Teach Him to Understand
the Heart of a Woman
In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives.
Treat her with understanding as you live together.
She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal
partner in God's gift of new life. If you don't treat her
as you should, your prayers will not be heard.
1 Peter 3:7, NLT
Our God feels very strongly
about men living with their wives in an understanding way.
In fact, He made this conditional statement in 1 Peter 3:7: "If
you don't treat her as you should, your prayers will not be
Sounds like a simple command, doesn't it? Yet it is a distinct
challenge for any man to put into action, considering
we women are so complex that many times we do not even
I have several Christian girlfriends who love their husbands
yet feel alone in their marriages. They long for their
husbands to tune in to their hearts and treat them with understanding
rather than try to fix or change them. Now, I
know these husbands-they are godly men who love their
wives. Yet they often appear completely clueless when it
comes to the instruction given in 1 Peter 3:7.
It's as if husbands grew up going to Man School. They
have no trouble passing the "guy" courses: Acting Cool 101,
Success and Achievement 102, and Sports 400. All of the
skills learned in those classes come naturally, and are only reinforced
through peer pressure.
On the other hand, while men often pass Getting the
Girl 101, most guys flunk out of Understanding Women
101. Why? Because no one teaches this course in the school
of married life!
Some men can turn to their own dads for help, but unfortunately,
most fathers have the same diploma from Man
School hanging on their walls.
Is it any wonder husbands everywhere feel frustrated and
alone, trying to master something they were never trained for?
Most of us cannot imagine the world-changing power of
one man who has learned how to love, lead, and understand
his wife and family.
In the 1990s, the Promise Keepers movement became a
national phenomenon, with millions of men marching under
one banner. Their cry was for restoration of America's families-starting
with their own. Their founder, Coach Bill
McCartney, influenced many men with a call to something
far greater than business success. Money, prestige, and
worldly acclaim held little value for Coach McCartney, who
experienced a nearly destroyed marriage before discovering
this life-changing truth: "If you want to know the true character
of a man, look into his wife's face. Whatever he has
invested or withheld can be seen in her eyes."
I have a father who loves being married . but who, sadly,
has been divorced three times from women he deeply loved.
Each time I watched him struggle to understand what went
I believe that when a man walks down the aisle and says
"I do," it is his every hope and intention that his marriage be
"for life." I'm sure his sincere desire is to understand and take
care of the beauty he has chosen as his wife. He longs to be
her hero and lead her safely through life.
Yet many times a husband discovers he does not know
how to accomplish his God-appointed mission in marriage.
Eventually, his attempts at love, leadership, and even heroism
miss their mark as his beauty withdraws emotionally from
the very one she hoped would rescue her. Sadly, his wife eventually
closes up her spirit in order to protect her heart from
hurt. Intimacy, happiness, and hope wither into isolation,
pain, and despair. Feeling helpless and frustrated, the man
she longs for gives up trying.
The result is often an empty marriage, adultery, or divorce,
and what began as a love story ends in tragedy.
It was her wedding day, the glorious moment she had
dreamed about all her life. There she stood, dressed all in
white, ready to say "I do" . when her husband-to-be
dropped a bomb on her heart. He looked into the eyes of his
eighteen-year-old bride just hours before the wedding ceremony
and confessed, "I can't do this. I am in love with
There she stood, alone, humiliated, and eight weeks
pregnant with a son. To make matters worse, she had
nowhere to run: Marriage was her last hope for deliverance
from her abusive father.
Like all women, my stepmother, Susie, longed to walk
down the aisle with the ideals of love, security, and companionship
waiting in a tux at the other end. Instead she found
herself alone and scared, her life shattered. Her dream of
being rescued and whisked away to a life of happily ever after
turned into a nightmare of despair.
How could she possibly succeed at raising a child alone?
She had never witnessed a healthy marriage or seen what a
loving husband looks like. What hope did her son have of
victory, with so much stacked against him?
With nowhere else to turn my stepmother took her pain
and placed it at the feet of God, the true Father. And what
blossomed in its place was a pure, selfless love and single-minded
passion for her boy and his future.
