Focus on the Family

Focus on the Family Broadcast

Balancing Gender Differences in Your Marriage (Part 1 of 2)

Balancing Gender Differences in Your Marriage (Part 1 of 2)

Robert and Pamela Crosby help married couples understand and celebrate their gender differences so that they can enjoy a stronger bond and deeper intimacy. Our guests offer practical tips for improved communication, successful conflict resolution and offering affirmation to your spouse. (Part 1 of 2)



Woman #1: We actually talk about things where men don’t. They all get together in the same room and play video gamesand won’t say word. And they’re like, “Man, that was such good bonding time.”

Man #1: With any parenting dilemma I feel like my wife just wants to talk out loud about strategies, approaches. And I’m just kind of more of a trial and error guy…

Woman #2: My husband does not like picking up his dirty laundry off the floor. So maybe women are neater than men, I don’t know.

Man #2: I don’t understand why getting to church on time always begins to be an issue about 15 minutes before church starts.

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: Well, anyone who has been married for more than a couple of days or weeks is going to agree with some of that. Men and women are different – very different. And, uh, today, we’re going to help you learn how to avoid letting those differences drive you crazy and instead let them, uh, bring a fullness to your relationship.

Jim Daly: (Laughter) That’s good.

John: This is Focus on the Family, and your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.

Jim: You know, John, some might feel it’s ironic, uh, how often opposites attract. I think it’s the plan if we haven’t figured it out yet.

John: Yeah. We just don’t know it until a couple of days or years into marriage.

Jim: (Laughter) Yeah, this is God’s – this is his plan to make you more like him, and what does that mean? Selfless and humble. Marriage will do that if you approach it with the right attitude. Uh, if you don’t, it’s going to break you. And that’s part of the plan, I think. This pattern is so common, and right now, I’m sure 20 percent of those listening are saying, well, that’s not my husband and me. I get it. I get it. There’s probably that 20 percent, maybe, but 80 percent, yeah, you’ve got the night owl and the morning person. You got the extrovert and the introvert.

John: You got the middle of the tube…

Jim: You got milk chocolate, dark chocolate.

John: Middle of the tube, end of the tube.

Jim: This – you’re describing everything I just said is Jean and I. I mean…

John: (Laughter) Yeah. That’s us.

Jim: This is who we are.

John: Uh-hm.

Jim: And, uh, I think it is kind of the godly plan for your life. Uh, the Bible addresses this in 1 Corinthians 12 where we’re described as the Body of Christ and how our different personalities and abilities all contribute to the greater good of everyone else. Hopefully, you as a couple, you complete each other, and we are going to discuss that today. I want you coming out of this time together thinking our differences are something to be celebrated, not something to be, uh, mad about.

John: Do you mind if I just step out now and (Laughter) give my wife a call?

Jim: Actually let’s both step out and let our guests talk about it.

John: We’ll turn it over to our guests. (LAUGHTER) We have Dr. Robert Crosby and his wife, Pamela, with us, and, uh, they’re the co-founders of Teaming Life, and they teach team-building concepts to families and organizations. Robert is a professor of theology at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida. And Pamela works there as well, uh, helping students with their calling and their career. And together they’ve got a book that we’ll hear more about today calledThe Will of a Man & the Way of a Woman: Balancing And Blending Better Together.


Jim: Robert and Pamela, welcome to Focus.

Pamela Crosby: Thank you so much.

Robert Crosby: We’re delighted.

Jim: It’s such a great topic. And this is always one of the most popular things we can talk about is marriage (laughter) and…

John: The differences.

Jim: And the reason is, you know, we feel our marriages aren’t where they need to be. I think that’s a 80-20. Maybe 20 percent feel we’re living in the right spot, but probably 80 percent of Christian couples feel there’s – there’s more to improve upon here. Um, we’re kind of on autopilot. Do you find that in your work?

Robert: We really do. You know, the word – the – sort of the operative word we believe in marriage is oneness. A few years ago, we watched a documentary on the Navy Blue Angels, and they interviewed the lead pilot. And, uh, the interviewer said, you know, when you fly, it looks like you’re always flying as one. He said, is that what you do? And, uh, the pilot said, you know – he said that’s what our goal is. We rarely get it perfect. Sometimes for a few minutes we get it, but we’re always striving to fly as one.

