Category Archives: Leaders

How To Build A Mens Ministry


Building A Men’s Ministry (That Grows and Sustains)

Here's something to think about...

I love it when men want to build a ministry to men in their church. The heart and passion is something to celebrate, not something to quench and set aside. People within the church notice right away that almost every other ministry flourishes (i.e. children, teens, women, and even the quilting club) however, the engagement of men, across all age groups, is notoriously low. And if you don’t believe me, here are the facts.

Fact About Men In The Church:
“The typical U.S. Congregation draws an adult crowd that’s 61% female, 39% male. This gender gap shows up in all age categories.” (“U.S. Congregational Life Survey – Key Findings,” 10/29/03.)

While some will find, these facts disturbing this has been true for centuries. It's not a new phenomenon. But I, like you, believe we can change this. Here is some of my thinking and learning on this topic from my last 28 years of ministry that has helped me build a ministry to men that grows and sustains.


First | The Men You Want May Not Be In The Church

In fact, you're reading this because they aren't there.

We must begin by changing our mindset about ministry when reaching men. An adjustment is needed because men’s ministry does not play by the rules of every other effort in the church. I watch as ministry leaders frequently assume, like the women’s ministry, that men will just show up when invited—and this is not the case. For men, you need more strategery. And before you start devising a strategy, consider this fact about your market audience and what it teaches you about men.

Fact About A Man's Engagement With The Church:
“More than 90 percent of American men believe in God, and five out of six call themselves Christians. But only one out of six attend church on a given Sunday. The average man accepts the reality of Jesus Christ, but fails to see any value in going to church.” (Barna, “Women are the Backbone of Christian Congregations in America.”)

So, you better read that a couple of times, because this single fact gives us clues to at least two marketing challenges. The first challenge is that Christian men are fine with “things as they spiritually are.” (FYI, status quo, leads to the greatest sin of men—apathy). The second challenge is that marketing to men during weekend services will reach only 1 out of 6 men in attendance. Even then, it might fall on deaf ears. Embracing this hard reality about our market is essential because this is where we must start working smarter.

If you are going to build a men's ministry, you must remember you are working with these facts. And they're facts; you cannot change them. You can only change how you work knowing them. So if men are not coming, you are going to have to find creative new ways to reach them as your market demographic.

Here's an idea—Lead With Power

One solution that I have seen work is aiming a men's effort at becoming more inclusive to Christian men within the larger community. This builds broader awareness, is naturally more inviting, and sometimes gets churches working together in their efforts for men. One group that has been very successful at doing this is Leading With Power, based in Wisconsin, founded by Keith Tompkins. They have hundreds of men in attendance at several in-state and out-of-state locations using a simple model that is attracting men. And here it is.

Each month men are invited to join other men, from all walks of life, for a gathering around a meal. They enjoy an excellent sit-down meal while hearing from male speakers who will motivate you on topics of leadership, marriage, and family. The speakers they host are men who have backgrounds in business and entrepreneurship and are recognized leaders in the community with either spiritual undertones or a direct gospel invitation. And this all happens in a one hour experience. And while this event requires a lot of work and planning, they have experienced massive success in reaching Christian and pre-Christian men in the community.


Second | Flip The Acquisition Funnel

So try something different

In the sales and marketing world, customer acquisition funnels are used to clarify the process of acquiring clients so that you can build a client base. They attempt to capture potential at more significant events and turn them into first time and repeat customers. I know this is a lot of business thinking.

Simply put, they start with a large pool of potential customers at partner events and funnel them into a sales cycle, one step, and one decision at a time. While this works, it is cost, time, and energy prohibitive in most church situations. Especially given that you probably have a small men's team with a $200 /annual budget, which is the case 90% of the time. And let's be honest, building a customer acquisition process for men is going to require a large men's team, a $100k/annual budget, and a ton of time.

But when planning to build our men's ministry, we tend to default to the large event (acquisition funnel events) because they work. An example would be your staple Men’s Breakfast, Men’s Retreat, or Men's Conference, which men host a few times a year. Now, these events do work, and if you have the team, time, and money to do them—do them! But be intentional and strategic because they are not as successful as we always want them to be at moving men down the funnel toward more in-depth engagement.

