Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Six ways for women to stamp out the risk of divorce

From the liberal Huffington Post, of all places.

First, here’s the list of skills for women to develop to avoid divorce:

  • Skill #1: Do at Least Three Things a Day for Your Own Pleasure
  • Skill #2: Relinquish Control of People You Can’t Control
  • Skill #3: Receive Gifts, Compliments and Help Graciously
  • Skill #4: Respect The Man You Chose
  • Skill #5: Express Gratitude Three Times Daily
  • Skill #6: Strive to be Vulnerable

And here’s the detail on one that I think is the most important:

Skill #4: Respect The Man You Chose

Being respectful will resurrect the man you fell in love with. You’re too smart to have married a dumb guy, so if he seems dumb now, it’s because you’re focused on his shortcomings. It’s not that you made a mistake in marrying him, it’s that you’ve been focused on his mistakes since you married him. A man who feels respected by the woman who knows him best also feels self-respect, which is far more attractive than cowering and hostility.

Lack of respect causes more divorces than cheating does because for men, respect is like oxygen. They need it more than sex. Respect means that you don’t dismiss, criticize, contradict or try to teach him anything. Of course he won’t do things the same way you do; for that, you could have just married yourself. But with your respect, he will once again do the things that amazed and delighted you to begin with — so much so that you married him.

And here’s the detail on the one that I think is the most neglected:

Skill #6: Strive to be Vulnerable

Intimacy and vulnerability are directly connected. If you want intimacy, then you’ll need to take the risk of admitting that you’re lonely, embarrassed or hurt. This is not the same as weakness; it actually requires great strength.

When you’re vulnerable you don’t care about being right, you’re just open and trusting enough to say “I miss you” instead of “you never spend time with me.” It means you simply say, “ouch!” when he’s insensitive instead of retaliating. That vulnerability completely changes the way he responds to you.

Vulnerability is not only attractive, it’s the only way to get to that incredible feeling of being loved just the way you are by someone who knows you well. There’s nothing like the joy of intimacy that results from vulnerability. It really is worth dropping the burden of being an efficient, overscheduled superwoman to have it.

Before I get started,  a piece of advice for men. I really, really recommend that single men take the time to read ALL the comments by the women underneath that post before they even think about getting married. It’s important for single men to realize that your old-fashioned ideas about marriage and what women should do in a marriage are often not accepted by modern women – even modern Christian women. Most churches don’t emphasize the things in the list above, because they are trying to make women feel good, and not to tell them what needs doing and how to do it. When you read the comments by women blaming men and attacking the 6 points, that will help you to see what you should be looking for, so you know how to make sound judgments about who to marry and whether to marry at all.

Right. Let’s begin with the 6 points.

From that list above, the ones I have personally encountered are #1, #3, #4, #5 and #6.

For #1, many unmarried women think that relationships are more about being happy than achieving things. If the woman gets into a relationship for happiness, and is not happy, then she may blame the man for failing to make her happy. The solution is to have a more realistic balance between happiness and self-sacrificial service. An unmarried women should focus on finding out what the man’s plans and goals are, and why he needs her. She has to focus on showing him that she wants to be informed and engaged in helping him. That is the best way for her to learn how to balance the need for happiness with the need to handle her relationship obligations (to children, as well as her spouse). Another way to lower the need for happiness provided by the man is for the woman to have her own interests. For example, my favorite single woman likes to spend time in the evening decompressing with stuff like cross-stitching, reading, playing with her cat, etc. before we do stuff together. She has her own sources of happiness and that means that I am not overburdened every day as the sole source of happiness. That can be overwhelming on days where she is stressed out from work.

For #3 and #5, I have to tell a funny story about what I have been doing lately with my favorite single woman. I have been busy trying to get her to tell me all about what her life is like from day to day and then buying her small things to help her out with her daily struggles. For example, I bought her an ice scraper so that she wouldn’t have to scrape ice off her windshield with her gloves. I bought her kitchen shears so that she wouldn’t have to fuss with raw chicken. I got her a new corded hand-vacuum for Christmas because she had to lug her heavy one up and down the stairs to clean them. Why am I fussing so much about this woman? Because she is the most grateful woman I know. Whenever I do anything for her, she tells everyone about it and I hear about how helpful I’ve been every time she uses whatever I bought her. Women, get it clear: men prefer to help grateful women.

