Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

New study: cohabitation more likely to dissolve, less likely to lead to marriage

All I have on this is the abstract, but if someone can send me the study, I’d love to see the results section.

Abstract:

Cohabitation is now the modal first union for young adults, and most marriages are preceded by cohabitation even as fewer cohabitations transition to marriage. These contrasting trends may be due to compositional shifts among cohabiting unions, which are increasingly heterogeneous in terms of cohabitation order, engagement, and the presence of children, as well as across socioeconomic and demographic characteristics. The author constructs 5-year cohabitation cohorts for 18- to 34-year-olds from the 2002 and 2006–2010 cycles of the National Survey of Family Growth (n = 17,890 premarital cohabitations) to examine the outcomes of cohabitations over time. Compared to earlier cohabitations, those formed after 1995 were more likely to dissolve, and those formed after 2000 were less likely to transition to marriage even after accounting for the compositional shifts among individuals in cohabiting unions. Higher instability and decreased chances of marriage occurred among both engaged and non-engaged individuals, suggesting society-wide changes in cohabitation over time.

Evidence Unseen has collected some of the other studies together.

Excerpt

Hall and Zhao (from the University of Western Ontario) studied 8,177 individuals who were ever-married. They write, “Premarital cohabitors in Canada have over twice the risk of divorce in any year of marriage when compared with noncohabitors.”[13]

Manning (et al.) writes, “Over 50% of cohabiting unions in the US, whether or not they are eventually legalized by marriage, end by separation within five years compared to roughly 20% for marriages.”[14]

Daniel Lichter and Zhenchao Qian (from Cornell University and The Ohio State University) write, “If serial cohabitors married, divorce rates were very high—more than twice as high as for women who cohabited only with their eventual husbands.”[15]

And finally, there’s this study from Life Site News.

Excerpt:

Couples who reserve sex for marriage enjoy greater stability and communication in their relationships, say researchers at Brigham Young University.

A new study from the Mormon college found that those couples who waited until marriage rated their relationship stability 22 percent higher than those who started having sex in the early part of their relationship. The relationship satisfaction was 20 percent higher for those who waited, the sexual quality of the relationship was 5 percent better, and communication was 12 percent better.

The study, published in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Family Psychology, involved 2,035 married individuals who participated in a popular online marital assessment called “RELATE.” From the assessment’s database, researchers selected a sample designed to match the demographics of the married American population. The extensive questionnaire included the question “When did you become sexual in this relationship?”

Couples that became sexually involved later in their relationship – but prior to marriage – reported benefits that were about half as strong as those who waited for marriage.

[...]Sociologist Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas at Austin, who was not involved in the study, responded to its findings, saying that “couples who hit the honeymoon too early – that is, prioritize sex promptly at the outset of a relationship – often find their relationships underdeveloped when it comes to the qualities that make relationships stable and spouses reliable and trustworthy.” Regnerus is the author of Premarital Sex in America, a book forthcoming from Oxford University Press.

Because religious belief often plays a role for couples who choose to wait, Busby and his co-authors controlled for the influence of religious involvement in their analysis.

“Regardless of religiosity, waiting helps the relationship form better communication processes, and these help improve long-term stability and relationship satisfaction,” Busby said.

Young men and women growing up really need to be informed by their parents what they are going to want to be doing long term, and what they should be doing today to accomplish those goals. Young people benefit greatly from the guidance of older and wiser people, but in defining goals and defining the steps to reach those goals. To be a convincing parent, you have to be convinced yourself. And to be convinced yourself, you need to be seen as having knowledge, not just opinions, but knowledge. Having the right peer-reviewed papers at hand will help you to be a better parent.

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Should Christians “guard their hearts” in relationships? What does that even mean?

Here are my two disagreements with Jonathan’s post on courting that appeared on this blog yesterday.

He writes this:

If you have followed the above procedure and have gotten as far as the relationship stage, I would suggest that there should be an increasingly greater level of commitment as the relationship continues to progress. In my case, I would not terminate a relationship without a very good reason once I have agreed to commit myself to the relationship. Do not take this commitment lightly.

It is important, however, that both parties take care to guard their (and each other’s) hearts, especially during the early days of the relationship, in case the relationship for whatever reason does not work out. This practice ensures that you will both be able to give your heart more completely to your future spouse. If you end up not being the husband of a girl whom you have dated, you want to be able to look that girl’s future husband in the eye and tell him with a clear conscience that you took good care to guard her heart for him.

I would suggest limiting physical contact to holding hands and the occasional hug during the early days of the relationship. Kissing should be reserved for significantly downstream in the relationship, until you have been together for a considerable period of time.

