In Part I of this post I covered things 1-5 that the author wants in her husband. On to numbers 6-10!
6 A love for family. Now, this is a point I feel like the author actually gave us a little insight about!! She mentions that she wants to be a mother, and she wants her husband to love his family – the one he was raised in as well as the one they will raise together. Finally, some specificity! Although, of course, I think it needs to be taken a few steps further, and acknowledge that love is one thing, and practical decisions about being a family are another. How many kids does she want? When? Do you agree on discipline methods? Do you agree on daycare, preschool, and other major schooling decisions? And many, many more decisions that I can’t even imagine since I am not a parent… But there needs to be agreement in the basic areas of child raising, and these are things that will need to be discussed when considering a future together.
This isn’t even addressing the issue about the families you are coming from – his relationship with his parents (she says she wants him to love his parents, but does that mean he calls them everyday? Asks them for advice before each major decision?) and siblings, extended family, etc. More important than “love,” which is fairly common in families and sometimes not expressed appropriately (abuse and neglect situations come to mind), is looking into the question, “Are we able to make decisions regarding our families and our future family together?”
7 A sense of leadership. This author states she wants her husband to be the head of the household. But then what she writes is a little confusing. She wants to consult with him regarding decisions, but I suppose ultimately leave the final decision to him. I can’t imagine doing life this like with a person. First, that is a lot of pressure on a person (in this case, the husband) to be expected to make the final call on big life decisions that will affect, not only their own life, but the life of another fully-functioning adult and possibly children. Second, that type of control can lead to abusive-type situations, and that is scary. I’d love to learn more about these types of seemingly imbalanced relationships and see if it actually works for some people – if so, more power to them – but at this point it seems like it would lead to feelings like resentment, anger and frustration, and distance between the 2 spouses.
8 A desire to be chivalrous. I knew I had a major problem with this point, but wasn’t really sure what exactly it was. Then the work week started and I didn’t have brain-power to devote to it, so it’s been sitting in my mind for about a week. I read a short article that was for the return of chivalry and looked up definitions of chivalry (which unhelpfully focused on the standards of a knight back in medieval times) to try to get my thoughts in order.
One issue with chivalry – meaning, a code or set of rules that men are supposed to follow in order to communicate that they respect and are willing to protect women – is the assumption that chivalrous behavior means respect. The author even writes that she feels “so respected when [she has] the door opened” for her. But a man can follow all the rules of chivalry and still not have genuine respect for a woman as a person. Also, there’s the assumption that women need to be protected. One of the rules that makes me cringe the most is that a man is supposed to walk on the side of the sidewalk that is closer to the cars. I’m thinking, “Wait, is a woman more likely to stumble into the street than a man?” I would opt to walk on that side of the sidewalk when I’m walking with a child, who has a less-developed sense of judgement than I do. But I hope I am capable of walking down the sidewalk without getting hurt. How is this showing me respect, exactly?
But I think my main issue is with an attitude hinted at in the article I read defending the return of chivalry… “boys will be boys.” I believe that men can be better than this; I disagree with the idea that men need chivalry in order to know how to behave properly around women. I’m pretty sure that men, teenage boys, and young boys can be taught about basic respect for people, and can understand the idea that, yes, women are people, too.
Finally, chivalry kind of goes against my belief that relationships work best when there are 2 adults on equal footing who respect each other equally. Maybe it’s more work than following a preset establishment of rules about how you’re expected to treat each other, but I think it leads to more fulfillment and satisfaction in the long run…
(note: chivalry is a weird word to type. I kept typing the v, l , and r out of order)
9 A wide variety of interests. I don’t have as much of a problem with this one, but I will give a quick side-note: My husband and I frequently talk about how Ross and Rachel of Friends are a really bad couple. One of the reasons they are bad for each other is because they do not respect each other’s hobbies and interests. She thinks paleontology is boring, he thinks fashion is shallow. It’s nice to have interests in common as a couple, and if you’re an adventurous sort of person, it’s good to be with someone who can share your sense of adventure. But where you don’t overlap, it’s important to respect that person’s right to be interested in whatever they are, and respect that it is a legitimate thing to spend one’s time on. If you can’t, you probably aren’t a good match for each other.
10 A relationship with God. Obviously, I don’t believe in God, and I don’t believe a marriage should be “centered around Christ,” whatever that actually means (I used to believe this, but I’m still not sure I can give you a definition). What I think is more important in a relationship is the capability to respect each other’s faith, whether it is shared or not. I hear stories of couples who get divorced after one loses faith, and stories of people who stay together after one loses faith. People make relationships work whether their faiths are the same or not, and my guess would be this has to do with listening, understanding, and respecting each other.
Things the list doesn’t mention: sexual compatibility, ability to openly communicate, ability to fight fair and accomplish things with your disagreements, ability to give each other what you need and the kind of love you each need, compatibility regarding how you like to spend your down time and how you spend your money, respect, respect, respect…
One final note: I realize the author of the article in question is young, being not even 20. My husband noted that the article sounds like it was “just” written by a young person. But, I think these misconceptions are very common with people her age and in evangelical circles, and I think it’s the job of other people to discuss why these ideas are not great, and spread realistic information regarding relationships instead. Because I think “young people” deserve a better education about relationships and what makes a relationship work, and I’m not convinced that our culture really does a good job of communicating that information.