Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

“Five ways you are destroying your husband and killing your marriage” goes viral

This article by Katelyn Carmen appeared on the Mormon web site “Family Share”. Katelyn’s husband must be the luckiest husband in the world, judging by this article. It’s up to EIGHT MILLION views, so a lot of people are reading it – hopefully a lot of wives, not just frustrated husbands.

Here is her intro:

When I got married, I was amazed at the instant, overwhelming sense of responsibility I felt to love and care for my husband. Suddenly, a huge part of someone else’s well-being and happiness was largely affected by my choices and actions.

Women, we need to be careful about how we are caring for our husbands and marriages. Don’t let the small stuff ruin the things that will bring you the greatest happiness in life.

Here are just a few ways you might be unknowingly destroying your husband and killing your marriage…

The list:

  1. Living outside of what you can afford
  2. Constant negativity
  3. Putting everything else first
  4. Withholding physical affection
  5. Not speaking his language

I’ll focus on the details of one that I think is important:

3. Putting everything else first

When your children, mom, best friends, talents, or career in front of your husband, you send a clear message to him that he is unimportant. Imagine having that message sent to you every day for many years. What would that do to your self esteem?

Put your husband first.

Although it sometimes seems counter-intuitive and counterproductive, I think you’d be amazed to find that it’s often the key to the greatest happiness in marriage. So many couples get divorced these days, because they neglect to care and love one another and put each other first.

If you choose to put each other first, you will find a lot of joy.

As a man, I have tested women for this, and wow… you get quite a range of responses. Some of them are amazing at sensing your needs, preparing themselves to take action and then taking action. On my Facebook page, there is an entire photo album dedicated to the flowers I have sent to this one woman who is particularly awesome at sensing the needs of men and delivering affection, approval and attention to them. Even just contractors who come to do work in her building get the royal treatment. And she is a director who manages dozens of other people. She is the most accomplished woman I know personally, and has graduate degrees, a gapless resume, and a fabulous career with TONS of money saved. And she is great at apologetics.

I really would recommend to young women that they try very hard to study something difficult in school that they don’t like. STEM degrees are the best choices, especially ones that pay. Whatever you do, DON’T STUDY ENGLISH. You don’t want the student loan debts for doing basically nothing, and it won’t build your character. Choose computer science, nursing, engineering, economics or business administration. Or go to trade school and learn a useful trade, like dental hygienist. Pick a career that requires you to wrestle with real responsibilities, obligations and the expectations of others. That will mature you and prepare you to do things you don’t feel like doing, so that you can handle the needs of children and your husband. Marriage is hard work.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , ,

What’s the best book a woman can read to prepare herself for marriage?

I found a great lecture by Sue Bohlin, who works at Probe Ministries. The lecture is about the book “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands” by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. I recommend this book more highly than any other book to Christian women. It is simply the opposite to everything that they will hear in this culture, and offers practical solutions to undo a lot of the damage caused by feminism.

The MP3 file is here. (48 minutes)

I did not do a summary for this one, but there is a blog post that Sue wrote that captures most of the same material.

Here’s the introduction:

Talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger has written a book that is improving thousands of marriages: The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands. We need this book because millions of wives either don’t know how to love their husbands wisely and well, or they’re too self-centered to see it as important. Dr. Laura credits this dismal condition to forty years of feminist philosophy, “with its condemnation of just about everything male as evil, stupid, and oppressive, and the denigration of female and male roles in families.” While the women’s movement certainly had a hand to play in the disintegration of relationships and the family, I believe the core cause is our sinful self-centeredness, just as the Bible says.

Which is why we need help, and God instructs older women to train younger women to love their husband and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands is a great resource for learning these important values and skills.

And here’s the first part I thought was most important:

A listener to Dr. Laura’s radio show named Edgar wrote, “There are a few things that men want so bad they would do anything for it. I think a good number of men want respect more than love. They like to feel they have some power. I nearly cry when you tell a woman caller to respect her husband. There is so much selfishness in the world—in marriages. Prosperity has allowed women to be so independent, and thus so selfish. I always feel as though I come last—my feelings come last, my needs come last.”

