Tag Archives: Relationships

Can relationships succeed independently of the efforts of the people involved?

Marriage and family
Marriage and family

A few years ago, I blogged about the soul mate / fairy tale view of marriage, which I think is the dominant view of marriage among young people today – even among Christians. This view of marriage basically says that there is a person in the world out there who will match up so perfectly with each one of us that we will have to expend no effort and perform no actions and take responsibility for nothing in order for the relationship to work. it will just work on its own!

I’ve decided to link to this recent article by Matt Walsh which is on that same topic.

He writes:

The disease is the fanciful, unrealistic, fictionalized perceptions that both males and females harbor about marriage.

For example, think of the glamorization of the “mysterious” and “damaged” guy from the “wrong side of the tracks.” Hollywood makes him seem alluring and sexy, but forgets to mention that most of the time, in the real world, that dude probably has herpes, a coke habit, and a criminal record.

Still, that bit of propaganda is nothing compared to the underlying misconception that so many of us carry around consciously or subconsciously, because we’ve seen it on TV and in the movies, and read it in books a million times since childhood: namely, that there is just one person out there for us. Our soul mate. Our Mr. or Mrs. Right. The person we are “meant to be with.”

Matt thinks this view of relationships is not realistic:

I didn’t marry my wife because she’s The One, she’s The One because I married her. Until we were married, she was one, I was one, and we were both one of many. I didn’t marry The One, I married this one, and the two of us became one. I didn’t marry her because I was “meant to be with her,” I married her because that was my choice, and it was her choice, and the Sacrament of marriage is that choice. I married her because I love her — I chose to love her — and I chose to live the rest of my life in service to her. We were not following a script, we chose to write our own, and it’s a story that contains more love and happiness than any romantic fable ever conjured up by Hollywood.

Indeed, marriage is a decision, not the inevitable result of unseen forces outside of our control. When we got married, the pastor asked us if we had “come here freely.” If I had said, “well, not really, you see destiny drew us together,” that would have brought the evening to an abrupt and unpleasant end. Marriage has to be a free choice or it is not a marriage. That’s a beautiful thing, really.

God gave us Free Will. It is His greatest gift to us because without it, nothing is possible. Love is not possible without Will. If we cannot choose to love, then we cannot love. God did not program us like robots to be compatible with only one other machine. He created us as individuals, endowed with the incredible, unprecedented power to choose. And with that choice, we are to go out and find a partner, and make that partner our soul mate.

That’s what we do. We make our spouses into our soul mates by marrying them. We don’t simply recognize that they are soul mates and then just sort of symbolically consecrate that recognition through what would then be an effectively meaningless marriage sacrament. Instead, we find another unique, dynamic, wholly individualized human being, and we make the monumental, supernatural decision to bind ourselves to them for eternity.

It’s a bold and risky move, no matter how you look at it. It’s important to recognize this, not so that you can run away like a petrified little puppy and never tie the knot with anyone, but so that you can go into marriage knowing, at least to some extent, what you’re really doing. This person wasn’t made for you. It wasn’t “designed” to be. There will be some parts of your relationship that are incongruous and conflicting. It won’t all click together like a set of Legos, as you might expect if you think this coupling was fated in the stars.

It’s funny that people get divorced and often cite “irreconcilable differences.” Well what did they think was going to happen? Did they think every difference would be reconcilable? Did they think every bit of contention between them could be perfectly and permanently solved?

Finally, regarding his own marriage:

There were literally millions of things that either of us could have done. An innumerable multitude of possible outcomes, but this was our outcome because we chose it. Not because we were destined or predetermined, not because it was “meant to happen,” but because we chose it. That, to me, is much more romantic than getting pulled along by fate until the two of us inevitably collide and all that was written in our horoscopes passively comes to unavoidable fruition.

We are the protagonists of our love story, not the spectators.

I see this problem everywhere, even with Christian women who have been raised as Disney princesses. I was just told by one last week that she will marry when she meets “the right man” – the man who will require her to do nothing. This magical relationship will require no communication, no working through disagreements, no problem solving, no compromise, no effort, no self-sacrifice of any kind. it will just “work”, without any growing up by anyone. Two unemployed people with degrees in English can have a fine marriage, I suppose, traveling the world and skydiving every Tuesday.

