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Questions for the Men about How Romantic Movies/Books Affect Expectations in Women

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photo credit www.fanpop.com

Many women feel unfairly compared by men to fake, air-brushed, fantastical bodies of women in the media. They fear that no man would ever be able to love or be attracted to ย a “real woman” without plastic surgery, smoke-and-mirrors, professional make up artists, and Hollywood magic.

Men are often being unfairly compared by women to fantasy, as well. But the comparison is a lot more subtle – at least to women.

I’d like to throw some light on this issue. But I need some help from the gentlemen, especially. You are welcome to answer any or all of the questions. (Ladies are welcome to answer, as well. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s also fine if you want to ask your husbands and share their answers – if they are ok with that, of course!) And, please keep in mind, gentlemen, I am unable to approve comments from the manosphere, per my husband’s request. Other men’s comments, I may accept.

** If you share comments on this post, you are giving me permission to potentially anonymously share your comment in a future post or book. Thanks so much! **

Let’s have a discussion! How do chick-flicks, Hollywood, love songs, boy bands, Disney movies, and romantic novels/erotica portray masculinity in fantastical ways that are far from reality?

1. In what ways do romantic books/songs/movies portray men emotionally that do not accurately represent how men think or feel in your opinion?

2. In what ways do romantic books/songs/movies portray men verbally that do not accurately represent how men express themselves?

3. What romantic expectations – or expectations of men – do these forms of media create in women that are difficult for men to meet in real-life relationships/marriage?

4. What things seem the most unrealistic about the male characters who are romantic leads in romantic movies/songs?

5. Have you ever seen a romantic movie where you thought that masculinity was portrayed in an accurate way? If so, what was it that seemed authentic in the portrayal to you?

6. What unrealistic expectations of men or what unrealistic romantic expectations do you find that women have (even if not from romantic media).

7. What things are romantic to men?

 

 

158 thoughts on “Questions for the Men about How Romantic Movies/Books Affect Expectations in Women

  1. Here are a few quick thoughts that I hope provide some value. This is a shorter answer than I could give. I only have time to cover a few points.

    3) Women are given the expectation that all men are capable of great spontaneous romance. That we can think up, on the spot, something that will sweep a woman off her feet. That we always know the right thing to say, and that if we make a mistake or error when talking with a woman, we will always for sure know the right words to fix it.

    4) One thing about male leads in romantic roles… what makes them highly appealing to women is not the character they play. Women really don’t feel that way for a cop or firefighter or whatever job the male lead has. Women are drawn to the actor, not to the character. His high status as an actor is what gives him appeal. Unfortunately, women think that men who fill the role of the character can have that same appeal. But they cannot, because they aren’t famous actors who are probably better looking and more fit than average.

    6) Women seem to expect that men will “just get them.” That men can read their minds. That men will know what women want without the woman ever having to making it clear. Pretty much all women believe that men think just like them (the converse is also true). Most women believe that men can sacrifice and sacrifice all day, every day without consequence. That we won’t tire or decide that women aren’t worth it. Most women believe that men want the same things from them that women want from men. Or if we don’t, it makes us “lesser.”

    It doesn’t fit exactly in one of your points, but here is another thing worth mentioning:

    One of the most toxic effects of the romantic genre is that it instills in women the idea that any woman can get the man of her dreams. That Mr. Perfect is just waiting around the corner. Effectively romantic art makes the Perfect the Enemy of the Good. A man who is “good enough” isn’t actually good enough for her. Romance tells her that she can do better. The result of this is that vast numbers of good men are ignored or turned down by women who think that they can do better. But the truth is that they can’t.

    What is called “assortive mating” used to be common in the past. For lack of a better explanation, people generally matched up with those of equal value. And this was aided by family especially, and sometimes friends. That is gone now. In fact, family is often the worst. So many family members, with fathers being the worst, tell their daughters that they are Princesses. And that therefore they deserve a Prince. Unfortunately there aren’t enough Princes out there to match all the so-called Princesses (some Evangelical readers might be familiar with the term “Daughter of the King”- that is what I’m talking about). The end result is again that good men get passed over- often for life, but sometimes only until women get old and desperate. The union that follows rarely ends well.

    1. Hi d,

      I just wanted to say that I’m not sure how other women are about things, but for me, I am very drawn to the character and a lot less drawn to the actor. In fact, I have told my husband that my celebrity crushes aren’t really on the celebrity most of the time: it’s on the character they portray. For example: not a fan of Harrison Ford or Bruce Willis really, but I adore Indiana Jones for his boyish charm and obliviousness to the fact that girls like him (and the fact that he’s not afraid to speak up!) and I liked John McLane by the end of Die Hard because he stood up for what was right and (later on) protected his family as well. Even the ones that I would think would be more of a celebrity crush aren’t necessarily… they’re just the guys who are more likely to play a character I might like. For example, I’m a fan of Edward Scissorhands, Sam (from Benny and Joon), and Captain Jack Sparrow (sometimes) but I don’t really like Willie Wonka. He’s just a stinkin’ weirdo (yes, I realize that ALL the characters above are weirdos too, but they’re my brand of weirdo). I don’t develop crushes on celebrities ’cause I assume they’re all probably jerks in real life. When I was younger, I had celebrity crushes, but now they’re mostly character crushes.

      I guess the way I’d explain it is this, and I think some women might identify with me on this one: Sometimes, a woman will meet a guy and think he’s either OK looking or maybe not that attractive at all. Yet, as she gets to know him, all of a sudden she starts noticing how handsome he is, and it’s like he’s totally changed from the person she first knew him as… even if his looks didn’t. On the flipside of that, she might meet a guy she thinks is REALLY attractive, but after getting to know him, she finds out he’s a giant jerk. Now he isn’t even attractive anymore, and she wonders what she saw in him. That’s kind of how it is with me… I know the characters (based on what the movie or whatever says about him) so I end up liking the characters… however, I don’t know the people in real life. They can be attractive or unattractive for me, but what draws me most is personality… and I don’t know theirs, so I don’t really like them.

      Of course, I may be different from other girls out there. And I totally agree with your other points… in fact, I asked the questions above and my husband had comments similar to yours. I don’t really watch romance stuff that often, I guess (based on my examples, which are mostly action movie dudes LOL), but this is definitely an important thing to think about. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander: if we don’t want our husbands to watch videos that set them up for unrealistic expectations of us, then we shouldn’t watch videos that set us up for unrealistic expectations of them! ๐Ÿ˜€

      1. blessedout,
        I agree with you about being drawn to the character that is portrayed in a movie. And I also agree with you about the 2nd paragraph, as well.
        Thanks for sharing!

      2. I agree with you blessedout I could care less who the actor is, even how attractive they are, it’s the character that makes them attractive. Firefighters are very attractive to many women. It’s a manly job where they save people, which both are very attractive, but it’s not their job in a movie that really makes them attractive either. I think the biggest allure is that a lot of the time they are these really strong men who are hard to love, and don’t really love/need anyone else until they meet the women, when they all of a sudden can’t live without her.

        When I think about it I’m not sure I’ve ever fantasized about the man in the movie, but more about being the women. Having someone fall so head over heels in love with you. I think it actually depicts our needs as a women, that so many of us have tried to bury because we feel like we shouldn’t need any man. We love the manly man, the man who will do anything to care for us, provide for us, and love us even when we don’t deserve it. That’s the allure of the men in these movies, at least to me.

        1. @ Sarah

          “When I think about it Iโ€™m not sure Iโ€™ve ever fantasized about the man in the movie, but more about being the women. Having someone fall so head over heels in love with you. I think it actually depicts our needs as a women, that so many of us have tried to bury because we feel like we shouldnโ€™t need any man. We love the manly man, the man who will do anything to care for us, provide for us, and love us even when we donโ€™t deserve it. Thatโ€™s the allure of the men in these movies, at least to me.”

          This is really astute. Women can indeed place themselves in the role of the woman in a romantic movie. In the process they can develop that thinking- that a man can and should and will love them despite anything wrong that they may do. This is of course poisonous, as it often gives women a perceived license to act however they wish.

          That last part ties into another danger of the romantic genre- it convinces women that that they don’t need to change, or shouldn’t change, in order to get a man. That a man can and should love her as she is. That is toxic.

          1. I agree that it can definitely be toxic, I know when I first got married I thought it was my job to fix my husband, but that I was just fine how I was. Thankfully my husband didn’t take that well, and I was forced to change or be miserable, then finally saw myself for what I really was. And it took submitting to my husband to meet those needs I had so deeply wanted to force upon him. But he want able to show me that kind of love until I let it go.

            I don’t think however that those feelings are inherently bad. That is after all how God loves us. But because he loves us so much he doesn’t Want us to stay in the same place. I think it should be our goal to completely love our spouse just as they are. And when we truly love that way we can give a loving rebuke if necessary, out of love for them, not just our selfish desires.

        2. Sarah,
          I definitely relate to you putting yourself in the place of the woman. That is what I would do in the past – and then imagine feeling all of the emotions she would be feeling. Unfortunately, then I would compare the emotions I believed she was feeling to the emotions I was feeling in my marriage – and would get resentful.

          I really appreciate you sharing your experience and perspective. I think what you have shared is very helpful and insightful.

        3. That was a good point, Sarah.

          I, too, have placed myself in the role of the woman in a particular movie, and it does have very toxic results. As April and you have said, it caused me to be resentful that I wasn’t feeling all the things that the female protagonist was feeling… and it also led me to believe that I didn’t need to change anything about myself.

          As you said, though, I don’t think our desires to have someone love us are wrong… our desires to find a manly man who will provide for us and love us unconditionally were placed there by God. However, our manner of dealing with these God-given desires can be very sinful (like watching romantic movies that cause us to be resentful). This is true of men as well. A man is given a desire by God to find sexual pleasure in his wife: to memorize her body in his mind and be able to recall those images like flipping through a photo album. God has put this desire in him to bond him to his wife in a beautiful way… yet sometimes a man can deal with these desires in a sinful way: by looking at pornography or checking out other women.

          We have to be very careful what we do… sometimes it may feel easy for us to be judge others when their sins aren’t the same as ours… we may think our sins are lesser, but in God’s eyes all sin is the same. If we would be honest with ourselves about the terrible thoughts we’ve had and be disgusted with our resentment, bitterness, and hatred because of our own fleshly natures, it would be much easier for us to forgive the sins of others. (Of course, I’m saying this generally speaking, not in an accusatory way in any sense of the word. ๐Ÿ™‚

          Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

      3. @ blessedout

        ” When I was younger, I had celebrity crushes, but now theyโ€™re mostly character crushes. ”

        Well, you might have matured since then, but what I said did describe you at one point. Which got to the heart of what I was after. Young women are especially vulnerable to this. Now a woman might be able to get past that and fall for the character instead, but that often comes later in life. Before that point serious problems result.

        “I guess the way Iโ€™d explain it is this, and I think some women might identify with me on this one: Sometimes, a woman will meet a guy and think heโ€™s either OK looking or maybe not that attractive at all. Yet, as she gets to know him, all of a sudden she starts noticing how handsome he is, and itโ€™s like heโ€™s totally changed from the person she first knew him asโ€ฆ even if his looks didnโ€™t. On the flipside of that, she might meet a guy she thinks is REALLY attractive, but after getting to know him, she finds out heโ€™s a giant jerk. Now he isnโ€™t even attractive anymore, and she wonders what she saw in him. Thatโ€™s kind of how it is with meโ€ฆ I know the characters (based on what the movie or whatever says about him) so I end up liking the charactersโ€ฆ however, I donโ€™t know the people in real life. They can be attractive or unattractive for me, but what draws me most is personalityโ€ฆ and I donโ€™t know theirs, so I donโ€™t really like them. ”

        I totally believe you on this. In fact, it fits an operating theory of mine. Namely that a man’s character, principally how masculine he is in attitude, is what affects a woman’s attraction (especially sexual and romantic attraction) more than anything else.

        1. I agree, d… that was true of me when I was younger, and I know there are more than a few women out there who are drawn to actors rather than the characters they portray.

          Along the lines of what we’re talking about, I made the mistake once of joining an online (secular) “Moms Group”. All was seemingly well… until someone asked “Who’s your Hall Pass Celebrity?” (I had no idea what they even meant, but apparently they were alluding to a movie in which one spouse gets a “Hall Pass” to go and sleep with some other person. I may not be getting this 100% correct, but I’m certainly not going to watch the movie to find out!)

          Anyway, at first, women were just commenting on celeb names. I had yet to ask what the women meant, so I thought it was just a “celebrity crush” kind of thing. Then women started making explicit comments about how “yummy” these men were, posting pictures of them greasy and shirtless, and saying how they’d “drop their man in a second for a chance to be with him.” I was disgusted and totally flabbergasted that this “women’s porn” was being so blatantly spread on this website. From there, it continued to get worse… going from lust toward the opposite sex to same sex lust.

          I was so frustrated!!! I thought, “If a man were in an online men’s group, talking about how sexy another woman’s body was, there would be a major problem (as there should be)! Yet a woman thinks it’s OK for her to spread this garbage around for all the other women to see… what if she leaves her page open to take care of something and her children see that?” Needless to say, I left that group shortly thereafter, but it really disturbed me. Another thing that disturbed me was the thought that perhaps that’s just how their marriage is: a “hall pass” for both spouses if they meet someone “sexy enough” who “wants them”. More than anything, though, the feeling I was left with was a great sense of sadness for those women and their spouses, their marriages, etc.

          And I agree with you about a man’s character. Masculinity alone isn’t what attracts me, at least not in the “machismo” sense of the word. Godly masculinity does, however. I think a woman can see through machismo most of the time (when she’s not desperate), and it can be a turn-off because he’s trying too hard, like he’s so insecure he has to prove his own manliness to himself. On the flip-side of that, I am also not attracted to a man who goes out of his way to show how feminine he is… that seems like he’s trying too hard in the other direction. I don’t want to feel like I have compettition in the femininity department. I once had an ex who wore more eyeliner than I did… I was not amused. ๐Ÿ˜› I guess what I’m trying to saw is that true masculinity (which, I’m assuming, is the kind you’re referencing) shows a man is confident enough in who he is to be himself, without feeling he needs to “prove something” or usurp his lady’s role in the relationship. ๐Ÿ˜€

          1. Jenn,
            Wow, that makes me sad to hear what was going on in a “moms group.” But thank you for sharing. How I pray for people to find the hope and healing available in Christ!

            I appreciate you sharing your experiences.

  2. A blessed New Year to you and your readers, Peaceful!

    All the media fantasy that you describe– whether for men or for women– is a sugar-coated concentrate substituting for some uncoated and mixed experience. The problem is not that fantasy is necessarily unrealistic as far as it goes– God can give us some very sweet moments (cf Song of Songs)– but that in our real lives the things we like in the fantasies only come with other things missing from the fantasy that a spouse likes and that God likes. A woman or man who expects to go straight to what s/he likes — even if it is actually there to be had– will be disappointed. A woman or man with those expectations and an aversion to mutuality will be disappointed and mystified. Because these aversions are often hidden from those who have them, they can be embittered by what seems to them to be unfair.

    1. Bowman Walton,

      May God richly bless your walk with Him this year!

      Thank you so much for sharing so eloquently. The part about mutuality is so important! I was thinking about a Hallmark movie I saw recently. I don’t usually watch “chick flicks” anymore, so, it was helpful for me to see one again as I think about this topic. The male lead got a promotion near the end of the movie and didn’t show up to help the female lead sing in her group’s singing competition as he had promised to do. He was on an emergency flight to Taiwan and couldn’t get through on her cell phone because he had to replace someone who had a nervous breakdown and he was given a promotion he had been wanting. In the end, he showed up and surprised her with the news that he decided not to take the promotion so that he could be with her. And he made a very grand entrance on a float in a Christmas parade and sang to her.

      In a relationship with mutuality, she would have been happy for him getting a promotion instead of resenting him and refusing to talk to him, as she did. And they maybe could have talked about ways to make things work that would be best for both of them. The message that I saw was that if he loved her, he would not take a promotion that took him out of the country, and that he should care more about her than his job. Sometimes, it seems, that movies show everything being all about the woman and what she wants, needs, and prefers. I would love to see more emphasis placed on what the man needs, wants, and prefers, as well.

