el's rabbit trails, How to pick a guy, wife stuff

Relationship compatibility, redux.

I’ve mentioned this before, but was reminded of it again after walking in on the tail end of a lengthy phone counseling session between SAM and a protégé. It occurred to me how much of the counsel being offered was -or should have been- garden variety. A culture which prize feelings above all would undoubtedly find his advice to this young man offensive:

  • When you’re wrong and you know it, apologize sincerely, but stop the groveling. You’re sending the wrong message.
  • If she says she wants or doesn’t want something and doesn’t mean it, call her bluff. Every time. Don’t help her perfect the habit of lying.
  • The pattern you  now is a precedent set when you marry. Is this how you want to start your life together? [my husband is BIG on precedents and patterns]
  • Stop allowing her to use your actions to justify her wrong behavior, and don’t ever use her actions to justify any of  your wrong behavior.
  • Women play on your emotions and hit you where it hurts when everything else is failing. Don’t get sucked in to that. You’re getting distracted from the real issue.

None of this offends me even when I am on the receiving end of it. I suspect it’s because I don’t come from a family dynamic where love was treated as synonymous with coddling. Love was patient and love was kind, but it also insisted on truth. This is also a bedrock principle in our home. Tell the truth- to yourself and to each other. It underscores every piece of advice I have ever heard my husband dispense.

I was reminded -again- of why it is important when couples marry, that they do so with a clear understanding of the commitment they’re entering, and in touch enough with themselves to know that the person with whom they are joining is someone they are equipped to adapt and adjust to.

There are general truisms about male and female nature which hold up in aggregate. However, within those are various personality types, family histories, strengths and weaknesses which affect individual relationships in unique ways. Generalities are not absolutes.

For example, among our adult daughters, there is one with whom a gentler man who wishes to please his wife would meet an equal sensitivity and eagerness to please. It wouldn’t occur to her to view him as weak, but loving. Being a loving soul herself, his nature would be rewarded so long as it is balanced with confidence and protectiveness.

Another daughter, however, probably won’t do as well with anyone less than a man who meets her father’s strength of personality. She is very aware of that reality. A man she could lead around by the nose is one whom she would make miserable. She would be miserable with him as well.

The third is mature, analytical, and highly adaptable. A highly sensitive man would be turned off by her reserved nature (and she by a heart on his sleeve), but she doesn’t need a man as dominant as her father in order to follow his lead. She could handle that kind of dominance and even enjoy it, but would have no problem submitting to a man who leads from a more laid back position.  He would, however, have to be an unapologetic leader.

None would be able to tolerate micromanagement because that’s not what they have grown up around, and it’s the antithesis of confident leadership. They need to be able to breathe freely.

Each of those examples serve to illustrate how our individual makeups matter in our relationships. Marriage and family are a delicate balancing act; an intricate microcosm of emotions, personalities, and traits which meld together beautifully when done well. They can be equally difficult without honesty, spiritual growth  and character development. Character growth is often uncomfortable, and we need someone who will help us persevere righteously through those periods of growth.

Attraction, shared faith, and shared values are important things, but they are not the only things. Intangibles are also important.

 

 

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How to pick a guy, wife stuff

In Which I Condemn Metrosexuality

I am -again- reheating up a leftover post from a time when I wrote from better-formed thoughts. This one is from 5 years ago as well, with a couple of edits to reflect the time lapse. I was reminded of it by something our 22-year-old daughter showed me.

I have never liked the trend of metrosexuality that exploded a few years ago, complete with male body washes, skin care, and lotions. It bugged me for so many reasons I can’t list them all here.  I can fully appreciate that men today want to look their best and smell good while doing it. There’s nothing wrong with that. The more I think about it however, the more I realize that there is more to this than that. This is different. This is more blurring of the sexes.

My dad wore his Old Spice and dressed as if he took pride in how he looked, but without that metrosexual vibe. He wasn’t obsessive about it. His shoes had a purpose, and it was largely utilitarian: black and brown dress shoes, work boots, slippers, sneakers. That was it. He didn’t see a need for a man to have a closet full of shoes. Shoes were something that women went gaga over, not men. There are times and places where you can still find a preponderance of men who are at home in their masculine element.

