Be honest. If you’ve never googled this, you’ve at least wondered, “How can I keep my girlfriend, or wife, happy?” I know I have. One time I googled, “How do I actually understand my wife?” Another time, “What are my wife’s hormones about?” As men, we care about our wives, girlfriends, moms, and all the important women in our lives. We genuinely want them to be happy. But so often our intentions don’t match our actions—and half the time we don’t even know what our actions should be. For instance, googling the hormones thing was probably a bad idea.
Recently, I had an incredible opportunity to go hiking with John Eldredge, best-selling author of Wild at Heart, and co-author of Captivating. These two books are some of the most helpful books written for Christian men and women. While we were hiking, Eldredge, 25 years older and probably 55 years wiser, told us there are two things we need to know about women. First, their big question, which is something like, “Will I be loved?” Her question motivates nearly everything she does. Second, her wound, which at some point in her life sent her the message, “You are not loved. You were not chosen. You aren’t worth it.”
Read about every man’s question.
Now, apply this new perspective to your relationships with women. Does this help you understand the messes you get into? Think about it. What are the conversations you avoid with women? If you’re married, it might be in-laws, sex, parenting style, or money. If you’re not married, it might be physical boundaries, conversations about your future, and conflict in general. These conversations bring uncertainty to her question.
Is this some kind of insider secret map for where not to go? To keep my girlfriend or wife happy, I just avoid certain conversations? Absolutely not. We are image-bearers of God, and He’s not a coward; He’s a warrior. In his book, The Heroic Path, John Sowers writes, “Men are like pickup trucks—we do best when we have weight in the truck bed.” This isn’t just macho mumbo jumbo. Jesus called it laying down your life for your friends. The Apostle Paul called it loving like Christ gave Himself up for the Church. As men, we were made to go to there, to the hardest places, on behalf of love.
How can I keep my girlfriend or wife happy? Realize it’s not my job to “keep her happy.” It’s my privilege to love her well.
But we can’t go to women with strength until we learn to get it from God first. Likewise, it doesn’t work going to women looking for the strength we should get from God. She can only carry us so long before our unanswered question wrongly answers hers. Think about how this plays out. We go looking for quick sex, and she feels unloved. We retreat, and she feels abandoned. We don’t deal with something, and she feels unsafe. We go looking somewhere else, and she feels abandoned. So, how can I keep my girlfriend or wife happy? First, I realize it’s not my job “to keep her happy.” It’s my privilege to love her well. Then, we go to God for strength first so we can come to her with courageous and selfless love. Do you have this in order? What do you need to do to make it right?