Last week we read that Peter asked Jesus, “How many times do we forgive someone who has hurt us, 7 times?”  Jesus said, “No, 70 times 7.”  We said that basically means you forgive the person as long as they are in your life.  However, if you do the math, that’s 490 times.  At the end of the service last week, a couple came to me and jokingly said, “Ken, we have been married a long time.  We have forgiven each other about 485 times.  We are almost at the limit.  We may not make it past this week.”  I think they missed the point.

Jesus told Peter, you forgive, and you keep on forgiving.  Then Jesus does something brilliant, He explained ‘why’ we forgive.  He shares a simple story so that His message would stick.  It was the story of the king forgiving a servant’s debt of millions.  The servant leaves the king debt free and immediately turns on someone who owed him thousands.  We said that is how we can treat our spouses.  We experience God’s grace in our lives.  We experience God forgiving us of a debt we could never repay.  Then we go back into our marriage and expect them to pay for the hurt or unmet expectations they have given us.

We said that in many Christian marriages, we don’t truly forgive, we hold onto to our hurt.  We don’t get a divorce we just pull back.  That way our marriage looks great on the outside, but on the inside, we can try to make our spouse pay for the hurt they gave us.  We don’t fully engage.  We know what our spouse needs, but we pull back.  We don’t give our relationship life.  We can be like the evil servant forgiven by the king of a debt we could never repay and turn on our spouse for the hurts they have given us.

Big Questions here: How can we call ourselves disciples of Christ, enjoy the grace of God forgiving us and then turn on our spouses and treat them by the letter of the law?  How can we be disciples of Christ and quietly pull back from our spouse in hopes to make them pay for the hurt they gave us?

Today I want to continue that talk.  One of the struggles in marriage is trying to get your spouse to understand what you need from the relationship.  As simple as this sounds, it’s the reason marriages end up in huge arguments.   Why is something so simple, so complicated?  Because men and women are wildly different.  And, we aren’t listening to our spouse.

When I was new at being married, I didn’t understand how different we were.  When we dated, I noticed we were different, but I wasn’t paying close attention to how different we were.  I was just happy to hang out with Karen. We got married and we began to realize how crazy the other person was.  Karen and I would go shopping.  She would ask me which shirt I liked most.  I truly didn’t care, so as a rookie, I was honest and said I didn’t care.  That is a legitimate answer, if you are new to marriage.  If you have a few years of marriage behind you, you just laughed at that answer because you know, that’s a terrible answer.

Karen was disappointed in my answer.  I didn’t know what was happening.  So, to make things better, I just picked one and said that was my favorite.  This didn’t make things better; this made things worse and I didn’t understand why.  Because in all my years of being a guy and hanging out with guys, it was so simple.  No one cared about anything.

When I picked the shirt I liked, but didn’t really care about, I thought I dodged a bullet.  No.  Karen then asked me, “Why do you like it?”  I was so completely out of my comfort zone.  And Karen quickly became even more disappointed in my thought process.  I was told, I was insensitive.  I was dazed and confused.  How could I support and love her more — I am with you shopping!  And now, I am insensitive?  How does that even happen?  She thinks I am crazy.  I think she is crazy.

In general, our struggle in marriage is that we are not listening to our spouse.

In general, what do the books tell us about women?  They want to feel loved, feel special and feel like she is being pursued.  When interviewed, 91% of women said, “My number 1 need is love.”

If she doesn’t feel loved [defined as feeling special and pursued], what do women do?  They try to communicate with their husbands to let them know what they need.  How?  They complain, criticize, and can be negative.  This is an emotional response to not feeling loved.

In general, what do the books tell us about men?  Men want respect.  When interviewed, 74% of men said, “I want respect.”

If he doesn’t feel respect [defined as, ‘I believe in my husband.’], what do men do?  They try to communicate with their wives to let them know what they need.  How?  In two ways.  Men will either get angry, very angry or they get stone cold.  This is an emotional response to not feeling respected.

Let’s put this together.  A wife doesn’t feel loved, so she complains, criticizes, and gets negative.  What does the husband hear?  “She doesn’t approve of me, she doesn’t like me, she doesn’t respect me.”  What does he do?  Because he thinks there is no respect, he gets angry or shuts down.  Either response sends her a message.  What does his wife hear?  “There is no love for you, actually, I’m hostile towards you.”  And around and around we go.

Think about this.  Two people, at one time, stood in front of family and friends and said I will love you till the end of time.  And now they are deeply wounded and confused.  And if this goes on for a few years, it becomes defcon 5.  What is happening?  They aren’t listening to each other.

What does the Bible say about marriage?  Is it even relevant to marriages today?

Ephesians 5:21-33

21 Honor Christ by submitting to each other. 22 You wives must submit to your husbands’ leadership in the same way you submit to the Lord. 23 For a husband is in charge of his wife in the same way Christ is in charge of his body the Church. (He gave his very life to take care of it and be its Savior!) 24 So you wives must willingly obey your husbands in everything, just as the Church obeys Christ.

25 And you husbands, show the same kind of love to your wives as Christ showed to the Church when he died for her, 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by baptism and God’s Word;  27 so that he could give her to himself as a glorious Church without a single spot or wrinkle or any other blemish, being holy and without a single fault. 28 That is how husbands should treat their wives, loving them as parts of themselves. For since a man and his wife are now one, a man is really doing himself a favor and loving himself when he loves his wife! 29 No one hates his own body but lovingly cares for it, just as Christ cares for his body the Church, of which we are parts.

31(That the husband and wife are one body is proved by the Scripture, which says, “A man must leave his father and mother when he marries so that he can be perfectly joined to his wife, and the two shall be one.”) 32 I know this is hard to understand, but it is an illustration of the way we are parts of the body of Christ.

33 So again I say, a man must love his wife as a part of himself; and the wife must see to it that she deeply respects her husband-obeying, praising, and honoring him.  TLB

And there it is.  Vs 33.  Men, love your wife.  Ladies, respect your husband.  Why?  Because, to the core of being a man, he needs respect.  Because to the core of being a woman, she needs love.

Guys, 3 ways to show her love.  You may not understand but that’s okay.

During conflict, reassure her of your love.  95% of women interviewed said, that one step on your part would diminish or even eliminate the emotional turmoil on her part.

When you need space, reassure her that it’s not about her.  Because only 9% of women want to process their feelings alone, that means 91% of women won’t understand why you need space.

Keep pursuing her even when she is being difficult, don’t stop, keep reassuring her of your love.  The worst thing you can do is give up and pull away.

Ladies, 3 things you need to know about your husband.  You may not understand and that’s okay.

74% of men would rather be alone and unloved than feel inadequate and disrespected.  Loving your husband the way you want loved doesn’t end well.  He wants to know that you believe in him.  You trust his judgment.  Negative put downs only hurt more and more.

Most men are insecure and don’t want you to know.  67% of men feel insecure at work and are concerned about what others think.  63% of men report that they feel like they are in over their heads at work and don’t want others to know.

97% of men report that getting enough sex wasn’t enough, they want to feel wanted.  For men, sex is directly connected to their emotional well being.

To close we want to give you homework that will change your marriage forever.  Would you like to know what is going on inside your spouse’s heart?  Here is what you do.

Step 1.  For each spouse, get out a piece of paper.

Step 2.  Write out 3 things you need from your spouse that would bring you to life.

Step 3. Give each other that piece of paper.

Step 4.  Review each thing your spouse wrote and ask them why.

Step 5.  Rearrange you schedule to prioritize your spouse.

Hear me.  You must, you must, you must listen to your spouse.