      I remember as I studied godly femininity about 5-6 years ago, I watched Disney’s Cinderella with my then two year old daughter. The prince didn’t have a name. He had zero character development. Everything in the movie was about Cinderella, her plight, her problems, her dreams… And the prince came into her life and provided for all of her desires and dreams while there was nothing said about his ambitions, his needs, his personality, his NAME, his dreams, his priorities, etc… I do wonder about the impact of such a message in very young girls who may watch a movie like that hundreds of times.

      Interesting to think about the influence the media has on our expectations.
      Thank you so much!

      1. Wow, April. That’s a beautiful (and pretty sad) point you made about Cinderella. It’s beautiful because it’s something that needs to be thought about, but it’s sad because I never really thought about it until you said something… and I’m working on being a more respectful wife! How awful that women grow up watching these kinds of movies without any kind of balance. I’ll have to talk with my daughters about this. I’ve been considering making some changes, but I’ll have to talk it over with my husband first. I don’t want to be holding the reins anymore. ๐Ÿ˜› Thank you so much for bringing that to my attention… what a simple thing, but how profound the impact is.

        1. blessedout,

          I was glad to see that the movie, Frozen, had a much more healthy portrayal of femininity and masculinity – in my view – than some of the earlier movies. In fact, that was the movie I asked my children to be thinking about how masculinity and femininity were portrayed before we saw it. And I was pleasantly surprised to see that the women had faults, the men had much more character development, and I was very happy to see that the message was sent that “It is really foolish to agree to marry someone you just met that day.” I was also glad to see that even the bad guy, Hans, was used to make some good points – that you can’t always immediately tell what a person’s character is, that they can have evil motives you may not see right away, and that a woman being desperate for a man’s love helps her to make unwise decisions and can attract men with wrong motives. I was also glad to see that the whole “true love” idea and “soul mate” idea wasn’t pushed as much and that “true love” was between the two sisters in that movie. That was refreshing, to me. And Christoff was, in my mind, a much better example of masculinity than some of the past male leads in Disney movies (thieves, or men without any character development, desires, dreams, or aspirations of their own.) I also liked the song, “Everyone is a fixer-upper” because it sends the message that everyone is human and no one is perfect. But – people can’t fix up other people, our love can bless others but our love doesn’t change and completely heal other people, only God can do that – and this message was certainly lacking.

          Maybe Disney is moving in a better direction? I realize there are some themes that are still be worldly. Not all Christians liked Frozen. But – in my mind, at least – it was a big improvement over some of the past movies.

          I am definitely concerned that young girls watch these things over and over and over. The messages are all absorbed and embedded into their hearts and minds about relationships. If we hear something enough – whether it is true or not – we begin to believe that it is true. For example, the Cinderella movie – it is possible for a young girl to believe that she is “Cinderella” and she that needs and deserves a handsome prince to rescue her from her life and then to give her everything she wants – to be very romantic, to make her feel loved, to provide lavishly financially for her, to give her beautiful gowns, to magically know her every desire and need and to never disagree with her. She may grow up expecting men to center their entire lives around herself. The lack of character development in the prince causes him to be very 2 dimensional – not a real person. He had no personality, no faults, no personal needs, no desires, no goals… everything was about Cinderella. Nothing was about the prince. NOT the message young girls need to see, in my view.

          I think it is very important to dissect the messages, themes, and motives in the media we consume and to talk about these things with our children and to be truthful about the themes, messages, and motives in the movies and media we are watching/reading/listening to, as well.

          I’m not saying “girls should never watch Disney movies.” But – we need to talk with them about the messages in the movies and about how the movies don’t always portray things accurately and how real life is different from the movies. And, there may be room for moderation in how much our children watch certain things.

          Other examples:

          Aladdin and Tangled – the male leads were thieves. One take home message might be that a girl’s love can change a thief into a great, responsible, loving, good guy. Again, not the message I really want for my daughter to absorb. Aladdin and Flynn were very witty, funny, street smart, handsome, etc… but they were both thieves. Can “bad boys” be transformed into “good guys”? Yes! By God’s power, but not by a woman’s love.

          Snow White – the prince had no name there either. The song, “One Day My Prince Will Come” promotes the idea that a man will save her from all of her problems and troubles and that she just has to wait until he suddenly appears to be her savior. The prince was a mysterious stranger who just whisked Snow White away to live happily ever after. I don’t like the “happily ever after” theme because that is not real life in marriage. Our happily ever after is in heaven, not marriage. There are conflicts, problems, obstacles, difficulties, temptations, trials, etc… in real marriage. When we go into marriage expecting “happily ever after” we will be most disappointed!

          Sleeping Beauty – very similar theme as Snow White and Cinderella. Again, very little character development with the prince. The prince is a savior character – his whole purpose in life, in the movie – is to rescue Aurora and save her from the curse and then take care of her and provide “happily ever after.”

          Many women grew up with these stories and believe they are entitled to a man to rescue them and to deliver “happily ever after” – almost as if men “owe them” this ending. I would like for us to see that Jesus is the only Savior we have and that He is the only one who provides all that we need. Yes, He gives His all for us, but then we give our all to Him. It is the whole mutuality theme, again, that we are missing. We miss that with Jesus. We expect Him to give us everything we need and want, but we don’t want to give ourselves for Him. We just want our “happily ever after” with Him, too, entirely at His expense for our benefit, without thinking about His desires, His feelings, His priorities, etc…

          I think this is a very important discussion to have! Thanks for joining me, my sister! ๐Ÿ™‚

          And I love that you will discuss this with your husband first before making any changes. That’s a wonderful idea!

          1. Yes, I agree about Frozen! I really liked Tangled too, but as you said, it does send a pretty bad message about how “a woman’s love can change a man’s heart”. That can mess a lot of women up… in fact, that kind of message messed ME up for a while there. I was in a relationship with a guy (before I dated my husband) who was not saved (he claimed to be, but I didn’t see any of the fruits that the Word promises) and I thought I could “save” him. I had to come to the realization that I can’t save him – only God can! But in the meantime, I had been dragged into sins as a result of the relationship, and it took a long time for God to show me all of them, and for me to deal with those sins. I’m still a work in progress, of course, but it DOES help to not put yourself in that kind of situation to begin with, and that starts with the thought life, which can be directly affected by what we consume (see, hear, etc). I love the commentary you have on other aspects of the film as well (Hans, the “fixer upper” song, etc).

            I talked with my oldest about this (my other one’s three and not super-talkative, so I figured I’d wait on her LOL) and she brought up Beauty and the Beast (her favorite Disney movie) and we talked about that as well. I told her it’s similar to Tangled and Aladdin in that it’s about how a woman’s love can change a “bad guy” into a “good guy” (there are other things as well, like Stockholm Syndrome, but I figured that might go over her head). I told her that we’re not going to have her stop watching it (unless we see it’s causing a problem for her or we talk about it and think it’s a good idea), but just that I wanted her to be aware of the messages they send.

            I really liked how you likened mutuality not only to a relationship with a man, but our relationship with Christ. I never really thought of it that way before – so good! ๐Ÿ™‚

            It is such a joy to read your blogs! Thank you for giving of yourself to bless other wives! ๐Ÿ˜€

          2. blessedout,
            You are most welcome! I think these are important things to think about and talk about – especially with our children.

            It is possible to take good messages from some of these movies. In Beauty and the Beast, the Beast responds to Belle’s respect. Women DO have a lot of power and influence with our respect, honor, and love. But – it is important to note that we are not God and we can’t save, rescue, or change people ourselves. It is not our job to make men into the people we think they should be. That is a very critical distinction, in my mind.

            What is fascinating to me is that our ideas about our husbands and how we treat our husbands and our marriages often perfectly mirror our ideas about God and how we treat Him.

            Much love to you!

          3. I actually think that movies like beauty and the beast, and tangled show how we should love, even better then frozen. In tangled she doesn’t try to force him to change, she accepts him as he is, treats him with respect, and is her feminine self with him. Because she is non judgmental he is able to bring up things that caused him so much pain in the past, that led him to his destructive path, and it caused him to want to change. She won him over without a word, and had it been a Christian movie there is a good chance he would have finally been able to let his guard down enough to haar Gods voice. Redemptive love.

            Frozen didn’t have much depth to it at all if you all me. Yes she didn’t make the Cinderella mistake, which is not a good example of real love, but honestly that’s about as far as it goes for me. I don’t know I guess to me it felt really flat.

          4. Sarah,

            These are great points! There ARE good themes in some of the Disney movies and other movies, too. I remember that I watched a number of Disney movies with my – then 2 year old – daughter as I was beginning to study godly femininity. I was struck by Belle’s respect for the Beast and how it impacted him. Rapunzel did show respect for Flynn – after she stopped hitting him in the head with her frying pan. I was also struck by how all of the princesses wore gowns and dresses and skirts – and how clothing does impact the way we present ourselves – and how the effect wouldn’t really be the same if they were all wearing jeans and t-shirts. Their feminine mannerisms, clothing, gentleness, kindness, goodness, patience, and humility were positive. And the way that Cinderella and Belle handled adversity with grace, joy, and poise were very positive.

            To me, I think one key is that if our children, particularly our daughters – because our sons probably won’t watch princess movies nearly as much – are going to watch movie – it is wise for us to talk with them about the different messages we see – the good and the bad.

            This is my opinion – but – I don’t believe that young children will be able to pick up on the messages of redemptive love and how a prince might be a type of Christ in a movie. I think they are more likely to just file away what the romantic relationship dynamics were and subconsciously assume that is “normal” and that they can and should expect real life relationships to be like what they have seen in movies. As children get older, I believe we can help them find the beautiful, more abstract themes in movies. And we can look for those ourselves. I think Siri Mitchell’s examples of themes she sees in the various Disney movies are very helpful.

            I like the idea of us talking with our children about any kind of media they consume – helping them to think critically and to think biblically. Of course, that means we need to be able to do those things first!

            To All,

            I do love how there is an element of the power of a woman’s respect and admiration, as well as redemptive love, in some of these movies. I want to be sure that we and our daughters understand that we can bless men and other people. We can inspire and encourage them. Our respect and admiration can be very healing. But it is not our job to “fix” people or to be the Holy Spirit to people. We cannot meet the needs that only Christ can meet in others. And a man can never meet our deepest needs as women. We need Jesus above all else. When we are whole in Him – then we are coming from a strong, healthy, Spirit-filled position where we can most bless other people with the love and power of God. It is important that we get these things in the right place in our priorities.

          5. Once a story leaves an author’s hands, it’s always open to interpretation, even if it’s interpreted differently than an author intended. As I’ve watched those movies you’ve referenced, I’ve seen them a bit differently. In Cinderella, I saw the prince being the only one who recognized Cinderella’s worth, the only one who responded to and called forth her true worth (similar to the way in which God sees us; and how often do we think ourselves unworthy of his — or anyone’s — love?) In Aladdin and Tangled, I saw love transforming the characters from being self-absorbed/selfish, to being willing to sacrifice themselves for another. Snow White, I consider redemptive. She was spared through the huntsman’s grace, but evil pursued her. Though it was her own fault she took the apple and didn’t follow advice (how often do our mistakes consume us?), but evil didn’t win (again, a transformation through love) and love redeemed her. In Beauty and the Beast, Belle is willing to sacrifice herself to save her father’s life. And at the end, when the Beast finally hears and understands that he’s loved, he’s completely transformed from the ruin he’s made of himself, back into the person he was meant to be all along. That scene mirrors what God’s love has done for us. That animator was displaying, through his gifts and talents, a vision of redemption. {I’ve heard him speak, so I know this to be true.}

            In stories, most often love is portrayed to us through romantic relationships (not always, of course; we see love in sports-themed tear-jerkers and animal movies like Hachi). Humans love love. We were meant to. We were created for love. We mirror God’s love in our relationships with each other. But in romantic stories, authors have to use the conventions we’re given. So again, some of this feels like ‘pink frosting’ (earlier comment). The transforming power of love is pictured in the context of romance because it has to be. The happily-ever-after comes because it always will in stories like these. Not that these movies are perfect. Ever After is a more well-rounded portrayal of the Cinderella story than Disney’s. The characters have names, there are flaws on both sides of the relationship…I guess it just depends upon the lens through which you’re viewing the movies.

          6. Siri Mitchell,

            What a blessing it would be for women and girls who watch these movies to hear someone speak about these more abstract themes and help them relate them to biblical themes.

            And yes, we all have lenses and filters through which we view movies and read books. Of course, we also have many other factors that influence our thinking about relationships, ourselves, and God – other than media. Media is not the only influence or even the most powerful influence in our lives. But I think it is very helpful for us to know our filters and to identify our motives as readers and as consumers of romantic media.

            For instance, some of the most common idols I have seen many women have (something they put above Christ that they believe they MUST have to be content in life) are things like:
            romance
            emotions
            happiness
            control
            self
            marriage
            weddings
            security
            a husband
            children

            If a woman who idolizes happiness, romance, and marriage reads romantic stories – I believe she may tend to feel disappointed in her own life, jealous, frustrated, depressed, and/or discouraged after reading a romantic book – particularly if she is determined to attempt to compare her marriage and husband to the story.

            If a woman is able to see her motives and purify her motives and learn to look at fiction as fiction and not assume that the masculinity that is portrayed there is an accurate reflection of their own husband’s masculinity and is not a standard by which she should measure or compare her husband – she may be able to read clean fictional romance books or watch some clean romantic movies without being adversely affected.

            When we see disappointment, discouragement, anger, resentment, jealousy, anxiety, or some negative emotional response in ourselves after reading a book or watching a movie or listening to a song – it is time to do some digging into our thinking, our motives, our fixed beliefs, and the messages we believe we are receiving from the media we are consuming. If a specific type of book or movie seems to tempt us into sinful thoughts, we may need to avoid that genre, at least for a time, as we learn to take our thoughts captive for Christ.

            Thank you so very much for sharing some of the beautiful themes in these movies.

          7. “What a blessing it would be for women and girls who watch these movies to hear someone speak about these more abstract themes and help them relate them to biblical themes.”

            I tend to think that most of us find what we’re looking for. And too often we fulfill our own expectations. In the words Jesus spoke, believers find grace; in those same words, the Pharisees found all sorts of rule violations and wickedness. Where some saw freedom, others saw evil. As you said, “we all have lenses and filters through which we view movies and read books. Of course, we also have many other factors that influence our thinking about relationships, ourselves, and God…” So as we go about our day, what are we expecting to encounter? A world that’s doomed and bent on destruction or evidence of God’s grace?

            “When we see disappointment, discouragement, anger, resentment, jealousy, anxiety, or some negative emotional response in ourselves after reading a book or watching a movie or listening to a song โ€“ it is time to do some digging into our thinking, our motives, our fixed beliefs, and the messages we believe…” Yes! I wish more people would do the hard ‘heart work’ instead of plastering over their insecurities with a cheerful smile. Plastering is easier though. We’ve all been told what a good Christian woman should look like. It’s easier to just pretend to be her. That way, you don’t have to deal with the mess that’s inside….which is why so many of us do it!

          8. Siri,

            I agree that most of us will find what we are looking for. When we look for the negative, we will find it. And when we look for the positive, we will find it. Of course, there are some movies/books/songs that are blatantly sinful that would not be appropriate for us as believers to consume. And I also agree with you that there is MUCH heart work to be done. That is actually the purpose of this blog – to expose the heart work, the hidden motives, idolatry, pride, self-righteousness – and to take this all to the arms of Jesus to find conviction, grace, mercy, forgiveness, true repentance, restoration, and then to live in the power of God’s Spirit, allowing Him to radically change us for His glory. Plastering a fake smile on is what some women tell me they think I am suggesting when I talk about respecting our husbands, for example. But nope! I am talking about total heart change by God’s power. It is painful at first! Very, very painful. But it is the path to His incredible spiritual treasures and abundant Life.

          9. I agree with you, Siri. As a writer, I cannot control how readers will take my books. I only know that the Lord laid these stories on my heart.

            I’m so tired of the argument about Cinderella : she had to have a man save her.

            Sometimes God DOES put people in our lives to (figuratively) save us. Sometimes He uses those people to point us to Him.