For #4, I think the scariest thing for a woman is thinking that she will have to respect a bad men, even when he is bad. But women like that are looking at marriage wrong. The respect is non-negotiable. You will respect your husband or you will be cheated on or divorced. So with that in mind, choose a man who you do respect. That’s the solution – test the men carefully and effectively and choose one who is easy to respect and then marry that man. Make the respectability of the man the main criteria. The time to make the decision is before the marriage, because divorce is out of the question. And women really need to work at this, in my experience, because they typically let feelings dominate their decision-making, instead of being practical about finding the right man to do the work that men do in a marriage. The appearance of the man tends to be their only criteria, these days. Instead of choosing on appearances, women should test men out during the courtship to see if they like the way he leads, persuades and makes decisions. Instead of letting feelings and peer-approval decide, just think of what a man does and prefer men who can do those things.

For #6, I think that women really need to realize the power of vulnerability. My view, which is controversial, is that the reason why women are focusing so much on their appearance and sexuality is because feminism has made it illegal for them to attract men with traditional femininity. Vulnerability, trust, modesty, nurturing, care, concern, attention, support, etc. are all viewed by unmarried women as prohibited by feminism – even though they work on men very well. Men treat women nicely when they see how sensitive women are to good treatment and bad treatment. Men are motivated by the desire to make a difference and to be appreciated by a woman who needs them. Women need to practice being vulnerable, and to protect their ability to be vulnerable by avoiding premarital sex and messy breakups. Women need to learn to control their feelings and not batter themselves up on a sequence of men who are not ready for marriage. The most common thing I am seeing with women these days, including Christian women, is that their ability to trust a man, and to let a good man lead them, have been completely wrecked because they’ve dashed themselves to pieces over and over on men who looked good and impressed their friends, but who were not qualified for marriage. Marriage, for a man, is a faithful, life-long self-sacrificial commitment to provide for and serve a spouse and to train up children. Pick the right man for that job.

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The meaning of marriage: a lecture at Google by Tim Keller

Disclaimer: I have reservations about Tim Keller. I consider him to be too liberal for my tastes, especially on scientific (intelligent design) and political/economic issues. However, I think he did a good job explaining marriage in the lecture below.

Here’s the the video:

Details:

Timothy Keller visits Google’s New York, NY office to discuss his book “The Meaning of Marriage.” This event took place on November 14, 2011, as part of the Authors@Google series.

Timothy J. Keller is an American author, speaker, preacher, and the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. He is the author of several books, including “The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism.”

“The Meaning of Marriage” touches on topics that all readers can relate to, starting with the role of marriage in our culture, its history and the pessimism that is often associated with it. The Kellers also discuss the feelings of and acts of love, romantic relationships, gender roles, singleness, and the role of sex in a marriage.

I saw a lot of things in his lecture that echo my own views. One point where we agree is on not just looking for traits and virtues in the other person, but in seeing how they handle conflict and solve problems with you.  You have to give the other person things to do and see if they make progress and work cooperatively with you. Wes, who linked me the lecture, introduced the link by saying that this is the way that Christians should explain marriage to non-Christians. I agree, and I’ve added the book to my cart.

Here’s an article entitled “You Never Marry the Right Person“, that discusses one of the points in the lecture.

Excerpt:

In generations past, there was far less talk about “compatibility” and finding the ideal soul-mate. Today we are looking for someone who accepts us as we are and fulfills our desires, and this creates an unrealistic set of expectations that frustrates both the searchers and the searched for.