You should also avoid, whenever possible, being left alone together for long periods of time – where temptation may strike you and cause you to fall into sin. Meet together in public places or involve family and friends.

I disagree that the correct interpretation of “guard your heart” (from Proverbs 4:23) means “don’t love someone to the best of your ability until you are sure you won’t get hurt”. The correct thing to do is to love God with everything you have, and then to let that flow to others – especially others you have chosen to court because you see glimpses of who God wants them to be and you want to invest in them to get them there.

Here’s an article from Relevant that makes the point:

Quote:

When it comes to our relationships, I think we’re missing something. Jesus summarizes our highest command as: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31).

[...]According to Mark 12:30, Jesus wants us to be all in. And when we love Him with our all, it will help shape our perspective of earthly relationships, romantic and otherwise. When we are totally firm and secure in God’s love for us, we will be less worried about “guarding our hearts” from pain and heartbreak as we relate to others.

Jesus is the greatest example of this. He loved His Father so much He was not afraid of getting hurt by loving others. On the contrary, He died for relationships. Jesus sacrificed everything for love. He did this to restore not only our relationship with Him but our relationships with each other. His body was broken for us—not just His heart. Clearly, Jesus wasn’t afraid of a broken heart, mind or body. What would happen if we had the same perspective?

Relationships are risky business, and there’s no guarantee you won’t end up with a broken heart. But because of Christ’s love, the fear of a broken heart no longer has to be the motivating factor. 1 John 4:18 says: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” We can fulfill the greatest commandment because of God’s perfect example in the flesh.

Christ’s mission was to leave Paradise and sacrifice Himself on the altar of love. Even when it appears Jesus struggles with going through with this plan, He prays: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:42). His whole life was dedicated to making us whole; He loved us with His mind, body, heart and strength so that we might also be able to love wholly.

And here’s another support from Mars Hill Church:

Quote:

The first error we can make is to guard our hearts in such a way that there is no possible way we can get hurt. We keep relationships shallow, people at arm’s length, and anyone from getting to know us at the heart level. The Bible is the most honest book ever written—it makes no claim that if we “guard our heart” we will avoid pain and heartache in this life (1 Peter 1:6–7). It is simply not God’s will for us to be isolated, walled off, and invulnerable.

I have heard the “guard your heart” barrier invoked by Christian women who urge me to read the Bible more and be more spiritual, and it makes me suspect that their sexual history is coming into play – they’ve made poor decisions with non-Christian men and now they are misusing the Bible to refuse good things to good men because of their past experience with bad men. When a woman is on a marriage track with a man, she needs to love him like she’s never been hurt.

I do not think that it is fair for bad men to be trusted MORE than good men. Women need to learn to 1) make better decisions when they choose a man (don’t choose an immoral and irreligious man in order to avoid moral/spiritual judgment and/or abandonment), and 2) to love good men as if they have never been hurt, lest those good men get sick and tired of being distrusted and pushed outside barriers, and move on to someone else.

Men like to be trusted. Men like vulnerability. Men like authenticity. Men like engagement. If we are constantly rebuffed even though we are chaste, we do move on to someone who is more lovable. I don’t think that an unchaste man deserves to have access to trust, vulnerability, authenticity and engagement – but a chaste man does. That’s what he is offering, too.

As long as the couple avoids sexual physical contact, then any break up is going to be far less painful than it would be if there were a physical (especially sexual) component. To love someone well, to build them up, to let them go do amazing things for the Lord – this does not hurt. I am still friends with women I’ve courted who hurt me, but it doesn’t last more than a month or two. Then you’re friends again and the friendship lasts.

My second disagreement with Jonathan is about kissing. For me kissing on the cheek or hand is OK, but kissing on the lips should be reserved for the day of engagement. If the man is on his knees with a ring, and she accepts, he should kiss her on the lips to seal the promise. After that, kissing on the lips is fine with me. But not before.

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Courtship advice for Christians from an influential young Christian apologist

Painting: "Courtship", by Edmund Blair Leighton (1888)

“Courtship”, by Edmund Blair Leighton (1888)

The influential young Christian apologist Jonathan McLatchie has written an article on courtship for Christians, and I have posted it below. I have two disagreements, which I will post in the comments below.

A Christian Man’s Philosophy of God-Honoring Courtship

Wintery Knight asked me to contribute a guest post expressing my views on God-honoring courtship and relationship philosophy. I should state upfront that I have only ever been in one relationship, and thus I cannot claim to have a lot of experience. I have, however, given these matters significant thought as I determine in my own head the sort of woman I am looking for and what a God-honoring relationship should look like. I thought that these ideas may be of value to others, and so I am articulating them here.

