Modern day television sitcoms often portray women as emotionally needy, manipulative, and overly controlling. You can hardly flip through the channels anymore without finding a show that breaks down the quality of marriage in the eyes of its viewers. You see men sitting around, trying to enjoy some guy time, complaining about their nagging women and how they demand all of their time – how their women are never satisfied. On the same show, you are likely to see women sitting around talking about how dumb their men are, in not so many words and usually ending in canned laughter. Hollywood has gone a long way to break down the sacredness of marriage and, whether we want to admit it or not, we have been affected by it.
How have we been affected by it? We are tempted to view the opposite sex the way we have been taught to view them by the almighty tube. When women need their husbands’ time and attention, it is seen as being needy and nagging. When men need to be built up and respected by their wives, it is seen as macho, controlling and egotistical. Why am I bringing this up? I’m bringing it up because both sexes need to understand what their future spouse really needs (surprise! men and women need different things) and they need to understand it without ridiculing each other for those needs.
Men, it is good to get away with the guys. It is important to spend time with your male buddies and communicate in ways that are natural to you. When done in moderation, it is a blessing to your marriage. Ladies, this is something you need to know. A woman who monopolizes all of her man’s time is not being fair to him and is doing an injustice to the relationship. Men, at the same token, if you choose to spend most of your time away from your wife, you are denying her a legitimate relational need. While nagging never produces a positive outcome (whether he does what she wants or not), many women fall into the temptation and use it out of desperation. Relationships only work when people authentically relate and it is difficult, or near impossible, to relate well when no time is spent together.
So, we’ve established that, in most cases, men need to have time with friends and women need adequate attention from their husbands; however, what about when the roles are reversed? Sometimes women float from one social situation to another while their men sit at home and wait for some attention. Sometimes men get agitated at the lack of attention they receive from their wives and begin to show bitterness or anger towards their wives’ social lives. Because no marriage is a cookie cutter image of another marriage, it is important to learn about yourself and your future spouse before committing to become engaged. When we learn about ourselves, we learn how much time we need alone and how much time we need with others. We find out how much time we desire with friends, and when we just need to be home away from friends. It is natural to want to spend every waking hour together before marriage, but this can be a rude awakening after marriage when one spouse decides he/she needs more time out with friends and the other feels abandoned. Before marriage, force yourselves to spend time apart. Spend time alone reflecting. Spend time with friends of the same sex, or a group of friends, male and female. Study yourself and take notes on how you feel after hours alone and hours with friends. If you spend time apart before marriage, it won’t be a big deal to spend time apart after marriage. The main thing you need to do is to discover how much time you both desire to spend together. If one person wants to spend hours together daily, and they have proof that this is possible; and, the other wants to spend 30 minutes together daily while spending several hours playing video games or hanging out with friends, a compromise needs to be firmly reached before becoming engaged. Habits are hard to break, especially once the rings go on the fingers, so marriage friendly habits should be formed and maintained before moving into engagement.