“A good number of men want respect more than love.” God knew this when He made us. His commands to husbands and wives in Ephesians 5:33 reflects each one’s deepest needs: “Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Dr. Emerson Eggerichs of LoveandRespect.com points out that this verse commands a husband to love his wife. Why? She needs love like she needs air to breathe. This same verse commands a wife to respect her husband. Why? He needs respect like he needs air to breathe.

  • Respect means treating someone in a way that builds him up and doesn’t tear him down, never denigrating or attacking.
  • Respect means always treating the other person with the dignity they deserve as a person made in the image of God.
  • Respect means grasping that a man’s needs and wants are every bit as valid and important as a woman’s needs and wants.
  • Respect means not venting to others, especially the children. One woman wrote to Dr. Laura, “No emotional outlet is worth damaging my husband’s reputation.”

There are three A’s that men long for from their wives: attention, affection, and affirmation. Respect involves paying attention to what they do simply because they’re the ones doing it.

And this part also seemed important to me:

A man named Roy wrote to Dr. Laura with some good advice for wives: “If you can’t accentuate the positive, at least acknowledge it. The world is full of messages to men that there are standards we don’t meet. There is always another man who is more handsome, more virile, or more athletic than we are. None of that matters if the most important person in our life looks up to us, accepts us as we are, and loves us even though we aren’t perfect. . . . All I know is that the husband who has a wife who supports him and praises him for the positive things he does is the envy of all the other men who have to live with criticism, sarcasm, and constant reminders of their failures.”

Men desperately want and need the support of their wives. This is reflected in what God reveals in His Word when He says, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” And through the apostle Paul, God instructs wives to relate to their husbands in a way that meets this need when He says, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.”

Submission is basically giving support with a willing, cooperative heart.

A wife’s submission includes knowing her gifts and strengths, and using them to serve her husband and family.

Service has a bad name, but both husbands and wives are called to serve God first and then each other; husbands are called to sacrificially love and serve their wives with Jesus as their pattern.

So what does support look like?

  • Believing in him. Telling him, “You have what it takes.” Being his #1 fan.
  • Cultivating a cooperative heart.
  • Being generous and openhearted—willing to use your gifts and strengths to help him succeed.
  • Understanding the importance of making him look good: never saying anything negative in public.
  • Creating a home that’s a safe haven from the world.
  • Having a warm heart with a positive, cheerful demeanor. Women set the temperature of the home; we are thermostats, not thermometers, of the family. (On the other hand, Proverbs says “A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day; restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand.”)
  • Being interested in him and his life.
  • Showing thoughtfulness. What does he like? Do it.
  • And though by no means exhaustive, it also means being a person of faithfulness and integrity. That means keeping your promises and being dependable. As Proverbs 31 puts it, “Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.”

I just want to note that this book is strongly opposed by young feminist women. A wise young, unmarried woman should be guided by older Christian women who are not only successful in their marriages, but also made a difference as Christians. Read Titus 2:3-4 and see for yourself! There is a tendency I’ve noticed in young women to rebel against good advice and resent expectations, obligations and responsibilities – but listening to peers and the culture doesn’t produce good results.

The one piece of advice I would give young men is to always make sure that you get a woman used to having responsibilities and obligations during the courtship. Marriage is not fun, it’s work. It’s hard work. You don’t want to be married to a woman who thinks that marriage is supposed to be bliss, and that it’s your job to make it bliss for her. She should know that there is work to do in a marriage, and that husbands and children have needs. I actually had a woman stop me when I was telling her about the hard work and challenges of marriage and say “this isn’t the way that you present marriage to a girl if you want her to want to marry you, it has to be more fun”. One fatherless woman I spoke with seemed disgusted by the idea that men had needs and feelings – I think she was expecting a husband to be more like a father, and so she resented having any obligations to care for a man’s needs or listen to his feelings. There’s nothing wrong with either of these women that rules out marriage, but these are perceptions that need to be worked through with books like The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, The Five Love Languages, Love and Respect, The Meaning of Marriage, etc.