What Sort Of Woman Should You Be Looking For?

When searching for a potential spouse, it is important to prioritize the traits that you desire your wife to possess: What characteristics are essential and non-negotiable, and which are not? The most important trait is that the woman be a Christian. Marrying a non-Christian is a recipe for disaster, and sooner or later there is bound to be a resultant train crash. As the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” Your life in Christ ought to form such a core component of your identity that it infiltrates the way you live your life at every level – your conversations, the decisions that you make, the people that you hang out with, the activities that you participate in. To not be able to share such a core part of who you are with your spouse is asking for trouble. A non-believing spouse is, moreover, unlikely to have the same values and standards as you do when it comes to maintaining one’s chastity before marriage. Marriage to a non-believer is also likely to lead to conflict further down the road when you are making decisions about how to raise your kids and what values to instil in them. If you marry someone who shares your faith and values, you could be saving yourself a lot of heartache later down the road.

Although sharing your Christian faith is a non-negotiable, it is not enough. Look not simply for a woman who is merely a “Sunday morning Christian”, but one who has demonstrated spiritual maturity and depth. As 1 Peter 3:3-4 says to women,

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

It is one thing for a woman to say that she is a Christian – anybody can do that. But how does it play out in her life in the real world? How does her faith influence the decisions that she makes? Does she live her life in such a way that reflects her Christianity without her having to mention her faith? Is she perpetually going to the Word of God for sustenance? Does she have a proper understanding of basic theological concepts such as the Trinity? What does her prayer life look like? Seek out a woman who is so deeply immersed in Christ that you have to first seek Him in order to find her.

Ask the girl what she feels God’s calling is for her life. Are you in a position to help her grow more to be like Christ and fulfil God’s will for her life? Are you sufficiently mature spiritually that you are able to teach her and lead her spiritually? Are there areas in which you can learn from her? An answer in the affirmative to these questions suggests that she may be someone you could pursue a relationship with.

Integrity is another essential. You want to know that your wife is trustworthy and that you can count on her to be faithful. Ask people who know her well to give you a character assessment of her.

It is important that a girl whom you are seeking to pursue a relationship with value purity and chastity. You don’t want to be in a relationship with a girl who is going to tempt you to compromise on your Christian principles. You also want your wife to be able to give her heart completely to you. If, however, she has already been sexually active outside of wedlock, she has created a strong emotional bond to someone else, and might find it difficult to give all of her heart entirely to her husband. That all said, past mistakes do happen, and I think there is a place for forgiveness – if the girl is sincerely repentant and acknowledges her past sin.

You should also be cautious of women who have been in many past relationships. If a girl has been in several previous relationships, it is not necessarily a make-or-break factor, but you should nonetheless ask them to provide the reasons of why these relationships did not work out. You don’t want to pursue someone who is a relationship hopper, since that raises questions about their ability to remain faithful and committed to you. Related to this, you should also be wary of women who are emotional pendulums when it comes to their commitment to the relationship. If, having entered a relationship, you are unable to predict a girl’s feelings about you from one day to the next, that is a serious red flag.

A girl’s family should also be an important factor in determining marital compatibility. Remember that you are marrying her family as well. You don’t want to marry into a mean family who don’t appreciate the investment you are putting into their daughter’s or sister’s life.

Finally, a further important characteristic in a godly wife is that she be able to look up to and respect you, and be willing to submit to your leading. You don’t want to be in a relationship with a girl who is going to be trying to seize the reins of the relationship. The responsibility for leading relationships falls on the shoulders of the man, not of the woman. Here are a few Bible verses that instruct a woman to submit to her husband:

Ephesians 5:22-24: “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”

Colossians 3:18: “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”

1 Peter 3:1-2: “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.”

If your wife is going to respect you and submit to your leading, be sure that you are a man who is worthy of respect and submission. Be a man who is saturated with Scripture and dedicated to the things of God. Only then will you be able to lead a woman spiritually.

Beginning the Relationship

A relationship consists of several phases, which culminate in the final stage: marriage. The first stage is friendship. I am extremely unlikely to pursue someone for a relationship unless we have been friends for a reasonable period of time first – at least a few weeks or so, depending on how much time you are spending with them. During this time, observe them and evaluate their character, personality, and doctrinal compatibility. Take your time with this. Don’t blindly rush into a relationship with someone without taking the time to carefully evaluate them first. That way, you avoid playing with peoples’ hearts and prevent inevitable hurt as a consequence. Before letting the girl know that you are interested, weigh up the pros and cons; and determine (from your limited interaction) whether there are any significant concerns or obvious reasons why the relationship could fail. If you don’t feel that you could see yourself marrying the girl, do not enter a relationship with them.

