Heather normally writes the posts for PreEngaged (whereas, I edit them for grammar, clarity, and a little content); however, for this Foolish Things series, we thought it would be a good idea if I addressed the men personally (though, ladies, you should still listen in ~smile~) and the foolish things they did in relationships. Below are five behaviors which men do in relationships that are less than smart (and though each of them are important – the further down the point on the list, the more importance I believe it has).
- Not listening. “What did he just say?” Guys, though there are areas of legitimacy in this topic where males and females have different listening styles, the main issue here is lack of attention to the lady and/or selfishness. At times, we can legitimately have a one-track mind; however, when men do not make a concerted effort to listen to their ladies, it implies a level of uncaring the man has toward her. It is important for a guy to often redirect his focus from whatever he is doing to listening to his lady. This does not mean she should interrupt him with every little thing that comes up whenever she feels like doing so either; however, with mutual respect and understanding, he can place her as a priority over his tasks (pleasure or work) and she can ascertain appropriate times to talk with him. Many women have an insatiable need to talk their problems out – not because they need help in solving the issue (which is how men are wired), but rather to emotionally release them and be heard. Though it doesn’t make sense to most guys, one of the best ways you can help your lady is by setting aside some time on a regular basis to just listen to her – her thoughts, fears, hopes, concerns, and dreams.
- Being a wuss. No little girl (or grown up lady) has a dreamy image of a scraggly, puny man for whom she has to fight; rather, the stereotypical image often pictured is the “knight in shining armor riding on a white horse.” Why a knight? Why a horse? They are both pictures of strength. One of a woman’s primary drives is for security and she is not filled with security when her man is a weakling. Now, this does not mean he needs to have ripped, bulging muscles for him to be desirable (though, for some ladies, that is desirable); however, he needs to have an inner-strength… a strength of character… a strength of leadership… a strength of provision. He needs to have the strength to initiate. A popular post I wrote on our site has been “When are Guys Ready to Date?” If he is not leading in the relationship, he is not being the godly man for whom she is looking. If you (as a man) are not being a leader in your relationship, it’s time to man up and check out the post linked in this section above.
- Harshness. There’s always two sides to every coin (and sometimes a third if you count the spine of the coin! ~smile~). Okay, geeky humor aside, strength gone amok (in remedying the above category) will land you in the other relationship gutter. This is where the guy is being insensitive to her needs as a woman. If he orders her around, he is being harsh. If he starts disparaging her (e.g., name-calling), he is being harsh. If he is impatient with her, he is being harsh. One concept which is helpful to remember is this: she is someone else’s daughter. How would you like it if some guy was treating your daughter the way you are treating your girlfriend / fiancée / spouse? For one girl I was considering an interest in (before I met Heather), I believe God specifically warned me to make sure not to hurt her – she was His child (not that other girls I was previously also interested in weren’t). I don’t believe I was in any danger of doing so; yet, with that specific warning, I was very careful in my interactions with her. Since she is your sister in Christ (and if not, why are you dating her anyway?), then do your best to “live with her in an understanding way” (I Peter 3:7) – which will take some time and patience since men and women are so different.
- Not Protecting Her Sexually. The Bible contains God’s standards of sexual interaction between a man and a woman – and that interaction is to be confined within a covenant of marriage. A lot of people don’t see what the big deal is in waiting, but God’s rules for us do not benefit Him, rather, they benefit us. In our American culture, it is common to hear the burden of responsibility placed on the woman to refuse sexual interaction with a guy until she is ready; however, this is backwards. It is the man’s job in a relationship to protect and defend – not hers. The more a woman loves her man (or believes she does), the more she wants to open up to him – emotionally and physically. So, if she is the one who is supposed to defend herself and her natural inclination is to open herself up – she is left defenseless. God ordained the man (her father first and then her husband) to be the protector. It is he who needs to take safeguards in protecting her virginity (and his). And if you are not married to her yet and are planning to be, then it is a good opportunity for you to demonstrate your protection of her before the wedding day. And if you are not planning on marrying her, you have no business exploiting her sexually. Sexual interaction is like fire, it is proper in its context. Inside of a home, just anywhere – fire will burn down the house. Inside of a home, in the fireplace (i.e., within a covenantal marriage), fire will bring warmth to the home. And since the best parental model is one of a man and a woman who are committed together to raising the children (which is the fruit of sexual interaction), that too conforms to the necessary picture of marriage. So, men, I challenge you to protect her, not exploit her and, like the last section, remember that she is a daughter of the King – who will not leave sin unpunished.
- Disparaging Her Physical Appearance. If there is one primary thing I have learned about women over the last several years, it is that they were built for beauty. A man’s central core is his strength. If she were to tell you, “You’ll never amount to anything. You’re a weakling and incompetent at everything you do!” (and used a tone of voice which indicated she meant it), you would *never, ever* forget it – even if you forgave her. That is because it is attacking your core: strength and competence. When your core is attacked, we go into our default response (which is either fighting, fleeing, or freezing – based upon the man and his personality). Alternatively, a woman’s central core is her beauty. She has an innate, driving need to be desired and wanted, to be attractive, to be beautiful. Look at the physical appearance products marketed to women: makeup, bras, exercise regimens, vitamins/pills, diet plans, doing whatever it takes to appear younger/more youthful, etc. You will likely not find beauty tools advertised in Hunting Monthly Magazine. This driving need, in and of itself, is not vanity – it is central to the core of a woman. Depending on a woman’s personality, this driving need to be desired can manifest itself in varying ways. However, one thing I have learned (and fortunately when I was very young) is to never disparage (or demean) a woman’s physical appearance. Because it is so central to her core, she will *never, ever* forget it. She can forgive you, but she will *never, ever* forget it. She may even tell you she won’t hold it against you, but she will *never, ever* forget it. It will be a wound which, unless God Himself heals it, will never go away. Do not wound your lady (or *any* lady) like that.
Hopefully, that list of foolish things is helpful to you men. Ladies, if you resonate with this list, please click “Like” and pass this blog article around to other men (and ladies) who you think should read it. Additionally, I’d love to read your feedback below in the comments.
Men, have you done any of the above – how did that change your relationship? Women, have you experienced any of the above – what were your responses?
(P.S. – Would you be interested in seeing this series expanded and sold for a few dollars as a download in our store? If so, please let us know!)