Tag Archives: Dating

The downside of the soul mate / fairy tale view of relationships

 

Husband and wife doing some woodworking together

(Image: Husband and wife doing some woodworking together)

Astonishing article from the leftist Huffington Post, of all places. (links removed)

Excerpt:

As millennial women, we were groomed for a white knight fantasy. From childhood favorites such as Snow White to adult rom-com staples such as How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days or Sleepless in Seattle, the media perpetuates a romantic storyline in which compatibility and lasting romance is something effortless, built on chance, sustained by good looks, fun dates and electric sexual chemistry. These story lines shape our expectations for romantic happiness. It is not enough to find someone with whom we are mostly compatible, who would make a good parent, with whom we could learn and grow wrinkly; now, we expect a perfect fit and an easy, instantaneous “connection.” In short, we want a soul mate. But it is this desire for a soul mate that is actually the undoing of our happy ending.

A “soul mate” is defined as one who is ideally suited to us, perfectly completes us, one with whom the relationship feels easy and natural. With them, a relationship is just “meant to be”… A survey of young adults conducted by the National Marriage Project found that while 84% of young adults report finding a marriage partner “very important,” a full 94% of young adults say they would like to marry a soul mate, and 73% of people ages 18 – 29 believe that there is a soul mate out there for them.

Wow. That doesn’t sound like a good approach to me. My approach has always been to pick the girl who was most willing to learn new things. And then to explain to her my vision for marriage and see if I could get her to work independently on that plan before I married her. I don’t favor this soul mate approach at all.

Does the “soul mate” approach work?

We heard that those who get married later and possess a college degree have fewer divorces and more stable marriages. So we spend our twenties trying to find ourselves through travel, accumulating degrees and building a career. Marriage will be the capstone of our achievements, and nothing less than tying the knot with a soul mate will suffice. But the tragic irony is that soul mate thinking makes us increasingly likely to divorce. A study of 1,400 married men and women shows that people who hold soul mate orientations are 150% more likely to end up divorced than those who do not.

The widespread cultural belief in “soul mate ideology” undermines our chances at happiness because it makes us passive receivers of idyllic romantic expectations. Further, it fosters self-centeredness; one rarely longs to be a soul mate for someone else, which would require effort. For this reason, believing in soul mates is one of the most dis-empowering belief systems we can adopt. As millennials, we pride ourselves on actively pursuing the life we want to live, rather than simply accepting whatever hand we are dealt. We are innovative, passionate, proactive and not afraid to take risks. Yet, there is a disconnect when it comes to our desire for lasting love. Though there are prospects around us, we forgo taking the concrete steps needed to build happy compatible relationships because we do not “feel a spark.” We are passively waiting on the sidelines for love to “happen,” and then wonder why it is so difficult.

I’ve always felt that the soul mate approach was like the evil villain in opposition to my noble plan-based approach. My approach is to pick a woman who wants to learn and work hard. Explain your marriage plan to her, and how your marriage plan serves God. My marriage plan accomplishes four goals, for example. 1) Influence the university with apologetics, 2) influence the church with apologetics, 3) provide a model of a good marriage to people in the community, including co-workers, college students and neighbors, and 4) raise effective, influential children who will have an impact for God. Now if you are a Christian woman raised in a church that affirms the soul mate / fairy tale view of marriage with this “God has a wonderful plan for your life” stuff, then a specific, non-emotional plan from a man is the last thing you want to hear about.

Their solution is for people to work at compatibility:

Compatibility is something co-created through intentionality and conscious choice. It involves mutual sacrifice, effort and commitment for the sake of the other’s benefit. A recent study found that of the couples who demonstrate above average daily generosity, 50% of them report being “very happy” in marriage; among the low generosity scores, only 14% can say the same. As studies indicate, selflessness is required to create mutual compatibility. It is not instantaneous, nor does it usually begin with true love’s kiss.

