A leader in a marriage class once explained how he used to go to the kitchen for ice cream before sitting down to watch a movie with his wife. At one point, his wife said, "Why don't you ever ask if I want some ice cream too?" Truth be told, this man wasn't intentionally neglecting his wife. He simply hadn't thought about the matter. Moreover, as men, we often operate much more independently than women. I would never think to ask another man if he wanted me to bring him ice cream because I was getting my own. The thought probably wouldn't occur to me. However, in marriage relationships, we are talking about cross-cultural dialogue. Gender is so strong in these cases. It is our responsibility to try to engage our partners, as much as we can, according to their gender-based desires.
I'm happy to report, that the leader in this situation told us that he now tries to offer his wife things like ice cream when he's getting some for himself. I'm also happy to report that, albeit imperfectly, I try to remember this lesson learned in my own marriage. I still forget to make the offer quite a bit, but when I think about it, I offer my wife ice cream. As men, our responsibility is to try to be involved in the process of meeting our wive's needs, and as women it is a responsibility to name desires without making them a demand. It is one of the most difficult things to do when we name our desires and then hold them loosely, offering acceptance for needs unmet. It is utterly scary.