Here's an idea—Develop A Small Movement

One solution that returns much higher engagement and costs less, requires less time, and keeps men engaged longer is a leadership themed small group. This flips the funnel in the other direction.

Fact About Small Group Explosion
"With 1 small group of men, I was able to build a ministry to 480 men in 40 small groups over 9-months. I did not think it was possible as a 20-year ministry veteran, but I had never tried it before. Why are we so surprised? Jesus's ministry still continues to grow using this model."—VInce Miller

If I were a senior pastor or men's leader in a situation with limited resources, I would recruit my most capable Christian man and have him lead a small group focused on mentorship, discipleship, and leadership development with a team of men. Yep, pick your most capable male leader in the church and have him develop a group of men. This is very biblical; Jesus did it. And while this is initially a slower process, it's right-sized for a volunteer team running on limited resources. I would tend toward materials with a general discipleship and leadership focus and spend time turning those men into leaders in your church—that build the acquisition funnel with you.

If you ever want more in-depth advice on this, send me an email. I have seen 98% success in recruiting to this type of model, and an increase of 87% total engagement over one year with groups taking this approach weekly. Yep, not a joke. And it is much easier to deploy.


Third | Think Deploy Not Retain

Don't gather them; send them.

Okay, here is where things get interesting. I think men’s ministry, as it has been done in the past, is not a good idea.

Now, before you get too frustrated with me, let me tell you what I mean.

I think too often we look back to the old movements like Promise Keepers with Coach Bill McCartney and wish we could manufacture that moment again. We think, “Let’s gather men, have them all at a stadium event, and we will show the world what God can do!” And while the enthusiasm is to be celebrated, the approach is not going to work like it used to.

So, why not stop defeating yourself?

Just stop trying to retain men. Stop it all together. They aren’t coming anyway. Here are the facts.

Fact About Men in the Church Activities:
“Midweek activities often draw 70 to 80 percent female participants.” (Barna Research Online, “Women are the Backbone of Christian Congregations in America,” 4/6/2000.)

Since these men are not coming to weekly activities, they must be doing something. So what are they doing? Well, they are busy. They work. And I know one thing, they want to do this better. So maybe instead of fighting against our market, we need to join with them. Instead of trying to lure them to our stuff, we need to help them succeed with their stuff in their way on their terms—but still with God's truth.

And rather than letting this lack of engagement frustrate us, I have found a focus on deploying men to be life-giving. Now this is a missional idea and more descriptive than prescriptive, I have seen deployment success stories that thrill me on three different levels.

  • First, on a base level, a man is deployed when he is now leading devotionals with his kids, praying consistently with his wife, and reading his Bible for personal devotion. Wouldn't it be more exciting to have every man in your church doing this, rather than attending your larger events anyway?
  • Second, at a mid-level, I love it when men are deployed into other ministries of the church and serve in youth ministry, education ministry, or even on a committee or board. Wouldn't this be helpful for church balance, engagement, and expansion?
  • Third, and my favorite sign of high-level deployment, is when a man leads ministry efforts in their place of business or decides to mentor a group of men on his own. This is where replication becomes biblical.

So rather than retain men, maybe deployment would be life-giving to you and men's ministry. And again, this is biblical and requires a new mindset.

I think one ministry that does this well is ours—Resolute. We have no desire to retain our men. We want to deploy them into your church and the world. And we hope that our content will so impact them that they will want to use it with other men, or will take on a leadership role in the church. If we can be responsible for discipling and developing in a way that serves a pastor, I get excited.

And FYI, retention of men is a fallacy. We cannot retain them, because they do not belong to us, only to God, and they are called to serve his mission.

If you are looking for material for your men’s group, or are looking for help with your small group leadership, reach out to me and I will help in any way I can. I would even be willing to come out and train your team. See more here: Men's Training



Short. Sweet. To the Point.