As that child grew, he learned the true meaning of the
word self-sacrifice. He saw firsthand how determined his
mom was to prepare him to become a great husband. Is it any
wonder that my stepbrother turned out to be a modern-day
hero? Today he loves the Lord with all his heart and is a well-respected
man of integrity. After twenty years spent serving
our country, he left the military as a highly decorated officer.
My stepmom's mission was accomplished; her training to
raise her son to love his wife succeeded. I have never
witnessed a man more in love with or tuned in to his wife's
and stepchildren's needs than my brother. He exemplifies
Christ's love in his home every day.
How can God use broken hearts and lives as tools to
train our sons to become godly husbands? The answer is this:
Our Father in heaven has all we need to turn our pain into
divine purpose and our despair into divine destiny for us and
our beloved boys.
If God could use Rahab the prostitute in the lineage of
King David and King Jesus . if He could turn the sin of
King David and Bathsheba into a son, King Solomon, who
would become the wisest man who ever lived . then He can
certainly use whatever you have done or whatever has been
done to you to bring about something significant in your
Our boys do not have to become the lost generation that
does not know how to love and lead a wife and family. Turn
your heartache and disappointments into the passion you
will need to raise a mighty warrior. Don't beat yourself up any
longer for things gone wrong. Instead, use the mistakes made
in your own marriage or relationships with men as tutorials.
Teach your son what it takes to build a healthy, loving relationship
with his future wife.
What saved my stepmom's son from becoming just another
statistic is the power of prayer, the devotion of quality
time, and the amazing influence a mom can have in her son's
A Mother's Influence
A loving mother has the power to teach her son about the
tender heart of a woman. Who better to show him how to
truly appreciate the way a woman is wired by God Himself?
The time to prepare our boys is now. By using the
weapons available to us-our undying love for them, our
available time with them, our incomparable influence over
them, and our powerful prayers-we can train them to become
God entrusts our beloved sons to us for only a certain
number of days. What a great opportunity to invest in their
futures by preparing them to love and understand the heart
of their future wife.
A Mother in Action
This age range-while your son desires your approval and attention-is
the perfect time to teach him how to become a
tender warrior and to understand a woman's heart.
1. Teach him to take responsibility. This is your chance to
train your son about matters of the heart. To become a
great husband, he must take responsibility for the way he
treats and relates to girls and mommies. When your son
does something to hurt you or any girl, don't make
excuses for him; instead, show him what taking responsibility
for his actions looks like.
Many times I taught my son to take responsibility by
using word pictures that required a response on his part.
For example, "If Mommy accidentally drops a hammer
on your toe and it hurts you, do I still have to say I'm
sorry? Even if I didn't do it on purpose?"
2. Talk about the power of his words. Kids can be cruel to
one another. You've heard the phrase, "Sticks and stones
may break my bones, but words will never hurt me"-and
you know how untrue it is. Words have the power to
hurt or heal, build up or tear down. Look for opportunities
to talk to him about the effect his words have on
3. Be honest with him about how women think and feel.
I am not talking about turning your son into a man who
thinks and acts like a girl. Rather, this step is about
preparing him now for one of the greatest challenges he
will ever face: understanding that his words and actions
have the power to either hurt or heal a woman's heart.
Think about all the marriages you've seen in which
women are hurting and their husbands have no clue why
or how to heal their hearts. This lack of understanding
leaves wives wounded, and a wounded wife is not a good
thing in a marriage.
4. Help him understand about gender differences. God
made girls more naturally tenderhearted than boys.
Explain to your son that is why girls get their feelings hurt
more easily. Help him understand that He made boys
tougher so they can protect girls' hearts and emotions.
Continue to apply all the above and add the following:
1. Keep training him. During this time your son may not
seem interested in matters of the heart. But believe me,
he is watching and learning more than you realize. Don't
give up on your training. Boys do a lot of things at this
stage in their lives that hurt moms' and girls' feelings
without realizing it. Be on the lookout for those vulnerable
2. Validate his feelings. The Word of God says to be angry,
yet not sin. There are more than two thousand references
in the Bible to the emotions of God. Do not shut your
son down; rather, teach him to understand what he is
feeling and how to work through it.