Jim: Huh, that is well said. Now, give me the title of the book. Why this title? I think I get it innately, but I want to make sure I’ve guessed correctly –The Will of a Man & the Way of a Woman. Most men are going to say it’s always the way of the woman. If mama’s happy… (LAUGHTER) I mean, who’s even arguing?

Robert: Right, right!

Jim: It’s the will of the man to maybe relax and watch football all day Sunday. It’s the way of the woman to say no you ain’t! (LAUGHTER)

Robert: Yeah. Well, good – good example. You know, it is an idea and a concept that honestly emerged in our marriage. Little by little, we began to notice this dynamic, uh, that, you know, when it came to our drive that there was an emphasis in me toward matters of the will, that there was a focus that Pam had toward the way. And we just little by little began to say, you know, it’s sort of like the will of the man, the way of a woman. It’s almost like a magnet. The opposite poles are drawn together. But if you turn it around, they repel each other.

So we really believe that the Lord in his design has put a propensity within men for matters of the will, uh, that he’s put in women this focus on the way. You – you know, you even hear it in a lot of modern music. Uh, you hear these themes of the way. A few of them – Billy Joel said she’s got a way about her. Faith Hill said it’s the way you love me. The Beatles said something in the way she moves. Uh, Peter Frampton said, ooh, baby, I love your way. (LAUGHTER) So, you know, there’s this…

Jim: You’re quoting all the notable theologians…

Robert: Right. (LAUGHTER)

Pamela: Yeah.

John: It’s pop culture theology there, yeah.

Jim: But, Pamela, uh, help us with this. I mean, you’re sitting here with three guys. When we talk about the will and the way, I – again, I think I understand completely in the simplicity of it, but give it more contour from a woman’s perspective. I mean, the way of the woman in the household, let’s be really practical. Uh, we talk about men being leaders of the home, but women are often the ones behind the scenes leading, right?

Pamela: Yes. They have that extra special sense that helps… (LAUGHTER)

Jim: That’s a nice way to say it.

Pamela: …Give some direction. And, um, I actually thought my husband was, you know, being cruel and mean for many years until I became certified with the MBTI. And I found…

John: Which is, for people who don’t know?

Jim: Wait, yeah, we got to tell them.

John: Yeah, I know.

Pamela: I’m sorry, yes, that’s Myers-Briggs temperament instrument.

John: OK.

Pamela: And I was studying it because it was part of what I do with students at Southeastern.

John: It’s kind of a personality tool.

Pamela: Yes, it is a personality assessment and in it it talks about how we live our life. Do we live on the outside? Do we live on the inside? Do we engage concepts? Do we take in information through our five senses? How do we think? How do we make decisions?

And, um, I used to get very frustrated because he would come to me with these concepts that I checked off with, that’s just another book title you’re working on. You know, I don’t get it. And, um, I’ve had to learn to really appreciate, understand and honor those. He one day said to me, you know what? I finally get it. It’s the will of a man and the way of a woman, and I thought, what are you talking about? I don’t… (Laughter) I’m the censor and he’s the concept guy.

And, um, it was when – I’ll never forget the morning he came in and said, OK, I found it in scripture. I found the way of a woman and I found where scripture talks about the will of a man. I have to let him say this because I know you’ll say it so much better. But…

Jim: So we’re improving on Peter Frampton and the Beatles. (LAUGHTER)

Pamela: Yes. Yeah, we’re taking it a notch higher to the Word of God!

Jim: I’ve been waitin’. Go ahead; that’s fun! (LAUGHTER)

Robert: Well, you know, it really began to emerge in the stories of Mary and Joseph and the idea that God knows how to talk to a man and a woman because he knows them. He made them.

So you look at the moment when the angel Gabriel came to Mary and said, you’re going to bring the Christ child into the world. What did Mary say? I’m only a virgin. How could this happen? What way could this possibly happen? Where the angel much more wisely than we men sometimes patiently described to her the spirit of God is going to come upon you, the power of God is going to overshadow you so that one that is born of you is going to be born of God. Mary listened and she said be it unto me as you have said I am the Lord’s servant. So the angel, or God’s voice through him, understood the way of a woman. Just describe to her patiently the way and she immediately yielded to the design. Now, Joseph, on the other hand, Gabriel had to put him to sleep. (LAUGHTER) Or the Lord had to put him to sleep.