I think that when problems arise between two people who are largely compatible, the right thing to do is to engage and solve the problems. Yes, work isn’t required in pop culture notions of romance, but those things don’t reflect the real world anyway. In the real world, actions to solve a problem count for more than words that avoid the problem. Engineering principles and self-sacrificial attitude are infinitely more useful in a relationship than all the pop culture descriptions of ideal men and ideal women and ideal relationships combined.

By the way, the best book on this problem is Dr. Laura’s “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands”, which clearly sets out how a woman’s choices influence her husband’s ability to perform well. The myth of the mind-reading “right man” is also debunked.

How parents and churches can make better women than the Bachelorette Hannah Brown

Do young women understand how to get to a stable marriage?
Do young women understand how to get to a stable marriage?

My friend Carla sent me a video from a TV show called the Bachelorette, in which a woman named Hannah Brown explains why she thinks that having recreational premarital sex is compatible with Christianity. In this post, I wanted to explain to Christian parents and churches why serious Christian men do not consider women like Hannah Brown to be appropriate candidates for marriage.

First, if you haven’t seen the clip, you can watch it here:

So I just wanted to go over what I think marriage is for, and then try to judge whether Hannah Brown’s view of men, sex and marriage offers me any value. I think this will be useful for parents and churches, because I think a lot of Christian men see marriage the same way as I do.

So, when I think of marriage, I’m looking for a partner who can help me to achieve goals that are consistent with the character of God revealed in the ministry of his son Jesus. So, what did Jesus do? Jesus demonstrated the existence of God by showing people evidence (miracles). Jesus taught people about what moral choices they should make and how to treat others. Jesus taught people that marriage is for one man and one woman, and that children should not be prevented from knowing God. And Jesus taught that people who sin can be forgiven, but that they should “sin no more”.

So, let’s take a look at what marriage-minded Christian men are looking for, and then decide whether Hannah Brown is doing a good job of preparing herself for marriage.

I’d like to model a successful, fruitful marriage to non-Christians, e.g. college students, neighbors, co-workers

A lot of people these days aspire to be married with children, and I want my marriage to be an advertisement to them for how Christianity provides a moral framework for that. So, a marriage candidate should demonstrate that she is good at making and keeping commitments, and investing in other people’s lives self-sacrificially, with a goal of making them grow in their knowledge and influence as Christians. She should also be good at tasks that are related to being a wife and mother, like cooking, cleaning, caring for children, managing money, and so on. She should be a virgin and demonstrate self-control when it comes to things like drinking alcohol, frivolous travel, and managing money. Regarding sex, men are aware of studies that show that the number of premarital sex partners that a woman has is related to her contentment in her future marriage. The more no-commitment hawt bad boys a woman has sex with before marriage, the less content she will be with the “loser” she has to “settle for” when she hits 30. Marriage-minded men understand that women who “settle” for them later on were never attracted to commitment skills. We don’t want to deal with sex-withholding, porn usage, emotional affairs, adultery, and divorce.

I’d like to facilitate discussions with students and faculty about whether the claims of Christian worldview are true

I would like my wife to be familiar with how to discuss and defend the claims of Christianity using evidence. For example, God’s existence, Jesus’ resurrection, etc. I do not mean that she should share her feelings and experiences with non-Christians. I do not mean that she should give her opinions or quote Bible verses to non-Christians. I mean that she should be able to appeal to mainstream scientific and historical evidence when making her case for the core claims of the Christian worldview. Being familiar with the work of people like William Lane Craig, Lee Strobel, Sean McDowell, J. Warner Wallace, etc. is sufficient. She should also be able to defend against objections to the Christian worldview, e.g. – suffering, hiddenness, pluralism, postmodernism, etc. I’m really looking for evidence that she is aware of areas where the culture is challenging Christianity, e.g. – abortion, natural marriage, socialism, border security, environmental stewardship, etc. and that she is able to be persuasive against the secular left with reasons and evidence.

