I am a retired fireman; but, when I was working, it was not uncommon to hear someone state how difficult it was to understand a woman. For the record, I never said that - but I sure was thinking it! These comments were born out of pain, regret, and helplessness because they did not understand their wives and did not believe it was possible. Toward the end of my career God revealed to me that these firefighters already had the skills to learn and understand their wives. Every firefighter develops a particular skill because of Fire Station culture. It is called agitation - to provoke, goad, tease one another. Let me explain how we got good at agitation, which I then believe you can also use to better understand your wife.
I could almost turn to any firefighter sitting at the dining table at my station and with just two or three words have him/her angry or feeling complimented. How, because I knew them, understood them, knew their faults/successes. I had taken the time (we worked 24-hr shifts), the interest and curiosity to know all I could learn about them, no matter how trivial. I used listening skills to not just hear but discern their likes, dislikes and emotions detected in their voice. What were they really saying, not judging if their truth aligned to my truth, but what they were exposing about themselves, what was true to them. I did this to learn all I could learn, know, and understand about these individuals. So, when the time came, I could agitate them. Make no mistake the other firefighters were also studying me for the same reason, and we were all good at it. We laughed all the time at someone’s expense.
Examples: One guy showed snakes at High Schools and got bit by a rattle snake. His name became ‘Snakeman’. Another guy bragged he always gave 110%. His name became ‘One Ten’. One guy had a high voice, he became ‘Squeaky’. If you were short, they would place a step stool by the Engine where you rode so you could climb on, and not to be nice or thoughtful. If you did not like fish, they would cook fish for dinner. If you made a mistake that embarrassed you, they loved recounting the incident to you, to your family and your friends. Do you get the picture…?
I instructed the firefighters that they could know and understand their wives better. All they had to do was to use the same skills to know and understand their wives instead of using them to agitate like they do their fellow fire fighters. Like they did at the Fire Station, take the time, not quality time, but rather quantity time to be with her. I instructed them to be interested and curious about who she is, her dreams, her love languages, what she orders to drink at restaurants, how she likes her coffee, her eggs, bacon… How she prefers to start conversations? When, where, is the best time? What is she needing from you? Then make a plan to meet those needs. There is so much more to be curious about. We should listen with a desire to know the meaning of her words. It will take practice and a learning curve; you will have to be patient with her to trust you to open up because this will be new for her; forgiving one another as you both learn this process, because mistakes will be made. As you learn all this knowledge and understanding use it to be loving, considerate, and uplifting toward your wife so that your marriage will be a light to the lost around you.
1 Peter 3:7 ESV - “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”