            Taking away love stories won’t fix the world. God used a love story (a true one) to save us. “For God so loved…”

            Stay away from nasty, secular stories and movies. But there are plenty of Christian novels that uplift and convict while entertaining.

            I don’t believe it’s fair to bash what many writers consider their ministry.

          10. Courtney Phillips,

            Thank you so much for sharing! It is not my desire to attempt to “bash” Christian romance novels or Christian marriage books (I ask my readers about their responses to both in the survey from this past Sunday). I just finished writing my first book for wives, myself. My hope is to help women – who come away from novels, movies, and love songs feeling upset, jealous, angry, or discontent – to examine their thoughts and motives, and to focus on Christ. And, my prayer is that God might help them see what messages they may be taking away from the things they watch or read so that they can compare any message (whether intended by the author/director or not) to God’s Word.

            If something is causing a woman to sin – even if it is her own filters, expectations,perceptions and thought processes – I want to see her address that in her life with the help of God’s Word and His Spirit. For some, that may mean they need to avoid Christian romance novels, at least for a time. For some, they may need to look at their expectations of God, of self, of their husbands, and marriages, and lay everything before God to allow Him to point out anything that is destructive and needs to go.

            I know that even rated G Christian romance novels were problematic for me in the past. I am not blaming the authors. I am blaming my own sin struggles.

            I love the story of Cinderella. I have watched it many times with my daughter. But – I do want to be careful about what messages my little girl may be absorbing. I want to help her see the good messages, but also help her to be aware of any unrealistic expectations that she may take away from the movie.

            I am thankful for writers for whom writing is their ministry. I pray for God to give them wisdom. They have an incredible influence on many, many women. I would love for us all to work together to address the issues some of our sisters are facing in regard to purifying their thoughts and expectations of marriage and of God.

            Thank you very much for sharing, my precious sister!

          11. I also used to have issues with romantic movies, love songs, and Christian marriage books. The issues were because of my own sinful thoughts, motives, and expectations. I wanted to change my husband to be who I thought he should be because of the things I saw and read. The Christian marriage books were not the problem – I was. My focus was the problem. I was focusing on wanting to “fix” and “change” my husband instead of asking God to change me for His glory.

            I have seen quite a few women on my blog who struggle when they watch or read some romantic movies/stories – and some marriage books. That is why I want to address this. I want to see our sisters be set free from any sin.

  3. My husband and I play a game with movies in which we categorize them, not only as chick flicks but other stereotypes, such as “divorced dad flick.” Think of the movie “Taken” with Liam Neeson. Theme: Divorced dad who is marginalized by ex wife and her new wealthy though not-rugged husband ends up being the real hero after all when only he is man enough to flawlessly and violently terrorize the evil bad guys (who are so evil they actually deserve the satisfactorily bloody deaths). In the end, all three (daughter, ex wife –who obviously never should have replaced him– and even the new husband) all look up to him with frank admiration and gratitude. It’s really quite eye opening to do this kind of analysis. Helps you see where our current society under values men’s contributions (hope that wasn’t too manospheric) and the dreams of affirmations that men hold as well.

    1. Marked Wife,
      I think it is a fantastic idea to critically analyze the themes of movies we watch and to look for any slants. I ask my children to talk about how femininity and masculinity are portrayed in movies and what messages they send about marriage, manhood, and womanhood. I know that may seem unnecessary or overkill, but I want the. To learn to think critically for themselves and recognize the messages they are consuming and evaluate them against the truth of God’s Word.

      Thank you so much for sharing!

  4. Point being that just as women lie awake at night and dream of being romanced just like the chick in the flick, divorced dad lies awake at night dreaming of being respected, admired, and even a little bit feared by the people who told him he wasn’t good enough, just like Liam Neeson. (Absolutely no offense intended to divorced dads, it was just really obvious whom the movie was marketed to).

  5. It sure has been a long time since I’ve seen such a thing, but the recurring theme is the way a man’s purpose seems to magically completely reorient itself as a response to a woman regardless of whatever else was going on his life.

    I could never understand that, even theology aside: “man was not made for woman, but woman for man.” Today I understand that a woman is best served by a man who is on his own mission, so to speak, such that she joins him on the adventure. It’s not “happily ever after,” it’s “here begins a life partnership” sharing all the same risks and dangers and excitements and fulfillment, in the direction of the man whom his helper was sent to help. The idea of a man being sensitive and imparting himself to a woman is a really good thing–a man can have a sheer confidence that imparting himself to a woman fully, treasuring her and making her know she’s the best gift God ever gave him. ๐Ÿ™‚ And, he can see her happiness and her good health and condition as something of a proud (in a way) reflection of his own sort of “job well done” in that sense too–not that he can control her condition fully, in the end, of course.

    I know I was always interested in big goals and dreams and worked hard toward them. I didn’t have a concept of the idea that God built a woman not to be some kind of “prize” for achievement for a while (something this culture does in so many ways). I guess that’s what some of the romances look like. Rather, it’s a life partnership through all of the goals during the journey that–I understand now–a relationship is really meant to do.

    It’s an incredibly deep cultural flaw that’s led to incredible problems for bad attitudes in both genders. At some point when I rethought the matter, I re-evaluated my thinking to Adam and Eve. First Adam was made, on the course, for God’s purposes, and THEN Eve was introduced tailor-made to be Adam’s helper. It kind of seemed like more women took interest in me after shook that off and a lot of old feminist/egalitarian ideas. The “man on a mission” is attractive to women for good reason, I think, as is the one who doesn’t look easily controlled (the “bad boy” as it were).

    I didn’t go through your numbered list because romance stories aren’t fresh in my mind. I firmly believe there’s a right way to do romance (as I think I implied), which I considered for writing my own story on my “Adam and Eve method” as it were. I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with understanding good vs. bad qualities–I mean, we have Proverbs 31 “high expectations” for a reason, after all (written by a woman for his son).

    Just the thoughts off the top of my head. Maybe I’ll be back. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. In my case, my (now ex-) wife told me that she had quit reading romance novels as a teenager because she didn’t want to have unrealistic expectations. (Apparently she should have quit sooner.)

    We did watch romantic and “chick flick” movies after we were married, and I believe those did have a distorting impact, though I didn’t realize it until the later years. At first, I naively thought she might compare me favorably to the movies’ white knights, because I really had “rescued” her from a very poor family situation โ€” broken home, alcoholic and promiscuous mother, very rigid, aloof, and judgmental hyper-fundamentalist father, and very little money. Unfortunately, as soon as she realized I had feet of clay (which, of course, didn’t take very long), not only was I not the white knight, I was the villain.

    What really caused trouble, I think, were her interpretations of various Christian marriage books. Some of what she took from those books may have been due to problems with the books, but just as often it was her own filter that was the problem. She could read a book that was aimed at both husbands and wives evenly, but come away with no awareness of what the book had said about the wife’s obligations but with total, even exaggerated, recall of what it said about the husband’s obligations.

    One of our (Christian) counselors told us to read the book “A Celebration of Sex: A Guide to Enjoying God’s Gift of Sexual Intimacy” (which is actually a very good book.) She read the introduction or first chapter, which described the underlying relationship that should exist in a Christian marriage and toward which the book wanted to move a couple, and then she refused to read any more of the book because our relationship didn’t measure up to the ideal. (Duh!)

    She read a small portion of Shaunti Feldhahn’s “For Women Only” and refused to read any more because it was too sympathetic toward men. She flatly refused to read “Love and Respect,” even though our last Christian counselor told us we should read it. Somehow, by the time it was all done, she could justify an unbiblical divorce contrary to our pastor’s and counselor’s advice because she was so unhappy about our finances, my parenting, etc.

    1. David J.,

      Hmmm… This gives me a lot to think about.

      I think that when a wife has self on the throne in her heart, like I did, and believes that everything and everyone should line up according to her will – and God and her husband should submit to her – she can be blind to what even christian marriage books and counselors say about a wife’s obligations and responsiblities in marriage. Her focus is on how her husband needs to change. In her mind, he is the problem. And in her mind, she carries no blame. That is how I thought, anyway. I thought I was the best Christian wife ever and that God needed to change Greg to make him more loving. As you know, I didn’t see my mountain of sin until God opened my eyes with the book Love and Reapect.

      I have known many wives whose husbands or counselors or books confronted them about their responsibilities or sins, but who could not see anything other than what they believed their husband needed to change. for them to see their own sin, it takes God’s Spirit to wake her up and convict her.

      That is interesting that your wife realized romantic books would train her to have unrealistic expectations. I did not understand that and would end up feeling resentful when my real life husband didn’t automatically know what to do, what to say, how to say it, know what I needed, what I was thinking, and how to “make me feel loved and happy” like the romantic leads in books and movies did. Even the rated G Christian romantic fictional novels were triggers for jealousy or resentment for me many times. Romantic movies were, too. They created such intense feelings and emotions in my mind and heart that I could feel through the female lead. I wanted those same emotions and feelings in my marriage, too. I can remember feeling disappointed that my marriage wasn’t more like those fictional accounts. “I wish my husband complimented me like that.” “Why doesn’t Greg sweep me off my feet like that and provide romantic surprises for me like that?” “Why doesn’t he talk and look at me the way that guy talks to her and looks at her?” Those kinds of thoughts are destructive to a real life marriage, in my view.

      How I wish every couple would read Love and Respect and For Women Only and For Men Only!!

      Your story still breaks my heart, but I do thank you very much for sharing your observations.

  7. I felt compelled to ask my husband these questions (because I’m curious like that) and he complied (because he’s awesome like that). These are his answers:

    1. In the movies, they portray them as kind of feminine (making it as if the manโ€™s opinion is not as important or not important at all as the womenโ€™s needs). It seems that the man has to prove himself for her to fall in love with him, instead of her loving him for who he is; he needs to do extra stuff and go out of the way. Itโ€™s OK to do that sometimes, but to get a woman to fall in love with him? Thatโ€™s not right.
    2. Men talk more about what she is and whatโ€™s needed for her in the movies, but never mentions what he needsโ€ฆ itโ€™s centered around her rather than a give-take relationship.
    3. It makes men seem like they have to become a fictional character, which they could never do, because the characters are written in the eyes of a woman. In our human hearts, we could never do thatโ€ฆ it puts an unrealistic expectation in his wife that an imperfect man could never meet.
    4. Muscularly fit, poetic talk, 100% selfless acts, and heroic deeds. A man cannot slay a dragon that doesnโ€™t exist.
    5. I guess the only one I could say per se is Titanic. A husband SHOULD lay his life down for his wife, so that part. (They werenโ€™t married, butโ€ฆ)
    6. Their man needs to be a Prince Charmingโ€ฆ he needs to always know what sheโ€™s thinking and know all of her feelings without even being told.
    7. Video gamesโ€ฆ Nah, just joking! Whatโ€™s romantic to a man is being encouraged to do his best, but not when his wife is telling him his flaws in a disrespectful way to force him to do better. Going out to dinner, whether itโ€™s fast food or a five star restaurantโ€ฆ just time alone with his wife is meaningful. Getting it on is romantic too.

    LOL I think my favorite is the answer to #7. Somehow, I knew he’d squeeze that last sentence in somewhere. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Blessed out,
      You and your husband are awesome! ๐Ÿ™‚ I really love his answers. This is the kind of concrete info that I think will help wives to see things in a more balanced, realistic, God-honoring, husband-honoring way.

      I think that the men not talking about what they need in movies and books makes it easy for us to assume that men don’t have needs, or that their needs are the same as ours. Super important point!

      Another great point is that most romantic books or movies are written by women. They don’t accurately portray how men feel and think. That is something we need to be very careful to be aware of if we are reading or watching these things. And it may be a good reason to not read this genre or watch chick flicks because they do create a feminized view of men and they teach us that men think and feel like we do when they really do not.

      Please thank your man for me! This was very helpful.

      I love your commentary, too. You are so adorable!!

      1. Thanks so much, April! Your kind words mean a lot to both of us. I have been following your blog for a while now and it’s such an immense blessing to me (and my husband too, apparently! haha)

        I was thinking about that too (that most romantic books/movies are made by women) and then realized that a lot of men are probably mad at Nicholas Sparks for setting up unrealistic ideals… and sure enough, I found an article by a man about how Nicholas Sparks ruined his marriage. I definitely don’t condone the article (he partly uses it to justify his own sin), but I can understand the frustration.

        My husband did something really good for me almost right after we got married: he told me that he expressly did not want me to read gossip magazines or fashion-type magazines. This is slightly unrelated in a way, but it kind of goes along the same lines of this blog: just as we can have unrealistic expectations of our husbands, we can also have unrealistic expectations of ourselves. Camron knew, before I did, that reading that gossipy garbage would do nothing but make me really judgmental of others. He didn’t want me to be that kind of woman. He also knew how delicate my heart and self-image were, so he didn’t want me to look at airbrushed representations of women and compare myself to their unattainable image. I’m not even kidding you – at first, I had withdrawals. I’d look at those covers with a fury, because I knew he said I couldn’t read/buy them, but as long as I didn’t touch them, I figured I could read the covers. (LOL how BAD is that???) Now I don’t even really notice them… and if I do, it’s in the “Gosh, I can’t believe I used to read that junk!” way. I also find myself sympathizing with whatever celebrity is on there. Camron had told me, “They’re just regular people,” and that stuck with me. It made me really stop and think, “I wouldn’t want someone following me around, documenting my every bad move!” I’m so grateful that the Lord used my husband to open my eyes regarding this and other things.

        He’s a SUPER patient guy, my husband. I seriously marvel that he’s willing to put up with me! Haha! ๐Ÿ™‚

        Anyway, thanks again for being a reasonable voice to women about what the Bible exhorts them to do. I’ve been shown a lot through you, Love and Respect, The Language of Love and Respect, For Women Only, The Respect Dare (thanks for that blog about your favorite books, by the way!) and the Bible. ๐Ÿ˜€

        God bless you and your family!

        1. Blessedout,

          That is interesting about Nicholas Sparks.

          I am really glad that your husband led you in such a godly way to avoid those magazines. GOOD CALL! Yes, we DO compare ourselves to others and cultivate unrealistic expectations of ourselves, just like we can about our husbands. Comparing is just usually not a good idea!

          I praise God for all that He is doing in your heart, life, and soul. Much love to you!

          1. Thank you! Yes, I have an amazing husband! Even more amazing when I let him do his (God-given) job in our relationship! Haha!

            I actually brought this up with my daughter tonight! I’d given her chocolate chips and some to her sister… I told her, “Don’t compare.” She’s six, so she was like, “What’s compare mean?” I told her what it meant and then said, “Yeah, just don’t compare anything. If you can learn not to compare yourself to other people or your stuff to other people’s stuff, you’ll be a lot happier.” Someone always has it “better” than we do!

            My mom brought this subject up with me once too… I was complaining about what someone had (who’s not serving the Lord) and I was really frustrated because I do my best to cultivate my relationship with God and honor Him with my life, but I was struggling financially and she was doing fantastic in that area. My mom said, “Yeah, but when you do that, you have to think about EVERYTHING, not just the stuff you’d want. In other words, you wish you were more financially secure, like she is… but would you have liked to have gone through drug addictions and having a kid at 16 to get there?” I was like, “Uh, definitely not.” LOL It kind of put things in perspective for me… yes, I may wish we had more financial resources, but I in no way would like to be “where she is”.

            Much love to you as well! I’ve told my husband that (figuratively speaking) if I could meet anyone on a blog/youtube, it’d be you. I am SO grateful for your willingness to share your thoughts on this subject. ๐Ÿ™‚

          2. blessedout,

            This is awesome! We would save ourselves (and our husbands) so much pain if we would not compare ourselves to real or fictional people. I am proud of your mom for helping you see things more clearly!

            Thank you for sharing so many treasures God has taught you! Would you consider writing a guest post for me? I would be honored to share you with all of my readers.

            Much love!
            April

          3. April,

            I’m sorry… I just now saw this! ๐Ÿ˜› (My name on here may be different… sorry about that!)

            I recently wrote you about some things that were going on (by recently, I mean minutes ago).

            What’s crazy is that I think God’s already healing it. I struggled SO much this week (now that I think about it, it was even before Monday) and I felt like it was spiraling out of control… but my husband is absolutely amazing. I can’t believe how good God is to me, to have given him to me as my husband.