I’d like to raise many effective and influential children who promote the Christian worldview and conditions that allow the practice of Christianity to flourish to society as a whole

In order to have many children, the woman has to be serious about making herself ready or marriage early, and pursuing marriage-ready men early. She should not be spending her late teens and 20s using her finite supply of youth and beauty trying pursuing temporary relationships with men who have superficial qualities. It eats into the “honeymoon period” that she could be giving her future husband, and it reduces the time available for making more children. Regular sex and emotional support are huge gifts that a woman gives to a man, and they should be reserved for a man who commits to love her, lead her, and provide for her and her children. Since she is busy in her 20s riding the carousel with not-her-husband men, she won’t have any effect on her husband’s early career, which means that her husband will have less money to support having more children later on. I’m also looking for evidence that she is investing in relationships with other people that causes them to be more competent and effective in their Christian lives. For example, she could be getting people to be better with money – leading them by example to study hard STEM subjects, get real jobs in the private sector, avoid student loans. Something that shows that she is able to navigate the real world successfully, and isn’t just wasting her time chasing fun and thrills.

I’d like to have an influence on the laws and policies in my community so that behaving as a consistent Christian is not subject to interference from the secular left

I’d like her to demonstrate that she’s going to keep the Christian worldview that she has in the face of pressures from the secular left culture. So, I’m looking for her to be aware of where Christian values are impacted by laws and policies. And I’m looking for her to have strong convictions herself and also to be persuasive to others in debates and discussions. It’s very easy for women to tell men what they want to hear when it comes to issues like abortion, gay rights, definition of marriage, socialism, environmentalism, border security, national debt, etc. Opinions are easy. What’s not easy is having conversations where arguments are made, and supported by factual evidence. I would definitely want to see her taking pro-marriage and pro-family views in her conversations, but also in her writings, and in her activism. A man needs support and understanding when he is engaged in providing for a family, being a spiritual and moral leader, and protecting his family from outside threats. Many of the laws and policies that young Christian women find attractive are incompatible with what a Christian man does as a father and husband.

Conclusion

So, I think it’s pretty clear when you look at Hannah Brown that she has none of these things. But she is a perfect example of what I see being produced by Christian parents and Christian pastors today. She really is not exceptional in any way, she is the normal Christian woman. On the one hand, she hollers Jesus, reads the Bible, sings praise hymns, attends church, and knows just enough about Christianity to satisfy parents and pastors that she is serious about her faith (until she throws the mask off on the first day of college). But to the Christian men who evaluate her for marriage, she has nothing at all that we want in a wife and mother.

William Lane Craig’s secret weapon is his amazing wife Jan

My favorite painting: "Godspeed" by Edmund Blair Leighton, 1900
My favorite painting: “Godspeed” by Edmund Blair Leighton, 1900

I’m re-posting this classic post because it was mentioned in the latest episode of the Reasonable Faith podcast.

I want to draw your attention to a talk on “Vision in Life” given by Dr. William Lane Craig. Dr. Craig is the ablest defender of the Christian faith operating today. He has done formal academic debates with all of the best known atheists on major university campuses in front of thousands of university students.

It turns out that he owes a lot of his success to his amazing wife Jan.

The MP3 file is here. (32 minutes)

This talk was Dr. Craig’s chapel address to Biola University students.

About 11 minutes into the talk, Bill describes what happened after he finished his Bachelor’s degree at Wheaton:

And so I joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ for 2 years, and was assigned to Northern Illinois University. And that was where I met my wife Jan. She was a graduate of the University of North Dakota where she had come to faith in Christ. And she had a similar vision for her life of evangelism and discipleship.

And as we worked at NIU together, she with gals and I with the guys, leading students to Christ and discipling them to walk with the Lord, we fell in love. And we decided that we would be more effective if we joined forces and became a team.

So their reason for getting together was because they thought that they would be more effective in evangelism and discipleship if they worked as a team.

It is at this point in the talk where Bill begins to explain just how Jan molded him into the lean, mean debating machine that travels the world striking terror into the hearts of atheists.

