We Have Not Because We Ask Not

When I read Shaunti Feldhahn’s post 3 Reasons Your Wife Won’t Tell You Exactly What She Wants, it bothered me. I think Shaunti described something that is common for many women, and I think her advice to men living with such a woman was good. What made me upset is that women would do this to start with!

We Have Not Because We Ask Not

Men see this kind of thing as game playing. They find it dishonest. It’s lying, it’s manipulative. A woman who does this is not desirable, she is a pain in the butt, and if she takes it too far she’s just not worth the trouble.

Let me address the three points Shaunti made to the men:

Reason #1: If you make the effort to figure it out, it means she’s worth the effort.

I get this. The problem is sometimes it’s beyond a man’s ability to figure out what his wife wants. It seems clear to her, and all of her girlfriends get it, but he’s not a woman. I find women greatly overestimate a man’s ability to think like a woman. If she sets an impossible test and then feels hurt when he fails, who messed up?

Reason #2: If you figure it out and do something about it, it shows that you care.

This is great, except for that first word – “if”. If he doesn’t figure it out and she thinks he must have because it’s so clear, then she will assume his not doing what he doesn’t know to do means he doesn’t care. (And then when he figures out she’s upset and asks why, she won’t tell him.)

Reason #3: If she has to tell you, she’ll never know whether you did it because you wanted to, or simply because she told you to.

Sorry, but this sounds to me like justifying manipulation by saying you don’t want to manipulate! If he wants to bless you but doesn’t know how, he’s stuck. If you tell him how and he does it, you might not know why he did it. However, if he keeps doing it, then apparently he wants to do it. This one touches on a fear issue women face; if I tell him and he does nothing, what does that mean? I understand that, I know it hurts, but playing no-win games to limit the pain seems like a bad strategy to me. 

I hope that showing you how this looks from a man’s mind will help you handle it a bit differently. I suggest asking for what you want. The Bible is big on asking. We’re told we don’t have some things from God because we don’t ask. Given that God certainly knows what we want, that’s a pretty pointed scripture. 

And yes, this is being posted on Valentine’s for a reason!

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I had a girlfriend who played those games. And that’s part of why she never became my wife!

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29 Comments on “We Have Not Because We Ask Not

  1. Even if my husband has figured it out and it is within his ability to achieve it, he won’t if he suspects these kinds of games being played. He will let me rot and mildew in my feminine pride and expectations until I have to mature and ask.

    Some might think this is cruel of him, but after having to grow up over the years, I realize it is a healthy boundary. He does the same with the kids. They will come to him with batting eyes and cute smiles while he is eating cookies. Now, he knows they want a cookie. He has plenty of cookies to share, but he refuses to give them a single crumb until they stop their cutesy act, stand before him properly, and ask clearly and politely for a cookie.

    As fairy tale romantic as it seems to have a mind-reader husband who fawns and caters to every thought that pops into his princess-wife’s head, it is SO much easier to just dwell in reality, ask clearly, and be bleased when it does happen.

  2. So, I’m assuming this goes both ways and i don’t have to do anything unless my husband explicitly asks. Cool, because i expend a lot of effort making his life easier, and he doesn’t have to ask for anything. Now, i can relax and wait until he asks.

    And i don’t expect anything from my husband. There is no way under the sun to get him to realize what i want for any gift. Asking pointedly had never worked in my favor, so i just but my own presents.

    • You can certainly have a boundary of clearly asking, too, but women are God-designed to be good private investigators. After all, we give birth to and nourish babies….babies who cannot speak and ask. And they grow into todflers who are only just learning to communicate, so we HAVE to be able to discern needs and wants non-verbally.

      As for adults, no gender should play manipulative mind games.

      Yes, men should take time to know and study their wives so they can do the unbidden and bless her. But, she shouldn’t rely on the attitude of, “well, if he really loved me he would just know!”

    • @Molly – I’m not saying wait for him/or her to ask every time. I’m talking about letting them know what you want. If you know what they want, giving it is a generous act.