I have come to enjoy the atmosphere in Home Depot early on Saturday mornings. It has to be early, because that’s when the men who wake up with a sense of purpose and a plan are in there in old t-shirts, work jeans, with slightly dirty hands because they hit the ground running at the crack of dawn. It’s not uncommon for my husband and I to get out of bed early before the kids wake up if we have a project we’re working on, and head to Home Depot before the rush of DIY amateurs crowd the aisles.

I have always appreciated a man in a hardware store, with residue on his hands, picking up a tool or a box of screws. That guy who doesn’t automatically think to call someone when something in his house breaks because he can fix it himself. I get that same feeling at an auto parts store, but amplified because in my experience there are few men today who will dare tackle a repair on a newer car like my husband does. It takes confidence to do that, and he likes the challenge of it even though he can afford to pay someone to do it, and does when he doesn’t have the time to do it.

Yes, I realize that the men up under the hoods of their cars in the auto parts parking lot are most likely to be working class men, the dreaded “proles” who are oh-so-maligned in the dominant culture. And yes, I recognize that I reveal my lack of social status by saying this, but I have no problem with hard working, blue-collar men. They’re often manly in a real and visceral way.

We’ve forgotten that the pampered lives we’ve grown accustomed to would be much less pleasant without garbage men, HVAC guys or plumbers. As much as I love my husband in his Dockers, tailored shirts and white collar get up, there’s something different about him when he’s working hard, building, fixing, creating. Besides, I can actually understand the language of his hands-on work much better than I can his technological jargon, though I’ve gotten better over the years at deciphering that also. A tape measure and level, I can handle. Servers and switches? Not so much.

I’ve encountered fewer and fewer men in recent years who know anything at all about how to tackle an involved project and see it through to completion, doing a quality job. I know a few, but they are increasingly rare. I am tempted to chalk it up to limited time, but I can remember when no man I knew, regardless of how many hours he worked,  took his car in to have the oil or the brake pads changed. Now, I know more who don’t.metrosexual-man

There is something off about heterosexual men with keen fashion sense but no clue how to properly hammer a nail, change a tire, or use a mitre box. I’ve considered the fact that things are different now, that we live in the digital age and men don’t need to know how to use their hands the way they did when my father was a young man. It sounds plausible until I consider that my own husband is 44, with a STEM career. Nevertheless, there is a drive in him to work with his hands. To fix. To create. To build. I don’t see that in many men today.

The problem with the modern metrosexual man is the lack of discernible depth. It’s not as if there haven’t always been men who dressed well and appreciated beauty. It was that it was one part of their overall personas, and it certainly wasn’t the main thing. When all was said and done, they were men first: fathers and protectors, builders of civilizations. They certainly weren’t inclined to compete with their woman for the title of who looked the best. it was a given who should put the most effort into that. This is a new thing, these men hogging the mirror.

I don’t blame young men for this, and I don’t blame their fathers either, at least not entirely. I think a culture and society that has made fathers expendable and branded traditional masculinity toxic helped to create a generation of young men who lack the confidence that working with one’s hands instills. Having been raised mostly by women, they gravitate toward the things that interest women: fashion, grooming, and aesthetics rather than accomplishments.

For the record, I appreciate a well groomed man, and my own man takes care of his appearance: goatee trimmed, nails clean. matching belt with shoes, etc. This is not a promotion of slovenly manhood. Heaven forbid I recommend that. It’s one thing to not be vainly pretentious, but that’s no excuse for failing to put your best foot forward.  The point here, and I hope I making it well, is that there is a difference between being well groomed and preening in a feminine manner.

Unfortunately, as we have reduced male and female traits to nothing more than differences in plumbing, male and female psychology have been deemed social constructs. The result is metrosexuality on speed, indistinguishable in any meaningful way from the way women assert their femininity. Personally, I don’t care for it.

In the meantime, there’s always Saturday mornings at the Home Depot. Or better yet, Auto Zone.

black in a multi-culti world, How to pick a guy, wife stuff

If this is the PR for Black Love…

Not too long ago, one of our daughters shared with me a conversation she had with another female coworker; a young black woman of similar stage in life. She’s a few years older, but like my daughter is never married with no children.

