Although I'm not keen on stereotypes, I can't help noticing how women and men gravitate toward certain gender outlooks. For instance, consider men's and women's TV watching preferences. While I stubbornly cling to the hope that my wife, Valerie, will eventually be captured by the magic of ESPN (Da Bears!) and give up her pathetic addiction to HGTV ("all for under $500!"), the reality is we continue to be a two television family. We are not the same. I'm guessing that before the ink is dry on the marriage license most couples discover a gender gap or two in their relationship.
But of all the possible gaps between husbands and wives there's no difference more puzzling to me than how women and men approach spirituality. Here's a scenario Valerie and I have experienced a dozen times: We're with a group of married couples when the topic of spirituality comes up. Someone, usually a woman, mentions the importance of spiritual intimacy in a strong marriage.
The difference in response to the words spiritual intimacy is nearly polar. The women become alert. They hone in on the topic with a kind of female soul radar. Immediately they become engaged. The men's response? Suddenly even the most verbal among them becomes passive and quiet. If they're willing to make eye contact at all, they're reminiscent of a deer caught in the headlights just before an accident. Perspiration beads on foreheads, arms cross, tongues become mute and stay mute until the topic changes.
What's up with that? How could those two little words, spiritual intimacy, evoke such different responses—anxiety in husbands, and longing in wives?1