5 Disciplines To Build In Every Man

Church Board Assessment by Vince Miller at Resolute

The end goal of the Christian life is to become the man that God wants us to be. We do this by allowing his vision, mission, purposes, and goals to shape our lives. One way we can lead men to this is through discipline. A discipline, or in our case "spiritual discipline," is a training activity that helps to shape and mold character over an extended period of time that accelerates and focuses the process. Spiritual discipline is the "strict training" that Paul was talking about 1 Corinthians 9:25.

“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.”—1 Corinthians 9:25


ONE | Prayer

"Beginning Awkward Conversations With An Unseen God"

Prayer is a fundamental discipline, and men need to learn to build prayer routines into the daily patterns of their lives. Prayer is merely talking with God. For newer Christians, talking to an unseen God is unusual. And it's unusual because when we are having a conversation, there is usually someone physically standing in front of us that talks back. Prayer does not exactly work like this. But the small hurdle of learning to talk with an unseen God is not the central issue men have with practicing the discipline of prayer. The primary problem is all the other pressing issues that keep us from praying and developing a pattern of prayer. Daily we face demands that compete for our time. Because of this, men go days, weeks, and even months devoid of prayer, trusting only in human effort rather than also trusting in God through prayer. This can leave men feeling physically exhausted and spiritually depleted. Since so many other things compete with this priority, we need to be reminded of its priority and encourage men to strive to make time.

One of the best methods for getting men moving into regular prayer is the A.C.T.S. Method. This acronym stands for AdorationConfessionThanksgiving, and Supplication. This method is easy to learn and easy to use. Practice using this method with this one-page downloadable guide—The ACTS Method.

TWO | Scripture

"Discover the Greatest Book Ever Written, Printed, and Sold"

People want the truth, and I believe they're on a search for it. As Christians, we believe truth originates from God alone. God's Word is the revelation of the truth, and Jesus is the physical representation of truth. But we cannot know the truth if we don't know how to spend time in the Word and with Jesus. And small doses of it, spoon-fed in short readings one time a week on a Sunday morning is not enough. Men must be challenged to read the Bible, but they also must be taught how to read it, study it, memorize it, and pray it. Please remember it's not enough to inspire a man on the importance of the Bible and challenge him to read it—he must be taught how to do it. We must teach men how to read and study the Bible; it's the greatest gift we will ever give a man. And it's the primary way we hear from God. The following are a few pointers on how to get started.

First, just start reading. I would recommend starting in the New Testament with the Gospel of John with a Bible App for your phone. Make sure and choose an easy-to-read version like the New International Version (NIV) a few minutes each day. One of the great apps over the last few years that I have pointed men to is the Daily Audio Bible or the YouVersion Bible.

Second, read a trusted devotional. Short and easy-to-read devotionals teach us how to dig meaning from the Bible. I would use a devotional that includes Bible verses and then expands on these verses. When it comes from a trusted person or trusted source, it helps you to learn how to draw practical application from your Bible reading. It's like having a personal coach as you focus on a few verses from the scripture. Try the Men's Daily Devotional; it's does just this and is focused exclusively on men and our issues.

Third, establish regular patterns. This step is not so much about quantity or quality—it's about developing a routine. Setting small daily goals and repeating them is essential. Even 5-minutes per day for a month will result in positive habits and will become rewarding over time. Then increase the repetitions and the length of time as needed.

Third, go to the next level by learning how to study the Bible. This is a little more involved and requires more effort, but it's the greatest gift you could ever give yourself or another man. I would use the Inductive Bible Study Method. This method teaches men how to observeinterpret, and apply God's Word correctly. While it's great to learn from a pastor and discover how they observe, interpret, and apply the Bible, every man should learn how to discover the truths in God's Word for themselves. Try this Inductive Study Worksheet, or this Men's Small Group Video Series that teaches men how to study the Bible.

THREE | Brotherhood

"The Brotherhood We Need We Avoid"

Men need relationships with other men. Most men not only fail to develop meaningful relationships with other men, but they also lack adding in the spiritual component that must undergird it. Men prefer to go life alone for several reasons—time is valuable, relationships take work, chemistry is challenging, and autonomy is easier. But the biggest reason I believe men don't establish spiritual connections with other men is that they have never experienced one before. Having never had one, they don't know how to do it, and because of this, they have never experienced the benefit. All this leads to men defaulting to superficial male relationships that focus on trivial matters. They press the easy button.

