Cause Not Effect

Recently, I wrote a post about What Women Want. Working with college students as a professor, and as a volunteer at my church, I’ve learned that this is a question that most guys want answered. After all, as the saying goes, “women are a mystery.” Yet, most women don’t think this. They think that guys just don’t understand them.

In the comments that followed the post an interesting point was raised.. Most guys don’t know what gals want, and most gals think guys don’t understand them because of one simple reason – girls aren’t very good at articulating their priorities.  They think they are, but they aren’t.

This is what I mean. Ask a girl to list what she wants in a guy, and these are some common responses:

1) A good job.

2) A sense of humor.

3) Serves in the church.

4) Good family.

5) Treats his mom well.

These all sound like very good things, but if you think about it, they aren’t really what the girl is after. What she’s after is:

1) Someone who will take care of her.

2) Someone she can laugh at.

3) A growing Christian.

4) Who will be a good dad.

5) And will continue to treat her well long after her beauty fades.


We (women) are confusing the causes with the effects. We’re looking for the outcomes that we think indicate the things that we desire, rather than articulating our actual concerns.

And this isn’t something that’s limited to dating relationships. Just like we often confuse our causes and effects in discussing our future mate, so we do when we are in discussions with that mate.


We get mad when the laundry conveniently misses the hamper, when our real concern is that our care of the home isn’t appreciated.

We get upset at what he wants to spend time doing (watching sports, playing video games, etc.) when our real worry is that he doesn’t want to spend time with us.

We grow frustrated when his timeline and plans don’t conform with ours because we aren’t sure if we can really trust our future with hm.

And while our anger is focused on the outcomes, the root of the issue may never get resolved.

Which is one of the reasons I love the story of Esther.

Here’s a woman who clearly and concretely presents her concerns. And she focuses on the cause of that concern – Haman.

Now she doesn’t do this without some work. As my pastor‘s wife says, Esther prays, plans and then presents. But when she presents – she is clear about her concern.

And so should we be.

Because despite our opinion to the contrary, guys aren’t mind readers. If we tell them we want something, but it’s not really what we are after, they’re going to focus on what we say, not on what we don’t.   And we might miss out on a really great relationship, or on deepening our relationship with our spouse, because we’re not focused on the cause, and are just worried about the effect.


What do you think?