Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Man To Man Excerpt

Entering into the Emotional World of a Woman

From Father James Farfaglia its author.

Father James has written a book called Man to Man, which I have ordered and am eagerly awaiting, having read the review notes of it. I have a link to the Man to Man book site over on the left over there. See it over there under the Advent wreath. Click it and go get it.

Father James has posted an excerpt today that is about the emotional world of women. As a failed, but now resurrected husband, I can attest to what I have read here. I delight in spending time with my wife and listening to her heart figuratively. Sometimes I hear her words and fall in love with her more and more, as I continue to plumb the depths of the delightful woman that she is. I am so blessed to have her in my life, and I thank God for it each day.

You might wonder how Fr. James has come to understand women as well as he does. He is a man, but he is also a priest. What does he know? Plenty, let me tell you. He was anointed by God to write this book. He has listened to his relatives, his parishioners and his friends and neighbours, and above all His and Our God, and this book is some of the fruit of that listening.

Father James starts off his own article as follows:
Now that many people are purchasing and reading my new book, “Man to Man: a real priest speaks to real men about marriage, sexuality and family life”, perhaps it is time to start some good discussions about what I have written. Let’s begin with an important topic.

Men need to understand that the emotional life of women is different than their own emotional world. Moreover, men need to know how to enter into that emotional world. At the same time, women need to understand that the emotional world of men is different than their own. They need to know how to understand that world as well.

Dr. John Gray, PhD., in his famous book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”, describes six primary love needs of women and men. He says that women need to receive caring, understanding, respect, devotion, validation and reassurance. Men, on the other hand, need to receive trust, acceptance, appreciation, admiration, approval and encouragement (cf. pp 141-157). It is interesting to note that these primary love needs are reciprocal.

When a husband shows by his behavior that he makes his relationship with his wife the highest priority in his life, she feels validated by his love. And then she in turn responds with the love and devotion that he desires.
Let me stop for just a moment here. I can attest to all that I have read thus far, but particularly to the last paragraph. I have failed previously, not once but twice, and almost did it again. Somewhere along the line with my dear wife, I picked up on her need to be the "highest priority in my life", like I never had before, and as I make her my highest priority each day, she knows that I love her, and my life is a delight with her. Okay, let's read a bit more, shall we?
A woman thrives on devotion. She loves to be adored. For women, being remembered on birthdays and anniversaries signals her husband’s continuing love for her. Unexpected gifts, flowers and other signs of affection are things that a woman really thrives on. When a wife experiences the true devotion of her husband, she will provide him with the admiration he requires.

Furthermore, a husband must never assume that his wife's primary love needs are being satisfied. He must reassure her of his love. His behavior must express that she is being loved continually. When this happens, a wife will give her husband the encouragement that he needs. A wife's encouragement provides her husband with the hope and the courage that he needs to fulfill his demanding roles of husband and father.
There are times when I am with my wife that I just break out in a disarming, to her, smile, and she asks me what that is about. I tell her that I am just falling in love with her a bit more, and I mean it from the depths of my heart. As I give of me, she is delighted and loves me in turn even more. What a joyful, vicious (in a good way) circle. More again.
There is nothing more beautiful than the kindness, tenderness and affection that young men and women show each other when they are truly in love. Their expressions of love during their courtship, engagement and first years of marriage are signs of true Christian love.

However, as the years pass by, many men overlook this important dimension of their relationship with their wives. While neglected love may wither and decline, well nourished, love does not decrease or die. Love flourishes.

Ronald Reagan gave every man a shining example how a man should love his wife. His devotion to Nancy was remarkable. They were always in love and he showed his unwavering devotion through many daily expressions of kindness, tenderness and affection.

Reagan was not an effeminate man. He was a real man. He was physically strong, loved to work with his hands on his California ranch, and he was a man of deep immovable Christian principles. Within his clear masculinity, he knew how to display the most amazing qualities of a truly refined gentleman.

Catholic men really need to grasp the importance of being gentlemanly at all times. Random acts of kindness such as holding a door for your wife, opening the car door as she gets in, or holding her chair as she sits down to eat, are all things a refined Catholic gentleman should always do. And at the same time, he provides an effective role model for his children.
My parents taught me at a young age to behave as a gentleman, to open doors, to walk on the outside on a street, to do little things that were, as I was told good manners for a man to a woman. So, in a sense I was always a gentleman. What I was not really was a gentle man, and the difference is more than subtle. But, my dear wife has taken the time to teach me, and I have taken the time and interest to learn, to be a gentle man. I like this gentle man that I see in the mirror, the man who delights in his wife's presence, in sharing things with her, and in sharing the things I do on my own, and that she does on her own, in excitement and conversation later. More again.
All men know that women like to talk. Studies have shown that a women’s brain has a greater capacity for conversation than a man’s brain. A woman’s ability to converse is part of her femininity. Through conversation she builds social relationships within the family and with the community. More than that, by participating in a meaningful exchange of ideas, she confirms her perception of herself as a person of worth.