      Where men do this is with sex. I tell guys “If you haven’t asked, you haven’t been refused”.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Minimalism May Not Be What You ThinkMy Profile

      • You won’t touch it with a 10 foot pole, but I will grab that gator!

        This is what cheesy romance novels are made of….women not knowing, but men figuring it out just right. I think this is part of the draw of 50 Shades (I haven’t read or watched it, but read enough on the premise to have a Cliff Notes). Anastasia is just a boring, mousey thing who doesn’t really know herself or what she wants, but Christian sweeps into her life showing her who she can be and hence really is. In reality, she is a groomed pawn, but enough of her likes the eroticism, the attention, and the money to keep her enslaved. She hasn’t found out who she is or what she wants. She has only found out who Christian groomed her to be and what games she has to play to keep him interested.

        I digress…..it is the princess complex…the same one that has women wishing she was so beautiful he would or could never notice another woman’s beauty.

        Another one is The Notebook. Another movie I have never seen, but I saw a scene in it through a YouTube article on marriage. He is asking her “what do you want?” And she is in hysterics, shaking her head and saying, “it’s not that simple,” (or something like that.) Even I, as a woman wanted to smack her upside the head and say, “answer him, you dolt!”

        We don’t want to admit that we want the princess treatment. We want the fantasy to play out, for reality to change, and for a fairy godmother to wave her wand and change fate.

        Or, we simply don’t know what that looks like. We are just after a feeling…a feeling of being that adored.

        I get most aroused during sex when my husband seems absolutely enamoured with me, like in am some sort of impossible-to-get goddess that he managed to get and is so grateful and appreciative of snagging. It is totally self-indulging and egotistical, but it really does rev up the arousal 10 fold. In reality, I know he loves me and is happy to have me, but I am not the most beautiful woman in the world. I am not a princess conquest, and I, as a wife and sexual partner, am replaceable. I avoid the princess complex, now. He refused to play that game, and I grew up. Living in reality may not be as exciting with rollercoaster emotions, but it is a lot less stressful relationally, and I can feel his true love for me better.

  3. Several of the younger guys I worked with have asked me about these situations. I’ve told them if their girlfriend finds it particularly important that they figure out what she wants, or answers with “you should know” when she’s mad, to run away from her. She’s high maintenance and wanting to play emotional games, that won’t get better after marriage. Women do this nonsense, either consciously or subconsciously to validate their own insecurities: “see I knew he didn’t really love me because he didn’t figure out I wanted this thing instead of that thing that he still has no idea what it is”.

    Men do it to some extent too, just about different things. Imagine a man expecting that his wife knows he wants the .270 over the 7mm, and the 4×16 w/ 40mm objective instead of the 3×12 w/50mm. I mean how could you even think a woman who can’t get that right cares about you at all…..does she even listen to you?

    • Your last paragraph made me LOL!! I mean, come on, girls!

      Funny thing is, I, and other women, have made it a practice to investigate and present our men with our findings to prove our love. Part of the reason I got hooked on porn was trying to figure out what my husband wanted in bed. Turned out all my guesses were wrong and did more harm than good.

      I did purchase him the correct firearm through investigation rather than asking or him telling me or dropping hints.

      Overall, I am better at hypithesizing correctly ways to bless him than he is with me. He totally misses the bullseye, even when,I tell him plainly, but his efforts don’t go unappreciated.

      What did he say last Christmas? Oh yeah:

      Hubby: what do you want for Christmas?
      Me: I would really like X.
      Hubby: But, that isn’t what I wanted to get you!

      So, I went out and bought it, myself. He then informed me that he already had it ordered!!

      Oh, communication…..

      • My wife would probably say something similar, I’ve hit the 90% mark on most things I’ve tried, she wouldn’t try to surprise me with a rifle, she would just tell me to go get what I wanted, which would be my preference anyways.

