seeking counseling
if these issues are a concern in your relationship. There are many support groups available to
help with these difficult situations.
Commitment to the relationship is the cornerstone of a
marriage. Without it, the marriage is not likely to withstand the test of
time. Every marriage has ups and downs,
times of refreshing and deep emotion and times of emotional drought. There will be times in your marriage that you
just do not feel it. This is where
commitment comes into play. It is easy
to stay committed when you feel passionate love for your spouse. It is much harder when those feelings taper
off. When the feelings start to subside,
people (both male and female) panic and wonder if their relationship will ever
be meaningful again. The temptation to
find greener grass is real. Without
commitment to the relationship, many walk at this point. Marriage is a roller coaster of emotion. Sometimes you are on an upturn when
everything is falling into place and the passion is satisfying. Other times you feel like you are in a free
fall. Conflict, responsibilities, age,
and many other issues can get in the way of intimacy. The good news is that if you can hang on for
the ride, there will be another upturn.
In marriage you must work for it, but it will happen if you and your
spouse are committed to making your marriage work. Just as there are seasons in
the year, some more satisfying than others, you will have seasons in your
relationship. Hold on! Don’t let go.
When a woman believes that her husband is not in the
relationship for the long haul, she will sense threat and try to prepare for
calamity. Emotional walls will go up and she will feel fragile. I often see couples plotting, trying to gain
control in the relationship and preparing for a possible divorce when they feel
that their spouse is not fully committed to the relationship. Their sense of security has been stripped
away and they enter survival mode.
Again, this sense of threat to security can come through
false perceptions of a situation. For
instance, if an argument takes place and the husband says, “I need to leave to
get some space,” and walks out the front door, his wife might perceive it to
mean that he is wanting to leave the relationship. He simply was saying that he is angry at the
moment and wants to take a drive for a while to calm down and think things
through. If the wife has abandonment problems from past relationships, she may
be more sensitive to these remarks. A
woman needs to make sure that she is thinking the best of her husband and
asking questions to avoid making false assumptions. For the husband, avoiding
threats can improve her sense of security.
In the heat of an argument he may say that their relationship may be
doomed, threaten divorce, or threaten to withdraw in some way. This will increase her anxiety about the
relationship. Another way to increase
her sense of security is to tell her of his commitment to the relationship.
Discussing desire to grow old together, reassurance that he is not going
anywhere, and discussing her fears can help her feel safe.
From a Christian perspective, the husband is called to be
the head of the household. This means
that he will lead his family and be accountable for them. This involves establishing healthy habits or
prayer, bible reading, and proper living for the family. He will set the example for how he wants his
family to behave and will provide consequences for his children when they make
poor choices. He will make sure the family
is in relationship with other believers.
When a wife can count on her husband to pray for her, to
give good counsel, and to consider the long term affects of his decisions, she
will feel secure and at ease. When his
actions are contrary to his faith, it will make her feel a sense of
threat. Support and accountability from
a church family can be very beneficial in maintaining a healthy spiritual life.
Obviously, this aspect of security is very important to some
families and a moot point in others. The
issue is to consider all aspects of security and make a plan to address
them. You may find that the wife feels
very strongly about one aspect of security and other issues are not as
important. Whereas another couple will
struggle with different issues. Being
able to openly communicate about what the needs are will help you to be
sensitive to the needs and respond accordingly.
As a therapist, I have found that it is often a misunderstanding of the
need that causes conflict in marriages.
When you understand why the need is there, it is easier to respond to
it. If the husband believes his wife is being selfish or demanding he is less
likely to be responsive. However, if he
understands the heart cry of his wife and her need for security, it is easier
to accommodate those needs.