We both know from experience that there are some you naturally connect with and others you do not. This is not a call towards forced attraction or companionship. But, our romantic futures should not be placed in the hands of blind chance. It is time we roll up our sleeves and shift our expectations from unattainable perfection to realistic romance, one that accounts for imperfection. We must understand that work in a relationship is a necessary key to success, rather than an indication of imminent failure. We will be letting go of a tired plot line that sets us up for disappointment and embracing an active role in our own unique story.

How refreshing to know that we do not have to be perfect to be lovable, and that our romantic success is not solely dependent on finding the “right” fit, but instead built through cultivating daily moments of generosity, sacrifice and conscious coupling.

So in my case, I am looking for a woman who listens to the plan, develops the skills for the plan and then independently engages in activities to achieve the goals of the plan. In the past, I have had women listen to the plan carefully, including my motivations and experiences that caused me to choose this plan. And they have been willing to read books, listen to lectures, watch debates, to gain the skills needed to make a difference. And they have even engaged independently with activities like public speaking, teaching classes, and so forth. But none of the women who had done that accepted the soul mate / fairy tale view of marriage. They all wanted to hear a good plan, learn useful skills and then get to work. Big difference.

Study: couples that delay sexual activity experience higher quality relationships

Relationship stability, quality, communication, satisfaction
Relationship stability, quality, communication, satisfaction

From Family Studies, news about TWO new studies.

Excerpt: (links removed)

[T]wo recently published studies call into question the validity of testing sexual chemistry early in dating.

My colleagues and I published the first study a few years ago in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Family Psychology. This study involved a national sample of 2,035 married individuals who participated in the popular online couple assessment survey called “RELATE.” We found that the longer a dating couple waits to have sex, the better their relationship is after marriage. In fact, couples who wait until marriage to have sex report higher relationship satisfaction (20% higher), better communication patterns (12% better), less consideration of divorce (22% lower), and better sexual quality (15% better) than those who started having sex early in their dating (see Figure 2). For couples in between—those that became sexually involved later in their dating, but prior to marriage—the benefits were about half as strong.

[…]These patterns were statistically significant even when controlling for a variety of other variables such as respondents’ number of prior sexual partners, education levels, religiosity, and relationship length.

The second study, by Sharon Sassler and her colleagues at Cornell University, also found that rapid sexual involvement has adverse long-term implications for relationship quality. Using data from the Marital and Relationship Survey, which provides information on nearly 600 low- to moderate-income couples living with minor children, their study examined the tempo of sexual intimacy and subsequent relationship quality in a sample of married and cohabiting men and women. Their analyses also suggest that delaying sexual involvement is associated with higher relationship quality across several dimensions.

They discovered that the negative association between sexual timing and relationship quality is largely driven by a link between early sex and cohabitation. Specifically, sexual involvement early in a romantic relationship is associated with an increased likelihood of moving more quickly into living together, which in turn is associated with lower relationship quality. This finding supports Norval Glenn’s hypothesis that sexual involvement may lead to unhealthy emotional entanglements that make ending a bad relationship difficult. As Sassler and her colleagues concluded, “Adequate time is required for romantic relationships to develop in a healthy way. In contrast, relationships that move too quickly, without adequate discussion of the goals and long-term desires of each partner, may be insufficiently committed and therefore result in relationship distress, especially if one partner is more committed than the other” (p. 710).

The rest of the post talks about two reasons why this works: improved partner selection and prioritizing communication and commitment. Improved partner selection occurs because you haven’t committed too much too soon (sexually) and you have time to let things play out to see if you really fit with the other person. And if you take sex off the table, then you have to use other means in order to build emotional intimacy – communication, service, support, etc.

That’s two studies, and there’s a third. Dina sent me this article from the UK Daily Mail about a new study showing the importance of chastity for relationship quality and stability.

Excerpt:

New couples who jump into bed together on the first date do not last as long in relationships as those who wait a new study has revealed.

Using a sample of almost 11,000 unmarried people, Brigham Young University discovered a direct correlation between the length and strength of a partnership and the amount of time they took to have first have sex.