This work friend was sharing with her about a young couple she is friends with. They are still in “the honeymoon stage” of their relationship and the way they relate to each other is touching. She added a few elaborating details and our daughter said, “Well, my parents are still like that.”

Her friend asked how long we had been married and upon hearing that we have over two decades of marriage behind us, her friend said, “Aww. That gives me hope! All I ever hear people talking about is how it’s not like that after a certain point. I love black love!”

Black love. For those of you who have never heard the term, it’s an implication that love between a black man and woman is special, stronger, more durable. I find the concept somewhat humorous. To quote music mogul [1] Jay-Z: “Men lie. Women lie. Numbers don’t.” The dismal marriage rates couple with the equally dismal divorce rates for American black couples is enough to make anyone question the notion.

The irony in the concept is that it has a ring of truth to it, albeit for unfortunate reasons. It does take a near Herculean effort for many black couples to make it for myriad reasons I don’t care to explore today. And those black women who do stand by their man, stand by him with a determination, ferocity, and long suffering spirit that is hard to see anywhere else. I have my issues with the whole idea of black women having to “hold it down” and what it does to their femininity, but that’s not what this post is about.

This post is about a television sow that has been making waves and drawing huge ratings: Black Love, produced by the OWN network.

I had a mountain of laundry to tackle last week and so I figured, “Now’s as god a time as any to watch a few episodes and see what all the hoopla is about.”  I should have known better than to expect something hopeful, but I still held out hope that there would be something here out of the ordinary. I was disappointed with most of the stories.

I suppose there was something out of the ordinary here, on second thought. The couples here actually managed to stay married, which is certainly one defining characteristic of a successful marriage. And in 21st Century black America, it does qualify as a rousing success.

What I had a problem with was the number of the couples whose extraordinary “black love stories” were a dime a dozen. Overlap women getting involved with men who were already involved in other relationships, serial infidelity on the part of several of the husbands, irresponsibilty, the kind of thing you’ve seen or heard of your whole life when you grow up in the black community.

Call me naive, but the high ratings coupled with the combination of the words “black love” had me expecting that maybe, just maybe this time the stereotypes would run into a brick wall.

To be fair, there were a few couples highlighted who had exhibited high level of faith, character and virtue from courtship through marriage. There were couples whose marriages soldiered through the loss of children, infertility, and other struggles. But they were the minority, 1/3 or perhaps even 1/4 of the 18 couples featured.

Hopefully the next installment will offer better PR for the concept of “black love”, but the four episodes of the first season didn’t do much to sell me on the notion. Which brings me back around to the story I recounted at the beginning.

The thing that has kept this marriage happy and affectionate more often than not isn’t “black love”.

It’s Christ’s love.

[1] Nope, I don’t listen to wrap music. My first exposure to that turn of phrase attributed to Jay-Z was in this video that I linked to a couple of months back.

black in a multi-culti world, How to pick a guy, Humility is important, just for fun, real living in a virtual world

Friday Frivolities 8 : Slow to speak edition

I haven’t offered a lot of commentary lately as I’m making a point of listening more than “speaking”. Besides reading a lot of books on various topics, I’ve also listened to some interesting talks from those with much more flare and articulation than I can muster. I thought I’d share a few for my Friday Frivolities post.

Our girls are not terribly active on social media, but they do follow young Christian women who, like them, are bucking the cultural trend by saving sex for marriage and chronicling the challenges that come with it. In this TED talk Yvonne Orji, a successful actress and 33-year-old Christian virgin, relates her journey:

 

Next up, John Crist offers a very funny stand up act about kids these days:

This one sparked lots of thoughts about the difference in how kids are raised with each successive generation. When I was a kid, if we did our chores and homework, we basically ran wild until the street lights came on. Besides dinner conversation, Sundays at Ponderosa, and the occasional day trip to local attractions, our parents felt little compulsion to spend oodles of time watching over and playing with us.