Men who participate in one on one relationships or small groups mature faster than those who do not. This environment is a place where the previous three disciplines can be sharpened and experienced. Men need to be involved in a Christian community, and not just the occasional weekend gathering. Smaller gatherings regularly are where men can discover some things about themselves and others. Spiritual growth doesn't happen in isolation; it occurs in a community, and men need other men. When men link arms, great things happen. Take, for example, Jesus and his men. What Jesus did changed the world, but without other men, the world would have never heard the good news Jesus proclaimed.

If you want to start a small group, check out these short 5-Minute Videos or click here if you are looking for an easy-to-use study for building brotherhood.

FOUR | Accountability

"Christian Men Have The Wrong Idea About Accountability"

Accountability with another man is perhaps the leading indicator of spiritual success in a man's life. Brothers in accountable relationships make a great man of God. Jonathan made David better. Barnabas made Paul better. Paul made Timothy better. Jesus made the Twelve better. And it wasn't just happenstance and acquaintance; it was intentional brotherhood with substantial doses of accountability.

Spiritual accountability is perhaps one of the most misunderstood practices in male spiritual relationships. I believe this is because when men hear the word "accountability" in a religious context, they immediately assume a negative connotation. Men mostly hear about a need for accountability when issues of sin arise. Therefore accountability means that we need help because we can't overcome our financial problems, sexual addictions, or marital conflicts. This understanding is unfortunate because it has given accountability a bad name and leaves out all the spiritual potential of accountability in brotherhood. If we brand accountability this way, it makes a man look weak, and men don't want to feel and look this way—unless they are in desperate need of help and don't care.

Here are a few things we need to understand about accountability. First, it needs to be proactive and positive, not exclusively reactive and negative. Spiritual accountability should be focused on the things I should start doing and continue doing. While occasionally, we all need a little accountability around some areas of sin that I need to stop doing, failure to fill the void activities we've stopped with activities we need to start fails to initiate positive momentum. We need some accountability around actions that will have a proactive and positive impact on our spiritual life. For example, men need accountability in praying with our wife, regularly giving, reading Scripture, forgiving self, casting anxiety on God, and things like this. Second, men need to invite self-imposed accountability. Too often we think someone else needs to hold us accountable, and I think this idea, while well-meaning, fails to work successfully. However, when a man invites self-imposed accountability based on declared goals, there is a much higher return and long-term benefit. Accountability of any kind that is self-imposed produces more significant results—this is especially true in this case. Third, accountability needs to be spiritually-focused. We need men not only to hold us accountable but to help us dig for the spiritual aspects. Accountability to behavior change is essential but add in the spiritual purpose and potential spiritual outcomes of it, and then we focus on doing the right behaviors for the right reasons. We have to remember we are becoming the men God wants us to be, and we are doing it for his glory, not our own. Therefore, when it comes to accountability, here is what we are looking for positive willing spiritual accountability.

If you are looking for an accountability worksheet for you or another man download this Accountability Reports, it will give you some items to discuss with another man.

FIVE | Personal Ministry

"Get Off the Bench and Into the Game."

Christian men who are accelerating their spiritual growth are involved in personal ministry. Personal ministry includes things like leading a small group, mentoring other men, teaching a class, organizing a mission trip experience, serving on a board of a non-profit, or conducting a study in a workplace environment. I get excited when men do this because now they are moving from being a disciple to discipling others. They are finding unique ways to use their gifts, passions, and talents for kingdom benefits.

Some men need to be pushed to take this step. Too often men wait too long before taking this step. And I think men sometimes need a little push on this one since they prefer to disqualify themselves for lack of knowledge and because of personal sin. They need another man to say, "Get off the bench and into the game."


Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at See his latest book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.

Church Board Assessment by Vince Miller at Resolute

Top 5 Men’s Bible Studies 2019

Top Mens Bible Studies 2019
Try a Bible Study Sample Pack

What Are The Top 5 Men’s Bible Studies in 2019?