            I called him to apologize (again) because I wanted him to know it was a truly sincere apology (sometimes I apologize while I’m still a little frustrated because I know he’s right and I need to get over it), and his tone was already softened (not irritated-sounding anymore). As I was apologizing, my voice broke (stinkin’ voice!) and while I was trying to regain my composure, he asked what was wrong. I really didn’t want him to hear me cry, so I covered the phone and was silent for a bit (which obviously isn’t the best thing to do in a phone conversation) and then gave up on trying to “keep it together” and just told him how very sorry I was and that I was so frustrated at myself because I’d been so disrespectful and I didn’t want to be anymore!

            He apologized for hurting me too and gently said I need to give it to God and stop trying to do it on my own. I told him I’d been trying that all week, and he encouraged me to just keep trying and not give up. I told him I wouldn’t… and he encouraged me to read a specific Bible verse (which I really needed to hear) and pray to God about it. I did and I feel so much better, and our lines of communication are back open again. ๐Ÿ™‚

            I would absolutely love to guest post on your blog, but I will need to prayerfully consider it first because, though I love to write, I want to be sure the Lord is speaking to me in what I say.

            Thank you so much for all you do! You are such a blessing!

          4. Jenn,

            How has your time with God been going this week? When you are pressed for time or rushed, it is MUCH, MUCH more difficult to respect and biblically submit. Are you hormonal this week, too? That makes it a lot harder, as well!

            Take your time. If/when you believe God is ready for you to write a post for me – we will talk about it then. No rush! ๐Ÿ™‚

            Much love to you!!!!!! You are a blessing to me, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

          5. I think that what I found so frustrating about the entire ordeal (besides the ordeal itself) was that I WAS still having my quiet time with God this week… I insisted upon it and made sure I did it before I even started helping my daughter with schoolwork. So to know I’d gone from that time with the Lord to getting stressed over silly stuff was highly frustrating to me. I have noticed, though, that I haven’t been doing my quiet time at the beginning AND end of the day (just in the beginning), so I wonder if that’s been part of it. Maybe I need it to “bookend” my day and put things into perspective before the next hectic day begins. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

            I’m not really sure if it’s hormones this week (I know a lot of women who keep track, but I’ve never been very good at that kind of thing. It just kinda makes sense the week of… “Oh… that’s why I was freaking out last week!”) but it could be.

            I prayed on my way to work yesterday about my stress and anxiety… I asked God to give me peace. I told Him I don’t expect Him to magically make my stress triggers go away, but to give me His supernatural peace in spite of the stressful stuff. As I was reading those verses, it was really comforting, because a lot of them are about how those who seek peace/the Lord will find peace. I know I’m not perfect at “feeling peaceful”, but I am definitely seeking the Lord and peace.

            I think that part of my problem, too (and this was a scripture that spoke to me in the chapter my husband had me read) was that I was (unintentionally) beginning to put my husband on a pedestal. I was so thrilled with what happened when I started being more respectful, that I began to expect him to do those loving things on a regular basis. Of course, when he didn’t, I was disappointed. The negative thoughts started to come in again and I literally had to rebuke them and at one point I even said aloud, “No, I’m not going to do it again.” I think it’s a good thing that my husband is human and fallible, because when he fails to meet my expectations, it’s a reminder to me to trust in Jesus and no one else.

            Although, to be honest, a lot of people have unrealistic expectations of Jesus himself and they are going to have a VERY hard time when He fails to meet those expectations. The ones like, “I’ve sinned, but I’m a good person, so Jesus will let me into heaven.” I realize I’m going off on a tangent here but my heart breaks for people who genuinely feel that way… I fear my sister may be one of those people and I pray for her often.

            Oh wow, am I long winded! LOL! I had a few more things I wanted to say, but I’ve got to take my daughter to an appointment today.

            With the Lord’s help (and my good-faith efforts), I WILL be calm today!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

            Thanks again!

          6. Jenn,
            I really love what you noticed about putting your husband on a pedestal. You know what? These are the moments that force us to refine our motives. In fact, this is a VERY necessary part of this journey – that when our husbands start to be more loving, it is so easy to idolize them again, but God is going to expose that. It is because of His mercy for us that He does this. Any time I notice I am feeling disappointed, I know I need to look at my motives and expectations and see if I am putting Greg, feeling loved, happiness, my expectations, my will, my desires, etc… above God in my heart.

            YES! These times ARE reminders for us to do this only to please Jesus and to only trust and seek to please Him ultimately. When I have stumbled like this, I realize that I was often seeking to obey God in order for Greg to change. That is not good. That’s not loving God and loving my husband. That is an attempt at controlling and manipulating God and my husband on my part.

            I’m really excited about what you are learning! I need women in every stage of this journey to share their experiences – I would actually love to share a bit of this comment in a post – IF you are ok with it. ๐Ÿ™‚

            Much love!!!!

            April

          7. April,

            I’m definitely OK with it! ๐Ÿ™‚ If it can help someone who’s going through a similar situation, I’ll do it. ๐Ÿ™‚

            Praise report: I am feeling much calmer today and am very grateful for that. I woke up about an hour earlier, and I think that adding the extra time into my schedule helped as well. I tend to want to sleep as long as humanly possible, but it’s not worth it to sleep in and then make my entire family’s lives miserable because of it! ๐Ÿ˜›

            I think you’ve read a comment I’d written about how, right after I got married, my best friend died and how years afterward, I still hadn’t had a close female friend. Along the lines of a “pedestal”, I wonder if part of the reason God allowed her to come home was because I wouldn’t have responded correctly to the conflict in our marriage if she’d been here. What I mean is that we used to talk about everything. If she’d been alive the first year of our marriage, I would have probably told her everything that was hurting/frustrating me. She then would have likely sided with me, saying that Cam was wrong, and I probably would have believed her. I hope that wouldn’t have happened, but it’s a possibility. I kind of had her on a pedestal… so if she would have told me that it’d be OK for me to divorce him because he was hurting me so much, I may have believed her! Because of her death, I was “left alone” with just me and Jesus to talk through that painful first year (it was painful because he had expectations that I couldn’t meet – crazy that I knew that and still continued to pile expectations on him).

            Anyway, as He does, God worked things out. I wouldn’t trade that first year for anything… not even to have my best female friend back. I know I’ll see her again someday… but instead of complaining about my marriage, we’ll be rejoicing at the wedding feast! ๐Ÿ˜€

  8. I think you’ve covered this topic very well in the past so, if I may, I’ll add just one point. The best way for any woman to start a relationship ( a real relationship, not an imaginary one) with a man is to first and foremost acknowledge him as human. That what she’s accepting is nothing less than a human being who has flaws. It’s when you think you just got Mr. Right and he does something wrong that you find the pain unbearable.

    So remember, this is a human being before anything else.

    1. Nick,

      Great point! I think that we as women often expect perfection of ourselves – I know I did. And I expected perfection of my husband, too. Not a healthy way to try to have a relationship!

      If we can understand that all people are imperfect and expect that we will need to extend grace, mercy, and forgiveness – I do think that we would have much stronger relationships.

      In fact, the whole concept of “Mr. Right” may be a big part of the problem. Many women buy into the concept that there is a “Mr. Right” a “perfect soul mate” and that if only they find that one man, everything in their lives will be wonderful.

      I don’t find the concept of “one soul mate” to be a biblical one necessarily. I see where God commands us to marry someone who is “in the Lord” (I Cor. 7). But I don’t see where the Bible endorses the idea that there is only one possible spouse for each believer and if you miss him/her, you are just out of luck and can never get married or have a godly life. This concept of “a perfect soul mate” promotes women to imagine that “the perfect man” will never disappoint her, never sin against her, never allow her to feel unloved for a moment, always meet her every need, never disagree with her, etc…

      This is all about our expectations.

      Thanks very much, my brother!

  9. Hello Peaceful, and this is a good question……

    In Christian circles there are a TON of “Christian” romance novels on the market now. Evidently its a expanding, booming market. Yes, it is geared to women, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

    Also, in light of the recent boom of decent, slick-produced “Christian” movies, and further yet, even our Christian pop-stars today have tattoos, and even ooze a sexuality that was unheard of a generation ago.

    For the most part, I don’t really have a problem with this. It’s not the secular world, but it’s an underlying theme that CAN be taken out of context, and it has not helped relations between Godly men and women who WANT dating, love, marriage, children….that kind of thing today. This is where I don’t think it is helping. It could be setting expectations of what a Godly man is and what and how he is supposed to behave, what he is supposed do for a living, act and look like. Including his personality, and what words he says and when.

    I, out of curiosity browsed the titles, the cover art, the “write up” of many of these Christian-romance-novels on the back cover at a local Christian book shop here in my city. The Christian romance section was bigger than the Bible section in this bookstore. Thousand of titles! I even purchased two of these books and read them to see what “the big deal was”

    Every story seems to take place on the American frontier, post-civil war (1870’s). The Alaskan Klondike in the same period is another common setting. The heroine is holy, a Christian, but she just doesn’t understand everyone else around her, and how close-minded they are. She of course is beautiful, and has been passed up by Christian men because of her “strong independent will” and she never feels “the spark” with any of the men in her community of faith.

    The love interest just gets out of the US Calvary (or leaves a roving band of cowboys / gets off a ship after traveling the world and decides he needs to settle down, but with who?) and of course they meet, and he never is accepted by the culture / church she comes from. Of course in the end, she is right, everyone else was wrong about the man she loves. She knew from day one, he was “the one” (soulmate). He of course is very tall, muscular, nice head of hair, and has a strong, solitary rebellious nature.

    In the two stories I read the love interest doesn’t even become a Christian. He may go to church with her once, or pray with her once but I really didn’t see any conviction by the Holy Ghost. I really didn’t see repentance. I didn’t see a “turning away” from his past. Everyone else in the story had to change their opinions about him. The love interest didn’t have to change. Neither did the heroine.

    The cover art on all these novels doesn’t have “Fabio” on them but they evoke a sense of freedom, of longing, of standing alone….right or wrong. There is no foul language. No pre-martial sex (close enough in one of the stories I read though). It’s safe in this realm, wholesome in all aspects which makes it marketable as “Christian” because the heroine professes “Jesus” and “God” in the story.

    I think women need to take romance novels, romantic comedy’ movies and stuff like this for “what it is”

    A fantasy. It’s not the real world. To expect differently is a bit unfair, and maybe that’s why a lot of Christian women are single today as well.

    The world we live in as Christians IS fallen. Isn’t perfect and that is why we profess Christ. To heal, help, and bring all our gifts and acts in the name of Christ.

    1. Jason,

      Wow! I am impressed with all of your research! I haven’t read books like the ones you are describing. I read a few books about the Amish that my grandmother passed along to me a few years ago – and that is the closest thing I have read in many years that was anything remotely like a “Christian romance novel.” There was always a great deal of suffering in those books, not a lot of romance, and I think the male characters were portrayed in a more accurate way than in many romantic books. But still, I could come away even from those books feeling resentful. For me – I personally decided I just don’t need to read fictional stories or watch romantic movies. I don’t see where they help me in my walk with Christ or my marriage.

      Your observations are very helpful. I appreciate your contributions to this discussion greatly. What you are sharing makes me really sad, though! I am very disturbed to hear what the plot lines were in the books you read – particularly the part about the male romantic lead not even being a believer. How heartbreaking!!!!! And how heart breaking that there wasn’t any spiritual character development for the heroines or for the male leads. This causes me a lot of concerns – maybe I need to ask some of the ladies about the details of the books they have read. I wonder if this is a very common theme – a Christian woman falling for an unbeliever?

      Thanks, my brother!

      1. For what it’s worth, I think some eastern fiction helped me better understand femininity. I guess I say that all the time, but some of the things I have in mind just had SO much of a more sober outlook on “romance” as it were, not so idolized, much more down-to-Earth–and what I really felt were much more healthy portrayals of masculinity and femininity.

        None of those such things are perfect by any means. : But to me it’s a HUGE, stark contrast between modern western romances that put relationships up on such a huge “happily ever after” pedestal.

          1. Yeah, like I said at first, the romances we grew up on (Disney, some Hollywood stuff) was not fresh in my mind, but a lot of that material REALLY messes us up–I totally agree with that. I’m actually really thankful for some of the exposure I had to some Eastern media for doing it right–or at least more right.

        1. Agreed JC. After living in India with my former employer (this was back in the 1990’s for six months, and long before my Christian walk). One husband and wife who were my age (27 at the time) had been married for about eight years and had two children; told me that the love they have for each other didn’t start out that way, and it took time to take root and grow.

          As compared to American culture for the most part where we marry only for “feelings” and “love” and “right now”

          I actually returned from Asia after that six month stint in early 1999 “hopefully” about love again ๐Ÿ™‚

      2. Hello Peaceful!

        Yes, many of these Christian romance type of novels had many covers and stories about “The Amish” as well. That is another popular setting for these stories I noticed!

        From the reading of the two books, what I came to the conclusion was this: Our Christian culture has been fully integrated with “the worlds” view on romantic love, and romance. Endearment. Meeting the perfect guy, and God having created that one person especially and totally for you, to complete you. Everything that you have wished for can only be found in this one person. We Christians today tend to take the world’s view on this and then just add “God” to it, and it seems to make it okay.

        It’s called the “soulmate syndrome” and anyone…Christian men or women denying its in our Christian-culture should really take a hard look at the graying pews in their church today. Not trying to be harsh, but its a truth.

        Most of us know (and I am sure many of the readers of Christian-romance know as well) that there is only ONE person who can complete us. It’s our Savior, Jesus Christ. A man can never accomplish what Christ did, and who Jesus was and IS. A woman can never fulfill the heart of man the way Jesus did to his followers (Disciples). Notice The Bible never makes ONE mention of what Mark, Luke, or Matthew’s wives “thought” about their husbands following Jesus. He was the completion. It was something that their wives could not even fulfill, or live up to. Same for

        It’s just the concept of this today that causes me some frustration, and how we (meaning all) have let the world dictate to us what it means to be a Christian in love, or those feelings of endearment that we all so much want; but somehow the world has defined it FOR US, and we as Christians allowed it in, and its making too many single Christians…..single.

        1. Jason,

          YES! Jesus is the only One who can complete us and fulfill our every spiritual/emotional need. I agree that the “soulmate” idea can be very toxic. It can create these expectations of perfection from those we date or marry that are just not possible. Then if we believe that there is a “perfect soulmate,” we may believe we “chose the wrong spouse” instead of realizing that all people are sinful and we will all have growing and maturing to do in marriage and we will all need to give and receive forgiveness, grace, mercy, love, honor, and respect – even when the other person doesn’t always “deserve it” in our view.

          I appreciate your story about the couple in India, as well. Very interesting!

          Thanks so much, Jason!

    2. Yes — in the recent past, Christian fiction was the largest growing segment of the publishing industry as a whole.

      Yes — the majority of Christian historicals/historical romance are set in the U.S. and take place in the 1800s. That’s the setting/century that are most popular with that genre’s readers.

      Christian fiction should always be written from a Christian viewpoint, but it doesn’t necessarily have to have a conversion scene. Just as in our own lives, characters’ lives are often transformed in baby steps. I write Christian historical fiction and find myself more interested in exploring questions of faith than answers of faith. Sometimes my characters move quite a bit toward salvation, sometimes they move just a little. Sometimes they might simply come to recognize God or have their faith deepened. I’m a quiet person and you will probably never find me witnessing on street corners. In just the same way, even when exploring Christian themes, my books are low-key, my words about faith stated quietly. I take as my standard the book of Esther where God is never mentioned although his presence infuses every page. Because of this, my readers often feel able to pass my books on to friends who aren’t Christians. Friends who have often asked the same questions I’m exploring but might not have considered looking for answers in Christianity.

      In writing romance, characters are flawed, but they’re written to be perfect for each other. An author plans that the hero will see or recognize in the heroine something that no one else ever has. And the heroine will do the same. I wouldn’t call it unrealistic or a fantasy, but it is necessary for fiction.