[...]The Bible explains why the quest for compatibility seems to be so impossible. As a pastor I have spoken to thousands of couples, some working on marriage-seeking, some working on marriage-sustaining and some working on marriage-saving. I’ve heard them say over and over, “Love shouldn’t be this hard, it should come naturally.” In response I always say something like: “Why believe that? Would someone who wants to play professional baseball say, ‘It shouldn’t be so hard to hit a fastball’? Would someone who wants to write the greatest American novel of her generation say, ‘It shouldn’t be hard to create believable characters and compelling narrative’?” The understandable retort is: “But this is not baseball or literature. This is love. Love should just come naturally if two people are compatible, if they are truly soul-mates. “

The Christian answer to this is that no two people are compatible. Duke University Ethics professor Stanley Hauerwas has famously made this point:

Destructive to marriage is the self-fulfillment ethic that assumes marriage and the family are primarily institutions of personal fulfillment, necessary for us to become “whole” and happy. The assumption is that there is someone just right for us to marry and that if we look closely enough we will find the right person. This moral assumption overlooks a crucial aspect to marriage. It fails to appreciate the fact that we always marry the wrong person.We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being [the enormous thing it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary challenge of marriage is learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.

Hauerwas gives us the first reason that no two people are compatible for marriage, namely, that marriage profoundly changes us. But there is another reason. Any two people who enter into marriage are spiritually broken by sin, which among other things means to be self-centered—living lifeincurvatus in se. As author Denis de Rougemont said, “Why should neurotic, selfish, immature people suddenly become angels when they fall in love … ?” That is why a good marriage is more painfully hard to achieve than athletic or artistic prowess. Raw, natural talent does not enable you to play baseball as a pro or write great literature without enduring discipline and enormous work. Why would it be easy to live lovingly and well with another human being in light of what is profoundly wrong within our human nature? Indeed, many people who have mastered athletics and art have failed miserably at marriage. So the biblical doctrine of sin explains why marriage—more than anything else that is good and important in this fallen world—is so painful and hard.

When you are courting, don’t worry about appearances and feelings and passion so much, because that is all subject to change over time, and those things won’t help you with the real challenges you’ll face in a marriage. Worry about whether they are the kind of person who can make commitments and love other people self-sacrificially – even if they are unlovable. In the long run, their ability to read and understand issues, to care for others and serve them, to keep promises, to be respectful and supportive, to argue respectfully and reasonably, and to solve problems constructively, will all be far more important than appearances and feelings and passion.

And let me be clear again: give them things to do that challenge them during the courtship and see how they handle being given responsibilities – giving a person hard things to do is a much better way to test a person than recreational nights out with recreational drinking, recreational dancing and recreational sex. Marriage means commitment and hard work, not recreation. And that’s what you should test for – the ability to work hard at the relationship and to keep promises and commitments and to communicate reasonably and to work through difficulties fairly.

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Nearly half of 15-year-olds are not living with both parents

Dina sent me this article from the UK Telegraph, which features our favorite Conservative MP, Iain Duncan Smith.

Excerpt:

Some 45% see their mother and father’s relationship break down before then, although 80% are born to a couple living together.

The figures were released as the Government announced plans to change the way it measures the effectiveness of social programmes for the poor.

Halting the breakdown of family life will become the key measure of success, with officials being asked to record how they promote family stability and tackle joblessness, and whether children in the families affected perform as well their peers in other families.

Companies providing the programmes to provide help for Britain’s 120,000 so-called problem families will be paid in accordance with how well they improve the statistics in these areas, the Daily Mail reported.

Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, told the Social Justice Conference in London: “Stable, loving families matter.

“They matter for this government, and they matter for the most vulnerable in society

“By measuring the proportion of children living with the same parents from birth and whether their parents report a good quality relationship we are driving home the message that social programmes should promote family stability and avert breakdown.

“You don’t help families by shrugging your shoulders when parental relationships fall apart.

“When families are strong and stable, so are children, showing higher levels of wellbeing and more positive outcomes.

“But when things go wrong – either through family breakdown or a damaged parental relationship – the impact on a child’s later life can be devastating.”

Mr Duncan Smith warned last week that the welfare system was promoting destructive behaviour by encouraging poorer families to have more children and denying them the incentive to get a job.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have a frank talk in this nation about the social costs of family breakdown and how to prevent it? We need to spend time as a nation going over the harm that family breakdown causes to children, and developing best practices for dating, courting, mate-selection and behaviors with marriage.

I wrote quite a long post about how women can prevent divorce earlier this week and was surprised that we did not get many comments on it. I noticed that many people read it, but no one commented. Sometimes I feel that a whole bunch of us have this view of relationships such that we choose our mate based on emotions, and that the purpose of the relationship is to make us feel happy. But that’s not going to provide children with the stability they need.