One of the most important acts of kindness that a husband can show his wife is to listen to what she is saying. Married men need to understand that their wives need to talk to them and just as importantly, have the person they love attend to their interests and concerns.

A man may consider what his wife has to say as irrelevant, useless, or unimportant. Gentlemen, everything that your wife has to say is very important to her. Learn to listen. Every night, put aside at least thirty minutes to an hour for conversation time. Make sure that the kids are in bed and turn off the television. Intimate moments of deep, honest conversation will usually lead to meaningful moments of affection and physical intimacy.

Recently, a friend of mine who gave me a lot of ideas for my new book, “Man to Man”, told me a very touching story that illustrates the point of our discussion. One night, he and his wife were together in their bed. Rather than falling asleep after a long day of work, they simply began to talk for hours. “Let’s make love tonight”, my friend said as he turned to his wife. After a long moment of silence his wife began to cry. Turning to him with tenderness she said, “We already have”.
I can relate to this last section. My wife loves to communicate, and a lot of her communication is verbal, but from her heart. As a verbally adept man, I don't mind talking, but a lot of my talking is information. So, to change gears and listen with my own heart has become a great source of enjoyment for me, to discover that I can communicate information when appropriate, and can listen and speak from my heart, which I recently located, there in my left breast area. Who knew!

Good on you, Father James.

This article is appearing on the Theology of the Body Channel on Catholic Exchange.


Joshua S. said...


I hear you loud and clear. May I add something?

Perhaps the greatest mistake younger people make is to confuse the "Hollywood version" of romance, love and marriage with reality on the ground, so to speak. I've explained all this over the years to my own sons. This is how I told them about it.

Life is not an easy road; it can be very lonely. Early on, I realized that I was one of those men who needed a companion on that road.

I was barely 22 years old and already lonely. Working in a foreign country, I thought I was doing something that would fill the void. Indeed, I was so busy that I actually forgot how lonely I was. I used "action" to avoid and/or erase the lonely stillness within me.

It almost worked. So confident had I become that I decided I deserved a small vacation. I was living in Tunisia at the time, and scheduled a two week stay with friends in India (Punjab province, specifically).

Two days after I arrived, my hostess took me to a small Christian-run orphanage about ten miles out of town. "You just have to meet the young Scottish woman who has been running the place for the past year. She's quite remarkable. I'm positive you'll just love her. She's one in a million."

Moments later, I was meeting the young woman in question. As I shook her hand, I felt this terrible loneliness well up within me. She began talking about her work, and it was all I could do to not break down and cry then and there. In an attempt to protect my masculine pride, I focused very intently on what she was saying to avoid bursting into tears. Her voice rustled like satin on silk as she described the challenges of running this small orphanage of less than 30 children. And the more I listened and looked at her, the more this loneliness that I had been trying to escape seemed to loom up, then slip away somewhere. I didn't chase it down. I stayed where I was, listening and learning about this young woman's incredible life.

Hours passed as the three of us chatted. Finally, my vacation hostess indicated that it was time for us to go. As we drove away, I looked back and saw the young woman I'd just met waving goodbye. Goodbye?

Cont'd in second posting.

Joshua S. said...

Cont'd from earlier posting


The thought struck me suddenly that I didn't want to say goodbye to this young woman. I begged my hostess to turn around and return me up the road to the orphange. Once there, I asked if it would be okay if I stayed for a few days and did some of the repairs on the building that she had spoken about earlier that day. She gratefully agreed, and it was arranged that my hostess would return to retrieve me four days later.

I've no idea what made me turn around that day, but I've never regretted it for a moment. My hostess was absolutely right! I just loved the young Scotswoman who was running that orphanage. And over the next four days, I let this woman erase the loneliness at my core. I didn't realize what was happening at the time. I only noticed how WELL and WHOLE I was feeling the longer I stuck around. Finally, we arrived at the night before my hostess was scheduled to pick me up.

We sat on the veranda which circled the small orphanage and talked late into the night. It was around midnight when I found myself telling this young woman whom I had not even kissed yet that I was in love with her, that I couldn't bear the thought of seeing her in a rearview mirror tomorrow or ever, and would she please be my wife. "Just think about it," I said to her the next day as I got into the car to leave.

She did more than think about it. She prayed about it. Three days later, the phone rang. My hostess called me to the phone. "It's for you, Joshua," she said, looking somewhat confused. I took the phone call and gained a wife, companion, fellow traveller and courageous soldier for Jesus Christ. She brought me everything that I lacked, including a closer connection with God than I had dreamed possible.

I have thanked God for His kindness every day since...

I admit that I am/we are among the "lucky ones". Nonetheless, I believe that our relationship provided our children a "template" for their own marriages. Now I thank God for my daughters-in-law and son-in-law - every day.

Thirty-five years can pass by in what seems like a heartbeat if God has blessed your love.