With our older kids,  other neighborhood kids were there to run around with after school. There was a homeschool family whose house was at the corner of our block, and nearly every afternoon around 1 PM, little Luke would knock on our door and ask, “Can the girls come out?” and I would remind him that because they went to school, they wouldn’t be home until 3. After homework, they ran around with those kids as well as other kids from the neighborhood. I spent most of my quality time with them either reading to them or in the kitchen. They played more with their dad, but most of their play time was with other kids.

We still have two younger children and live in the same house as we did with the older three. If Halloween is any indication, there are still plenty of children in this neighborhood. However, if it’s not Halloween, you don’t them. This has increased the burden on parents to provide entertainment and/or play dates.  I think this makes for a generation of less adaptable kids from what I can tell, and that includes mine, despite the fact that they were born to two tough as nails, passionate, opinionated parents.  Moving on…

Pick  all the nits with me in this next one, LOL I may offer my thoughts in the comments but I’d rather first hear what you guys take away from this:

 

This next one is a TED talk by Sarah Knight that I have wrestled with sharing because she uses less than ladylike language. Very less in fact, but when a friend shared it with me it was a light bulb moment, and here’s why.

One of things that hinders us -or me at least- attending with intention to the things that we truly DO care about, is the fact that we offer too much of our time, energy, and in many cases money, to things that, if we stop to think about them, don’t matter to us in the grand scheme of things.

Some people avoid doing the wrong things by focusing hard on the right things. I wish I was one of those people. I need to first take inventory of what to discard, and with the newly cleared space (mental and emotional as well as physical), the things I want to give full intention to have room to flourish and I have fertile soil in which to grow. In other words, when I wasn’t giving my intention to the wrong things, my mind was free to focus on the true, the lovely, the noble, and things of good report.

Anyway, here’s the TED talk, but be warned that she uses the f-word, and repeatedly so. If you’re inclined to clutch your pearls, please just skip it:

*I know ZERO about Sarah Knight or hew views on anything other than this video, nor do I particularly care.

In the spirit of Sarah Knight’s talk, I also saw this post from a fellow bibliophile about the hazards of conflating social media acquaintance with real connections:

The Only People Who Care About You are Your Family- and if you’re lucky- a Friend or Two.

When I lost my father 18 months ago, two Internet friends whom I’ve never met -possibly three in fact as one was anonymous- sent flowers. That meant a great deal, so I won’t summarily dismiss every virtual acquaintance out of hand. However, I would dismiss the lion’s share and Major Styles hits some major points here worth considering. I think it’s something millennials in particular should be wary of.

Edited to add: I forgot to add this video Hearth made me aware of about the decline of religion in the modern West, and why its comeback is a long shot at best. As much as it pains me, I actually agree with this man. I don’t think the Bible’s prophetic trajectory offers a lot of hope for mass genuine revival in the West or anywhere else for that matter. We are to be about reaching souls, not salvaging a culture:

Lastly, but certainly not least by any stretch, is this sermon from Voddie Baucham. In it he reminds us of something powerful about the story of Noah and the Flood and it’s this:

In the flood (an awful display of God’s wrath, quiet as that’s kept), we tend to see ourselves from the perspective of Noah and his family. Bro. Baucham wonders if it occurs to any that plenty -most even!- of the people who drowned in that terrific judgement were not murderers, drunkards, or adulteresses. They were people like you and me, living normal lives and committing “run of the mill” sins.

I love Voddie Baucham’s sermons because they offer me the opportunity to express more gratitude for God’s astonishing grace, and a nice strong vaccination against smug self-righteousness.

Y’all really should really give it a listen.   I can’t think of a better way to set our hearts aright as we prepare for the Sabbath day.

Have a great weekend!

How to pick a guy, Humility is important, real living in a virtual world

Education only prohibits marriage if you overestimate its utility and value.

As of this summer we will be the parents of three college graduate daughters. We are engaged in plenty of the typical graduation rituals and family celebrations that go along with it. A good time will be had by all.

In the case of our oldest who graduated college at the tender age of 20, we already know that specific nature of the degree notwithstanding, it serves as a proxy for all kinds of things from employment to marriage. If what we witness is any indication, this is pretty much the standard operating procedure. Young people who actually finished their degrees, are reasonably articulate, and know how to work the “system” can land decent paying jobs, even outside of their degree fields.

