Note: The following post was written by my friend Laura. On this blog, I have often offered men suggestions about what to ask prospective mates. Laura’s article looks at the problem from the other side, offering women suggestions about what to look out for in a husband candidate. I’ll be posting one per day for the next 10 days.
Apart from the decision to follow Christ, marriage is the biggest decision you will ever make. It is a lifelong commitment that will impact every area of your life for as long as you both shall live. As Jesus’ disciples realized and the apostle Paul taught explicitly, for many people it is better not to marry at all (1 Corinthians 7). But for those who do marry, it must not be entered into lightly. Here are ten behaviors to avoid in men when considering committing for life.
7. Unwillingness or inability to share feelings. Let me begin this point by saying that I love manly men, and I absolutely despise any attempts by women to emasculate men and demonize masculinity. I am not advocating for men to turn into whiny, emotional children who prioritize feelings over facts when making decisions or forming their convictions. However, it is magnificently masculine for a man to be able to share how he feels with the trustworthy people in his life, and especially with his wife.
Before the Fall, in all his sinless glory, having been created in the image of God, Adam saw Eve and celebrated in a spontaneous burst of praise, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” (Genesis 2:23) Later, King David expressed his feelings about his enemies, his sin, his fears, his Lord, his longings, and more as he wrote his psalms, which God saw fit to include in his special revelation to humanity. And Jesus had no problem expressing his feelings, including righteous anger, compassion, sorrow, and even anguish. Even God the Father reveals a variety of His own emotions throughout the Bible.
In expressing himself to his (future) wife, it isn’t enough for a man to say, “I love you”, or “You’re great”, or other such ambiguous and effortless phrases. He must be able to articulate what he loves about her, what she does that is great, how she makes him feel, and why she makes him feel that way.
Additionally, expressing his feelings about his wife, while probably most important, isn’t sufficient either. He needs to be able to say, for example, “I’m sad because I was humiliated at work today” or “It grieves me that 60 million unborn babies have been killed by their own mothers since 1973” or “I’m angry that people who have never read an economics book just voted for liberal policies that disincentivize hard work, ingenuity, marriage, fidelity, and prosperity, which have raised billions of people out of poverty over the past 100 years.”
A man who articulates his feelings on a variety of matters is able to enlist the support and encouragement of his wife (and friends), but a man who cannot or will not express himself will not be able to maintain intimacy in his marriage over the course of a lifetime.
Fortunately, this is a skill which can be learned, but it must be learned before marriage. It is hard work, and involves a complete shift in priorities. Marriage-minded men must turn away from watching Netflix, spending excessive amounts of time playing games, and soaking in the messages of today’s culture. Instead, they must surround themselves with examples of masculine expressiveness and romance in response to the great actions of good women, whether through classical literature, Christian books on marriage, classical movies, or time spent with personal role models.