      I realize fiction is not for everyone. Most people are either drawn to fiction or drawn instead to non-fiction in their reading. I like to think that’s why Jesus both preached AND told parables to the crowds that followed him. Unless I’m reading for research, you’d have to tie me to a chair to make me read non-fiction but I understand that many people feel the opposite. Fiction readers need to find their truths in stories (even if that story is a romance). Pulling the threads and themes together, thinking about the story’s meaning, processing the characters’ actions: It’s the only way truths sink down into the heart and come alive for people like me.

      There are Christians involved in many aspects of story-telling in our culture. Christians are involved at high levels in many of Disney’s animated movies. The supervising animator for Ariel, Aladdin, Tarzan, and the Beast is wonderful Christian man. And there were Christians involved in Tangled and Frozen as well. Our efforts might not announce themselves the way you might expect, but we’re here just same.

      1. I appreciate your post as I’m working hard on a fiction novel myself–a story in which people who are ignorant of God seek him out and discover him (as God reached out to them). I’m more of a defector from most of the Western Hollywood scene though (i.e. not too thrilled with Disney anymore–save for some fun Pixar flicks).

        The thing that irks me about every modern western romance that comes to my mind (again, much of what I’ve seen in eastern media is NOT so guilty) is that it just infuses this sense of a “be all end all” in romance. I think “romance” is beautiful put in its place–flawed people with a LARGER goal. Marriage is just not the life-fulfilling thing that many stories make it out to be–just like many people (oftentimes in Christianity) do so. I keep seeing all this Christian media that makes it out that it has to be Mr. and Mrs. Perfect before you dare get married to the other person. It’s no wonder so many people are disappointed–throughout most history, marriages were arranged and/or people were married REALLY young. “Love grows” is the phrase said about arranged marriages, as that’s what it really is: a life partnership. Not “Mr. and Mrs. Perfect” who suddenly become the only two people in their own personal universe with no other purpose to it. I see this mess in Christianity where, if our attitudes reflected the Bible’s teaching, we’d have a major emphasis on a spiritual family, a community capable of sustaining people in general, which would be the real answer for restoring marriages by way of restoring (spiritually) the people in them–all in terms of a larger context.

        They say fiction is some reflection of reality–not that the stories are realistic, but they reflect cultural attitudes. It’s very true, and our culture is in a dangerous place by putting romance/marriage on just way too high a pedestal, where it’s a beautiful thing in its place: in the middle of the struggle to something greater.

        I spoke to an Indian friend of mine–India has less than a 1% divorce rate. People are just prepared for the fact that “people change,” is what he said.

        Fiction IS powerful. The writing I’ve done on my own work is some of the most edifying I’ve ever done. Fiction is a language, a realm of ideas that can connect people over various other sorts of miscommunications–offer images to go with ideas and concepts and strengthen those concepts in the verisimilitude of the action they portray. Fiction can tower over the noisy back-and-forth dialogues in the world and make its point in ways that people can relate. That is, to say, though, that a fiction writer needs a worthwhile message and a craft of storytelling in which to get the idea across. Jesus definitely told stories, albeit short ones, for that reason: symbolic imagery, which can show the layers in which God ordered the universe; “the kingdom of heaven is like a pearl,” and such. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The mental exercise all of this entails is indisputable.

        1. JC,

          Fiction is VERY powerful! That is why we are discussing how greatly it impacts us in our walk with Christ and our expectations of our marriages and husbands. I appreciate your insights and pray for God’s wisdom as you write your book!

          1. Thanks for your prayers!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

            I have no doubt God is in it. It sounds like a wishy-washy thing to say, but I feel God’s presence whenever I’m working on it. I get this amazing feeling where I feel otherwise tormented, that when I’m writing it, I’m doing what I really ought to be doing for God–an amazing peace. ๐Ÿ™‚

            My book is actually a rewrite of one I wrote a while ago and I seriously contemplated tossing the love story that was in it (the romance in my first version when I was 17 was pretty bad, even with a heart in the right place in some ways).

            However, I re-imagined it in the spirit of saying that romance/marriage is a really beautiful thing ESPECIALLY when you put it in a bigger context. I mean, it’s not about “getting the girl” or the idolized relationship, it’s about struggling through things with each other through a greater goal. ๐Ÿ™‚ To that end a romance can be a beautiful thing. In the West we flip-flop between idolizing it and getting altogether cynical about it. But there’s a wonderful place where it belongs–so, my approach I think is highly powerful, one of many strong threads in a story more about finding God, how He shows Himself and works all things together, who appears in the love story in it among many other things.

            It’s a Joseph story in terms of the main character–big time! And, about a gorgeously feminine woman who discovers strength as warms up to the meaning in following a man of strong purpose–all of the struggles he has for himself (very real stuff), he does his best to take care of her, and she receives ministry in all of it that causes her to find strength sharing in the purpose. BUT, the meaning of the story is primarily about people finding God who reaches out to them by all these means (including love between them). The man essentially “leads” in the outward journey, so to speak, but it’s also individual. It’s kind of “less is more” really–I wouldn’t even call anything an outright “love scene,” but there’s lots of passion in the partnership. I was mostly interested in the challenge of putting the presence of femininity powerfully into a much, much larger context and highlighting its impact.

            I’m stoked! I just chipped through a writer’s block about a cubic mile (that and school was frying my mind). But wow is this powerful stuff! If you saw this story you’d know why I’m glued to some of your writing too–about God’s sovereignty, giving up notions of “control” we don’t have, themes of authority and such. Pages right in my book, so to speak!

          2. JC,
            I’m so excited about your book! That is wonderful! Yes, I would love for us to see that GOD is the most important thing. His will, His purpose, His plans, His kingdom. Yes, we may be able to enjoy romance in the context of marriage. Yes, we may have some very happy and emotionally fulfilling times in marriage. But that is not the primary purpose of our lives. Having things in proper perspective and in proper order is so important!

            This is very helpful. Thank you for sharing.

            I’m glad that God blesses you through some of my posts. Thanks for the encouragement!

          3. JC,

            You know what? I’m not sure that it is the graphic love scenes that really grab women’s imagination as much as the building and mounting attraction between a man and woman. Something about a “budding romance” seems to enthrall women.

            Ladies, your thoughts?

          4. Something about a โ€œbudding romanceโ€ seems to enthrall women.

            That’s definitely what it is. ๐Ÿ˜‰

            I think their chemistry is excellent. It’s a relationship, but it’s also a “life story” involved–things can be smooth, rocky, surprises both good and bad. But that’s life. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And the attitude take away is that at all times, these are opportunities for doing good, to grow, to turn troubles into opportunities for growing in faithfulness. Most importantly the common goal and faith ties them together.

            In so doing, though, what really happens is their joint discovery of God and His goodness, and great plan for creation. But also, how seemingly small acts of goodness can be essential parts of things working out to good–such as her effects on him. On the other side of the coin are controlling attitudes–who would control truth.

            The man has a Joseph story and she’s kind of like an Alice in Wonderland.

            My main motivation from the beginning, though, was that I hurt for women who don’t feel like their femininity is a powerful and significant thing in the world. I wanted to showcase femininity as being hugely significant and indispensable, a vital organ of everything that goes on, in a big, big picture–not at the expense of men and she isn’t worshiped, but enormously appreciated. I would wish that a female reader would take away the idea of a personal pride in her femininity, and the joy of finding that in herself. The story can get really oppressive (intentionally), such that I think even the reader would feel refreshed–“rescued,” in a manner of speaking–by her presence in it. She’s rewarded for her struggles, as they are. ๐Ÿ˜‰

          5. That, and my book is my own moral compass. Bad things seem to happen when it’s NOT in my head because of all that it teaches me. If nothing else, it’s my best self-help book. ๐Ÿ˜›

      2. Siri Mitchell,

        What a wonderful addition to this conversation – a Christian fiction romance author! Thank you very much for sharing your perspective. ๐Ÿ™‚

        If you have time and would be interested in sharing more, I am sure we would love to hear from you about some of your insights:

        – Do you have any suggestions for readers of Christian romantic fiction about how to approach reading this genre in a spiritually healthy way?
        – Do you intend your fictional character’s relationships to be models for real life?
        – How do you believe readers should search their own hearts and motives as they read Christian fiction?
        – How do you suggest readers evaluate what they are reading for God’s truth?
        – If women do feel upset, resentful, or bitter toward their own husbands when they read Christian romantic fiction, what suggestions might you have for them?

        Thank you again for sharing! We appreciate all that you have to share on this important topic.

        1. Romance is definitely a genre unto itself. Complaining about all those ‘happily ever after’ endings is like buying a pink cupcake and then complaining that’s it got pink frosting all over the top. Romance novels have happily ever after endings by definition. If a book doesn’t, then it’s not a romance.

          Maybe those who are sensitive to romance novels could pick a different genre to read. As a writer, I tend toward straight historicals. Some of my novels don’t have happy endings. Some have bittersweet endings. So if you enjoy historical settings, read a historical instead of a historical romance. If you prefer contemporary fiction, read women’s fiction instead of contemporary romance. In both cases (historicals and women’s fiction), you’ll have a story about people wrestling with who they are. The conflicts will probably more internal than external.

          –As a writer, I wouldn’t want anyone to pick up one of my books if they felt guilty or bad about reading it. Authors understand that their books aren’t meant for every reader.

          –Instead of concentrating on all the bright and shining romance, focus on the characters instead. Why this man for that woman? What makes them right for each other? Why are they stronger together than they are apart? What conflicts are trying to pull them apart? What are their flaws? What are their fears? What lies do they believe to be true about the world and each other? Why do they insist upon believing them? What wounds are they carrying into their relationship? How are these characters changing throughout the book. Why are they making the choices they’re making? Is there a point at which their selfishness turns to selflessness? Why? What makes them dare to hope? To believe? What, in fact, do they believe? Does it change through the course of the novel? Each character will probably have the chance to accept grace at some point. Do they? If so, why? If not, why?

          –My novels are historical, so I don’t intend them to be models for real life. People in history asked themselves the same questions we do, but they often answered them differently. They made decisions based on different mores and the culture of their times. That said, I always hope that my characters would think my books are true to their eras. I like to write historicals because I can write about relevant issues (history so often repeats itself!), but in a non-threatening way. I’ve written about dangerous fashion, immigration, pacifism/war, faith v. works, ADHD, business practices, women in STEM, epidemics, miracles, corruption…

          I do, however, hope that people ask themselves questions about what they’re reading. The characters have flaws and fears and believe lies that make them act and react in the ways they do. So what are your flaws? What are your fears? What lies do you believe? How are you sabotaging your hopes and dreams by trying to hang on to those fears and lies? If you’re reacting to something in a historical context, why? What makes is so odd or outrageous or unjust? Are things truly that different today? How do you see those same mistakes or themes played out in the modern world? What would you tell those characters to do? What would you rather they have said or done? Do you have the courage to make those same choices?

          –I know some Christians feel guilty doing anything that isn’t in some way growing their faith or actively doing God’s work. But think of a perpetually stretched out rubber band. After a while, it doesn’t have the ability to spring back to its original shape. Everybody needs a way to relax. Some people like to walk. Others golf. Some read. Important work goes on in your heart and your brain as you are actively passive. So don’t worry that reading is ‘doing nothing’. As an author, my goal in fiction is to provoke a reaction. That’s what fiction should do. It should move the reader to: outrage, activism, thought, tears, laughter. One famous editor looks for ‘Really’ books. Books that REALLY make her laugh, REALLY make her cry, REALLY make her do something. That’s the point to fiction. So as a reader, what is your motive? If you read fiction, it really shouldn’t be to learn something. You might, as a side benefit, but if you want to do that, you’d be better off reading a How-To book or another type of non-fiction. Every book, however has some sort of message. Some kind of theme. But the reason people pick up fiction is generally to escape into that fictional world. To live for a while between the pages. Whether you want that escape in a romance, a mystery, or a really angsty literary fiction is up to the reader. Again, people are generally either fiction or non-fiction readers. Neither type is better than the other.

          –You could look at the moral dilemmas in the story. Many times they come in conflicting pairs. Justice v. mercy. Death v. life, Taking v. giving. You could look for the consequences of characters’ actions. Do they get ‘punished’ for doing the wrong thing? ‘Rewarded’ for doing the right thing? Is hope present? Redemption? How about grace? No character should be beyond saving unless they choose to be. Remember that fiction thrives on conflict. That means characters (even the good ones) have to make the wrong choices until very near the end. Sometimes they do the wrong thing for the right reasons. Sometimes they even do the right thing for the wrong reasons. But you shouldn’t discount Christian fiction when it shows the underside of life. It has to. if all the characters were nice and the plot was nice and nothing bad happened, there wouldn’t be a story to write. Jesus came because we needed saving, not because we were such nice, happy people.

          –I’m a big believer in communication. I also know that people receive and give love in different ways. If a romance novel is causing bitter feelings, resentment, etc., then I would ask myself why. What about the hero is it that you liked/didn’t like? Did he bring the heroine flowers and your husband doesn’t bring you any? Or maybe it’s the reverse. He’s always bringing you flowers and the only thing you can think is, ‘But they’re going to wilt in about three days!!! Good grief — now I have to find some place to put them!’ If you can figure it out, then you can talk about it. “Honey, I know in my head that you love me, but sometimes I need to see it. A little surprise now and then like {insert suggestions}, just because, makes me feel your love in my heart.” or “Thank you so much for these flowers. I know a dozen women who would weep for joy over this bouquet, but I always feel your love most when you notice that I {insert} or when you just tell me that you love me.” You get what I’m saying right? Tell your husband/wife how to love you. Save them the frustration of doing it wrong. I have a dog who loves tummy scratches. He’d stay on his back all day long if I scratched him there, but if I try to scratch his ears or his head, he paws and scratches at ME. He wants his love and appreciation the way he wants it. We’re all like that. I always tell people I can write romance because I’ve been loved and romanced. When I read a romance novel, I feel like kissing my husband. But he’s not the hero of all of my novels. He’s not really the hero of any of my novels. My characters are all pretend.

          I hope that answered some of your questions. I’m happy to answer more.

          1. Amen! You stated all of this so well, Siri.
            I so agree.

            Oh, and I do believe you’re the Siri Mitchell who wrote the book I’m reading now, Like A Flower In Bloom. I’m enjoying it ๐Ÿ™‚

          2. Twice in this list of comments you have taken the words I couldn’t quite articulate & said them perfectly! When talking about the themes you get from certain Disney movies earlier in the comments, I couldn’t agree with you more! It has always bothered me greatly when people espouse terrible themes from Disney movies! But I never had the right words to formulate what I truly thought. Thank you!
            Then also, right here when you say, “When I read a romance novel, I feel like kissing my husband” Yes!! When we are watching something on TV & the character does some goofy romantic something, I always look at Hubby & smile. It reminds me of him, of us. It doesn’t have to be something he has done, but it’s the same loving feeling he gives me. It is about the overall theme, not the exact act. I wouldn’t want him to do exactly what someone in a movie does, I much rather he do what comes naturally from him, instead of something mimicked.
            Also, he doesn’t buy me flowers because that’s just spending money on something that goes in the trash in a couple of days ๐Ÿ˜‰

          3. Thanks for this krystlew3!

            There are some good themes in Disney movies. There are also unhealthy themes that some people may cling to – even though that may not have been the intention of the writers at all.

            I appreciate you sharing your views!

            I’d like to help those who do struggle with destructive or sinful thoughts from movies, songs, books, Facebook, friends’ weddings/baby showers, etc… to examine their own hearts and motives and to discover why they are falling into sinful thoughts when they see certain things so that they might find the freedom and spiritually abundant life Christ offers.

            I’m glad that these issues aren’t a problem for you. That is wonderful!

    3. “I think women need to take romance novels, romantic comedyโ€™ movies and stuff like this for โ€œwhat it isโ€

      A fantasy.”

      I can’t comment much at all about about romance novels women read (a lot of attitudes out there are clues), BUT, in some cases, yeah, you should just look at it for what it is: portrayals of people (real or imagined, as some stories are more or less true stories and some ARE realistic) and their stories. Period. You don’t have to read things and say “how come I don’t have what that character has?”

      You don’t have to read a story about rich people and say “how come I’m not rich like them?” You don’t have to read a story about a math wiz and say “how come I’m not good at math?” And so on. I sure hope a story has value BEYOND such things. It boils down, in my mind, if the storyteller has a decent message beyond the conventions being used.