Bill’s first story about Jan occurs early after their marriage while he is working on his first Masters degree at Trinity:

And it was also at that time that I began to see what an invaluable asset the Lord had given me in Jan. I remember I came home from classes one day, and found her at the kitchen table with all the catalogs and schedules and papers spread out in front of her and she said, “look! I’ve figured out how you can get two Masters degrees at the same time that it would normally take to get one! All you have to do is take overloads every semester, go to all full-time summer school and do all these other things, and you can do two MAs in the time it takes to do one!”

And I thought, whoa! Are you sure you really want to make the commitment it takes to do this kind of thing? And she said, “Yeah! Go for it!” And it was then I began to see that God had given me a very special woman who was my supporter – my cheerleader – and who really believed in me. And as long as she believed in me, that gave me the confidence to dream bigger dreams, and to take on challenges that I had never thought of before.

In an article on his web site, he talks about how Jan encouraged him to do his first Ph.D:

As graduation from Trinity neared, Jan and I were sitting one evening at the supper table in our little campus apartment, talking about what to do after graduation. Neither of us had any clear leading or inclination of what we should do next.

So Jan said to me, “Well, if money were no object, what would you really like to do next?”

I replied, “If money were no object, what I’d really like to do is go to England and do a doctorate under John Hick.”

“Who’s he?” she asked.

“Oh, he’s this famous British philosopher who’s written extensively on arguments for the existence of God,” I explained. “If I could study with him, I could develop a cosmological argument for God’s existence.”

But it hardly seemed a realistic idea.

The next evening at supper Jan handed me a slip of paper with John Hick’s address on it. “I went to the library today and found out that he’s at the University of Birmingham in England,” she said. “Why don’t you write him a letter and ask him if you can do a doctoral thesis under him on the cosmological argument?”

What a woman! So I did, and to our amazement and delight Professor Hick wrote back saying he’d be very pleased to supervise my doctoral work on that subject. So it was an open door!

And in the same article, he explains how Jan encouraged him to get his second Ph.D:

As Jan and I neared the completion of my doctoral studies in Birmingham, our future path was again unclear to us. I had sent out a number of applications for teaching positions in philosophy at American universities but had received no bites. We didn’t know what to do.

I remember it like yesterday. We were sitting at the supper table in our little house outside Birmingham, and Jan suddenly said to me, “Well, if money were no object, what would you really like to do next?”

I laughed because I remembered how the Lord had used her question to guide us in the past. I had no trouble answering the question. “If money were no object, what I’d really like to do is go to Germany and study under Wolfhart Pannenberg.”

“Who’s he?”

“Oh, he’s this famous German theologian who’s defended the resurrection of Christ historically,” I explained. “If I could study with him, I could develop a historical apologetic for the resurrection of Jesus.”

Our conversation drifted to other subjects, but Jan later told me that my remark had just lit a fire under her. The next day while I was at the university, she slipped away to the library and began to research grants-in-aid for study at German universities. Most of the leads proved to be defunct or otherwise inapplicable to our situation. But there were two grants she found that were possibilities. You can imagine how surprised I was when she sprung them on me!

Both of these Ph.D experiences are also described in the talk. And the talk concludes as follows:

I am so thankful to be married to a woman who is tremendously resourceful, tremendously talented and energetic, who could have pursued an independent career in any number of areas, but instead, she has chose to wed her aspirations to mine, and to make it her goal to make me the most effective person I can be, for Christ. And she has been like my right arm in ministry over these many years. And it is a tremendous privilege to be a team with a person like that.

And you young men, I would encourage you, if you marry, to find a gal who shares your vision, not some independent vision, but who is interested in aligning herself with you, and pursuing together a common vision and goal that will draw you [together], so that you will avoid the growing separateness that so often creeps into marriages.

And now you know the rest of Bill’s story. The person you marry will have an enormous influence on the impact you will have for Christ and his Kingdom. It is up to you to decide whether that influence is going to be positive or negative, by deciding if you will marry, and if you do marry, by deciding whom you will marry.

