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There are very few things in this world I love more than a good conversation. I suppose, then, it is no surprise that my wife and I were conversation partners before we were anything romantic. In fact, it is to her that I owe much of my conversation skill. Hopefully, she will be happy to take credit for that.
It is her reluctance to speak on so many pseudo-dates (its a long story) that forced me to lead a conversation. Our early relationship was dominated by conversations about TV, movies, school, and politics. As our relationship grew romantically, I had to work hard at conversation and conflict.
I had grown up in a relatively conflict-free environment. For the most part, I was shielded from conflict between my parents, and I, as a very compliant child, found it easy to relate to my understanding parents. Courtney, however, knew much more of conflict. Although, that does not mean she dealt well with it. Conflict caused her to close up. I did not like conflict, so I sought to resolve it. This meant that I had to pry her heart open with words. I will admit that my work caused some damage. But, I think, in the end, more healing has been accomplished.
The second way Courtney has greatly contributed to my conversation skill is in the breadth and depth of my conversational range. She basically introduced me to culture. She, and some under-appreciated English professors at UMHB and Temple College help me understand literature, music, and film. Thanks to C.S. Lewis and other Christian apologists my mind and faith were beginning to integrate. Courtney helped me do this with respect to aesthetics. I have learned so much from her, and she has opened my eyes to beauty that I would never had known. There are few things more exhilarating about which to converse than beauty. This idea of beauty has worked its way into other areas of my thinking as well. In the end, it is the awesome beauty of Christ that we are all yearning to behold.
Finally, Courtney has been one of the main instruments of God's sanctifying work in my life. So many times, she has shown me my true colors. At the sight of which I could only repent. She is an honest, and usually trustworthy knife with which God cuts away at the billowing celluloid of my pride. There is nothing better in conversation than to be thruly humble. I pray that God will eventually accomplish his work in this area.
I can't help but mention one more thing. Courtney has birthed to me 3 absolutely wonderful boys. I could go on for days talking about them. Through them, God is constantly providing deeper insight into my nature and his own.
Husbands out there, "Love your wives." Talk to them. Trust God and open yourselves to them. Don't be afraid. Your dignity comes for Christ not your wife. Love her, do not need her. If trust God and speak, he will not fail to surprise you in how he can take care of what you need. The courage you gain by talking to your wife will give you the courage to be a man in many other areas of your life.
Courtney and I, along with Courtney's mom, have noticed that women are growing less and less fond of marriage. You might call it the "Sex-in-the-City" effect. Women are waiting later and later to get married. And, more and more women seem to be having children outside of marriage or even outside of a stable relationship with a man.
So, as usual, I am trying to come up with a theory that might help explain this. I believe we can find important clues in Genesis. First of all, I believe that men and women were made for marriage. Genesis 2 is clear that men need women. Women were made to satisfy that need that Adam experienced before Eve was created. It is also clear, then, that women need men. In fact, their satisfaction of their man's need of a "helper suitable" is part of their identity. God reflected this in the way he created man and woman. Man and woman historically have had a relationship of interdependence. Each was suited to a set of particular roles within the family. Society as well reinforced those roles. These functioned as "plausibility structures" for the idea that women really needed to be married to be complete.
However, these plausibility structures have been eroding rapidly since the 1960's. More and more women are highly educated, and the workplace has become very open to women. In addition, society has whole-heartedly accepted the idea of singleness and even single-parenthood. Much of the media encourages people to remain single. Since the idea that being a wife is integral to being a women is less and less plausible, women are reconsidering whether or not the relationship is one that benefits them. Outside of this premise, the answer they are coming to seems to be no at least while they are young.
Part of the curse in Genesis 3 is that women will desire the place and position of their husband, but that he will wrongly use his more dominate position in their relationship. No doubt being married in a fallen world has its problems. Courtney has a counseling degree, and we are both mature Christians and we still struggle to the point of exhaustion at times. It is understandable that someone would want to avoid the situation of having to share everything they have with another selfish human being. Having children is a whole other realm of insanity. The curse on women makes these realities especially poignant for women.
The sad part of this situation is that women will be living more and more unfulfilled lives. That is, they will be living outside the God's design for their lives. For most, this also means living outside the protection of God's laws. And perhaps even worse, more and more men are frustrated that they cannot find a worthy woman for marriage. I think this trend will ultimately feed into the transition of our society to the neo-Victorian society I alluded to in an earlier post. I think it will push men to break out of their doltish habits and return to a manliness that is more in line with godliness. They will reject feminism as a whole, but be reformed by its valid criticisms. And, with better men, women will again begin to see their need for men as intrinsic to their created existence.
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Maybe it is a little corny, but what if we sent flowers to women with no husband on special occasions that were from Jesus? Could this be a concrete way to be the body of Christ in his being a husband to the widow?
Courtney and I got into a discussion tonight about husband and wife roles. Thankfully, I can say that this topic hasn't come up in quite some time. Unfortunately it did earlier in our marriage.
In small talk with an acquaintance, the idea that Courtney would be well taken care of as the mother of three boys came up. This caused me to reflect on my own practice of chivalry.
I think I have inherited a somewhat rare version of masculinity. It is one that is strong and traditional, and yet