One of the biggest mental hurdles for the millennial woman however, is not falling prey to the cultural memes of “Find yourself!”, “See the world!”, and “Experience life!” We have explained to our daughters that there is never a time-if you’re still breathing-  when you’re not experiencing life.

Thankfully, our daughters see the advantage of saving their money and planning their lives with their as yet nonexistent families in mind. Now. Because life is the sum total of the choices you make today, not something that just happens when and how you desire it.

Why does experiencing life necessarily mean a life free of encumbrance? We were 21 and 23 years old with three children under the age of two. If that wasn’t life, I don’t know what was. Which brings me to the point of this -hopefully short- post.

The shortage of eligible men has left women desperate to preserve their fertility.

Experts said “terrifying” demographic shifts had created a “deficit” of educated men and a growing problem of “leftover” professional women, with female graduates vastly outnumbering males in in many countries.

The study led by Yale University, involved interviews with 150 women undergoing egg freezing at eight clinics.

Researchers found that in more than 90 per cent of cases, the women were attempting to buy extra time because they could not find a partner to settle down with, amid a “dearth of educated men”.

I am college educated. My useless degree is shoved in our filing cabinet somewhere and I probably couldn’t find it if you paid me. My husband is not, but he is well educated in his specific career field and is constantly ensuring that his skill set doesn’t become obsolete.

In reality, he is far more educated than I am and has used what has been an admittedly fortuitous trajectory, considerable talent, and focus into a life that has had him the primary breadwinner for our entire marriage and the sole breadwinner for the last two decades of it.

Suppose when I met him I’d decided that because he wasn’t in college like I was, he wasn’t “worthy” of my time or attention, especially considering his rather edgy way of life at the time. I might have easily been just another statistic like the women in these articles, particularly since I am a black woman. The disparity of educational accomplishment between black men and women is greater than perhaps all other demographics combined.

Last month I had breakfast with a friend who was genuinely shocked when, as we conversed, I noted that my husband didn’t have a college degree. She “never would have thought that”.  Her husband had  met up with mine for the express purpose of picking his brain because he was that impressed and convinced that my husband might be able to provide some insight, even though he is both older and more formally educated than my husband.

It is with this frame of reference in mind that I remind our daughters that they will be making a grave mistake by limiting themselves strictly to suitors who are formally educated, using the acquisition of a college degree as their standard.

There is indeed, even with the stipulations I note, a dearth of marriageable men.

Given that reality, it makes very little sense to dismiss well earning electricians, plumbers, or other such tradesmen out of the sense of snobbery our culture works hard to infuse into women based on the fact that they have a college degree.

American identity, black in a multi-culti world, How to pick a guy

What’s a [black] girl to do?

I have a lot of thoughts about this piece of writing, but for right now I’m putting this article here as a marker to share one of the things we’ve discussed in our family given our present social circle and the experiences our daughters have had (or will have).

It’ll probably be next week before I can even begin to unpack it properly and I don’t know that I’m going to take the time to do that, so here it is:

Negro Bed Wench or Baby Mama: A Black Woman’s Dilemma.

An object level example:

A white guy at our daughter’s job made an offer to spend the day hanging out with her when their day off fell on the same day. She didn’t think it was a date proposition -she declined- but as a general rule, men don’t hang around young, attractive women thinking she’s another one of the guys.

There’s also a black guy at her job who clearly has a serious crush on her. Everyone can see it, but he has yet to say anything to her and it’s probably best that he doesn’t to spare everyone involved. She’s not interested.

In other words, this is not just a hypothetical exercise for me, and frankly, despite the fact that the Benevolent Dictator is perfectly cool and at ease with a son-in-law of whatever hue so long as he’s honorable, God-fearing, and good to his girls, I go back and forth on the matter.

The Judgy Bith article just got me thinking. That is all.

How to pick a guy, Humility is important, Uncategorized

Marry a guy you CAN submit and adapt to.