There is a limit to how much information you can gather by this means, however, and there will come a time when it becomes necessary to move to phase 2. At this stage, you should let the girl know that you are interested in her. Ideally, you should be prepared to articulate the reasons you have for being interested in her – this shows that your motivation for pursuing her is not simply a desire to be in any generic relationship, but that you have already put significant thought into why this girl in particular is a worthy contender. If she rejects you, respect that and move on. If she expresses an interest, tell her that you would like to spend a few weeks getting to know her better in view of determining whether the relationship should proceed beyond friendship. This allows you to both gauge each other’s suitability without the emotional connection that comes along with being in a relationship (again, minimizing the risk of hurting her). It also allows you to evaluate her at a deeper level than you could in the previous phase. During this stage of the relationship, you should ask each other about your theological views, your past relationships, past sins that need to be confessed, what you both wish to get out of a relationship, how you would like to raise children (e.g. public vs. private vs. home schooling), and so on. Be completely transparent and honest with each other. Be sure that you have all your bases covered, and that there are going to be no unpleasant surprises later down the road after you have already developed an emotional connection.

It is very important that during this time there is a centrality of prayer about the future direction of the relationship. Seek the Lord’s will diligently. Deciding about relationships takes a lot of wisdom, and God has promised us in Scripture that “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).

After a few weeks, discuss with your prospective girlfriend what the way forward should be for your relationship and whether there is a mutual desire to proceed and what you feel God is calling you to.

Guarding Your Hearts and Upholding Chastity

If you have followed the above procedure and have gotten as far as the relationship stage, I would suggest that there should be an increasingly greater level of commitment as the relationship continues to progress. In my case, I would not terminate a relationship without a very good reason once I have agreed to commit myself to the relationship. Do not take this commitment lightly.

It is important, however, that both parties take care to guard their (and each other’s) hearts, especially during the early days of the relationship, in case the relationship for whatever reason does not work out. This practice ensures that you will both be able to give your heart more completely to your future spouse. If you end up not being the husband of a girl whom you have dated, you want to be able to look that girl’s future husband in the eye and tell him with a clear conscience that you took good care to guard her heart for him.

I would suggest limiting physical contact to holding hands and the occasional hug during the early days of the relationship. Kissing should be reserved for significantly downstream in the relationship, until you have been together for a considerable period of time.

You should also avoid, whenever possible, being left alone together for long periods of time – where temptation may strike you and cause you to fall into sin. Meet together in public places or involve family and friends.

Making Christ the Cornerstone of Your Relationship

There is no other cornerstone for a God-honoring relationship besides that of Christ. Meditation upon Scripture and time spent together in prayer should form the bedrock of any relationship. I suggest working through a book of the Bible together, expositing the Scriptures verse by verse. This will inevitably lead to mutual edification and also offers some accountability for regular study of Scripture. I would also recommend working together through some classic Christian writings such as those of the puritans. There is a goldmine of nuggets to be found among such literature.

Conclusion

I trust that some will find the above perspectives of value as they look for a spouse and develop relationships which eventually will lead into marriage. These are only a few short thoughts, and there is much more that could be written on this subject. There will of course be other considerations that are specific to the interests and personality of the individual. For example, I very much enjoy intellectual conversation topics, particularly those relating to science, theology and apologetics. And so I look for someone who is similarly interested in discussing those areas and who can relate to me at an intellectual level.

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Why should a man refuse a woman’s offer of casual sex?

I’ve been having some conversations recently with a good male friend of mine who is not a Christian. I like to talk to him about women because we disagree about women, and Lord knows I love to disagree with people. Anyway, he’s read my rules for chastity, courtship, etc., and he considers them, and me, quite weird. He is coming from the position of having a great deal of sexual experience with women, whereas I strictly avoid sexual activity for a variety of reasons. And what we disagree about is this: I think it’s wrong to have casual sex with women who offer themselves to a man before marriage, and he thinks it’s permissible as long as he warns them that the relationship is going nowhere afterwards.

First, let me talk about where we agree. Both of us agree that most women today have lost the art of making a man like them without using sex appeal. We are in broad agreement that the right way for a woman to make a man like her is by being feminine. And we agree on what that means – showing the ability to be a wife and mother. If a woman talks to a man about his day at work, studies hard things to be more skilled, listens to his life plan, and tries to contribute to the causes he cares about, then he will like her (because he needs her and appreciates her).  Also, it’s important that she have a plan of her own that he can help with, and she should let him help. Men like to give gifts to women, and we like to see how our gifts help women grow.