      I read that some people watched the movie James Cameron’s “Avatar,” which I thought was an embarrassment on the director’s resume, personally, and actually fell into a deep depression because the real world wasn’t as beautiful and colorful like the movie. Yeah, really. Avatar was a fantasy and a pretty shallow one, not much you could take away from it in my mind. If you can enjoy the pretty colors, fair enough. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      What I like so much about some Japanese fiction I have in mind is the way they have EXTREMELY fantastic settings and conventions and yet tell incredibly human, soul-searching stories with a lot of depth. The fantasy element allows ideas to be expressed and explored outside of all the baggage a person can associate with recognizable real-world settings to issues and all the conventional dialogues about them therein. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Truly,such things exist for good reason, just as parables do: they flex our capacities for abstract thought, but I digress.

      The point is, of course, what you say: it’s a fantasy, take away from it whatever insight may be good and leave the rest.

      1. JC,

        Yes, when we read something in order to compare ourselves to the character – that is a problem. I think we can definitely look at our own motives and check our own sinful tendencies and if reading a certain genre triggers sinful thoughts of envy – it may be something we need to avoid.

      2. JC,

        I have been thinking about this a lot recently…

        I am not exactly sure why this is – but it seems to me that many of us women struggle with comparing ourselves to other women in so many ways. Sometimes we may feel pressured to be as “beautiful,” as “sexy,” as “successful,” as “loved,” etc… as another woman. But I see women having major issues with jealousy when their friends get married or have babies that I don’t seem to see men having.

        I don’t know if it is because we tend to be very empathetic? But it seems that we often cannot just be happy for someone else. We have to compare our lives to our friends’ lives or to a character in a movie or book and then we feel depressed, frustrated, resentful, jealous, or upset because we believe that our lives are not as fulfilling for various reasons as these other women’s lives. Of course, we make ourselves miserable when we do this – and we are not very accurate in our comparisons. (I have a post about this, ladies, “The Snare of Comparing.”)

        Might be an interesting topic to explore in more detail.

        1. I really don’t think it’s any different for men. Those exact things definitely happen for men too–absolutely. It just may be in different contexts, usually not in the marriage department and more in terms of career. Maybe you just don’t get so much wind of it, and/or maybe it is a little bit worse for women. Maybe women have a tendency to have a harder time living their own lives, if that’s what you mean, but men can get plenty frustrated when trying to meet their various personal goals and sometimes comparisons get in the mix. ๐Ÿ™

  10. I think the one thing is a general narrative — in the beginning the guys is clueless selfish and disengaged, but his love transforms him into the man of her dreams.

    I think this is harmful to women in a couple ways:

    1.) It leads women to believe they can transform men who really are no good.

    2.) It brings forth disappointment that if a husband has not experienced this transformation, it must be because he doesn’t truly love and care about his wife.

    1. johnmcg,

      I have seen this theme – even in children’s movies for girls – that a woman’s love can change a “bad man” into a loving, attentive, responsible, selfless, thoughtful, sensitive, intuitive man who knows automatically how to meet the woman’s every desire and who no longer does anything “bad.”

      Of course, in reality, a woman’s love doesn’t change anyone. She can inspire and influence a man. But only God can change people. He is deity, we are not!

      Very important points! Thank you so much, my brother!

      1. I have seen some relationships where a young man meets a young woman…and because of this relationship, he is inspired to get his act together in a huge and life changing way, mostly because she believes in him…The essence of respect. And I’m not sure I can accept “a woman’s love doesn’t change anyone” as an absolute. I think the steadfast unfailing love of another person is a very powerful force, whether it be man, woman, parent, child, or friend. Not sure where you were going with that statement, April. Can you clarify?

        1. The love of God comes through people and changes people all the time, like you say! ๐Ÿ™‚

          I think a lot of women want to “tailor-make” a man, is the problem–I think it’s more of a false motive that’s a fault, since everyone should love to look for ways to represent Christ to others however possible in love.

        2. Marked Wife,

          What I mean is, sometimes movies/books promote the idea that a woman can and should change a man – that a woman should try to change a man and make her into the man she wants him to be. Sometimes we also have that belief in our own hearts regardless of the media. I hope that makes more sense. Yes, a woman can powerfully influence a man. She can inspire a man. But she cannot be God to him. It is not her job to change him, to “make him be a better man” by force. I don’t really want to see women marrying men in order to change them. I want to see us accepting our men for who they are instead of thinking of them as our “projects.”

  11. 1. In what ways do romantic books/songs/movies portray men emotionally that do not accurately represent how men think or feel in your opinion?

    Men do not always know what you want. They donโ€™t naturally understand your needs. It is true that most men are men of honor, but the honor that drew you to your man isnโ€™t the type of love that women typically receive and interpret as love and care. Men are not softies who want to sit around and talk about feelings and hopes and dreams verbally. A man might express a hope or dream once (maybe twice in case you missed it the first time).

    2. In what ways do romantic books/songs/movies portray men verbally that do not accurately represent how men express themselves?

    Men have FAR fewer words than what the media express. Expecting to feel loved by an abundance of words is asking your man to fail. The more words heโ€™s required to say, especially in the heat of argument, the worse your perception of his love will become. Allow him grace, because verbal communication is your specialty, not his. Assume his love in silence, do not assume his disapproval.

    3. What romantic expectations โ€“ or expectations of men โ€“ do these forms of media create in women that are difficult for men to meet in real-life relationships/marriage?

    That type of desperate love in the emotional infatuation stage will end. There will come a day when as a woman you will act extremely disrespectfully, and continue to hit your man with disrespect, again, and again, and again as a way to try to express your need for love. When that infatuation stage is over, your man probably isnโ€™t going to get down on his knees and express unconditional love. Heโ€™ll probably either fight back or submit to your will. Both options are bad.

    4. What things seem the most unrealistic about the male characters who are romantic leads in romantic movies/songs?

    I would say the โ€˜hard to getโ€™ male character is the most foreign to reality. Men arenโ€™t hard to get. If youโ€™re sweet, kind, and show an interest in a man, heโ€™ll love having you around. Itโ€™s rarely a game for a good hearted man.

    5. Have you ever seen a romantic movie where you thought that masculinity was portrayed in an accurate way? If so, what was it that seemed authentic in the portrayal to you?

    This may sound clichรฉ, but most of the old western films are more accurate. For men itโ€™s not about love and emotion. Our relationships are about sharing experiences, standing shoulder to shoulder, and honoring one another.

    6. What unrealistic expectations of men or what unrealistic romantic expectations do you find that women have (even if not from romantic media).

    Men want to support their women, even if theyโ€™re utterly ill equipped to do so. Excessive complaining will reach a point where a man can no longer โ€˜supportโ€™ your needs. A man typically has an expectation that his wife be happy (of her own accord) a great deal of the time. No one likes a whiner, and a husband typically is hyper sensitive to the complaints of his wife, because they are usually interpreted as inadequacy of his ability to provide. Tread lightly with complaints. He takes it personal.

    7. What things are romantic to men?

    When I was younger, I would have said shallow, corporeal things. However, after being married, I will say that a husband just wants his wife to be happy. Not for selfish reasons, but it brings a man joy when his wife is happy with her lot in life, and loves her family. A romantic woman is one who is kind, gentle, loving, respectful, and occasionally a little playful.

      1. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your ministry. Besides “Love and Respect,” your website has done wonders to help me understand my wife. I love lurking and learning!

        1. AnonyMan,

          You are most welcome. I am in awe of all that God is doing here and so thankful that He allows me to be part if it.

          I appreciate your insights and perspective so much. I know that your words will bless many marriages.

  12. What a timely topic! This New Year’s Eve I watched the film LOVE FINDS YOU IN SUGARCREEK, OHIO, which for an American movie is quite blameless, I would say. I have to say I couldn’t get the hero out of my mind afterward and it was so distracting to me. Here I wanted to be with my husband whom I hadn’t seen for several days, and yet my mind was pulled back to the scenes where the main actor glanced in a knowing way at the heroine of the story. His role was one of a blameless man trying to do the right thing, caught up in a tragic situation, under the gun, making contact and breaking the ice of the heroine, who played the role of a brave, righteous woman with a hidden heart.

    What was so attractive was the hero was self-controlled, carried the burden of his life without complaining, even allowed himself to be looked down at, yet did the right thing, AND was very aware of the heroine’s difficult situation and was able to reach out to her in subtle ways to acknowledge that. Let’s say, he had real good eye contact, and was able to track her emotions! Looking at this from the perspective of your questions, I would say the first set of the hero’s characteristics could be realistic for a man, but the second set is probably not. Rarely does my husband give me the positive feedback I need at the moment I want it. It comes in other random moments, when he is inspired and realizes the good in me or our relationship. But he is NOT able to track my emotional ups and downs and feed me positive feedback when I have a downer. Rather, my downer downs him as well. So in fact, while this movie is not so stereotypically Hollywood, the skills of the main hero are probably atypical for the average male.

    Thanks, April, for helping me work through this!

    1. Veronica,

      YES! The eye contact and knowing looks! Those are some of the things that make us ladies swoon over the male leads in chick flicks – and the way that the men know and completely understand the women’s emotions and hearts and are so concerned with their feelings. I think that definitely gets to many of us.

      Thank you very much for sharing and helping us think about what it is that causes us to possibly compare our husbands in negative ways to the men in these movies.

  13. Hi April,

    This was an interesting topic to read about. I took your survey for the ladies this morning. Interestingly, this is one area where I don’t really struggle (praise God!) At least not with the fiction. Fiction novels and movies and shows are just fiction to me. I do not find myself comparing my life, or my husband, to them. Not that I’m aware of anyway. And that’s a good thing – I have enough issues of my own making! :o)

    (Now “self-help” books on marriage and some other marriage blogs….. that’s a story for another day!)

    That being said, I appreciate the ladies who pray for me, therefore I will be praying for those who struggle in this area. Thank you for taking the time to address so many different things. You are a blessing to all of us!

  14. The problem with romantic novels is that it sets up the woman as some kind of goddess whose worth is far more than any other character. In real life, women expect the same treatment as their fairy tale / novel heroines. They’ve got feminists telling them every step along the way that they deserve “everything” and men are to blame when they don’t get “everything.”

  15. (1) (Wo)men led by their fantasies can be a bit like goldrush prospectors who know– just know! deep down inside!– that El Dorado is out there somewhere and that if they just keep breaking camp and roaming deeper into the range they will find it. Today, that zealous prospecting seems silly, but since some in 1849 claimed to be finding some gold in still-unsurveyed territory, not many back then were scolding prospectors for throwing years of their lives away on the search. After all, if you actually found El Dorado, the payoff would be so high that any level of risk to get it seemed reasonable. A hard thing for a (wo)man to realize is that an expectation can be so high that it blinds the mind– no combination of experiences and reasons could ever prove that utter bliss is too costly or risky to pursue.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Dorado

    (2) If a fantasy-head knows more than was ever true, a fictional convent-girl knows less than really is true. Many women first turned to romance fiction– and recently erotica– as a source of information about what their minds and bodies could experience. Up to a point, that seems like a prudent precaution, however suspicious the pleasure of it may make us. The problem is, again, that fiction is not a very good source of information if the man a heroine is emnbracing is only a sort of genie granting wishes or casting spells.

    (3) Antidote is made of venom. If somewhat realistic narrative is the only antidote to tales of erotic eldorados, then what narrative ought they to have read instead? And why, I wonder, do we never hear the scriptures mentioned as a resource for this sort of exploration?

    (4) Life is a voyage, not a cruise. St Augustine of Hippo notes that the objects of our emotions are like ports– a ship docks in them on its journey, especially in rough seas, but one cannot tarry in them, for one has a final destination. In his view, emotions have a purpose in the whole of life, but it is a mistake to seek an emotion for its own sake. We seem to be pulled between prudery and promiscuity because we size up the ports as experiences one by one rather than asking whether they are on the way to eternal life.

  16. My wife listens to a lot of country music and, until recently, I never realized what type of an affect it could be having on her way of thinking. It seems like a lot of country music out there either:

    1. Glorifies drinking and partying
    2. turns women into idols (making some women believe they should be idolized)
    3. sings about women taking revenge on men who are unfaithful (physical violence towards men. I’d like to see how people would react towards a male artist singing a song about murdering his cheating wife.)

    The current line up of country women seem to love to sing about how they are all so great and free and love to go to church on Sunday and party hard on Monday. I have been trying to keep my daughter from listening to the garbage.

    1. anonymousMe,

      Country music can have some ungodly, unbiblical, destructive themes in certain songs. I have thought many times about some of those songs that glorify a woman’s violence against a man who cheated – if that was reversed, wouldn’t there be an outrage?

      Thank you for sharing this.

      1. When I am in a place where there is an outrage over such things, I am hopeful that I could be loved in such a place–for that exact reason, of course; almost anywhere there is the utmost concern for women’s well-being. How am I supposed to believe I’m loved in a place where it’s “more okay” to hate and/or neglect men’s well-being?

        1. JC,
          As you know, men and women are loved and cherished equally here, and in the kingdom of God. There is no favoritism with Him! And those who love Him love His sons, His daughters, and the lost. ๐Ÿ™‚

          1. Agreed on all points, ma’am. ๐Ÿ˜‰

            In life, consciously or not, it has been a painful uncertainty in many contexts, wondering why the inconsistency–just like you say, for the most part, “wouldn’t there have been an outrage?” (I was agreeing, and wondered “where is the outrage?” in a multitude of contexts in life)

            Thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚

          2. JC,

            The thing I have noticed about human history is that people who were raised with certain ideas, biases, bigotry, racism, prejudices, etc… often don’t notice that they are a big deal. I think if we had jumped from 1920 straight to today – women would have all been SHOCKED by the attitudes and the disrespect for men today and would have revolted against it.

            But, things have declined gradually. So, people my age and younger don’t even remember what respect for men looked like. As we have lost respect for people altogether in our culture, and especially for those in God-given positions of authority, disrespect has become “normal.” It is harder to pick out sin when 99% of people around you are doing the same thing and you have seen it all your life.

            I think it is the case of the frog being slowly boiled to death and not jumping out of the pot.

          3. You’re right in the way that, unconsciously, sometimes we might (mistakenly) gauge our righteousness by how “normal” we behave relative to others, even if that norm is sinful. That’s one thing that irked me when studying psychology–it operates on the assumption that most people are “normal” (not to open a can of worms about that).

            It heals me to see women caring about men’s issues in general. It’s great to see women wanting to be better wives, but in some ways, the phrase “even the pagans do that” comes to mind–want healthy marriages. And it’s almost certainly being done better by pagans in many parts of the world, overall.

            But given that the cumulative voices of women are so interested in women’s own well-being, it readjusts my picture of women to see that they really actually can care about men in a “love your neighbor as yourself” attitude. It helps my ability to respect women–like they’re beings capable of a basic sense of justice and respecting the personhood of men. If you saw the way I interact in a lot of men’s groups, I’m often one of the guys urging the rest of the guys to abstain from any “women are innately evil” sentiments and give credit, credit, credit to the women in those places who not only support such things selflessly, but take some things on the chin that they don’t deserve. ๐Ÿ™

            A particular woman I have in mind, in that regard, just feels as if from another planet. Like you say, she feels like she was born in the wrong era! (she says that all the time–such a great lady)

            On topic, this was a HUGE benefit for me for enjoying Japanese media.

            Male bashing? Gone.
            Gender wars overtones? (in which men are supposed to be the losers, of course) Gone.

            Men and women both may be at the butt of jokes, though not in remotely such a mean-spirited way, usually. THAT’S an oasis all right!

            When I live in a culture that doesn’t want to do even a simple thing of saying “It isn’t right for men to be treated like x” for men (such as in Christianity) I wonder if just leaving the place is the answer to the heartache. Men’s rights movements are the only pull-no-punches responses I’ve ever seen. It’s one thing to be sinned against and have the better part of the world sprinting to respond to you, which is what I see that women have. It’s another thing to be sinned against and feel cornered and lonely, which is what I see men experiencing so much.

            It’s the flipside of that 99% sin issue you say. When you’re raised to feel that being treated a certain way is normal and okay, what then?

            Well, a bunch of April clones would help, I’ll tell you that. ๐Ÿ˜›

            God bless you ma’am.