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Six ways for women to stamp out the risk of divorce

From the liberal Huffington Post, of all places. (H/T Stuart Schneiderman)

First, here’s the list of skills for women to develop to avoid divorce:

  • Skill #1: Do at Least Three Things a Day for Your Own Pleasure
  • Skill #2: Relinquish Control of People You Can’t Control
  • Skill #3: Receive Gifts, Compliments and Help Graciously
  • Skill #4: Respect The Man You Chose
  • Skill #5: Express Gratitude Three Times Daily
  • Skill #6: Strive to be Vulnerable

And here’s the detail on one that I think is the most important:

Skill #4: Respect The Man You Chose

Being respectful will resurrect the man you fell in love with. You’re too smart to have married a dumb guy, so if he seems dumb now, it’s because you’re focused on his shortcomings. It’s not that you made a mistake in marrying him, it’s that you’ve been focused on his mistakes since you married him. A man who feels respected by the woman who knows him best also feels self-respect, which is far more attractive than cowering and hostility.

Lack of respect causes more divorces than cheating does because for men, respect is like oxygen. They need it more than sex. Respect means that you don’t dismiss, criticize, contradict or try to teach him anything. Of course he won’t do things the same way you do; for that, you could have just married yourself. But with your respect, he will once again do the things that amazed and delighted you to begin with — so much so that you married him.

And here’s the detail on the one that I think is the most neglected:

Skill #6: Strive to be Vulnerable

Intimacy and vulnerability are directly connected. If you want intimacy, then you’ll need to take the risk of admitting that you’re lonely, embarrassed or hurt. This is not the same as weakness; it actually requires great strength.

When you’re vulnerable you don’t care about being right, you’re just open and trusting enough to say “I miss you” instead of “you never spend time with me.” It means you simply say, “ouch!” when he’s insensitive instead of retaliating. That vulnerability completely changes the way he responds to you.

Vulnerability is not only attractive, it’s the only way to get to that incredible feeling of being loved just the way you are by someone who knows you well. There’s nothing like the joy of intimacy that results from vulnerability. It really is worth dropping the burden of being an efficient, overscheduled superwoman to have it.

Before I get started,  a piece of advice for men. I really, really recommend that single men take the time to read ALL the comments by the women underneath that post before they even think about getting married. It’s important for single men to realize that your old-fashioned ideas about marriage and what women should do in a marriage are often not accepted by modern women – even Christian women. Most churches don’t emphasize the things in the list above, because they are trying to make women feel good, and not to tell them what needs doing and how to do it. When you read the comments by women blaming men and attacking the 6 points, that will help you to see what you should be looking for, so you know how to make sound judgments about who to marry and whether to marry at all.

Right. Let’s begin with the 6 points.

From that list above, the ones I have personally encountered are #1, #3, #4, #5 and #6.

For #1, many unmarried women think that relationships are more about being happy than achieving things. If the woman gets into a relationship for happiness, and is not happy, then she may blame the man for failing to make her happy. The solution is to have a more realistic balance between happiness and self-sacrificial service. An unmarried women should focus on finding out what the man’s plans and goals are, and why he needs her. She has to focus on showing him that she wants to be informed and engaged in helping him. That is the best way for her to work through this desire to be happy, so that she learns by doing how to balance the need for happiness with the obligation to serve and achieve. Another way to lower the need for happiness provided by the man is for the woman to have her own interests. For example, my favorite single woman likes to spend time in the evening decompressing with stuff like cross-stitching, reading, playing with her cat, etc. before we do stuff together. She has her own sources of happiness and that means that I am not overburdened every day as the sole source of happiness. That can be overwhelming on days where she is stressed out from work.

For #3 and #5, I have to tell a funny story about what I have been doing lately with my favorite single woman, whose name I won’t mention. I have been busy trying to get her to tell me all about what her life is like from day to day and then buying her small things to help her out with her daily struggles. For example, I bought her an ice scraper so that she wouldn’t have to scrape ice off her windshield with her gloves. I bought her kitchen shears so that she wouldn’t have to fuss with raw chicken. And I am planning to get her a new corded hand-vacuum for Christmas because she has to lug the heavy one up and down the stairs now. Why am I fussing so much about this woman? Because she is the most grateful woman I know. Whenever I do anything for her, she tells everyone about it and I hear about how helpful I’ve been every time she uses whatever I bought her. Women, get it clear: men prefer to help grateful women. Especially ones who are busy helping them with their plans and goals. When we see you serving God in accordance with our priorities and goals (e.g. – apologetics!), that’s when we really want to give you gifts and listen to your needs. Because we see you doing what we are passionate about, and we naturally think “how can I motivate her to do that?” and “how can I make it easier for her to do that?”