        I did learn this lesson, she told me to go get the “cab” from the vineyard she liked. So I got the Cabernet, what she really wanted was the cab/Syrah blend. She was perplexed I didn’t know that because it’s what she always got. I generally know that she likes Cabernet and which vineyard, but I didn’t realize she got the same bottle every week. I definitely couldn’t tell you which beer I got last week, I have a general idea, but the details on that are irrelevant to me.

          • She’s absolutely could. She said something about the shirt I wore yesterday….I have no idea what shirt I wore yesterday.

            • You don’t realize how helpful this thread is right now. It is beyond my comprehension that many men simply don’t store that information because God seems to have given me an elephant’s database!

              I don’t know how many times I have told my husband something…making sure I have his attention, eye contact, he’s even repeated it back to me, only to have him, on the day of the event, say I never told him! Written on the calendar weeks in advance!

              I thought it was disregard, disrespect, and laziness on his part. Maybe it is just an innate man thing.

              • I like the comment about “simply don’t store the information”. Many things are simply under the radar of perception.

                Yesterday I picked up the kids from my wife, drove them to church. In the short while we were in the car, my oldest daughter (11) managed to change clothes… into something along a “hobo-clown-princess” vibe.

                I didn’t notice her changing clothes because I was driving and paying attention to the road.

                At church, I didn’t notice that her outfit clashed/didn’t match.

                I also didn’t notice that her outfit was not when she got out of the car as when she got into it.

                More of a mental checkbox: Child is dressed: [ X ]

                Of course, when my wife arrived, she immediately noticed 1) Clothing change 2) Hobo-Clown-Princess.

                As her father, I want my daughter to be a) dressed in clean clothes, b) appropriately dressed for the weather, c) not dressed as a prostitute, d) dressed up for fancy/formal occasions. That’s literally about as far as it goes in my mind – four check-boxes.

                My wife has a whole other set of mental meters (implying a range, not
                a binary checkbox), such as pattern match wheel, color match gauge, ensemble “rightness”, overall appearance, season/holiday proximity, social event appropriateness, days since garment was last worn, and so forth. These are things that I am – for all practical purposes (at least compared to my wife) – utterly blind. Not for lack of trying – this has been something I have been trying to learn for the past few years and haven’t made substantial progress.

                I take pictures of them before we go to an amusement park so I know what they are wearing if they get lost. My adoringly-scatterbrained wife could give an exact description of what the children wore to school today (and probably yesterday); I can’t do either – and I put them on the bus this morning.

                This whole topic of “right” clothing is something obnoxiously difficult for me and almost instinctive for my wife. It is just an interesting little peek into how the genders process, prioritize, and store information differently.

                • lol at the number of times my wife has been upset about the children not matching. Your clothing priorities for your kids mirror mine

              • Women really have no concept of how little we notice, and how little we really care about things like what shirt someone was wearing.

                Thinking about Wynd’s post, I dropped my kids of at school this morning, I couldn’t tell you what they were wearing, I do remember my son had an orange shirt on because it was super bright in my rear view mirror, but I couldn’t tell you with any degree of certainty what my daughter wore at all. I saw my wife as she left for work, I have no idea what clothes she had on, how she styled her hair, whether she wore makeup. This isn’t because I dislike her, I get along quite well with my wife, it just isn’t stuff I notice or care about.

              • @Libl – It’s about what matters to us. If it’s not important, we dump the information before it gets to long-term memory. Men recall plenty of things most women don’t recall. Ask him about his cars over his life and he can probably tell you details you didn’t even know existed.
                Paul Byerly recently posted…How Our Stuff Steals our TimeMy Profile

  4. I read her article & number 1 made me cry. I think honestly, i never realized that was true for me till I read those words. My hubby isn’t super romantic but he is a faithfuls provider and i know he loves me. But there are def times where I don’t feel cherished. I don’t feel like he loves the extra weight I’ve gained after 4 pregnancies or the way I don’t get it all right all the time. And I DO struggle with feeling that I am enough. That he loves me and adores the current me. (Physically). My hubby also has a low sex drive, do I think that contributes to feeling less desirable. Since so many women have a hubby wanting sex daily! I’m not sure if I’m articulating this all right. But I do know that I give my hubby lots of reminders and let him know what I want over the years, but sometimes, i just want a Valentine’s Day to come and not be a last minute Day for him. I’d like for him to plan ahead more than on the way home from work after I’ve already given him a gift/card.
    At that point i just feel like an afterthought. I’d almost rather not have anything. :/