One last point – I actually bought the audio version of the Dr. Laura book and noticed that it was just over two hours long. It turns out that the audio version is abridged – it is not as complete as the actual book. I noticed that Sue was quoting from the book passages that I had not heard in the audio recording. So, now I have to go and read the book.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , ,

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. The most dangerous thing you want to avoid is self-centeredness. You don’t want someone who is primarily interested in minimizing your feelings, and then getting her friends to agree with her that this is legitimate for whatever reasons. You want a person who has had a hard enough life that responsibilities and obligations are natural to her, and who doesn’t try to wiggle out of self-sacrificial acts of love when she doesn’t feel like doing it.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Do Christians have a higher divorce rate than atheists?

I’m traveling today, so I thought I would re-post this USA Today article from 2011 about that.

Excerpt:

It’s been proclaimed from pulpits and blogs for years — Christians divorce as much as everyone else in America.

But some scholars and family activists are questioning the oft-cited statistics, saying Christians who attend church regularly are more likely to remain wed.

“It’s a useful myth,” said Bradley Wright, a University of Connecticut sociologist who recently wrote “Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites … and Other Lies You’ve Been Told.”

“Because if a pastor wants to preach about how Christians should take their marriages more seriously, he or she can trot out this statistic to get them to listen to him or her.”

The various findings on religion and divorce hinge on what kind of Christians are being discussed.

Wright combed through the General Social Survey, a vast demographic study conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, and found that Christians, like adherents of other religions, have a divorce rate of about 42%. The rate among religiously unaffiliated Americans is 50%.

When Wright examined the statistics on evangelicals, he found worship attendance has a big influence on the numbers. Six in 10 evangelicals who never attend had been divorced or separated, compared to just 38% of weekly attendees.

[…]Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, agrees there’s been some confusion.

“You do hear, both in Christian and non-Christian circles, that Christians are no different from anyone else when it comes to divorce and that is not true if you are focusing on Christians who are regular church attendees,” he said.

Wilcox’s analysis of the National Survey of Families and Households has found that Americans who attend religious services several times a month were about 35% less likely to divorce than those with no religious affiliation.

Nominal conservative Protestants, on the other hand, were 20% more likely to divorce than the religiously unaffiliated.

“There’s something about being a nominal ‘Christian’ that is linked to a lot of negative outcomes when it comes to family life,” Wilcox said.

Here’s a quote from an Oklahoma State University study that confirms the Wright and Wilcox conclusions:

History of Divorce and Religious Involvement

Those who say they are more religious are less likely, not more, to have already experienced divorce. Likewise, those who report more frequent attendance at religious services were significantly less likely to have been divorced. This pattern of findings held using various analytic techniques that test which variables differentiate persons who have been divorced from persons who have not been divorced, while controlling for other variables that might affect the interpretation of the data, such as age, age of first marriage, income, and gender. When both the global rating of religiousness and the item assessing frequency of attendance at religious services are entered into the same analysis, the attendance item remains significantly associated with divorce history but the global religiousness item does not. This suggests that a key aspect of how religious faith affects marital relationships may be through involvement with a community of faith.

So, please do bookmark this information for the next time you hear an atheist make this argument. Obviously, you can’t expect people who are not serious about their religion to be bound by the moral duties imposed by that religion. People who attend church regularly are probably more serious about their religion, and also probably more informed about what their holy book says. If their holy book is the Bible, then there are few options for divorce.

An article from Focus on the Family by Amy Tracy explains when divorce is allowed according to the Bible.

God is very clear, however, that He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). He also says, “So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6). According to the New Testament, there are two justifications for divorce: infidelity (Matthew 5:32) and desertion (1 Corinthians 7:15).

So divorce is not something a Bible believing Christian can do for frivolous reasons, unless he wants to be in rebellion against God.

