Christian communities continue to report happier marriages, fewer divorces, and better fathers, according to a report from the Institute for American Values, quoted at CitizenLink.org. The report shows 65 percent of men who attend church regularly and are involved in ministry activities enjoy happier and more stable marriages than their secular peers. In addition, religious fathers are more likely to devote time and attention to their children.
Barb and I review this study in our new book, His Brain, Her Brain: How divinely designed differences can strengthen your marriage:
Conquest and Nurture Happily Ever After
So is it possible for conquest and nurture to live happily ever after? Absolutely!
That is exactly what God intended, and it is possible through what W. Bradford Wilcox, PhD, calls “soft patriarchs” or “servant leaders.” In his research, he has found that these are the type of men who attend to their wives’ needs for communication and affection and also are aware of their responsibility to meet their family’s financial needs and to provide moral leadership.
These types of men are more likely to be directed and informed by the Bible and its model of marriage. They are also more likely to understand that there is a “sacred obligation to use their familial power to serve their families.”
Michael Gurian writes, “Studies all over the world indicate that women … select, for romantic relationships and marriage, (while) men are on a quest for achievement and status. Women want men who aspire to be kings (even if only at a local level), warriors (protectors who make them feel safe), magicians (men who have, even if in a love of gadgets, some magical power that leads to success), lovers (men who make women part of their quest).”
A woman’s desires for a strong man fit perfectly with the hero mentality that “is biologically wired into men’s minds.” And scientific studies support this.
One review of over twenty studies on marital happiness concluded that wife-dominant couples were the least happy and that wives in the wife-dominated unions were less happy than their husbands.
In other words, marriages seem to work best when “the wife can influence the husband” but doesn’t try to dominate or disrespect him.
Most males simply are not attracted to women who try to control them. Studies show that men “positively dislike” dominant tendencies in a female mate. Why? It goes back to a male brain’s biologic design to conquer. When he is successful, “he achieves a pleasurable testosterone high; when he fails, loses, or is demeaned, he experiences a testosterone low.”
Although a woman seems to be built to desire a man who leads her, she also needs a man who values and honors her—who is loyal to her and respects her. Male dominance is good for a marriage when it is “moderate, not autocratic.” So while women are attracted to strong, masculine men, they do not want a man who is tyrannical. In fact, women regularly divorce men who behave like ruthless dictators and who devalue them.
As Steven E. Rhoads, PhD, writes, “If marriage means bringing together one person built for conquest and assertion and another with a penchant for nurture and loving, we should not be surprised to find that the former is, in some sense, the head of the family.… This doesn’t mean he rules like an absolute dictator. Indeed, it’s still quite common to hear of small, feminine women who have their strong, masculine husbands “wrapped around their little fingers.” Happy women usually rule indirectly. They can rule because their husbands love and want to please them.… In such cases, both parties emerge happy.”