Now where do we disagree? Well, I think it’s a bad idea for a man to submit to casual sex with a woman who is unable or unwilling to set boundaries and have a Christian goal for the relationship. I think that casual sex is an inappropriate technique that a woman uses to make a man love her without demonstrating that she really understands him or wants to help him. Sometimes this is done inadvertently because the woman has never learned how to deal with men appropriately, but sometimes it’s done deliberately in order to get attention without have to care about or help the man.

Here are three reasons why men should not accept an offer of casual sex:

Reduced courting capability

A lot of men spend a lot of time and money and the best years of their lives pursuing a lot of different women for sexual gratification. But the pursuit of casual sex takes away from the goal of having a helpful wife and effective Christian children, (e.g. – children like Stephen C. Meyer, Jay Richards or WLC). It takes up time and resources that are better spent on building up teachable responsive girl friends. Chasing non-marriageable women also detracts from learning apologetics and theology, which are needed in order to impress the tiny minority of women who want a man who can be an involved, nurturing provider and mentor. There is no way to assess a woman’s fitness for marriage and mothering through casual sex. It has no value whatsoever when it comes to courting, because it removes the self-control needed for objective evaluation. Casual sex doesn’t show women that you can lead your future children, either.

Reduced vulnerability and romantic capability

I would not be able have sex and break up with that person without suffering serious emotional damage. I subscribe to the velcro theory of sexuality – the more you attach and separate, the less well you can attach the next time. I simply do not believe that men who do intimate physical things with women can be as vulnerable and susceptible as when they remain chaste. Casual sex kills the man’s ability to love a woman as if he has never been hurt before. If you want to be a knight, you have to be capable of chivalry and romance. If a man has casual sex with enough women, he will likely develop a low opinion of of the trustworthiness, wife-capability and mother-capability of women. He becomes cynical and predatorial. The binge-drinking hook-up culture does not build up faith in the opposite sex.

Causes women to doubt God’s existence

Every woman was made for a relationship with God. When a woman uses sex to try to get a man to pay attention to her, to love her and to commit to her long-term, it usually fails, causing her pain and suffering. Sex doesn’t make a man who doesn’t want to marry suddenly want to marry. Without a Christian worldview, the woman may not realize how to tell a good man from a bad man, and how to drive a relationship through to marriage. If a woman has sex with enough men, she may develop a low opinion of the goodness and reliability of men. She may think that she is handling men correctly and that the relationship should work out. But the trauma from failed relationships with unreliable men can cause her to suffer emotionally, and even to doubt God’s existence or goodness.  Christian men should therefore avoid casual sex so that they don’t push women away from relationships with God. Don’t be part of a process that drags women away from God. We need women to serve God, and we are not so long on resources that we can just throw them away to the other side. Every single one counts.

Conclusion

Now I haven’t actually experienced this problem of women throwing themselves at me to make me “love” them, but if someone finally did offer me drunken hook-up sex, I hope that I would remember my little list.

But I might also remember something else.

Consider this passage from “A Man For All Seasons“, a play by Robert Bolt. The lead character Sir Thomas More has refused to compromise with King Henry VIII over the legality of divorce, and now the King wants to have his head chopped off. More’s daughter Meg tries to convince to take the oath supporting the divorce in order to save his own life.

Meg: Then say the words of the oath and in your heart think otherwise.

More: What is an oath then, but words we say to God? Listen, Meg.
When a man takes an oath, he’s holding his own self in his own hands… …like water.
And if he opens his fingers then, he needn’t hope to find himself again.
Some men aren’t capable of this, but I’d be loathed to think your father one of them.

That’s how men should try to be with their chastity. I agree that it is almost impossible not to see things and to think things that are unchaste – but I am talking about doing something unchaste. Men need to avoid that, at least. The problem is that men don’t realize what they are giving up by being unchaste, because they don’t study these issues to know the costs, the lost capabilities to love unselfishly, or the virtues that give them honor with God. No one tells us. Instead of reading “A Man for All Seasons” or “The Faerie Queene”, we pick our role models off the bottom shelf of Hollywood or other crap in the culture. The schools are no help at all, most parents are busy, and the church just orders people around without any arguments or evidence. We are on our own, and by the time we realize who we want to be to a woman, we are often already in a hole.

But my main point is that even if there wasn’t a woman left in the world who believed in chastity, courting, marriage and family, that would still not be a justification for a Christian man to give up on his ideal of chastity. It’s better to be a hero and be alone than to make peace with the world as it is. Go down fighting, never give in just to fit in.

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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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