Most of you know that what I do for a living is software engineering. I have dual degrees in computer science, and my Masters was focused on software design. So I always approach these relationship problems from an engineering perspective.
I think that at the beginning of any software development project, the most important thing to do is to talk to the customer and to decide what the software is supposed to do. The customer for the relationship is God. He is the one who will be deciding if the relationship is any good or not. My impression of God is that he has lots of requirements for marriage. First, each person in the marriage should have a relationship with Jesus. Second, each person in the relationship should treat one another in a special way. Third, the marriage itself should accomplish certain things in the world.
The requirement that each person have a relationship with Jesus prior to and during the marriage is important, because it is out of this relationship that the people first relate to each other, then to the children, then to their extended families, and then to the world.
I think that it’s the man’s job to take these goals from the customer (God) and to derive a set of requirements for the woman, so that he can communicate his understanding of these goals to her and the relationship can move along more efficiently and effectively. (Obviously these things apply in the reverse as well, but I am writing from the man’s point of view for this entire post, to emphasize the man’s role in leading the relationship)
Here are a few of my requirements just for illustration. Other men will have different requirements, depending on their plan.
- understands how capitalism relates to marriage/parenting, e.g. – school choice
- understands how men function as husbands and fathers
- understands how marriages work and why they succeed or fail
- can defend belief in Christian theism with arguments and evidence
- can defend socially conservative positions on abortion and marriage, etc.
- can answer objections to Christian theism like evil and religious pluralism
- can stand her ground in the face of incoming criticism and disagreement
- can shepherd the children through schools and on to graduate degrees
I think that in general, relationships are about the man measuring a woman for marriage/parenting requirements based on current performance and future potential. I think the worst thing for women is to not know where the relationship is going. It would help her if the man can communicate his requirements to her. If she is interested in the man, then she can show him what she can do now, and what she is interested in learning about so that she can build up her capabilities for later. The requirements are tailored to the man’s specific plan for the marriage.
For example, take the requirement to understand how fiscal conservatism enables liberty. Suppose you meet a woman who is a Christian, but has socialist views. You are concerned that she will vote to tax away the family’s money for wasteful government programs. Instead of just glossing over these problems and leading her on because she is pretty, you need to tell her right away where you think she is wrong. I like to give women something to read so that they can learn on their own, then come back and discuss it. That’s how you make progress.
And I think this helps to develop a way to resolve conflicts, too. If I disagree with her, then I give her something to read, and then I try to be extra nice and help her with other things to give her time to read. If she is feeling hurt from a previous bad experience, then I will have to address that, too. The goal is to build her up to be a solid wife and mother. If she is not willing to read anything to grow, then that is important for me to know right away. I think that a man needs to prefer a woman who is open-minded and interested in learning on her own and forming true beliefs about the world.
Now what does this buy the woman? Well, if you gloss over requirements, and only talk about surface things, (e.g. – her appearance), during the courtship, then she knows that there will come a time when you won’t like her any more, because beauty fades! What you are really saying to her when you talk about her appearance is that this is what is most important to you. But how can any woman be as pretty as she was in her youth as time passes? She can never feel safe if the standard is beauty. She knows that this relationship is unstable and has no future.
Instead, I try to give women control of the relationship by giving them a choice. I give her a few small things to do that are related to marriage and parenting. This would include apologetics, theology, economics, etc. What does that say to her? It says to her that she is in control of the relationship, and that I need her. All she has to do to keep me from leaving is to keep trying to learn about marriage and parenting, and to keep trying to work at marriage and parenting as well as she can. And stating those things up front attracts the right kind of woman anyway – the kind that wants to help.
What you are really doing in the courtship is communicating to her what really matters to you about her. If you hand her books to read about why divorce harms children, then she understands that you want children, but you don’t want a divorce. And she understands that you are going to exclude other women who don’t want children, and who do not understand what divorce does to children. That’s the kind of thing that indicates to her that you have a long-term relationship plan, so that she knows that you will still like her more than other women, even after her beauty fades.
I also found that it helps women to have a sense of security when she knows what the man considers to be a deal-breaker. I like to clearly set out for her what I do not want in a relationship. What I’m trying to do is avoid the situation where she cannot feel secure because she doesn’t know what makes her different and special. I like to tell her what it is that makes her different and special, with specific details. And I also want to build her confidence by building up her capabilities for marriage and parenting. So she knows that she is valuable and irreplaceable.
- Courting rules: how to respect a Christian man in the style of Ephesians 5
- Courting rules: what should a Christian woman be looking for in a man?
- Courting rules: how to tell if a woman is a committed Christian
- Courting rules: how men use self-control to make relationships count for God
- Are churches preparing women to choose real men for husbands?
- What is the meaning and purpose of white roses?
- Does being a virgin before marriage affect marital stability?
- How to communicate requirements to a Christian woman during courtship
- How Christian women can make Christian men marry without using sex appeal
- The rules for friendship and courtship between Christians
- What Christian men want from Christian women… in paintings!
- Should Christians marry non-Christians?