You may also be interested in this talk given by William Lane Craig, entitled “Healthy Relationships” (National Faculty Leadership Conf. 2008) (audio here) In that talk, he offers advice to Christians who want to have a marriage that is consistent with their Christian faith.

How parents and churches can make better women than the Bachelorette Hannah Brown

Do young women understand how to get to a stable marriage?
Do young women understand how to get to a stable marriage?

My friend Carla sent me a video from a TV show called the Bachelorette, in which a woman named Hannah Brown explains why she thinks that having recreational premarital sex is compatible with Christianity. In this post, I wanted to explain to Christian parents and churches why serious Christian men do not consider women like Hannah Brown to be appropriate candidates for marriage.

First, if you haven’t seen the clip, you can watch it here:

So I just wanted to go over what I think marriage is for, and then try to judge whether Hannah Brown’s view of men, sex and marriage offers me any value. I think this will be useful for parents and churches, because I think a lot of Christian men see marriage the same way as I do.

So, when I think of marriage, I’m looking for a partner who can help me to achieve goals that are consistent with the character of God revealed in the ministry of his son Jesus. So, what did Jesus do? Jesus demonstrated the existence of God by showing people evidence (miracles). Jesus taught people about what moral choices they should make and how to treat others. Jesus taught people that marriage is for one man and one woman, and that children should not be prevented from knowing God. And Jesus taught that people who sin can be forgiven, but that they should “sin no more”.

So, let’s take a look at what marriage-minded Christian men are looking for, and then decide whether Hannah Brown is doing a good job of preparing herself for marriage.

I’d like to model a successful, fruitful marriage to non-Christians, e.g. college students, neighbors, co-workers

A lot of people these days aspire to be married with children, and I want my marriage to be an advertisement to them for how Christianity provides a moral framework for that. So, a marriage candidate should demonstrate that she is good at making and keeping commitments, and investing in other people’s lives self-sacrificially, with a goal of making them grow in their knowledge and influence as Christians. She should also be good at tasks that are related to being a wife and mother, like cooking, cleaning, caring for children, managing money, and so on. She should be a virgin and demonstrate self-control when it comes to things like drinking alcohol, frivolous travel, and managing money. Regarding sex, men are aware of studies that show that the number of premarital sex partners that a woman has is related to her contentment in her future marriage. The more no-commitment hawt bad boys a woman has sex with before marriage, the less content she will be with the “loser” she has to “settle for” when she hits 30. Marriage-minded men understand that women who “settle” for them later on were never attracted to commitment skills. We don’t want to deal with sex-withholding, porn usage, emotional affairs, adultery, and divorce.

I’d like to facilitate discussions with students and faculty about whether the claims of Christian worldview are true

I would like my wife to be familiar with how to discuss and defend the claims of Christianity using evidence. For example, God’s existence, Jesus’ resurrection, etc. I do not mean that she should share her feelings and experiences with non-Christians. I do not mean that she should give her opinions or quote Bible verses to non-Christians. I mean that she should be able to appeal to mainstream scientific and historical evidence when making her case for the core claims of the Christian worldview. Being familiar with the work of people like William Lane Craig, Lee Strobel, Sean McDowell, J. Warner Wallace, etc. is sufficient. She should also be able to defend against objections to the Christian worldview, e.g. – suffering, hiddenness, pluralism, postmodernism, etc. I’m really looking for evidence that she is aware of areas where the culture is challenging Christianity, e.g. – abortion, natural marriage, socialism, border security, environmental stewardship, etc. and that she is able to be persuasive against the secular left with reasons and evidence.

I’d like to raise many effective and influential children who promote the Christian worldview and conditions that allow the practice of Christianity to flourish to society as a whole

In order to have many children, the woman has to be serious about making herself ready or marriage early, and pursuing marriage-ready men early. She should not be spending her late teens and 20s using her finite supply of youth and beauty trying pursuing temporary relationships with men who have superficial qualities. It eats into the “honeymoon period” that she could be giving her future husband, and it reduces the time available for making more children. Regular sex and emotional support are huge gifts that a woman gives to a man, and they should be reserved for a man who commits to love her, lead her, and provide for her and her children. Since she is busy in her 20s riding the carousel with not-her-husband men, she won’t have any effect on her husband’s early career, which means that her husband will have less money to support having more children later on. I’m also looking for evidence that she is investing in relationships with other people that causes them to be more competent and effective in their Christian lives. For example, she could be getting people to be better with money – leading them by example to study hard STEM subjects, get real jobs in the private sector, avoid student loans. Something that shows that she is able to navigate the real world successfully, and isn’t just wasting her time chasing fun and thrills.

