I have a friend who is now 33 and who has invested all of her relationship time with men who, although they were fun, were never equipped to pull the trigger on marriage. I’ve been investigating her method of choosing men, and it turns out that she basically chooses men based on which one gives her the “tingles”. When pressed, she can’t really explain the pathway forward to marriage from the tingles. And indeed a closer look at the men shows that they are not prepared for marriage responsibilities.
When I look at her, I think “if only women could train themselves to have tingles for men who were actually good at marriage, and interested in getting married”. Is there a way for these women to transfer the tingles from immature boys to marriage-capable men?
Here is a post by super-mom Lindsay, who married young, has three children, and has wisdom beyond her years.
She writes on her blog:
The world has it all backwards when it comes to building romantic relationships. The world says, find someone who is fun to be with and that you’re attracted to, then build a relationship (often built primarily on sex first) and if you don’t break it off and can still stand each other after awhile, maybe start thinking about marriage. Then, once marriage happens, the rest of the world’s advice has to do with how to deal with the various issues that inevitably crop up when you’ve built a relationship on fun and physical attraction and later find out your goals and values are different. The world will also tell you to leave the relationship, even a marriage, as soon as you find attraction waning or problems that aren’t easily solved.
Too often, the church tries to do things the way the world does, except without the sex before marriage. Too many Christian young people were never given guidance on what to look for in a spouse and make the decision based on feeling in love after spending time having fun together. But even where guidance is given, it’s often still focused on finding someone you’re attracted to who happens to have the right qualities rather than learning first to be attracted to the right kind of person. In other words, even Christians usually believe that attraction is fixed and involuntary and try to center relationships around it anyway.
I suggest a better way. My advice is that we learn to be attracted to good character and the types of traits that make a good spouse. Attraction isn’t something that just happens to us. Attraction can be controlled to a large extent. We all have preferences for physical characteristics in the opposite sex, but attraction is more than just noticing someone is good looking, even if that does play a part. These other factors that influence attraction are primarily driven by our mindset and can be modified by our patterns of thought.
In order to control our attraction properly, we should actively think about good character qualities and notice them in others around us and think positive thoughts about those who have them in order to develop a mental pattern of appreciating good character. The opposite should be true of bad character qualities – we should practice seeing them as unattractive. In addition to this, it’s important to actively work to downplay the role of physical traits in our attraction so that character becomes the main factor, not more superficial characteristics like height, hair color, or facial features.
For example, a single woman should learn to appreciate men with a good work ethic, leadership qualities, self-control, and an interest in studying the things of God. She should control her thoughts so as to make character the main thing she evaluates about others and so that she values good character. Thus, she should find her interest in an available man growing when she observes good character while she should find her interest in him waning if she finds bad character such an inability to keep a job, passiveness, sexual immorality, or an anger problem (to name just a few issues).
If we teach our young people to value the kinds of traits that make a good spouse and to actively work to be attracted by their presence and repelled by their absence, they will make better choices when it comes to marriage.
Well, I tried to present this to the 33-year-old, and she assured me that men who are perpetual students are “responsible”, and that men with empty resumes are “hard workers”, and that men with zero earned savings are “good providers”. She said that my concerns about men having good educations, non-empty resumes, and substantial earned savings, etc. are “only valid within a limited scope”. She went on to suggest that a boy in his mid-30s could still be serious about marriage, even if he lives with his parents, has no college degree, has an empty resume, and has zero savings. I am not sure how this would work because marriage requires a certain level of income, and a certain buffer from savings. A standard marriage with 2 children costs hundreds of thousands of dollars – not counting tuition. More if you keep the kids out of public school. Whenever I ask the women in their 30s for the numbers, they haven’t done the analysis. One of them is actually majoring in business (!) but still isn’t able to calculate the cost of marriage enough to know not to marry an unemployed, penniless student. The tingles override all fiscal concerns.
The tragedy is that the youth, beauty and chastity that men find attractive is wasted on men who were chosen because they were free, easy and fun. The tingles must be obeyed, and the solution to criticisms of the tingles is to push the critics away, no matter how accomplished they may be in real life at things that matter: education, career and finances. Only the advisers who agree with the tingles are trustworthy, no matter how much those advisers may have screwed up their own lives. It doesn’t matter how many times the tingles fail to deliver, either, because the alternative to following the tingles (i.e. – growing up) is unthinkable.
It’s sad because men are learning that the easiest way to get a woman to like them is to spiritualize their feelings and intuitions as “God speaking to her”. The 33-year-old woman praised the “spiritual leadership” of a 28-year-old boy who told her that her feelings were God speaking to her. She tried to marry this man, even though he was an unemployed penniless student, before breaking up with him. In other words, you can easily get some crazy young women into a relationship if you tell her that following her heart will work, because God is going to make it all work out. That’s what they want to hear, that’s what they trust. That’s what gives them the tingles.
For some reason, this works on many, many women – it gives them the tingles. But do you know what doesn’t work? Actually being competent at husband roles because you have taken your education, career and investing seriously. That’s really bad, because what you know about practical matters scares many women, making them feel like their feelings and intuitions will not rule over the man’s proven ability. They don’t “trust” men who can demonstrate responsibility and competence, because they know that those men will want to lead, overriding their feelings and intuitions. Demonstrated ability actually causes mistrust.
Marriage-ready men are scary because they have plans for marriage, which may involve obligations for the woman, as she steps into the roles of wife and mother. Obligations such as staying home to homeschool, taking care of the husband’s sexual needs, not wasting money on fun, thrills or travel, having children (which many women do not want because children have needs). Obligations mean that the woman has to care for others, not just be self-centered. Marriage-ready men make the tingles go away, because marriage means obligations, and many women have been taught by feminism to resent the obligations inherent in marriage roles.
In short, some young women want to fly the plane, even if they are going to crash it. The repeated experience of grabbing the controls and crashing over and over does nothing to restrain the desire to let feelings and intuitions rule, either. All a “man” has to do gain her favor is to tell her that this time for sure, she will be able to fly the plane just by following her heart. He just needs to abdicate his duty to protect her by telling her the truth, and she will have the tingles for him. And that’s why many women, under the influence of feminism, have the tingles for the wrong men. Confident promises about an optimistic, easy, fun future mean more to them than the realistic judgment that comes from demonstrated ability as a man.