Jim: With some sort of dart.

John: Yeah.

Robert: Had to knock him out. (LAUGHTER)

Jim: Had to dart him.

Robert: Yeah. And then the interesting part is the number of words used to tell the story. The angel said – here’s what the angel said to Joseph. Mary will have a son. You will name him Jesus, and he will save his people from their sins.

John: Hm.

Robert: Will, will, will – the will of a man and the way of a woman. God knows and understands men and women because he made us and he knows how to talk to us.

Jim: Yeah. And that’s the – the big picture. Let me get down to the nitty-gritty. How does this work in your own marriage? (laughter)

Robert: Well – well, I have to tell you Pamela does a real good job telling the gritty stories. (LAUGHTER)

Jim: Well, you know – and it’s so good and I’m – I’m grateful you’re willing to do that because the practical nature of it, it’s one of our greatest, I think, errors in the Church. We read it in Scripture. We understand what you just said. But how does that apply to me? How do I do this every day with my wife?

Robert: Yeah.

Jim: How do I do this every day with my husband? So what was not working in your marriage that really brought this to light for you?

Pamela: Well, one in particular I’ll – we’ll never forget. It was probably our first big argument. (Laughter) Um, we didn’t argue a lot, you know, when we were dating and then…

Jim: Of course not. Who does?

Pamela: …Of course, after you say the I do’s, the real person shows up. And, um, it was, uh, infamous Labor Day. We had talked for weeks beforehand. We had moved into a new home, and I kept saying, oh, you know, we need to change the landscape or we need to, you know, fix the windows. And he’d say put it on the list and we’ll do this on Labor Day… (Laughter) when we’d have the day off.

Jim: That’s a good plan.

Pamela: So Labor Day comes. I’m up, ready early. I’m pregnant with our first born. We have four children and…

Jim: Oh, man.

Pamela: And so I was quite along in my pregnancy and, um, so I had my list and, you know, we’re ready to go. And…

Jim: This is about nesting.

Pamela: Yes, yes.

Jim: Now I totally get it. (LAUGHTER)

Pamela: And he said – um, I said, well, when are we going to start? When are you going to go outside? And he said, you know what? The Jerry Lewis marathon show is on. And I just, you know… (LAUGHTER)

Jim: Oh, man!

Pamela: The telethon and I just – I want to watch it for a while. And I’m like, are you kidding me? You’ve been making me wait all this time. You’ve told me to put stuff on the list and all of a sudden it was like feet went into the dirt and he wouldn’t move. And his will (laughter) came into full bloom that day. And I tried every way I knew how to coerce, to manipulate, to, um, try and move him my direction.

Jim: Oh, you moved right into woman mode.

Pamela: Oh, yes. (LAUGHTER) Absolutely. The whole day ended up with me leaving the house mad. Dinner was in the oven. I’m big and pregnant, and I’m taking off on my feet. I’m just walking out of the house. And I…

John: And the TV’s on, right?

Pamela: Oh, yes.

Robert: Yes!

Pamela: Yes, yes, definitely, all day.

Jim: OK, all the women listening are on your side. They’re all going, Robert! Robert!

Pamela: And I just knew – I just knew he was going to come – get in the car and come find me. I’m pregnant with our first child, right?

Jim: Because that’s what a knight in shining armor would do.

Pamela: Exactly. That’s…

Robert: Yes.

Jim: But what happened?

Pamela: Well, that’s when we talk about how if your expectations are here, up high above your head and your reality is here…

Jim: Way low.

Pamela: …Down low, like 12 inches lower, what you have in the middle is stress. And stress is building and building, and it was all day long. And that just added to it because I just knew, yes, my knight in shining armor was going to come and get in the car and come pick me up. I think I walked an hour…

Jim: Pregnant?

Pamela: Pregnant.

Robert: Yes. I am ashamed.

Pamela: And I…

Jim: This isn’t getting any better for you, Robert.

Pamela: No.