The study showed that those who waited to initiate sexual intimacy were found to have longer and more positive outcomes in their relationships while those who couldn’t help themselves reported that their dalliances struggled to last more than two years.

‘Results suggested that waiting to initiate sexual intimacy in unmarried relationships was generally associated with positive outcomes,’ said the report authored published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.

‘This effect was strongly moderated by relationship length, with individuals who reported early sexual initiation reporting increasingly lower outcomes in relationships of longer than two years.’

The study examined four sexual-timing patterns: Having sex prior to dating, initiating sex on the first date or shortly after, having sex after a few weeks of dating, and sexual abstinence.

Each one of these fields yielded different results in relationship satisfaction, stability and communication in dating situations.

Here’s another recent study that shows that if a woman has more than her husband as a premarital sex partner, her risk of divorce increases.

His findings:

Using nationally representative data from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth, I estimate the association between intimate premarital relationships (premarital sex and premarital cohabitation) and subsequent marital dissolution. I extend previous research by considering relationship histories pertaining to both premarital sex and premarital cohabitation. I find that premarital sex or premarital cohabitation that is limited to a woman’s husband is not associated with an elevated risk of marital disruption.However, women who have more than one intimate premarital relationship have an increased risk of marital dissolution.

Here’s another study that makes it even more clear.

Findings:

Data from the 1988 US National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) were utilized to assess the impact of premarital sexual activity on subsequent marital stability. Among white NSFG subjects first married in 1965-85, virgin brides were significantly less to have become separated or divorced (25%) than women who had not been virgins at marriage (35%).

[…]The lower risk of divorce on the part of white women with no premarital sexual experience persisted even after numerous intervening and background variables were controlled.

If you’re going to talk to a young person about sex, it’s a good idea to use these studies to explain what you lose by having sex too early in the relationship. Although they may respond with anecdotes to refute studies, studies are important because they represent LOTS of data points, not just one or two cherry-picked cases. My view on all this is the Bible’s view – no sex before marriage. But when talking to people about this issue, I find it useful to have evidence ready in order to be convincing in every way possible.

Previously, I blogged on studies that showed that the number of premarital sex partners increases unhappiness in the marriage, which raises the risk of divorce. Read and be wise about sexuality!

How to avoid being the victim of toxic masculinity

Telling a woman how to make wise decisions protects her
Telling a woman how to make wise decisions protects her

I see that Gillette has come out with a male-bashing ad that blames all men for the sins of a few very bad men. I thought it might be a good idea for me to write something to women to help them to avoid being the victim of toxic masculinity. My post will have two parts: 1) choosing good men and 2) policies that produce good men.

Preparing to evaluate a man

If you don’t want toxic masculinity, then you have to choose a man who is not toxic. Men must be evaluated, and the toxic ones must be rejected – even if they are attractive and produce feelings of desire and excitement. How do you learn how to evaluate men? Well, you have to know how to talk to them about the things that are relevant to their roles as husbands and fathers. It’s not enough to ask a man “how did your day go?” Shallow questions don’t protect you from toxic masculinity. You need to ask questions that actually surface the true character of the man, and whether he has done anything verifiable to prepare himself to lead a family. The only way to evaluate HIM is to have prepared YOURSELF in advance. You prepare yourself by reading serious papers and books about men and marriage and parenting. Only then will you be able to judge how much he knows, and how good he is at doing what a man does in a committed relationship. It’s just like a job interview.

For example, men should be pro-life, because they should care about protecting the weak from the strong. If you – as a woman – do not understand how to make a case for the right to life of unborn children YOURSELF, then how will you be able to evaluate men to determine whether THEY take seriously the obligation to protect the weak from the strong?  If you don’t know anything about pro-life legislation and Supreme Court cases, then how will you evaluate a man’s knowledge of those areas? You have to do YOUR homework first, so that you are able to evaluate the character of a man.

Which policies create men who are toxic?

Fatherlessness creates toxic masculinity.