    • @Daniela Barcelona – Don’t assume his low drive has anything to do with you. I once had a guy at a gathering tell me he was low drive. His wife was easily one of the best looking women in the group.
      I hear you on the planning ahead. A lot of guys are weak on that in general, and particularity with relationship things. It’s easy to assume it means those things are not important to him, but I don’t think it’s that simple.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Minimalism May Not Be What You ThinkMy Profile

  5. A lot of women think that a man is much more like a woman than he is. I have been married for over 44 years, and have been studying marriage, etc. for a long time. One of my conclusions: The difference between the sexes is a HUGE. A second finding is that men are just as complicated as women, and that complexity is MUCH less apparent. I know that most will disagree, but I am convinced. Men, to a great measure, don’t even know their own complexity. It is so buried in their persona, that they only see much of it when it is pointed out to them. They usually know WHAT they want, but they don’t know the many reasons WHY they want it. Ladies, don’t set yourself up for grief: Tell him outright, maybe even several times. I believe that one of the reasons he misses even your direct requests is because he is MAN. He can’t even begin to imagine that you really would want what you ask for, and so dismisses it. He, also, misses it because he’s not sure that what you say is your final answer.

  6. Manipulation?!? That’s like equating a man’s desire for sex as being perverted! Men and women need validation in different ways.

    To me it’s a woman thinking to herself “does he love me enough to pay attention to me? Does he still want me? Does he genuinely care about me and what’s going on in my life? And ultimately, does he see me?” When he notices or tries to figure out what’s wrong, all those questions are answered with a big “YES! I love you and I want you, you are worth my time and effort.” When my husband notices my new hair cut and says “wow! I really like your hair” it means a LOT more to me than if I tell him I got a haircut and he says “oh, looks nice”….its basically an empty compliment at that point and looses most of it’s value. The first one says “I notice you and I like you” the second one says “I don’t really see you…” You don’t intend it that way…but it’s how it makes us feel. Now, there are times when communication is essential and you simply can’t figure it out. Just as there are times when you have to ask for sex. But it sure means a lot to us when you go out of your way to find out what’s wrong. Something deep inside us says “he sees me and I’m valuable” and it enables us to be more vulnerable in the long run.

    • @Happily Married – “Manipulation?!? That’s like equating a man’s desire for sex as being perverted!”

      That may be, but it’s how most men see it.

      I hear what you are saying about being seen, but you are expecting him to care about the things that matter to women. It’s judging him on a false metric.

      I drive several vehicles around here that I don’t own. A couple of them are owned by and primarily driven by women. I am forever adding oil or doing other minor maintenance the owners don’t even know is needed. It’s not that their cars are not important to them, rather it’s not a natural part of how they think.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Friday Flashback: Caring Less Provides Power, Not HappinessMy Profile

  7. I enjoy your blog but sometimes I don’t read them because they don’t fit in the page of my iPhone and it’s bothersome to have to move the page back and forth to read it. If there is some setting change that I can make please let me know. I know this is trivial but bualso if there is some change you can make it would be appreciated.

  8. It bothered me too. This kind of think annoys the crap out of me. That and the matyr/ guilt trip routine. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

    I never have been good at the mind games. I abhor them. My husband says I’m as transparent as a jellyfish. And he loves that about me. I do ask when I want hugs/ attention/ cuddles etc. I tell him what he can do when I’m upset. I keep an extensive Amazon wish list, so he knows what to get me for gifts. I also forget what’s in that list, so he actually does surprise and delight me. He is pretty attentive though.

    Agreed. Just ask! 10/10 absolutely do recommend. Would do again.

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