Robert: I am ashamed. (LAUGHTER)

Jim: How was that telethon? (LAUGHTER)

Robert: It wasn’t worth it, to be honest with you.

Jim: I can only say…

Robert: But, you know, it’s a – it’s a classic example of the will of a man digging in his heels and tension with the way of a woman. You know, one of the differences that we noticed early on is the cultures that we had come from in our families. I was raised in a Southern home where we were taught to be nice. You know? You’re to be nice. But nice is not always honest. Pamela was raised in a home where you put the truth on the table. You talked about it. You worked it through. So when we had our first argument, I still remember. I’m like, this young lady can really argue. Oh, my gosh, you know? And we’re going…

Jim: She’s out of control!

Robert: And we’re going – we’re going into the depths. And I told her later. I said, you know what? In the ocean of emotion, you have deep sea diving gear. (LAUGHTER) And all I have is a snorkel. And I’m drowning. (LAUGHTER)

Jim: How did that go when you said that?

Robert: Uh, it didn’t – didn’t quite appreciate it.

John: (Laughter) Didn’t quite appreciate it.

Jim: What are you talking about?

Pamela: That’s right. Another concept. I don’t know. (Laughter)

Jim: Yeah. But that’s, um – you know, that really is everybody’s – every couple’s battle to some degree. And I – I think that’s what I like about it. You can laugh about it now. There are some couples that are right in it, where it’s not funny. You’re listening to the program going, you know what? My husband and I are living in that. And it’s not funny.

Why that digging in? And you may have realized it in a couple hours, the error of what you were doing. But what about two years have gone by, for that couple that that bitterness is much deeper, that the husband doesn’t wake up to what’s real? Maybe the wife isn’t waking up to her husband’s needs, those kinds of things. How do they get out of that hole and think differently, scripturally, about their relationship?

Robert: Yeah. You know, at the heart of it, Jim, it really is sin. You know, it’s our own focus on ourselves. Uh, the prayer of St Francis, Lord help me to focus on understanding, not on being understood. Uh, that really becomes a big part of marriage. It’s the give and it will be given to you. So – so part of it, men, generally speaking, because of their propensity for the will, struggle with their egos. We struggle with our egos.

Pamela would share with you that women, because of their focus on security and partnership and wanting that, struggle with their expectations. So you have ego and expectation going after one another instead of understanding one another. So part of what I had to realize is the gifts, the graces, the propensities that Pamela has are not put there to compete with me but to complement me. They are a crown on my head. So – so theoretically, scripturally, we can say that. But learning to accept it and practice it and value it is a whole ‘nother process.

Jim: And Robert, the deal is it’s supposed to be a crown, but sometimes it feels like a thorn.

Robert: Yeah.

Jim: And that’s where we got to get to. We got to get from the thorn expectation, feeling, to the feeling of a crown.

John: Hm.

John: Our guests on Focus on the Family today, uh, talking about marriage relationships and how to strengthen, uh, that bond even though you’re different, or especially because you’re different, uh, Robert and Pamela Crosby. And the book they have,The Will of a Man & the Way of a Woman, we’ve got copies at If you’re at that pain point that Jim just referenced, if it’s really hard for you right now, give us a call. We have Christian counselors here. And, uh, it’d be a privilege to serve you, 800 – the letter A and the word FAMILY.

Jim: Uh, Robert and Pamela, about seven years into your marriage, you had a more serious conflict going on. Everything seemed good on the surface, but what was taking place and what was that note that was written, the spark that kind of changed it for you?

Robert: Yeah, it was no doubt the most sobering moment in our marriage. Uh, one morning I, you know, got up. I was a youth pastor. And I went downstairs. And as I’m getting ready to leave the house, I look and here’s a card and a gift. And I thought, it isn’t my birthday. I don’t know what’s going on. It looks like Pamela left this for me. It has my name in it. So being the sensitive husband that I was, I put it in my briefcase. And I figured I would open it up later.

So, went to the office. A little bit later, I looked over. I saw it. I opened the card. The card said something like this – Robert. Well, I had never gotten a card from Pamela that just started with ‘Robert.’ It was always Sweetheart or something like that. She said – she said, I feel like our house has become a hotel for you.

Jim: Hm.