Finding Great Men's Content Is Hard If Not Impossible

Finding great content for men can be challenging. If you’ve been looking for any amount of time, you’ll quickly realize there's not a lot of bible study options on the market - especially for men. Many of the options that are available are dated, not geared specifically to men's issues, or ultimately fail to get men into Bible study. Here is a checklist to guide you as you look to resource your men and men's leaders — a few keys to finding the best bible study.

  • Find content that engages every a man in meaningful and relevant spiritual conversation. Men want and need a real discussion.
  • Find content that leads a conversation for men. Men don't want another 45-minute video that talks at them.
  • Find content that effectively uses the Bible and teaches how to study. Many are using little bible text, give attention to this.
  • Find content that teaches men “how to think.” Most curriculum informs them of “what to think.”
  • Find content that has a goal of moving men from spectators to multiplying leaders. We need men leading other men.

Look at some of the most popular bible studies we've found out there. We’ve rated them for you according to the checklist above.

Five great choices for men's bible study content...


Bible Study Fellowship

BSF is a trusted resource used to lead groups through the habit of studying God’s Word. Started by a passionate woman, A. Wetherell Johnson, BSF has been providing churches with a “class format experience” in the Bible. Their four-fold approach includes questioning, discussion, listening and learning. Questioning and learning are emphasized outside of class time, while the discussion and listening happen within.

PROS - A long history of successful Bible study techniques used in a group setting. Heavy use of Scripture and learning how to understand the Bible. A moderate library of studies to use. And it comes at no cost for participants.

CONS - This resource is not focused on men while men do attend. BSF appeals primarily to an older audience with more time on their hands. Hours of homework outside of the class time are expected and encouraged. This resource traditionally has predominantly been attended by women as classes sometimes occur during the middle of the workday.


Resolute Curriculum

After the passing of his grandfather and mentor, Vince Miller spent nearly 20 years looking for mentorship. Seeing the gap, he set out resolve this issue for men by starting Resolute. Resolute content is designed around specific goals and outcomes, has a purposeful discussion, relevant study in God’s Word, robust practical application, and a positive focus for 60-90 minute meeting.

PROS - Written exclusively for men. Videos are short and promote spiritual discussion between every participant. Easy to lead with a great result in any context. Participant Handbooks are designed beautifully. Men learn how to study the Bible during the meeting instead of being told what to think. Mentoring between group members and accountability is a planned outcome. They also continue to add to their content on a regular basis.

CONS - Newest men’s content on the market. Not designed to be done alone. Requires Internet access or video downloads (DVD’s not available). Videos and handbooks must be used together.


Stepping Up

This resource is based on the book by Dennis Rainey. There are ten individual sessions designed for a group of men. This content will help men understand the five steps of manhood and lead them to develop their personalized action plan.

PROS - Focused exclusively on men, the workbooks offer a healthy amount of group discussion questions. Scripture is used throughout to emphasize principles. The group videos are inspiring and well-produced.

CONS - There are only ten sessions available. A fair amount of homework outside the time is encouraged in the workbook. A narrow focus on courage that doesn’t cover other common issues that men experience. The video will take up the bulk of the group time with less conversation.


Man In The Mirror

This content was born in the late 1980s when Patrick Morley began leading a Friday morning Bible study for men. MIM offers a variety of resources for men’s ministry. This content has been used in many different men’s ministry contexts. They provide books, videos, and other group resources.

PROS - A broad offering of resources directed towards men. Easy to understand lessons that are very applicable to a broad audience of men. Scripture used with a strong emphasis. The material addresses many common problems men face.

CONS - Resources are challenging to navigate and find on their website. Some content appears outdated in both look and feel. Most of the group time is consumed by watching a longer video. The Bible study portion is inferred with pre-drawn conclusions.


33 the DVD Series

33 is a well-produced remake of Robert Lewis’, Men’s Fraternity. There are six different studies available that engage with topics that are relevant to men. Each study features a “training guide” that men follow along in as they watch the videos.

PROS - Focused on and geared toward men. The content is professionally laid out, and the videos have a high cinematic value. The topics addressed are relevant to issues many men encounter today. A variety of different presenters gives expert opinions on the material.