The future of marriage in the church

In my own case, I learned about chastity and sobriety and courting outside the church, and in my case that means that I am still a virgin, that I don’t drink more than a beer a year, and that when I like a girl, I court her. I do think that people in the church are generally more moral than people outside the church, but that’s more because of convention rather than conviction. I don’t think it’s going to last, in other words – it’s more like a hangover. Church is not the place where reasons and evidence are given that help people to resist peer pressure when they enter hostile environments, like the university. And often, parents are too busy working to understand the issues and communicate them to their children.

I’ve never been in a church where they explained the hormones that are released during sex that cause you to bond to the person you’re having sex with. You would have to look in books or listen to lectures in order to understand the problem with having sex with someone you are not committed to – how it causes you to hold back your emotions for fear of a break-up. The church doesn’t have much to say about the social effects of single motherhood by choice or the effects of gay parenting on children. Nor do they have any positive vision to offer men about how they can serve God by marrying carefully.

Christians who participate in a church community will adopt some of these values, especially if they stay clear of popular culture, the university, etc. Especially if they don’t work in a very secular environment, like a high-tech company or in Hollywood. But unless Christian communities get serious about grounding their values in evidence, I wouldn’t expect this situation to go on, and you can already see young people falling away from church in record numbers when they get to university as a result of this refusal to engage. We’re doing well now, but we should move to secure our gains.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , ,

Jacqueline C. Rivers: we need to fix the black out-of-wedlock birth rate

Here is her article from the Public Discourse.

Excerpt:

Despite the determined pursuit of marital unions by freed people, enduring patterns of non-normative male-female relationships had been created by the devastating experience of slavery. These bore bitter fruit in the 25-percent out-of-wedlock birthrate that prompted the Moynihan Report in 1965. The Moynihan Report was an examination of the pathologies created by the explosion of father-absent households among the black poor in the United States. Though the report recommended the creation of programs that would promote healthy families among impoverished blacks, it elicited an outpouring of outrage at the assertion that stable marriages were necessary for the flourishing of the black community. As a result, little action was taken to rectify these problems. Fifty years later, the out-of-wedlock birthrate among blacks in the United States has soared to over 70 percent, a level at which it has stood for roughly a decade. The material, moral, and spiritual consequences are precisely what Moynihan predicted they would be: devastating for the community.

And:

Black children have suffered the most as a result of the decline of marriage in the black community. The deleterious effects of being raised in single-headed households have been well-documented. Children growing up in female-headed households experience higher rates of poverty. These children underperform in school: they earn lower scores on verbal and math achievement tests and lower grades in their courses. They have more behavioral problems, and higher rates of chronic health and psychiatric disorders. Adolescents and young adults raised without stable families experience elevated risks of teenage childbearing, dropping out of high school, being incarcerated, and being idle (being neither employed nor in school). Yet, even in the midst of this disarray, men and women still long for marriage. Research shows that though marriage has declined among poor women from different racial backgrounds, they, no less than affluent women, desire to be married even as they bear children out of wedlock.

Now, of course she is wrong to blame the out-of-wedlock birth rate increase on “slavery”. It’s was actually caused by the Democrats’ “Great Society” welfare programs, which rewarded people with money if they had children out of wedlock.

Here are the numbers:

Black marriage rates from 1970

Black marriage rates from 1970

So it’s just political correctness to blame “slavery” for something that was clearly caused by feminism (you don’t need a man to raise a child) and the introduction of massive welfare programs that pay women to have babies out of wedlock. The rest of what she says is accurate though.

If you pay poorer people of any race to have babies out of wedlock, they will do it. To stop them from doing it we should be paying poor people to finish high school, stay out of jail, and get married before having children. We should be paying for success, not failure. But then the Democrats would lose a lot of votes from those who are 100% OK with dependency on government. In a very real sense, Democrats cannot urge women to get married, because they would be undermining one of their largest voting blocs: single mothers.

Filed under: News, , , , , ,

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