I’d like to have an influence on the laws and policies in my community so that behaving as a consistent Christian is not subject to interference from the secular left

I’d like her to demonstrate that she’s going to keep the Christian worldview that she has in the face of pressures from the secular left culture. So, I’m looking for her to be aware of where Christian values are impacted by laws and policies. And I’m looking for her to have strong convictions herself and also to be persuasive to others in debates and discussions. It’s very easy for women to tell men what they want to hear when it comes to issues like abortion, gay rights, definition of marriage, socialism, environmentalism, border security, national debt, etc. Opinions are easy. What’s not easy is having conversations where arguments are made, and supported by factual evidence. I would definitely want to see her taking pro-marriage and pro-family views in her conversations, but also in her writings, and in her activism. A man needs support and understanding when he is engaged in providing for a family, being a spiritual and moral leader, and protecting his family from outside threats. Many of the laws and policies that young Christian women find attractive are incompatible with what a Christian man does as a father and husband.

Conclusion

So, I think it’s pretty clear when you look at Hannah Brown that she has none of these things. But she is a perfect example of what I see being produced by Christian parents and Christian pastors today. She really is not exceptional in any way, she is the normal Christian woman. On the one hand, she hollers Jesus, reads the Bible, sings praise hymns, attends church, and knows just enough about Christianity to satisfy parents and pastors that she is serious about her faith (until she throws the mask off on the first day of college). But to the Christian men who evaluate her for marriage, she has nothing at all that we want in a wife and mother.

Study: relationship problems, not family rejection, leading cause of higher gay suicides

Lets take a closer look at a puzzle
Lets take a closer look at a puzzle

Life Site News reports.

Excerpt: (links removed)

 While many assume that family rejection is the leading cause of depression among LBGTI individuals, a new study has found that in fact the problem appears to stem predominantly from the higher incidence of relationship problems among homosexuals.

Dr. Delaney Skerrett led a team of researchers from the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP) in studying suicides in Queensland. He found that a leading cause of suicide among “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex” (LGBTI) people is stress from their romantic partners.

“We tend to assume that the psychological distress LGBTI people are often going through is due to family rejection. But it seems that’s not so much the case. The conflict seems to be largely related to relationship problems, with partners,” Dr. Skerrett said.

In fact, he said, “The numbers are telling us there’s a general acceptance at the family level,” something he said is “great” and “really heartening!”

Instead, the study, which was published on April 2 in Asia Pacific Psychiatry, found that “LGBT individuals experienced relationship problems more often” than heterosexuals, “with relationship conflict also being more frequent than in non‐LGBT cases.”

That confirms previous studies finding that homosexuals also face higher rates of intimate partner violence than heterosexuals. A 2007 study in the Journal of Urban Health, which is published by the New York Academy of Medicine, found that 32 percent of homosexuals have been abused by at least one partner during their lifetime.

The researchers with AISRAP also found that a higher percentage of homosexuals took their lives [out] of despondency, rather than other psychological illnesses. While one-eighth of all Queensland suicide victims had been diagnosed with a psychosis that impaired their judgment, Skerrett reports “there were no such diagnoses among LGBT individuals.” The conclusion adds to the consensus that depression disproportionately besets active homosexuals.

Previously, I blogged about a gay activist who thought that disagreement with gay rights caused gays to commit suicide. I wonder what he would do with a study like this? I also blogged previously about the “epidemic” of domestic violence among gays, and the article I linked to for that was from the left-leaning Atlantic Monthly.

But there’s more to say – let’s look at an individual case now, which will put some meat on the bones of the studies.

Here’s an article from the liberal New York Times.

