Monday, November 9, 2009

for women only (part 5) - the need to provide

for women only:
you need to know about the inner lives of men
Shaunti Feldhahn

Chapter 4 - The Loneliest Burden

(How His Need to Provide Weighs Your Man Down, and Why He Like It That Way)*

Feldhahn's research suggested that men feel the need to provide financially for their family, irrespective of their wife's earnings, and they feel that pressure much of the time.

She concludes that the need to be a provider means certain things:
  • it's at the core of his identity,
being the provider isn't just a burden, but a highly desirable goal. Men feel powerful when they provide. And they want to be depended on. The ability to take care of those they feel responsible for lies at the very centre of their sense of personal significance (p79-80)
  • it's a way of expressing love,
"My job is to worry about providing so that my wife doesn't have to. That's one way I show her I love her" (p80)
  • they can feel trapped by the need to provide, and the pressures of work, especially in the light of criticism at home about not spending enough time with the family, one man said,
"My priorities ARE my family, I wish I of some way not to work so much, or to be available more, but I don't know how to make this work otherwise, I wish she was more aware of this." (p86)
  • they are trying to provide for the present and the future (ie. retirement)

She asks, how do we, as wives, respond?
  • reconsider existing areas of conflict - can we view conflict over work hours or pressures in a different light because of this?
  • help relieve the pressure - either by also reducing our spending, increasing our own earning or just deciding what to do together by talking about it
  • cast our cares on God,
By praying for our husbands and looking to the Lord rather than to our circumstances, we trust Him to carry both our husband and his burden. (p90)
  • encourage and appreciate our husband in his role of provider.

Some other things I thought:
  • I wonder if the reaction women have to this depends on whether or not they also earn an income? As I read this chapter I could understand her points and thought that yes, I can see that providing could be a burden, even if it is a wanted one. I wonder however, if you would read it the same way if you earned an income, especially if it was equal to, or more than your husband. Perhaps employed wives out there might like to comment on that one!

  • She made the valuable point that there would be women who would happily trade their husband's job of long hours and lots of money for one with less money where he was home more often.
  • I still think we need to honestly evaluate our jobs. Are we serving God in our job? Are we working appropriate hours? Are we neglecting other things because of our job? Do we find our value in our job or career? Have we chosen a lifestyle which requires us to work more than we should need to?

Some things to think about:

    For men:
    • Do you feel the burden and responsibility of providing for your family?
    • Have you articulated this to your wife, explaining why you feel this way?
    • Do you need to honestly evaluate your work and consider whether you are neglecting your family in any other way (even if you are providing for them financially)?
    • Have you actually discussed your financial and lifestyle priorities, in light of God's word and come to an agreement about them?
    For women:
    • Have you talked to your husband about whether he the feels the burden of providing for the family?
    • Do you think you add to his burden by complaining about his work or spending a lot of money?
    • Have you actually discussed your financial and lifestyle priorities, in light of God's word and come to an agreement about them?
    • How could you show your appreciation for his provision this week?

    Next time: Part 6 - sex

    * please note, these are her titles and subtitles - not mine!

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