Robert: You come in and out. You pour all your energy into what you’re doing at work. You now have a young daughter and me. You pour so much creativity into your work. I wish you would put a little bit of that into your marriage. There are days when I wish your work was another woman so that I could tell her to bug off.

Jim: Yeah, it’d be more actionable.

Robert: Yeah. So when I read that, I thought, this is not a yellow light letter. This is a red light, and it’s glaring.

Jim: What did you do? I mean, did you guys sit and talk? Or how – what was the next step, you get that?

Robert: Yeah, well, initially, you know, I sort of panicked a bit. But I thought, what do I do? We ended up – I called Pam. I said, I want to talk. She said, I don’t want to talk, and which meant she really wanted to talk, but it wasn’t going to be that easy.

Jim: Yeah.

Robert: And so we ended up – I took her to a restaurant. We got a booth in the back of the restaurant. I told her, I just want to hear you out. Uh, for three hours, she poured out and shared what she was going through.But I was living marriage in name only and wasn’t practicing the teaming life. You know, we – with teaming life, we really believe in teaming marriage, that you minister. You serve together. You work together. You live life together as a team. Well, I was failing in that area.

Jim: Pamela, I need your perspective in this. I mean, that was bold. It was right to do. But what was your thought process putting that letter together and being straightforward and then running from it?

John: Yeah. (Laughter).

Pamela: Well, I have come to the conclusion that, you know, we can either live with our frustration, or God has given to us, um, the power of choice. You know, we see the choices Eve made and how – where that ended up.

My goal had always been, as a young bride, um – this – um, I wanted to journey with my husband on this path of oneness. You know? And that, I think, has been our goal throughout our whole married life. We come at it in two different directions. I realized one day that I had been – I tried the complaining route. I tried the whining route. (Laughter) I tried every little manipulative tool I could think of, cooked the right dinners to try and get his attention to convey to him how I was feeling, because I felt like anything but, uh, oneness in our marriage.

And, um, I felt very much alone, like I was the babysitter at home, and he was finding loads of fulfillment in what he was doing in his role. And, um, that’s when I decided that – you know? Uh, I had read one time that you should study your husband like he is a rare and special – the rare and special beast that he is.

Jim: (Laughter) I think that’s a compliment. (Laughter).

Pamela: Um, it was actually Norman – Norman Vincent Peale’s wife. That takes you way back. But, um, I…

Jim: The beast. (Laughter).

Pamela: …I had read that. And I thought, you know, it’s true. I need to study. I need to – to really – instead of expecting him to respond like me, I need to really look at how he responds to life.Um, I realized that he loved to read and that he loved to gain a lot of information from reading. And I thought, well, what better than to write a letter that he can read? He won’t hear my whiny tone. He won’t get shut down by my complaining. I’ll – it’ll give me time to think what I really want to say, make it concise, to the point. And that was why I wrote the letter, because it was my last-ditch effort in that way to get his attention so that he would really hear me.

Jim: You said a lot of good things there in terms of women relating to their husbands – that concise, to the point. It’s – unfortunately, the – one of the big differences is how we think as male and female.

Pamela: That’s right.

Jim: And men need that kind of, give me the bullet point. Just tell me what are you actually trying to say right now, because I’m not catching it.Now, of course, that’s so frustrating. What do you mean, you can’t catch it? Can’t you just open your eyes and see what’s happening? Why do I have to spell it out for you? Ladies, you do. Men are dense. (Laughter) I mean, we…

John: Sometimes.

Jim: No. We – we – not all, but we tend to be kind of blind to the obvious in this area of relationship with our wives, I think.

Pamela: And emotions.

Jim: And I’m guilty of it. That’s why I’m speaking so honestly about it. I mean, I – sometimes I’m just not getting it. And Jean has to literally kind of grab me by the cheeks in both hands and say, watch my lips. (Laughter)

Robert: Yes, read my lips.

Jim: I am now speaking to you. (Laughter)

Robert: Yes. Yes.

John: Pamela, what was your expectation, then? I mean, you – you leave this gift. You got his attention. But what was your – you talked about expectations earlier. What were you hoping to see?