Here’s the set up:

BOB BERGERON was so relentlessly cheery that people sometimes found it off-putting. If you ran into him at the David Barton Gym on West 23rd Street, where he worked out nearly ever morning at 7, and you complained about the rain, he would smile and say you’d be better off focusing on a problem you could fix.

That’s how Mr. Bergeron was as a therapist as well, always upbeat, somewhat less focused on getting to the root of his clients’ feelings than altering behavior patterns that were detrimental to them: therapy from the outside-in.

Over the last decade, he built a thriving private practice, treating well-to-do gay men for everything from anxiety to coping with H.I.V. Mr. Bergeron had also begun work as a motivational speaker, giving talks at gay and lesbian centers in Los Angeles and Chicago. In February, Magnus Books, a publisher specializing in gay literature, was scheduled to print a self-help guide he had written, “The Right Side of Forty: The Complete Guide to Happiness for Gay Men at Midlife and Beyond.”

It was a topic he knew something about. Having come out as gay in the mid-1980s, Mr. Bergeron, 49, had witnessed the worst years of the AIDS epidemic and emerged on the other side. He had also seen how few public examples there were of gay men growing older gracefully.

He resolved to rewrite the script, and provide a toolbox for better living.

“I’ve got a concise picture of what being over 40 is about and it’s a great perspective filled with happiness, feeling sexy, possessing comfort relating to other men and taking good care of ourselves,” Mr. Bergeron said on his Web site.  “This picture will get you results that flourish long-term.”

But right around New Year’s Eve, something went horribly wrong. On Jan. 5, Mr. Bergeron was found dead in his apartment, the result of a suicide that has left his family, his friends and his clients shocked and heartbroken as they attempt to figure out how he could have been so helpful to others and so unable to find help himself.

Look:

To his friends, Mr. Bergeron maintained a positive tone. He went on vacation, dated some, visited museums.

Still, he privately expressed misgivings about what the future held. Olivier Van Doorne, a patient of Mr. Bergeron and the creative director of SelectNY, a fashion advertising firm, recalled Mr. Bergeron telling him that every gay man peaks at one point in his life.

“He said a number of times: ‘I peaked when I was 30 or 35. I was super-successful, everyone looked at me, and I felt extremely cool in my sexuality.’ ”

Mr. Siegel, the therapist who supervised Mr. Bergeron in the early days of his career, said: “Bob was a very beautiful younger man, and we talked a lot about how that shapes and creates a life. The thesis of his book is based very much on his own personal experience with that. And the book also emphasized what to do when you’re not attractive or you no longer have the appeal you once had. The idea was to transcend that and expand your sexual possibilities.”

And:

With the book about to be printed, Mr. Bergeron became convinced that he’d written too much about the shame and isolation involved with hooking up online; that people weren’t even really doing that anymore, now that phone apps like Grindr and Scruff had come along.

His book, he felt, had become antiquated before it even came out.

[…]Though some of his friends, Mr. Rappaport among them, wondered whether drugs were involved, leading to a crash Mr. Bergeron did not anticipate, the suicide seemed to have been carried out with methodical precision. On an island in the kitchen, Mr. Bergeron had meticulously laid out his papers. There was a pile of folders with detailed instructions on top about whom to call regarding his finances and his mortgage. Across from that he placed the title page of his book, on which he also wrote his suicide note. In it he told Mr. Sackheim and Mr. Rappaport that he loved them and his family, but that he was “done.”

As his father remembered it, Mr. Bergeron also wrote, “It’s a lie based on bad information.”

An arrow pointed up to the name of the book.

The inference was clear. As Mr. Bergeron saw it at the end of his life, the only right side of 40 was the side that came before it.

I think that the problem is that in the gay lifestyle, you have a typically male emphasis on physical appearance, sex and pleasure. There is none of the moderating influence of women, which tends to push men into commitments, responsibility and stability. Stuff that provides fulfillment and meaning and purpose after you lose your youth and appearance.

If you really love a person, then you don’t tell them that the dangerous thing they want to do is not dangerous. That’s not love. It’s easier for you to approve of them and be liked by everyone, but it’s not love.