CONS - This is not a bible study. Scripture is used sparingly and studying scripture is not an emphasis. The facts and information presented about men can be discouraging. The videos are lengthy and consume most of any group time with a sermon-like feel. Some lessons are vague and lack clear application.


$ 8.99$ 10.99

Group Handbooks

Attributes For Men

$ 5.99$ 10.99
$ 8.99$ 10.99

Group Handbooks

Foundations For Men

$ 8.99$ 10.99
$ 8.99$ 9.99

Group Handbooks

Mindset For Men

$ 8.99$ 9.99
$ 8.99$ 9.99

Group Handbooks

Action For Men

$ 8.99$ 9.99


Vince Miller Founder of Resolute

Vince Miller is an authentic and transparent leader who loves to communicate with men and has a deep passion for God’s Word. He has authored 16 books and small group curriculum for men.

Top Mens Bible Studies 2019

Three Great Leadership Lessons From King David

King David a daily devo by Vince Miller

Three Great Leadership Lessons From King David

King David was an extraordinary leader. Here are three lessons about his leadership approach from a single reflective verse.

All of us who lead have a leadership philosophy. Sometimes we are cognitively aware of it and other times we are not. Regardless, we lead from an inner place where our motives, character, and beliefs reside. All leadership emanates from our core desires and becomes evident in our emotions, reasoning, and behavior.

King David was a leader worth emulating because he, more than any emperor led from the inside out and was noted on the outside as being a man with extraordinary leadership skill. After his death, this is how his leadership was summarized in Psalm 78:72

"With upright heart he shepherded them
and guided them with his skillful hand."

Here are three simple lessons about leadership from this single verse.


One | All leadership originates on the inside of a man.
Notice that before the Psalmist speaks of David's able leadership, he says that David led his people out of the overflow and integrity of his "upright heart." David understood that a leader's action and behavior are developed in private before they become public to others. And so our leadership is formed from our hidden convictions, beliefs, loyalties, and motives and exposed publically as we live them out, and this is where our integrity comes into play. When we lack consistency between the values we proclaim, our hearts true motive, and the way we lead, people recognize this lack of integrity as a definitive leadership weakness. And therein lies the first leadership lesson we learn from King David; our first arena of leadership responsibility is learning to lead self.

In addition, the best leaders cultivate a deep relationship with God and think deeply about who they are and what they believe. They know the difference between leadership by ambition and leadership by empowerment because they have become genuinely aware of their own motivations and the tensions between their purity and impurity. They aim for consistency in their inner lives that matches with the truth of God. I believe this is why David's is still known to be one of the great leaders of all time.

Two | Skillful leadership is a learned ability.
Great leaders not only develop their inner lives but they intentionally develop leadership skills. Without a "skillful hand," leaders can unintentionally hurt others and misdirect the organizations they lead. Many leaders assume because they have a passion to lead that they are qualified to lead - and this is inaccurate. While young leaders may have a few natural abilities such as marketing savvy, management insight, or financial wisdom a few natural abilities do not make a leader. I have found that most young leaders, while they need to be given opportunities to lead, overestimate their leadership ability and underestimate their leadership deficits and need for leadership experience. Unfortunately, this is something only understood over time and is the building of leadership muscle.

Intentional development of leadership skills is a lifelong endeavor. We will learn from others, learn from success, but most of all we'll learn from failure. Success causes us to believe in ourselves, whereas failure causes us to evaluate, grow, and change. Enjoy leadership success, but go to school on failure. David did!

Three | Leadership is not about being the boss.
Notice the Psalmist says that David "shepherded them." He understood that leadership is a stewardship and just as a shepherd was responsible for the welfare of his flock, so he was responsible for the welfare of his people. Too many leaders see their position as a place where they can meet their own personal aspirations rather than help others be successful and reach their aspirations. Leadership is not about us but about others: Always! And so shepherd, or steward, the opportunities God gives to you.

Lead on.