    2. Yes, I can not listen to country music anymore, it is exactly what you said, yet it is often looked at as more “wholesome” then most alternatives. It’s not just new country music either, there are so many horrible old songs. Pure garbage with a nice beat.

  17. Hey April,
    I’ve been reading the comments, and I have a question I’d like to ask of some of the men. I didn’t think I struggled with TV or book induced fantasy, but one man commented on how women think men should be able to read their minds. I’ve heard that a lot, and I think men and women have two different definitions of mind reading. I mean, if you drop 215 hints, and he ignores them all, that’s not really expecting him to read your mind, it’s more like him ignoring everything you have said and done to help him understand what you are feeling.

    Let me get to the point. I love my husband. He is a great man and a wonderful provider (and yes I struggle with his job being far more important than our family, but he and I are both working on that. He has started working 6 days a week instead of 7, and I am trying to be less selfish and more grateful). Anyhow, we always talk about how nice it would be to go away, just the two of us, for one night, alone together. But it’s always just talk. It never happens. So yes, when I read all this stuff about “date night” – which is more often non-fiction (blogs, magazines, etc) yes I feel unloved. He seems to have no desire to create a date night. I have even found romantic, local, not expensive cute hotels we could visit, and showed him, and he says “oh that looks like fun” or “I’d love to go there with you.” BUT, it’s just talk, it never happens, he has never booked a thing. Now I know people will say “so book it yourself.” But that ruins everything and takes away the romance. That’s not him WANTING to take me away somewhere, that’s me begging and forcing him to take me somewhere. See the difference?

    Then the thoughts of, if I were younger, prettier, thinner, happier, a better cook, a career woman, not a stay at home mom, if I were anything better, he’d want to go – I wouldn’t have to ask. So when he says “I love you so much” and I say “uh- huh” and he gets upset that I won’t believe him, I don’t see what he doesn’t get. Anyone can say I love you all day long, but if someone truly loves you, they want to show it. Not just say it over and over and over with nothing to ever back it up. Maybe this is a way in which culture makes me have expectations, I don’t know.

    I’m trying, I really am. I really, really want to change and not be so negative. But I also really, really want to understand why. I’d love to hear from the men on this one.

    1. Thank you, Becca, that was very clear. I can recall some men with feelings like yours, but here I will take them as you describe them. Five quick thoughts that may (not) be on point.

      (1) Yes, there are some women who speak as though the sole point of a relationship is the pleasure of telepathy about elusive things, and who are honestly stunned to discover that not everyone cares about this as much as they do. To be clear and fair, there are also men who enjoy feeling wordlessly in sync with their wives quite a lot, although I personally have never heard such a man go so far as to say say that he was disappointed that he needed to actually talk to his wife or that “talking about it just ruins it.”

      (2) It is hazardous to infer that– because he is not doing what you think you would do if you were him loving you– he does not love you. There are different ways of sending and receiving affection, and it is not at all unusual for matches to have mixes (eg he takes kissing seriously, she takes diamonds seriously; he thinks telepathy shows love, she thinks nesting shows love). For some, One Big Conversation followed by an Even Trade is a way past this hazard.

      (3) The He Should Just Know demon (ie “if I have to tell him, it spoils it for me”) strains relationships by preventing that One Big Conversation, thus protecting and nurturing the frustration. Nevertheless, there are those who choose the demon over the spouse every time. Why? I do not know, but apart from the above, I !guess! that it is resistance to the otherness of the ‘opposite sex’– (a) some feel Men Are Difficult to talk to so that the “good” men are the ones who do not require much talk; (b) some feel that the gold standard of communication is a grrrlfren experiencing the same thing at the same time (cf men who wish women thought more like men), so that communication is scarcely necessary; (c) for some, Relationship Perfection is never again being alone with thoughts that are hard or impossible to share, and a husband who does not get everything as a grrrlfren would is proof that one will be lonely for life (cf “What kind of a life am I gonna have with a wife who just does not care– not at all!– that my team made the playoffs? If she loved me, wouldn’t she know what that means to me?” “I dunno. That’s tough.”)

      (4) Two different things that can look the same– being estranged from the opposite sex, being introverted. With time, one can and usually does acquire more empathy for the opposite sex. Those introverted by temperament can learn to be more communicative, but I cannot say that they ever rejoice in the outer world to the same degree as an extroverted mate.

      (5) Some couples who have made it into a happy old age did not solve any of these problems. Not having problems is not how marriages last. A gritty determination to get the goods of A Marriage That Endures is.

      1. Bowman Walton,

        I think my favorite point of yours was the second one… that is so true, and that’s absolutely how I used to be with my husband! If he didn’t love me the way I would love me, I thought he must not love me that much! I didn’t realize that he has a different way of showing love… partly because of his personality/upbringing, and partly because he’s a man… and that’s OK!

        Thank you for your insights. I like #5 too. ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. Oh date nights. I have felt so angry and bitter about date nights! and those marriage blogs that make it seem like a necessity, our that there is something wrong/you’re marriage will fail if you don’t do them. It’s been 6 years now since my husband and I have been on a date without kids. That used to kill me, but it honestly doesn’t even bother me anymore. My husband doesn’t trust anyone we know alone with our kids, so we just can’t do them. But we have a great marriage anyways, spend lots of time together after the kids are in bed, mostly just watching tv, but its still nice. Family outings every now and then. I think again it chines down to seeing our individual blessings, not what someone else has.
      I think if you’re husband does seem interested, but doesn’t take the next step, either tell him directly that you would like him to plan something for such and such weekend, or ask him if it would be ok if you set it up. I know in our heads it doesn’t soundas romantic, but it can be. And it sometimes feels like our hints should be sufficient, but to him it may be just like him daydreaming. I remember my husband once telling me about something he wanted, and it was rather expensive. I freaked out, telling him well we just can’t afford that and so on. He let me know that he had never actually intended to do it, but he wanted to be able to daydream about it. Maybe he thinks you are both just daydreaming together.

      I think it’s another lie we’ve been fed that unless he plans it, it’s not romantic. If you planned it, and went into it with a good attitude do you think you would still have an amazing time? If not why?

      1. I agree, Sarah. I think things can be very romantic, even when I’m the one planning them. Of course, I enjoy it a bit more when my husband does it (because of the element of surprise), but we’ve agreed to “take turns” with Valentine’s Day dates and anniversaries. One year he plans, the next year I do. It’s actually pretty fun! One may think that on my year to plan, I might lean toward making the evening more “my brand of fun,” but I choose to think of something he’ll enjoy more than I will, and he returns the favor the next year. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Becca could maybe propose something like that, too, if she wanted to. ๐Ÿ™‚ That way, it’s a reminder to him that it’s “his turn” every time after she takes him on a date night.

        My husband actually mentioned that to me, and I’d never thought of it before. He was like, “Why is it that men are expected to make all the plans for romantic evenings like anniversaries and Valentine’s Day? Would you mind taking turns?” ๐Ÿ˜€

    3. Hi Becca,

      I am not a man, but I was hoping that you’d find my commentary helpful anyway. ๐Ÿ™‚

      One thing I’ve learned as a wife (and through Love and Respect among a few other marriage books) is that even when my hints feel like they’re overtly obvious… they still go over my husband’s head. We have to remember that women and men communicate differently. Men are very matter-of-fact and to the point, whereas women tend to beat around the bush in an effort to let the other person “catch” their meaning. This works well in relationships with other females… however, it doesn’t work well with our husbands.

      After I read Love and Respect, I wanted to do a Bible study with my husband (with him leading it). Rather than drop hints, I came out and asked him, “Do you think we could do a Bible study together? I’d like to do that.” He said, “Yeah, sure!” and then I didn’t hear from him for a while. I actually forgot for a while… and when I did remember, I thought he forgot… but it turned out that he was thinking about it still and researching it. I’ve learned this is true many times when I suspect that perhaps he “doesn’t care”… sometimes he’s working on it… just not as fast as I think he should or as fast as I would were I doing it.

      As a suggestion (and this is just that: a suggestion), maybe next time he says, “I’d love to go there with you,” you say, “Yeah, that sounds like a lot of fun and I’ve really been looking forward to some alone time. I’m free (insert day here), do you think that could work?”

      That way you’re not “making the reservations” and it’s still HIS idea (because of course, he DID say he wanted to take you there!), but you’re just helping him along (in a respectful way).

      Another thing I learned from some of the books I’ve read is that it is entirely possible for our husbands to feel very connected to and in love with us when we don’t feel they are. That’s because a man has an entirely different way of showing his affection. Men crave side-by-side companionship, and they usually bond by DOING things together rather than talking face-to-face (like we women do). Therefore, just taking interest in something he does and doing that with him can create feelings of love in him, whereas we may not feel those same feelings from the same activity. (There was a story of a woman who hid in a hunting blind with her husband for hours on end, in silence… and when it was over, he looked over at his wife and said, “That was AWESOME!” Needless to say, she was bored and wondering what she was doing there up till that point, and was a bit shocked by his comment.)

      I know you may be tempted to think those things about yourself… but I feel deep down that it wouldn’t matter if you were younger, prettier, etc… because I think that the reason he’s not getting it comes down to his gender and how men were designed by God. My husband is the same way… ๐Ÿ˜›

      If you’re interested in helping to better your marriage, one thing you can do to help is to read the book Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs. I found it extremely helpful. I suggest you don’t read the chapters “for men,” though Emerson says we can read along if we want, because it can cause us to be more focused on what he’s not doing right other than what we can do to change our marriages. (I didn’t read them ’cause I knew it’d make me resentful.)

      If your husband is a reader/open to it, you could even read the book along with him… and he could read the chapters about how to love you while you read how to respect him.

      I feel that your expectations could have been impacted by the culture… I know mine have. Men on TV and in fictional books can behave drastically different than real life men… in the same way that how women appear on TV and magazines appear drastically different than real life women.

      I’m praying for you, friend! God bless you.

    4. Becca,

      Let me throw in my two cents:

      1. What is the financial situation in your home like? Would going out for a weekend put undue strain on your budget? As a husband I have often times been faced with a wife who wants me to take her out/buy her things that would cause us financial strain. I am now in a catch 22, with a wife who is sad that I wont take her somewhere but financially secure, or a wife who gets taken out but gets angry later when other financial items suffer.

      2. What is your husbands work schedule? You say he was working 7 days a week and has now gone down to 6 days a week. Are those 8 hour days? 12 hour days? Is he physically or mentally wiped out on his day off? Perhaps he would like to go out, but can’t seem to get the energy together for an enjoyable outing (no fun if he is nodding off the entire weekend).

      3. Have you tried simply asking him to go out for a weekend, rather than looking and wishing? Sometimes I get caught up in work and other activities and time goes by very quickly. What feels like days to me may actually be a couple of weeks in which my wife and I haven’t gone out, at least to dinner. On occasion she may ask me if we can go out rather than drop hints. She doesn’t ask in a rude tone, but simply “can we go out to dinner this weekend?”. Sometimes it helps snap me back into the proper time zone when I realize the last time we went out was last month.

      Just some food for thought.

      1. anonymousMe,

        Those are all very good points too. It’s wise to try and decipher the possible reasons as to why this situation may be happening. ๐Ÿ™‚

      2. Hi anonymous Me,

        To answer your questions…
        1. We are blessed to be at a point where this would not strain our finances, so that’s not the issue.
        2. They are usually 10 hour days, closer to 12 in warmer weather when work is really busy. Yes he is often both physically and mentally exhausted. I try not to be jealous of his job, but I am.
        3. I have asked, about eight hundred times. And he always says how much he really wants to go. But we never, ever do.

        Thanks for the reply!

    5. Becca,

      I know these questions are for the men… but I had to laugh when I saw that last paragraph about all the things about you that make him not want to go out in your mind. Maybe going out is just not something that is a big thing to him? Maybe it is not about you? ๐Ÿ™‚ Maybe he is exhausted. If I worked as much as your husband does – I would be in bed every moment I was home. I couldn’t do it!

      What happens if you arrange the date? I think it is time to get over that expectation that he arrange the date if he is working 6 days per week! ๐Ÿ™‚ I vote for you to try to arrange it, and maybe he will go. Then ENJOY him! You are the one that wants to go out so much. And you are the one not working 6 days per week or 7 days per week, like in the past. Why not be the one to decide what to do and when if he is up for it?

      Praying for wisdom for you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Speaking as a man, I think “Character Crushes” are even more disheartening to me than celebrity crushes. Celebrity men are at least human and subject to eventually falling in a woman’s estimation.

    But the character in a movie or on TV can remained spotless and romantically unblemished in her “heart’s eye” forever. Rhett Butler never ages, never disappoints, he is always who he is, even when the actor dies.

    Edward Cullen the Romantic Vampire ™ can live eternally perfect in a woman’s mind, even if she met the actor and found out that without the hollywood magic, he looks a lot more like a normal dude.

    Also, to imagine herself as the female character is natural enough, I guess, but I cannot compete with the perfectly airbrushed romantic scenario. I will always disappoint.

    I have come to the sad conclusion that many women are content to live with the “promise” of that perfect boyfriend/lover/husband who is always just around the next corner. The dream of a perfect man trumps any reality men like me offer. And in realizing that, we make the choice to go our own way and stop trying to compete with the unconquerable man in her dreams.

    It would at least be respectful if the lead voices in the Church would stop criticizing us for bowing out. The Glenn Stantons, the Mark Driscolls, the James Dobsons, they all want us to continue to offer ourselves up to experience one rejection after another.

    There is no love for men. Because even many of the women are wising up only because it is affecting their happiness.

    Show me a woman who truly loves a man unconditionally, and I will show you his mom.

    1. Jack,

      You have some good points. Though I see the flaws in all the characters I’ve had “crushes” on, your reply prompted me to ask my husband his thoughts on the subject. He told me that he feels there’s a double standard regarding this (I don’t mind most of his “crushes,” but I threw a fit when he said he thought Megan Fox was pretty, even after he insisted it was her face, not her body, that he was talking about). I regret to say the conversation didn’t go very well from there (I tried to explain why I thought they were different, while he continued to explain how they’re the same). I asked him (toward the end) if I’d just said something disrespectful because I’d been hurt by how he said something, and he told me “This whole conversation, pretty much… you ask me how I feel about something and then argue with me about it.” I’m not trying to air our dirty laundry… I’m trying to confess that I continue to make mistakes… as recently as minutes ago!

      For myself, I have decided to “give up” character crushes, because I’ve learned that it does nothing to increase romantic feelings toward me by my having them. For the most part, the reason I liked the characters was because they reminded me of him, but many other women may have a crush on a character like that for an entirely different reason, and that just looks bad (the same way I thought him thinking Megan Fox was pretty looked bad because of the way she presented herself).

      We had posters of Indiana Jones, which I have moved in an effort to show my goodwill effort of getting rid of it. I wanted to say thank you for helping me see the error of my ways. I also plan to thank my husband as well, and apologize to him again.

      I’m curious what you mean by bowing out. Do you mean leaving a marriage? I feel that pressure not to leave is equally felt by both men and women, because (according to my understanding of the Bible) divorce is unscriptural except in cases of infidelity.

      I feel the sentences: “There is no love for men. Because even many of the women are wising up only because it is affecting their happiness.” are unfair, because this is also true of women/men. In fact, the paragraph above sort of alludes to the idea that men should be able to bow out of a relationship if it’s affecting his happiness as well. Wouldn’t a man “wise up” in a relationship as well if it were affecting his happiness? Sadly, we are all pretty selfish creatures, but rather than blame the other person, I feel it’s good to take a hard look at ourselves and see what we need to change. Yes, it’s true that I didn’t realize I needed to change until my happiness was being affected… but does that mean that my genuine change of heart is invalid? I could have chosen to ignore the Biblical counsel I received. Also, my happiness being affected really had nothing to do with my husband… it was my own bitterness that disgusted me to the point where I knew I had to change. My husband had done nothing wrong the day that I decided I needed to fix things… and I’d gotten angry with him anyway. That was what made me realize I needed to change.

      You’re right: unconditional love is impossible (in our fleshly, human bodies). The thing about the Lord is that He enables us to do things we could never do on our own. There are women on this site who have very unloving husbands, despite their trying to make changes… yet they are choosing to respect their husbands anyway because they know it’s what God would have them do, and they know that even if they don’t see the rewards this side of heaven, they will have treated their husbands the way God intends for them to.