Pamela: Well, the interesting part that we did learn is, um, my love language is gift giving. That means I like to receive gifts. They don’t have to be very expensive. You know, surprise me with a cup from Starbucks. That’s a gift. The – what I bought him didn’t mean anything to him. It was just the letter that really caught his attention.

Jim: Yeah, sure.

Pamela: And so that was an interesting piece that I learned through the process. My expectation was that he would hear me, that he would understand the loneliness that I was living in, that he would understand how difficult it was for me to be a stay-at-home mom and the loneliness that that can have, um, and that he would just, you know, acknowledge the part of our married life that I was working so hard for.

Um, you know, and I – I read in Philippians 2. Uh, I love the picture of humility, that in humbleness, that Jesus, um, is portrayed there, where he is equal to God. But out of that humility, he dressed himself in our skin, and he became like us. And he – we now know that he understands our suffering. And I think that’s a beautiful picture of marriage, that we need to sometimes stop and sort of dress ourselves in the other person, in our husband’s skin or – or vice versa, so that we can not just look through our perspective, but that we see them through their perspective.

Um, my husband loved what he was doing, and it was working with inner-city youth in upstate New York. And I wanted nothing more than to come alongside him and complement his life. And, you know, I thought I had so much to offer. And over time, I’ve had to realize that it was really important for him to kind of establish that for himself. I think that was where the will of a man came in. And – and it took me a long time to understand the importance of that, and how, uh, sometimes we make jabs at it, but it’s something to be honored, the will of a man. And, um, he wanted to do that for us and for our family. And I needed him to acknowledge what I wanted to do and what I felt was important for our family.



Jim: Well, I appreciate what you’re saying, Pamela. And I’m sure there are many couples listening right now who can relate to the pain you were feeling back then. Marriage can be hard at times. We have to work at it and find common ground as a couple. If you’re struggling in your relationship, I hope you’ll contact us here at Focus on the Family. We really are here for you. Our goal is to strengthen your relationship any way we can and that may require one of our counselors for some additional guidance and prayer support.

John: Yeah, they’re here to help and please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our number is 800-232-6459. 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. Or find a link to our counseling team when you stop by

Jim: And for those of you who aren’t facing a marital crisis but could use some tools to improve how you communicate and understand each other, let me recommend this book by the Crosbys, The Will of a Man & The Way of a Woman. It’s a great resource for any marriage. And I want to give you a complimentary copy of this book when you send Focus a gift to help us help others. Give a gift of any amount today and it’ll be our way of saying thank you by providing a copy of this book.

John: Yeah, you can think of your donation as both an opportunity to extend the work of Focus on the Family and maybe an investment in your own marriage…

Jim: That’s right.

John: … in a way. So Jim, we should also mention that we have that online Marriage Assessment that we’ve talked about time and again here. It gives married couples some really good insights about the current state of their relationship.

Jim: It does and it’s pretty simple to do, it only takes about 7-10 minutes. That Assessment will provide you with measures on 12 different traits in your marriage. It’ll highlight where your strengths are as a couple and where you may need a little bit of work. So contact us today about that Marriage Assessment and the Crosby’s book.

John: Once again, you’ll find the resources at or call 1-800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.

Jim: Robert and Pam, this has been so good and we want to come back next time and pick up the conversation, because we know there’s a lot of wonderful ministry occurring right now where husbands are having an ‘aha’ moment and I know wives are too. And that’s a good place for them to be. Can we do it?

Pamela: Sure, that’d be great!

Robert: Yes! Absolutely.

Jim: Wonderful, let’s do it.

John: And we hope you’ll be able to join us then. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening today to Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller, inviting you back as we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ.

Today's Guests

The Will of a Man & The Way of a Woman

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Pastor Dave Carder offers couples practical advice for protecting their marriages from adultery in a discussion based on his book Anatomy of an Affair: How Affairs, Attractions, and Addictions Develop, and How to Guard Your Marriage Against Them. (Part 2 of 2)

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Balancing Gender Differences in Your Marriage (Part 2 of 2)

Robert and Pamela Crosby help married couples understand and celebrate their gender differences so that they can enjoy a stronger bond and deeper intimacy. Our guests offer practical tips for improved communication, successful conflict resolution and offering affirmation to your spouse. (Part 2 of 2)