Vince Miller Founder of ResoluteVince Miller is a speaker, author, and mentor to men. He is an authentic and transparent leader who loves to communicate to audiences on the topics of mentorship, fathering, leadership and manhood. He has authored 13 books and small group curriculum for men and is the primary content creator of all Resolute materials. Contact Vince Miller here. His newest book is Thirty Virtues That Build A Man.

King David a daily devo by Vince Miller

Growing Your Emotional Intelligence (EQ) in Marriage

marriage emotional intelligence a blog by Vince Miller

Growing Your Emotional Intelligence (EQ) in Marriage

How to get smarter in dealing with an emotional deficit with your wife that results in an explosion. And I have learned the problem may not be them; it may be me! Five things you can do.

Marriage can be a great blessing and a great challenge all at the same time. Problems often arise because we men do not invest the time we should in an emotional connection with our wife. But for most women, and I would suggest men too, the emotional connection is an essential item in the relationship. As men, we can be clueless that we are reaching an emotional deficit with our wives which usually results in growing stress and struggle. Often this occurs in the form of reactions and responses that seem to arise "suddenly." And the awful part of the experience for men is the complications that continue for days or seasons in our relationship. While they catch us by surprise, they should not.

So, what can we do to grow our marriage EQ?


One | Name the emotional responses you're having toward your spouse.
Emotional responses, by either party, are often about important things. Men often wonder, "Why are they so worked up?" And herein lies the issue. Emotional reactions are a signal and a symptom of a greater issue. These reactions should signal that something in your marriage is off-balance and needs attention. So, if the emotional response is anger, disappointment, sadness, or disgust, just name what you are feeling. And by the way, try not to attack them.

Two | Identify the emotion and label it.
This is a critical step because it teaches you to slow down and not just react but to identify the feeling you're having and look at with a little perspective. In other words, you need to see it outsides of yourself. Robert Plutchik, someone who has studied emotions suggests that there are eight basic emotions you should be able to identify and name:

  1. Fear: Feeling of being afraid, frightened, scared.
  2. Anger: Feeling angry. A stronger word for anger is a rage.
  3. Sadness: Feeling sad. Other words are sorrow, grief.
  4. Joy: Feeling happy.
  5. Disgust: Feeling something is wrong or nasty.
  6. Surprise: Being unprepared for something.
  7. Trust: A positive emotion.
  8. Anticipation: Looking forward positively to something which is going to happen.

In this case, we are talking about your negative emotions, or theirs. So, can you name that emotion you are experiencing or that you see in your spouse?

Three | Reflect on how you have experienced this in the past.
Often, when you have an emotional reaction, it is because you have experienced a similar event in the past. So, for instance, you may have "messages" or "tapes" from your childhood in your head that were painful or negative. If you hear something from your spouse that resembles those past painful tapes, you are likely to respond emotionally regardless (and this is important) of whether it was meant that way or not. When your emotions are triggered (I call this "emotional hijacking"), we are dealing with your issues, not the problems of your spouse. You want to reflect on what that issue is. Be more concerned about naming your, than pointing out theirs.

Four | Try to shorten the time of the reaction/emotion.
Negative emotions tend to hang around for a while. After identifying it and understanding where it came from, work on shortening the time that the reaction or emotion affects your relationship with your spouse. If the normal time is two days of relational stress, work on resolving it in one day, then within a few hours, and then within an hour. The sooner you can normalize your reaction, the sooner the relationship can re-establish its healthy rhythm.

Five | Invite your spouse to help you process the emotions.
Often when your emotions are hijacked your spouse is left wondering what in the world happened. It helps to explain to them what is going on with you and what you are trying to figure out. And, be honest with them as to what you believe triggered it, not as a matter of blame, but to increase their awareness of your sensitivity to the issue. Tell them also that you are working on "moving through it" more quickly, so they know you are aware and working to avoid the emotional hijacking.

Vince Miller Founder of ResoluteVince Miller is a speaker, author, and mentor to men. He is an authentic and transparent leader who loves to communicate to audiences on the topics of mentorship, fathering, leadership and manhood. He has authored 13 books and small group curriculum for men and is the primary content creator of all Resolute materials. Contact Vince Miller here. His newest book is Thirty Virtues That Build A Man.

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