I want to take a quick break from our series on Shame to share a post on a question that came up in the last couple of weeks. What is an emotional connection and why is it important to my wife? Luckily, my wife was willing to provide a great answer to this question that I thought would be a great thing to share. If you are not already a regular reader of her blog, the wives that read this blog may want to head over to www. peacefulwife.com and take a look.
I think that one issue is that women receive a bit of a boost of oxytocin (the bonding hormone) from talking about their relationship, their feelings, and also from positive or direct eye contact. I don’t think most men experience this. Men experience a boost of oxytocin during sex – which causes men to feel very bonded to their wives. But many wives feel more bonded and connected to their husbands by having deep, personal, joint-prayer, and heart-sharing discussions.
God designed women to focus primarily on relationships. Men are not wired this same way. But women were created to focus on their husbands’ needs, their children’s needs, their aging-parents’ needs – and they tend to identify themselves through their relationships. Men tend to identify themselves through what they do, their hobbies, and their career. (These are generalizations, of course.)
So, men tend to have to stretch toward meeting their wife’s needs in areas where they may not really feel as much desire. And, often, women have to stretch toward meeting their husbands’ needs in areas where they may not really feel as much desire. This means we must all learn to be selfless, dying to self, seeking to become holy and to do what is best for our spouse rather than just look out for our own interests. God often uses this as a process of sanctification for us both.
A lot of men do not bond with words – verbal or written. I think that this is because of the structural differences between men’s and women’s brains. I spent years trying to show love and bond with my husband verbally and with emails and letters – not realizing that it really didn’t do much for him. That was a shock to me to realize that he doesn’t bond that way. I don’t think a lot of women realize that men don’t bond this way. And – it doesn’t help that we have so many romantic movies/shows/books that portray men as if they CAN emotionally bond with words the same way a woman would.
Another thing that is confusing, from a woman’s perspective, is that it SEEMS like a man bonds with words emotionally when we are dating/courting. So – it can be a big surprise to a wife when things don’t continue on like that indefinitely. But – women change after marriage, too, in ways men often don’t predict. We all have room to grow!
Here is one thing, that may be helpful for men – women usually process their emotions by talking. For us, talking about our negative feelings can be a way of working through them to a resolution. Just the act of talking about them to someone and feeling supported and encouraged is a blessing to us – and helps us to heal emotionally. Perhaps a husband could look at listening – sometimes to her negative feelings, too – as giving her a gift. It is very much a way that he can help “fix things” for her. I hope that makes sense!
Sharing her heart – to a wife – is how she tries to bond with her husband. That is how she bonds with her girlfriends, after all! That is usually the main way women bond with others.
For many women – an emotional connection opens the way to a desire for more sexual intimacy. If she does not feel emotionally connected – she may feel unsafe or uncomfortable to open up sexually with her husband.