If a man is growing up without a father, then he will never see a man treating a woman well, even after she has lost her youth and beauty. The first thing that children notice about their fathers is that he lives at home. But they also know that he gets up early each day to go to work for the family. And they know that if there is anything scary, like a spider or a noise, then father is the one who protects the mother. Father is the one who teaches a child that authority (and punishment) is not done out of anger, but out of love. Father is the one who sets moral boundaries, lives out moral rules, and reads the Bible to the children. Fathers demonstrate how to control superior strength, because can never act towards his wife in a way that could destroy the marriage.

Boys learn the complexity of women by watching their fathers interact with their mothers. Growing up with a father and a mother is the complete opposite of pornography. In porn, boys see only the woman’s outward appearance with no context of a commitment, and no long-term plan where husband and wife are partners. Porn reduces her to an object designed only to please his needs. Marriage shows cooperation between man and woman in order to make the relationship stable and productive. Boys in father-present homes have a much broader and deeper database of interactions to draw on when dealing with women. In particular, boys learn what skills and abilities a man demonstrates to a woman in order to signal to her that he is interested in marrying her.

So, if you oppose toxic masculinity, then you have to be against fatherlessness. You have to be for marriage as the best place for children to grow up. And to be for marriage, is to be against every policy that threatens marriage. You must be against no-fault divorce. Against single-mother welfare. Against the Sexual Revolution. Against recreational premarital sex. Against delaying marriage for fun and careers. And against feminism – which teaches women that evaluating a man for traditional marriage roles is “sexist”.

People on the secular left complain the most about toxic masculinity but they are the ones doing the most to promote policies that create it. Secular leftists can’t tear down the theism that rationally grounds morality, and then complain when institutions like marriage – which are built on objective moral values and duties – are destroyed. It doesn’t matter if a secular leftist wishes for toxic masculinity to disappear. If they say nothing about women choosing hot bad boys for relationships, then they are in favor of toxic masculinity. If they say nothing about the destruction of marriage and fatherless children, then they are in favor of toxic masculinity. You can’t kill the engine that produces good men, and then complain that the bad men who are left don’t treat you well.

Conclusion

To review: to avoid toxic masculinity, you should 1) prepare yourself (by studying) so you can evaluate men for their ability to perform distinct male marriage roles, and 2) promote policies in which boys are raised in homes with a father loving their mother in a lifelong commitment. If you deny either of these things, then you’re not opposed to toxic masculinity at all. You might say you don’t like it, but you’re not doing anything to avoid choosing it, and you’re not doing anything to produce young men who avoid it.

I think that women today are complaining about “toxic masculinity” precisely because they feel entitled to choose men based on outward appearance, give them recreational premarital sex, and then expect that those men will treat them with respect and care. It doesn’t work that way. Hot bad boys don’t respond to recreational premarital sex by transforming themselves into faithful husbands with impeccable moral character. If you want good character, then evaluate men to find it and then choose it. Period.

New study: men and women have different goals and expectations when cohabitating

Men who cohabitate are not certain that the relationship is permanent
Cohabitating men don’t see cohabitation as permanent, but married men do see marriage as permanent

Consider this fascinating article from the radically-leftist The Atlantic, authored by marriage researcher W. Bradford Wilcox. The article discusses the different beliefs of cohabitating men and women regarding goals and expectations for relationships.

Excerpt:

According to a new paper from RAND by sociologists Michael Pollard and Kathleen Mullan Harris, cohabiting young adults have significantly lower levels of commitment than their married peers. This aversion to commitment is particularly prevalent among young men who live with their partners.

Pollard and Harris found that the majority of cohabiting young men do not endorse the maximum indicator of relationship permanence: 52 percent of cohabiting men between ages 18 and 26 are not “almost certain” that their relationship is permanent. Moreover, a large minority (41 percent) of men report that they are not “completely committed” to their live-in girlfriends. By contrast, only 39 percent of cohabiting women in the same age group are not “almost certain” their relationship will go the distance, and only 26 percent say they are not “completely committed”. Not surprisingly, the figures above and below also indicate that married women and men are much less likely to exhibit the low levels of commitment characteristic of many cohabiting relationships today.