3. Let him know you understand his heart. Every son
wants to feel understood and related to. He will learn the
most about how to minister to a woman's heart through
the way you minister to him, so take the time to tune in
and hear his heart.
4. Pray with him when he is hurting. By taking the time
to pray with your son, you are training him now to always
turn to his heavenly Father for healing, hope, and
guidance. Someday he will teach that habit to his own
The teenage years are the most opportune time to teach sons
about tuning in to a woman's heart. Continue to apply all the
above and add the following:
1. Take advantage of this time. By this age he is attracted
to girls but has relatively little idea how to sort out his
feelings-let alone understand the strange and confusing
emotions of girls! Take notice every time your son has a
crush on a girl; let him know you are there to help him
understand her heart.
2. Get him to tune in to his own heart. The majority of
husbands out there do not tune in to their wives' hearts
because they don't understand their own feelings and
emotions. They were taught by society that being strong
means shutting down their feelings.
Yes, men are hardwired to be strong; however, they
also need to be sensitive to matters of the heart in order
to become mighty men of God. King David was just as
strong and mighty in understanding matters of the heart
as he was in his manhood and faith.
When my son is emotionally hurt, I try to get him
to recognize and talk about his feelings. When he is
struggling to understand the actions or reactions of a girl
he likes, we discuss it and I offer a woman's point of view
on the matter.
3. Try to keep it lighthearted, yet real. Be honest and relatable
when talking to your son about girls. If you want
him to open up, start off with an intriguing comment
like, "I know something about girls that you don't .!"
That usually does the trick.
Sometimes when I am teaching my son Jake about
how women think, he'll get a perplexed look on his face
and then blurt out, "Women are so bizarre!" My response
is usually, "Well, men are emotionally challenged!" We
have a lot of fun laughing together about the differences
between men and women.
4. Never make him feel stupid about things he does not
understand. If you do, you will lose your influence. Be a
good listener, and get directly to the point when you
have an answer.
5. Relate to him through popular culture. When things
happen in his life with girls that he just does not "get,"
try to talk to him about it on his level. Using an illustration
from a popular "chick flick" can be a valuable
tool in helping him understand how women feel and
6. Don't make male-bashing comments. Many women
who have been hurt by men are bitter and pass this negativity
on to their sons. Eventually, the mothers lose their
credibility, and the emotional connection with their sons
is lost. Remember, all of this may not come naturally for
your son, so be patient and positive as you enter with
him into the world of girls.
7. Get him to think about the girl's feelings. If you can
help your son do this rather than trying to fix her problems,
you will be aiding him in a big way. This is one of
the keys to tenderness with his future wife-whether he
can relate to her or not.
Ask him probing questions like, "What do you think
she was feeling when she said that?" When your young
man makes an effort to see things from a girl's point of
view, he is well on his way to being a loving leader.
8. Have him pray. When your son is struggling to understand
you, his sister, or his female friends, encourage him
to stop and pray for guidance. Remind him that God
created women and that He promises us wisdom if we
ask for it-even about something as mysterious as the
mind of a woman!
If your son is uncomfortable praying about the issue,
don't force it. Instead, offer to pray for him. As he grows
in faith and maturity, he'll begin taking the initiative of a
9. Affirm him. When your son does something to show
that he loves and understands you, let him know how
much it means to you. Tell him what an understanding
husband he will make someday. Speak life into his future
marriage with love notes, words of praise, and
10. Teach him that women get their feelings hurt easily.
Here is my favorite illustration on this subject: When
you hit someone with a two-by-four-whether you did
it on purpose or by accident-the pain is still real.
11. Help him tune in to his own heart. Train your son to
recognize his own emotions as well as the emotions of
others. You do not want to put the pressure on his future
wife to spend many frustrating years of their
marriage retraining your son to tune in to her heart.