When you look beyond your own limited experiences, it’s easier to see others more objectively, as much as that is possible for anyone. You concede that another person’s adherence to an identical principle may look different from yours, yet no less righteous. This is hard for those of us who embrace Biblical truth.  We tend to think that those who believe as we do should be easily discernible as one of our own.

I used to agree with that, but I see it differently now. As much as I disagree with progressive politics and economics, I now believe a person can be a sincere Christian and an economic socialist. Social issues are different for obvious reasons, but my point is that political litmus tests of Christianity signify a failure to properly reverence and understand of the nature of our faith.

Christ commands us to make disciples of all people then challenges us that despite our differences, we are identifiable as His by the love we demonstrate to each another. We prefer uniformity, so we struggle. We struggle to force those who believe what we believe into boxes so that we can know within a few minutes whether we are dealing with friend or foe. Uniformity offers us a quick shortcut. We like shortcuts.

Factor into this the highly social nature of women, how we relate to one another, and our innate desire to belong. We devise our own versions of litmus tests to mark friends or foes, sinners and saints. Hence, we have “mommy wars” and “mean girls”,  even among Christians. We pretend these are discussions about the right and godly way to do things, but they mostly aren’t.

I can’t currently recall male equivalents to the feminine struggles outlined above. Manhood demands one deal with friends and foes alike, so boys learn to do that from an early age, with less drive to squeeze one another into ideological boxes. Leave aside -for now- the trend of Internet groups and other oddities which emerged at the intersection of technology and the decimation of natural sex roles. That’s a new phenomenon, and I am thinking of a Christian principle which predates all of these things.

It’s the principle of wifely submission. I’m not going to say what women are used to hearing on the topic. In fact, I’m letting the wisdom of a friend speak instead.

A while back, after a candid and stimulating private conversation, I asked Hearthie to share her thoughts on the types of wives men desire and what a wife’s submission to her husband might look like depending on those needs. Every one of these types of wives can be a Biblical submissive wife. She often won’t match the ideal of the Christian wife as touted by NeoTrads or Christo-feminists, but if she is being the wife her husband needs, she is obeying Scripture.

I have met few women with more passion for the Bible or conviction on submission than Hearthie, so I was especially appreciative of her insights:

Different men want different things in women.  When we, as women, are told that “all men want X” that’s not necessarily true.  And if you’ve got no X in your personality/looks to build on, you’re just going to get all frustrated.  What you should be doing (if unmarried) is building on your best characteristics and learning to be flexible.

So far, this is the list of the types of wives I’ve come up with:  (most women incorporate some/all of these characteristics, it’s a weighted thing, not an absolute)

Solace:  Life is hard.  Wife is soft.  This is the wife that exists primarily to comfort you, whose very being is respite from the battle.  The men that pick this sort of women usually have had some sort of conflict (physical conflict) in their lives.  Soldiers, police, guys who *used* to live in the hood?  Yep.  Sweet faced wives who can cook and make a house into a home, who are low drama, low conflict.

Stimulation:  Most of the gents who pick this sort of wife tend to be very intelligent.  They want someone interesting to watch, someone who breaks the tedium.  My mom is absolutely this type of wife.  “Hey honey, do you want to go to China?”  Yep.  The bouncy wife, always enthusiastic, always finding new things to see, to do, to participate in.  High energy, likes projects, hates sitting still.

Go read the rest. It’s straightforward and not boring. I won’t have much to add to it.

As a firm believer in the principle of marital hierarchy and wifely submission, the best advice I can offer a single woman is to marry someone to whom you can adapt in ways that won’t require you pretend to be someone you’re not at your core. If you’re a woman who is best at providing solace, for example, turning yourself inside out to snag a guy best served by a woman who is good at status presentation- for the sake of simply having a man- is a very bad idea.

Marriage can be challenging enough without adding that to the mix and buying into the notion that every man wants a quiet, shrinking violet of a woman in a long skirt, polishing shiny sinks, baking bread and waiting for him to give her instructions for the day is a recipe for disaster. Not just for you, but him too. You need to be flexible as needs emerge, but our personalities tend to be pretty much what they are by adulthood.