[…]The only thing worse than being in a relationship for years with an uncommitted person, it would seem, is marrying one. Research by psychologists Scott Stanley and Galena Rhoades, spotlighted in a New York Times op-ed last year, suggests that cohabiting couples are in for trouble when they “slide” into cohabitation and then marriage rather than “decide” to take the same steps. Their work indicates that many couples begin living together without clear expectations, common values, or a shared commitment to one another. And after a time, some of these couples get married, in part because friends, family, and they themselves think it’s the logical next step. But without common values and a shared sense of commitment, the couples who slide into cohabitation and marriage, instead of purposely deciding to deepen their commitment to one another, are more likely to divorce.

Stanley and Rhoades illustrate this point by pointing to the research on cohabitation, engagement, and divorce. Women who cohabit prior to engagement are about 40 percent more likely to divorce, compared to those who do not cohabit. By contrast, couples who cohabit after an engagement do not face a higher divorce risk. Those who cohabit only after engagement or marriage also report higher marital quality, not just lower odds of divorce. Stanley and Rhoades think that “sliders” are more likely than “deciders” to cohabit prior to an engagement, and to have trouble in their marriage if they go on to tie the knot. On the other hand, couples who deliberately choose to move in together after a public engagement or wedding are more likely to enjoy the shared commitment that will enable their relationship to last.

So, given the low levels of commitment and the gender mismatch in expectations often found among today’s cohabiting couples, young men and especially women who aspire to a strong and stable marriage should take caution when considering moving in together.

You can click through the article to see the graphs he is talking about in the excerpt. Highly recommended. Just be aware Wilcox that accepts feminism (i.e. – promiscuity, no-fault-divorce, career-focus, day care, etc.) as non-negotiable improvements that should not be rolled back. His view is that men should just man up and continue to marry feminists like they used to marry non-feminists, even though marriage isn’t as good of a deal for men as it used to be before feminism.

It turns out that women cannot just pick a good-looking guy and drift into a commitment by stringing together good days and good experiences. A man who is looking for recreational premarital sex with a woman before marriage is not looking for marriage, but recreation. Marriage is a commitment to work hard, be disciplined, be self-sacrificial and to compromise with another person – all in close quarters. When choosing a mate, you need to look for someone who is good at commitments. Not someone who is good at fun.

The ability to have fun with a man is not a good predictor of marital success because fun is unrelated to the things that a man really does in a marriage: protect, provide, and lead on moral and spiritual issues. Similarly, the ability to impress your friends with a man’s appearance or entertainment value does not make a commitment work. What makes a commitment work… is a man who demonstrates that he is good at making plans and achieving goals through discipline and hard work. Marriage requires making plans and achieving goals more than it requires having fun. Recreational premarital sex is about having fun – not making plans and achieving goals. Instead of talking about the next good time with a man, maybe women need to learn to talk about the mechanics of marriage with a man. And talk about the man’s roles in a marriage with a man. And then they need to learn to avoid men who don’t have plans and who aren’t ready to perform those roles. There are plenty of men who are not “bad boys” who do have plans and who are ready to perform traditional male roles. Young women: don’t waste your youth and beauty on men who are not ready to commit.

A final point. I have noticed today that women tend to avoid men who have strong, exclusive views on moral questions and spiritual questions. The minute a man expresses a moral point of view or a theological argument, women tend to want to avoid him. Sometimes they fear rejection from men with definite convictions. Sometimes they resent male leadership. And there are other reasons to avoid strong men. The problem is that a man who has definite moral views is exactly the kind of man who is likely to be trustworthy and predictable in the marriage. And a man who has definite spiritual views is exactly the kind of man who is going to have some sort of overarching plan for the marriage (AND PARENTING) beyond mere pleasure. You wouldn’t choose someone who was guided by hedonism to be your stock broker or your medical doctor, because doing a hard job requires self-sacrifice and discipline. The same rule applies to choosing husbands. Husbands have duties that are typically best performed by moral, spiritual men.