For #4, I have a whole post on the importance of respect. I think the scariest thing for a woman is thinking that she will have to respect a bad men, even when he is bad. But women like that are looking at marriage wrong. The respect is non-negotiable. You will respect your husband or you will be cheated on or divorced. So with that in mind, choose a man who you do respect. That’s the solution – test the men carefully and effectively and choose one who is easy to respect. Find out during the courtship if you like the way he leads, persuades and makes decisions. Choose a man who listens to you and motivates you to do good things. Choose a man based on what marriage will require him to be doing, not based on how he makes you feel or whether your friends will be impressed.

For #6, I think that women really need to realize the power of vulnerability. My view, which is controversial, is that the reason why women are focusing so much on their appearance and getting themselves drunk in order to do hook-up sex is because feminism has made it illegal for them to attract men with traditional femininity. Vulnerability, trust, modesty, nurturing, care, concern, attention, support, etc. are all viewed by unmarried women as illegal and even immoral – even though they work on men very well. In particular, vulnerability, respect and trust are among the most important things to a good man. Men treat women nicely when they see how sensitive women are to good treatment and bad treatment. If a woman squeals, squeaks and coos when she gets flowers and treats them like pets and rearranges them often and photographs them and tweets them on Twitter, then the chances are that she will get a lot more flowers from that man. Because men are motivated by the desire to make a difference and to be appreciated and to be special to a woman who needs us. When a good woman doing good things that are challenging and difficult explains her real doubts and feelings and worries and fears to a man, that’s when a man feels motivated to swoop in there and rescue her. Women need to practice being vulnerable, and to protect their ability to be vulnerable by avoiding premarital sex and messy breakups. Choose good men so that you always see men at their best, and marry one that you have chosen before you kiss him on the lips. I knew one woman once who was cheating on her boyfriend with a guy who had a girlfriend, and his girlfriend called and he lied right in front of her! What do you think that this does to her ability to trust men in the future? It ruins it – having bad experiences like that. Maintain your ability to trust and be vulnerable by being rational, prudent and responsible with men. It is fun to be vulnerable with a man! Don’t compromise your ability to be a woman by choosing the wrong men for the wrong reasons and then getting bitter and jaded and mistrustful.

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Marriage advice from Christian philosopher William Lane Craig

Here is a question of the week from Dr. Craig on “Marriage Advice”!

Here’s the question:

Dear Dr. Craig,

Marriage is in the foreseeable future, and I would like to ask you for any advice before it happens. Can we avoid any mistakes? Would it be helpful to meet with a pastor for premarital counseling? Are there any helpful tips you could give from a Christian perspective or from your own experience?

Thank you in advance!

Zareen

Here are the main pieces of advice Dr. Craig gives:

  1. Resolve that there will be no divorce
  2. Delay having children
  3. Confront problems honestly
  4. Seek marital counseling
  5. Take steps to build intimacy in your relationship

And here’s the controversial one (#2):

2. Delay having children. The first years of marriage are difficult enough on their own without introducing the complication of children. Once children come, the wife’s attention is necessarily diverted, and huge stresses come upon you both. Spend the first several years of marriage getting to know each other, working through your issues, having fun together, and enjoying that intimate love relationship between just the two of you. Jan and I waited ten years before having our first child Charity, which allowed me the finish graduate school, get our feet on the ground financially, establish some roots, and enjoy and build our love relationship until we were really ready to take on the responsibilities of parenthood. The qualifier here is that if the wife desperately wants children now, then the husband should accede to her wish to become a mother, rather than withhold that from her. Her verdict should be decisive. But if you both can agree to wait, things will probably be much easier.

I wonder if the married readers agree with him about the “waiting at least a year after marriage bafore having children”?

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