This is why I beat the drum so loudly that rather than fall into the trap of believing that there is a one size fits all approach to being a good Christian wife, you’d best take your cues from your own husband. There are things my husband loves that another woman’s husband might loathe. How is it helpful to tell her to give her man what mine needs?

The proper character of a Christian wife is universal, clear as crystal, black and white. The things on which she expends her time and energy, however, are best left to be worked out between her and her own husband.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as unto the Lord. ~Ephesians 5:22 [emphasis added]

Common sense, cultural absurdity, How to pick a guy

It’s generally a bad idea to be led around by your gonads.

This is going to be short and sweet. Heading on a few days of vacation made me want to have something less inflammatory at the top of the page for the next week. I hope this qualifies.

A healthy sexuality and desire to mate and procreate are normal things. However, to make major life decisions solely on the strength of one’s sexual desire is a recipe for disaster.  Couple it with a woman’s natural desire to be desired*, and you have a recipe for all kinds of mischief.  In other words, a healthy sex drive is normal and good, but it’s dangerous when you don’t know what to do -or not do- with it.

A young woman I know and love thinks she might love a guy who is pretty clearly dishonest about any number of things. He is handsome, and he is the first man this young woman has seen real interest from. At 23, she’s long overdue for some attention, so I get how this confusion can gain a foothold. Under normal circumstances, most people would readily and unequivocally state that certain traits in an individual automatically render them impossible to inspire any love other than Christian kindness. Somehow, however, women (and a great many men) overlook these red flags when in proximity to someone who cranks their proverbial engine.

It is common to conflate strong attraction with love. People do it all the time, but if they’d stop and think for just a moment, it becomes very clear that despite all cultural memes to the contrary, sexual chemistry and love are not one and the same. I recently used this example when speaking with my daughter.

There’s an actor who is well known, but far from universally famous. Several years ago I saw an interview he did on a national television show and it was the only other time -besides when I met my husband- that I can recall sensing an almost palpable level of testosterone in the way a man comported himself. When I told my daughter the name of the actor (she recognized him from a couple of recent Marvel films), she saw my point. He isn’t classically handsome she said but gives off a very masculine vibe and she knows how I feel about that. I explained:

“It is impossible for me to love Benicio Del Toro. I don’t know him, and I’ve never met him. He could be an ax murderer, thief, and liar all rolled into one. You can’t love someone you don’t know, and you can’t love someone who won’t allow you to know them. Love, without the ability to know and judge with as much information as you can ascertain, is not real love. Feeling that someone is attractive, even extremely so, doesn’t mean you love them. Close proximity makes it easy for hormones and desire to cloud this truth. This is why it’s important to have appropriate boundaries so you can see people clearly and not get things confused.”

In other words, it is generally a bad idea to be led around by your gonads.

I saw this funny video recently on a cartoon. It is tangentially related to the subject here, but mostly I just liked it because it was funny and a pretty good encapsulation of what passes for “love”:

Have a great weekend.

*The HuffPo piece goes places I generally didn’t want to go after the first two or three paragraphs. The rabbi gets a few things wrong there, but the crux of his argument is sound, which is why I linked to it.

How to pick a guy, Living with other believers

Don’t Demand an Earl of Piety.

* I first ran across this term, The Earl of Piety, several years ago on the now defunct blog Haley’s Halo. It has been several years since I encountered it but I have never forgotten it because it’s a good encapsulation of what too many Christian women think they want in a mate.

I often refer to my husband as a man who lives on the high road. While not perfect (as if anyone is), he measures his words and considers carefully what he allows himself to think about.

While I know full well that he is a red-blooded man with all that implies, every now and again he does something that reminds me that at his core, even from the high road, he’s still just a guy. This is a good thing because it makes life with him fun more often than it would be if he were an Early of Piety.

When we first ran across the article I posted a link to on last week, he figured that the woman at the center of the controversy had such an unusual name that it should be easy enough to see what she looks like. It was so unlike him that I didn’t know what to make of it, so he broke it down for me:He wanted to see if the woman met his standard of what a woman needed to look like to justify the possibility of one man going to his grave and another spending his life behind bars for putting him there.