Frequent denial of sex breaks the marriage covenant as much as adultery

Marriage and family
Marriage and family

Let’s start this post by quoting a passage from the Bible.

1 Corinthians 7:1-5:

Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman.

But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband.

The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband.

The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

So with that in mind, I want to turn to a well-known Jewish talk show host named Dennis Prager, who is much loved and listened to by Christians. Dennis Prager features a lot of discussions about male-female relationships on his show, particularly during the male-female hour. In this two part series on male sexuality, he explains why women should not deprive their husbands of sex without a good reason.

Part 1 is here.

Excerpt:

It is an axiom of contemporary marital life that if a wife is not in the mood, she need not have sex with her husband. Here are some arguments why a woman who loves her husband might want to rethink this axiom.

First, women need to recognize how a man understands a wife’s refusal to have sex with him: A husband knows that his wife loves him first and foremost by her willingness to give her body to him. This is rarely the case for women. Few women know their husband loves them because he gives her his body (the idea sounds almost funny). This is, therefore, usually a revelation to a woman. Many women think men’s natures are similar to theirs, and this is so different from a woman’s nature, that few women know this about men unless told about it.

This is a major reason many husbands clam up. A man whose wife frequently denies him sex will first be hurt, then sad, then angry, then quiet. And most men will never tell their wives why they have become quiet and distant. They are afraid to tell their wives. They are often made to feel ashamed of their male sexual nature, and they are humiliated (indeed emasculated) by feeling that they are reduced to having to beg for sex.

When first told this about men, women generally react in one or more of five ways…

He then explains the 5 ways that women respond to this.

Here’s one:

1. You have to be kidding. That certainly isn’t my way of knowing if he loves me. There have to be deeper ways than sex for me to show my husband that I love him.

I think that this is a common mistake that liberal women make because they think that men are just hairy women. But men are not women, we are different and sex means something different to men than it does to women. In the past, most women understood how men are different than women, but younger women have been taught that there are no differences between the sexes. To think any different is “sexism”.

Here’s another from the list:

4. You have it backwards. If he truly loved me, he wouldn’t expect sex when I’m not in the mood.

Again, this is the common mistake that many younger women today make in thinking that love is a one-way street – flowing from men and children to the woman. If men and children DON’T do what the woman wants, or if they make demands on her, then they don’t “love” her and she is justified in ignoring them.

Liberal women have been taught to believe that they are always victims or some group of oppressors, such as men and children or corporations. It makes them rebel against having to do anything for anyone else, because they don’t want to be “oppressed”. That makes them unable to accept that relationships are give-and-take, Once a commitment to love another person permanently has been made, then each person has responsibilities to provide for the needs of the other.

I actually had a conversation with a Christian woman once who said that women should not be obligated to do things that they didn’t feel like doing. I asked her if men were obligated to go to work when they didn’t feel like going. She said yes, and acted as though I were crazy for asking. I just laughed, because she didn’t even see the inconsistency. The truth is that men often don’t feel like working, but they get up and go to work anyway, whether they like it or not (in most cases). Similarly, a women should feel obligated to have sex with her husband, even if she is not in a perfect mood for it (in most cases). Sometimes, a man stays home from work, and it’s OK. And sometimes a woman says no to sex, and it’s OK. But it’s not OK to stop doing it for months and months with no good reason.

Part 2 is here.

Excerpt:

Here are eight reasons for a woman not to allow not being in the mood for sex to determine whether she denies her husband sex.

He then explains the eight reasons.

