When Doug Fields and I finished writing the book, Married People How Your Church Can Build Marriages That Last, we sent it to 15 people to read before it went to print. Several people commented that we were too repetitive on one issue—the importance of being man-friendly. Doug and I were somewhat pleased this was the feedback.
There’s a lot of marriage talk that makes guys want to tune out. We want to be a champion for both men and women because our goal is to get couples to connect, or reconnect if needed.
Here’s a couple of excerpts from the book that explain what we mean by man friendly, and why we feel like it is so crucial.
From Chapter 3: A New Approach for Marriage Ministry: A Strategy That Works
In the US, women buy more books relationship books than men.* It’s no wonder the majority of marriage enrichment marketing targets women; women are the primary buyers of marriage help materials. A significant number of men have a resistance toward married-type events, quite simply because these seem programmed for women, in terms of look, feel, approach, and language.
That’s why the components of the MarriedPeople Strategy are designed to appeal to women and men. We want to be clear here: we believe empowering women is just as important as empowering men; however, it is our experience that men need a little more convincing to participate in marriage-type environments.
From Chapter 4: Inspiring Large Groups
Most men don’t want to attend a marriage-thing at church (or any place for that matter) because most marriage events are designed for women. When a guy imagines going to a marriage event, he imagines walking into a Valentine banquet-type setting where he’s going to be forced to share his emotions or marriage issues with strangers, and get beaten up for not being more relational and emotional. No wonder men don’t sign up for marriage events.
We encourage you to program your larger group experience from the decorations to the humor—to make sure men feel like the program is for women and men. After several years of creating man-friendly marriage environments, we have not had one woman complain that the setting wasn’t feminine or romantic enough. But we have had countless women thank us for making it a safe and engaging environment for their husbands.
Making marriage ministry man-friendly makes sense to most church leaders, but its counter-intuitive for some. So as you seek to make your marriage ministry man-friendly, know you have to cast vision to those who are a part of your ministry—from the people decorating the room for a larger group experience, to the people executing the program, to the people leading your small group and date nights. Sorry if I’m being too repetitive, but have I mentioned it’s important to be man-friendly?
What do you think makes a marriage ministry man-friendly?
* 2012 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics & Buying Behaviors Annual Review
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