In other words, he is still a guy, and no amount of spirituality will extinguish it. That this was the third thought he expressed (after outrage on behalf of the husband and disgust at the so-called preacher) reminded me of that. The exchange reminded again of Haley’s old post, The Quest for the Earl of Piety:

The truth is that many Christian women if they want to marry a man to whom they are attracted, may have to settle for a man who is not as “spiritually advanced” as she is.  Just look at the male-female ratios in many churches, and look at the pickings.  The ratio is not advantageous to women, especially the ones who aren’t drop-dead gorgeous, or at least reasonably cute and perky and have that future-youth-pastor-wife personality.  But just because a man doesn’t say that his first intention is to spiritually lead his family and grow closer to God and provide a safe haven for joy and laughter or whatever DOESN’T mean that he’s not going to grow spiritually.

Now anyone who knows me knows that I married a guy who was, at the time I married him, as far from an Earl of Piety as you could get. Even today, there are things he enjoys that might raise the eyebrow of those who live behind the gates of the Pious Kingdom.

He did, however, raise young women with relatively high standards for what they should look for in a mate. They want someone like him after all, and strong Christian faith is on their list of requirements.

That doesn’t mean, however, that a guy who doesn’t know the books of the Bible in order, doesn’t do regular morning devotions, or can’t quote Jeremiah 29:11 should be  disregarded. You want a guy who loves God and His word, but you don’t want a guy so possessed with assurances of his own righteousness that he’s a pain to live with.

You won’t find this in the Bible, and I know full well that marriage is not all about fun. I also know all too well how hard life can be, so it helps to be with someone with whom you can have some fun.

That’s exactly why you don’t want to make the mistake of passing up a good guy for not meeting some arbitrary checklist of outward holiness.Such a checklist isn’t necessarily a good guide to whether man’s faith is authentic anyway.

Don’t Demand an Earl of Piety.

How to pick a guy

What he must be.

It’s a mark of the indulgent times in which we live that to most women, myself included, the idea of a dangerous world is pretty foreign. On some level we understand that there is always a chance of an accident, being the victim of a crime, or some other largely unlikely occurrence that can put our safety at risk. However most of us live large portions of our lives without these as an ever present and immediate risk. This is because others- mainly men- have set up a civilized society in which we can move and live in relative safety.

For some of, our cocoon is so cozy and has been wrapped so tightly for so long, that it’s easy to forget the simple fact that the without the blood, sweat and tears of men, we wouldn’t be sitting quite so pretty.

Enter Ricardo Lockette, former Seattle Seahawk turned motivational speaker. He was recruited to speak at a high school assembly, presumably to motivate the students to a higher level of achievement and accountability. Instead, he motivated a teen feminist rebellion when he admonished young men to “stand up” and help protect the young women in their midst.

The speech, part of the school’s push to promote leadership among student athletes, caused a group to stand up and attempt a walkout after what some called sexist remarks by the former professional athlete.

“He was pretty much saying that women need men in their lives to be successful,” said Julia Olson, a junior volleyball player in the audience who protested his remarks.

That response followed the former receiver’s asking the students how they expect their dads to respond to someone harassing their mothers, emphasizing that the male figures should speak up. Olson then challenged Lockette, saying, “Why can’t women stand up for themselves?”

And women wonder why so few men express a protective nature to the women in their midst. They don’t want a man to help or protect them until they do. The problem with this is that it makes it difficult for men to know when their help would be appropriate and when it wouldn’t, so they don’t.

Fortunately, at least as far as I have been able to witness, there are still men out there who possess a protective instinct for those weaker and/or less fortunate than themselves in some way. I am thankful to have married such a man who has modeled this for our daughters. In fact, it is one of the short list of things I have advised them to look for in a mate.

One of the things any eligible man must possess is a protective instinct. If it’s not apparent after a certain period of time, they should probably be moving on to find someone who has it. This is not a minor, “nice to have” kind of requirement for a husband.

Despite the stupidity of our post modern culture as demonstrated at that high school assembly, women do need men. If not to be successful, we need them to be safe.

Edited to add: It tuns out that Scott at American Dad, recently touched on this very issue of everyone being strong enough to take care of themselves and needing no protection from anyone. Like the teenage girls who “don’t need a man”.