Here’s one of them:

7. Many contemporary women have an almost exclusively romantic notion of sex: It should always be mutually desired and equally satisfying or one should not engage in it. Therefore, if a couple engages in sexual relations when he wants it and she does not, the act is “dehumanizing” and “mechanical.” Now, ideally, every time a husband and wife have sex, they would equally desire it and equally enjoy it. But, given the different sexual natures of men and women, this cannot always be the case. If it is romance a woman seeks — and she has every reason to seek it — it would help her to realize how much more romantic her husband and her marriage are likely to be if he is not regularly denied sex, even of the non-romantic variety.

Women have to engage their husbands if they expect their husbands to engage in the marriage as a husband and father. Men can’t do their protector, provider and spiritual leader roles forever unless their needs are met at some point. Performance of these male duties is not free. Wives have to love their husbands in the way that men expect to be loved. That’s what they vowed to do in the wedding, isn’t it?

At the end of the article, Prager makes a general point about women that I think needs to be emphasized over and over and over:

That solution is for a wife who loves her husband — if she doesn’t love him, mood is not the problem — to be guided by her mind, not her mood, in deciding whether to deny her husband sex.

This problem of sex-withholding is so widespread, that it really makes me (although I am a virgin) wonder what women think that marriage is about anyway. When a woman vows to love her husband, what do they think that word really means? Why do women think that men marry? What do men want that marriage provides for them? Which of those needs are the women’s responsibility to provide for? I think these are questions that men should ask women. I think women should be prepared to answer them. Men should expect that women be reading books on men and marriage, and that she has relationships with men where she is giving support, respect, affirmation, affection and approval. You can learn a lot about a woman by how she treats her father, for example.

Unfortunately, many men today haven’t thought through what they need from wives in a marriage. They spend their young years chasing women who are fun and sexually permissive. Every husband I asked about what they need has told me that respect, affirmation, affection and regular sex are more important than appearance and fun. Pre-marital sex, having fun, getting drunk, and going out, etc. are not the right foundation for marriage – which requires mutual self-sacrifice in order to work.

Another point: I have a friend who is very concerned that men are breaking sexual rules, but he seems oblivious to 1 Corinthians 7:1-5. I asked him privately what he thought about sex-withholding, and whether this might cause husbands to turn to pornography and even affairs, and I mentioned 1 Corinthians 7:1-5. He said: “no, it’s not something I take much interest in”. I was tempted to ask him if the Bible was something that he does not take much interest in.

I think he misreads 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 so that it could only be used to condemn men. If that were his view, then it actually worries me if well-meaning men are actually undermining marriage, by teaching women that they have no responsibilities to keep the marriage going, and helping them to feel like victims when their marriages fall apart. Sometimes even people who claim to be pro-marriage can undermine marriage practically-speaking, because of their unBiblical belief that women are “naturally good” and should not have any responsibilities in a marriage.

I thought this attitude was so interesting in view of what I read in the Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands. In that book, Dr. Laura urges women to be sensitive to their husbands’ different male natures in order to avoid them looking at pornography and having affairs. Withholding sex from a man is the equivalent of a man withholding conversation to a woman. Sex is how a man feels loved! What’s remarkable is how female callers on her show are shocked that men react badly to being deprived of sex.

I do think that some men will look at porn and cheat regardless of what their wife does sexually, but then it again falls to the woman to choose a man who has demonstrated that he has self-control – i.e., a virgin who has remained chaste with her throughout the courtship and protected her from doing sexual things outside of the covenant context. Chastity is hard, but it is how a man loves his wife self-sacrificially, before he even meets her. It should be a trait much sought after and respected by women. Basically, women need to be led by their minds, not by their feelings, when choosing a husband.

A man has to get up and go to work every day for his family, regardless of whether he feels like it or not. In fact, the many decisions he has made before getting married are also made not because they make him happy, but because he needs to be responsible to his future wife and children. The decision to study science? Loving obligation. The decision to go to grad school in science? Loving obligation. The decision to work in a demanding, risky career? Loving obligation. The decision to save money and eat instant oatmeal for dinner? Loving obligation. Men don’t do these things because we enjoy them. We do it because we love our wives and children self-sacrificially, before we ever even meet them. I think that women need to do the same.