      Again, thank you for helping me open my eyes about the double standard. I really appreciate it. ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Jenn-

        I am describing my feelings on the issue. That is how the situation has come to feel to me. Sure there are exceptions. Just not nearly enough of them, in my opinion. Even much of our Christian culture has brought many men to the point of pain, based on perceived grievances and slights, and wholesale judgments against men as human beings. Any man anywhere can be socially punished for the real or imagined sins of men elsewhere.

        And by bowing out, I mean no longer pursuing marriage. Many men have decided that the emotional and financial risks of marriage are no longer worth the minimal benefits. Often, we are scolded for not being “man enough” to sign up for a raw deal. The institutionalized disrespect is staggering. Feminism now exists mostly to enforce the deliberate disrespect of men as its main goal. A goal or revenge and spite.

        1. Here is a sobering passage that we don’t hear a lot of teaching on at church:

          I find more bitter than death
          the woman who is a snare,
          whose heart is a trap
          and whose hands are chains.
          The man who pleases God will escape her,
          but the sinner she will ensnare.
          โ€œLook,โ€ says the Teacher, โ€œthis is what I have discovered:

          โ€œAdding one thing to another to discover the scheme of thingsโ€”
          while I was still searching
          but not findingโ€”
          I found one upright man among a thousand,
          but not one upright woman among them all.
          This only have I found:
          God created mankind upright,
          but they have gone in search of many schemes.โ€ Ecclesiastes 7:26-29

          Yikes!

          How I long for God to transform us, His women, into righteous women by His power! And how I long for us, ladies, to not have hearts that are a trap to our men and for our hands to not be chains. How I long for us to truly be godly women, real helpmeets, to do good not evil to our husbands (and everyone else), and to be a blessing to our men, our children, and those around us!!! Transform us by Your Spirit’s power, Lord! Radically change us to make us more and more like You for Your glory!

          1. April, I was wondering if you could give me some biblical advice. (I need some help!)

            I was kind of “raised by/in the world,” so the only thing I ever really heard was feminist propaganda… I grew up listening to “Just a Girl” by No Doubt… a song about how utterly controlling and unreasonable a man is toward his girlfriend, and I used to think that song was fantastic. I just willingly embraced this because I knew of no other way… even kid’s shows are about dads who know nothing and the moms who roll their eyes or smile knowingly and do the “correct” thing.

            On top of that, my mom wasn’t subtle in her disrespect of my dad… he broke her trust by kissing another women and from that point, it was on. She was venomous with her words and started drinking heavily (which only made things worse).

            I guess what I’m saying is, I don’t know how to be respectful. It’s pathetic how bad I am at this… and I’m really, really trying! I DO respect my husband: I respect him a lot! But having respect and showing respect are two very different things, and apparently I’m awful at showing respect. Even when I think I’m doing OK, I end up doing something disrespectful. I could chalk it up to my husband being sensitive, but honestly, I’ve been down that road, and I know it’s really me.

            I read Love and Respect a while ago, and I’m even teaching a class on it… for a while, things were going great. I’d learned to start being more respectful and my husband was responding in really loving ways. I work for the school district, and we recently went on winter break. It was so peaceful and amazing… but now I’m back to work and back to homeschooling my oldest (which I didn’t have to do over the break). My stress level has been pretty high, and I have had the toughest time keeping my tone soft, both with my daughters and with my husband. My entire tone is frazzled all day, until I get to work! I feel badly about it and I want to be a peaceful wife, but I honestly have no idea how to do that with all the demands that have started back up. It seems like I’ve backslidden or something. I don’t want to be disrespectful and I absolutely hate it. I feel like Paul when he wrote Romans 7:15 “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

            We’ve had so many arguments since I came back to work. I apologize to him, but I feel like he’s just getting sick of hearing it. I don’t know how to respectfully disagree yet (I thought I was doing it the other day, but when I asked him if a certain comment sounded disrespectful, he said the entire conversation did).

            What am I to do? I want my husband to feel like the most respected man on the planet, and lately I’m failing miserably. I’ve been trying to keep my emotions in check as well, but when we have conflicts like that, I’m able to keep it together ’til it’s over, but when it’s over, I cry because I feel so hopeless. I don’t want him to feel I’m trying to manipulate him with my emotions so I’m trying to make sure he doesn’t see it.

            I looked up some scriptures about peace today when I went to work (because I feel my stress and inability to manage it is a big part of the problem) and I was OK then… but it started again as soon as I got off work. I’m on the Crazy Cycle and I don’t even know how it happened. I know he was probably feeling disrespected when he was on the phone and people kept talking to me… I didn’t invite them to talk – they talked on their own, but he got frustrated with me for it. Of course, I then got frustrated that he got frustrated with me, which didn’t help the situation at all.

            I’m doing my best but I am getting so exhausted. When he’s upset at me, he has a tendency to sort of lecture, and I keep listening and apologizing, but I’m starting to feel like I am never going to learn. It feels like my spirit’s being broken apart right now. I just want things to be like they were last week again… but I know I have to work for us to be able to make it financially, and I don’t want to put more strain on my husband. He’s so frustrated with me that he said, “If working is making you be like this, then I’ll get another job.” I know that’s not what he really wants, but he’s at his wit’s end: and it’s only Wednesday. ๐Ÿ™

            Please help me! I want so much to treat my husband the way he deserves to be treated.

            Thank you.

          2. Jenn,
            It took me 30 books on godly femininity and being a godly wife and 2 years and 3 months before I BEGAN to feel like I had any clue what respect was and how to stop disrespect. And it took several more months before this began to feel more “natural” and more “normal.” It is very much like learning a foreign language. For me, I felt like I was trying to learn Chinese without a teacher. SO FRUSTRATING! It was like trying to reinvent the wheel. I had to get rid of everything I thought I knew about being a godly woman, a Christian, and wife, tear it all out until the the only thing left was Jesus – and begin rebuilding from scratch on God’s Word and His truth.

            There are times when we stumble and fall. The first few years, I stumbled and fell a LOT. You have to just get right back up and keep going, asking God to continue to show you sinful motives and thoughts and asking Him to give you the power to become the woman He wants you to be. The key is to focus on Christ and to allow His Spirit to work in you. But it is painful. It is hard. It is a LONG, LONG, SLOW process.

            You are farther now than you were a few months ago, even if you had a bad week. And it sounds like you have one amazing husband. With Jesus right beside you and your desire to learn – you are going to get this. ๐Ÿ™‚ I have total faith that God is able to do this thing in your heart.

            Much love to you!!!

          3. Thank you SO much for all of your encouragement. It means a lot to me. ๐Ÿ™‚

            Last night, I knew I was being illogical (feeling like all of the effort was undone and all of the progress was for nothing), but I was also so afraid that was what was really happening that I didn’t give myself space to think it through correctly. I think that might be why the verse about Sarah’s daughters encourages us not to give way to fear. Unfortunately, I didn’t even truly realize what I was doing until my husband calmly spoke to me about it. ๐Ÿ˜› Like you said, he’s pretty amazing. ๐Ÿ™‚

            I’m definitely going to keep this up. I’m not going to give up because I have a feeling that’s really what the enemy wants… and I love doing the OPPOSITE of what he wants. ๐Ÿ˜› He wanted me to feel like a failure so I’d give up; so I would lose hope and stop spreading this message to the girls around me and say that it’s just too hard. I’m not infallible, but my God is. I plan to stare hard at God, even when things are difficult, so my gaze isn’t averted by other things or the temptations that Satan may want to throw at me (like the negative thoughts).

            If you wouldn’t mind continuing to pray for me, specifically in the area of respect, but also how to be a godly wife in other areas. I struggle with keeping the house, and because I work late, I also struggle with making good meals for my husband. I don’t work SUPER late, but I work late enough to where, by the time I get home, I’m STARVING and want to make something quick and easy that the kids will eat: this is usually pasta, pizza, macaroni and cheese, etc. My husband is more of a protein eater, but meat takes so long to defrost that I don’t even bother with it most of the time. I know there are ways around it (crock pot meals, thawing the food ahead of time), but I’m also lacking some planning/foresight skills and happen to be very forgetful at times. These are all things I’m praying about, and I want to improve. I think it would be helpful if I got some resources (maybe invest in some cooking magazines), but I need to know I’m going to take it seriously first. (Last year, I wanted to get a bike… so I bought a helmet in hopes of getting the bike later and getting fit, and I never did guy the bike. I don’t want to do something like that again.)

            If you have any suggestions in the area of keeping the home and/or cooking yummy, quick meals without a ton of expensive ingredients (the finances are still tight), I would greatly appreciate that too. If you’re busy or can’t think of anything off the top of your head, though, don’t worry about it. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think part of my disorganization problem comes from the tendency toward chronic depression, but because of that, I downloaded some resources on how to be better about keeping organized. I need to look at those again and see what I can do to prevent myself from allowing things to get unkempt. ๐Ÿ˜›

            I’m curious: I’ve seen a few pictures of your kids (especially in the ones where you look like you’re going on a trip – all the places you visit look fun!), but what are your kids like? I have two girls and I’m really excited about the idea that they’ll grow up learning how to respect their dad and it’ll be (hopefully) that much easier for them to be respectful of their husbands when they grow up. I enjoy setting them up for have an advantage like that. ๐Ÿ™‚

            You rock! ๐Ÿ™‚

          4. Jenn,

            I’m really glad that you are seeing what was happening. THAT IS AWESOME! And it is wise to give yourself time and space to think through things many times.

            I love your attitude about wanting to do the opposite of what the enemy wants you to do. That is AWESOME!

            Ok, let’s talk about some practical things with meals. I am giving you an assignment.

            Find out what your husband’s 8 most favorite meals are for me, and share them with me when you find out.

            I’m so thankful – our children were pretty young when God woke me up 6 years ago. Our son was 7 and our daughter was 2. They don’t remember what I was like before God changed me. SO, SO THANKFUL to God for that! Our son just turned 13. He has an amazing sense of humor. Our daughter is 8. She loves art, tumbling, and cuddling and is crazy about the kitten we got in August. Our son is, too. They love that little guy so much. ๐Ÿ™‚ I do believe this will give our children a much stronger foundation for respecting their fathers, others in positions of God-given authority, and their husbands if/when they get married one day.

            Much love!

          5. Huh. Looking at those passages again, somehow I’m looking at it differently.

            I guess when I first read that I thought the woman whose heart was a snare and a trap was just some kind of seductress (adulteress).

            Otherwise, I guess I don’t get why it says “the man who pleases God will escape her.” Like the man who pleases God won’t fall for the adulteress. If it’s something that can follow you into a legitimate marriage, how does the man who pleases God escape her? Just not marry her in the first place?

        2. I see what you’re saying now, Jack. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

          To tell you the truth, I have often wondered (and am wondering right at this moment, actually) how my husband has been willing to put up with me these 8 years. I certainly haven’t made it easy for him.

  19. I guess what I can’t understand in general is why not develop discernment of a few things:

    *It’s helpful to know the ideal behavior of a person

    For example, the Proverbs 31 woman was written for a reason. It was written by a mother to her son. And it begins with “a woman of noble character who can find?” as if to suggest that she isn’t exactly a dime a dozen!

    Let’s let that sink in–and we’re talking about “unrealistic expectations?” Firstly, there IS such a thing as varying degrees of character in a person in a variety of levels.

    Secondly, there’s also a variety of people. I know I can’t particularly comment on romance novels, but many fictional characters can quite resemble people to a good extent.

    Your spouse has a faithful love for you and you only. ๐Ÿ™‚ That’s how it works, and no one else can replace that regardless of how much “better” they may seem.

    What do I do if I’m reading Proverbs 31 and have a spouse that clearly falls short in some way? Well, depending on the situation, there’s a lot of forgiveness to do, knowing what the standards are. Pretty standard fare. Nobody’s going to abandon notions about he or she is supposed to be treated because of the way they’re actually being treated! In some ways that’s a good thing.

    The part that kind of disturbs me the most, though, is the thought that people can’t take a little step away from the marriage outlook and just see people as people for a second. What I mean is, why can’t I admire a PERSON–male or female–and have a high opinion of someone of the opposite sex if I’m married? Why can’t I admire her (in my case) as a wonderful sister in the Lord who is a blessing to have in life, just like Paul did a number of women he knew and worked with?

    That kind of grosses me out–shouldn’t we be thinking about how to detach our ideas about the quality of person (real or perceived) of the opposite sex from notions of “marriage, marriage, marriage” all the time? There’s life beyond marriage! ๐Ÿ˜› And about 3 billion more people of the opposite sex we’re called to love, serve, be perfectly capable of appreciating without sizing them up as spouse material!

    This is part of my passion for a restored church. Some of these attitudes, I believe, are most certainly keeping the spiritual family from happening.

    1. “For example, the Proverbs 31 woman was written for a reason. It was written by a mother to her son. And it begins with โ€œa woman of noble character who can find?โ€ as if to suggest that she isnโ€™t exactly a dime a dozen!”

      I’ve seen many churches use that verse to say that single men aren’t “worthy” of “these Godly single ladies,”. And I’ve not once heard it used to put that responsibility onto women to become “virtuous” themselves. They assume the ladies at church are already “virtuous” because they are females in a church building, and all the men in the church are “more sinful” because they are men.

      They say, “who can find..,” meaning “which men are “good enough,” instead of “which women are “good enough” as intended.

      1. RG,
        The one sidedness is rather strong today in our churches. ๐Ÿ™ That makes me really sad.

        I LONG for church to be a place where women and women are exhorted, encouraged, discipled, mentored, and taught to be godly women and to pursue holiness, virtue and righteousness.

        Thank you so much for sharing, my brother!

    2. JC,

      Thank you for sharing!

      Yes, people CAN have a high opinion of someone of the opposite sex. It is possible to do that in a pure, godly way. Sadly, that is often not what happens, but YES, it is possible by God’s power. ๐Ÿ™‚

      We do talk about marriage almost all the time here – but, it is a marriage blog – so, that may be part of it. ๐Ÿ™‚ But YES, there are billions of people to love with the love of Christ. How I pray God might empower and equip us to love them with His love!

      1. I didn’t mean to be as contrary as I may have come across. I meant that as a response to this problem (so I suppose I should have spared the harsh-sounding tone). Just to say, I would say, “let’s just make this mental exercise” to avoid the problems you are talking about. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        It’s just like when Paul said to Timothy:

        1 Timothy 5:2
        Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters.

        Again I just see this as the most logical, biblical response to a lot of the problem such as this particular post. I mean, to stretch it a little bit, maybe you know about somebody else’s romance and how great it is, we can be happy for a brother/sister. ๐Ÿ˜‰ We can be happy about the thought of someone else in any respect on that sort of basis. “My brother has a great romance, good for him!” I mean just look at Song of Songs: should that make a man or woman “jealous” like what you’re saying about romance novels if it’s falling short for us?

        Just some thoughts for you–that’s how I wrap my mind around such things.

        1. JC,
          I totally agree with the way you are talking about looking at things!

          But, I also know that in the past, before God changed me – I couldn’t look at things like that. And there are many women who struggle to just be happy for others and not compare. This is where some serious heart work, as Siri mentioned, must be done.

          Much love in Christ, my brother!

          1. I’m super proud of women who are focusing on their heart work, and thereby their personal empowerment to making such great impacts in their marriages and wherever else. (general comment)

            It’s an inspiration–slowly helping God get at my hardened heart.

            I also pray that they get the desires of their hearts according to God’s will–just as you’ve seen so many great results! ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. I honestly believed that men were tougher on the inside. I thought that you could put them down verbally and they could handle it. I don’t know if this was something I picked up from media or from family, but I got it so wrong. Men feel deeply and you can injure them with words. My daughter is of an age where boys are showing interest in her and I have made a point of telling her to treat men’s heart delicately and be careful not to embarrass or hurt them.

    1. Charli,
      Thank you so much for sharing! Yes, I thought men were invincible. I thought it was impossible for my husband’s feelings to be hurt by me. He seemed so tough, big, strong, and unemotional. I was shocked to realize how much my words had damaged his soul. ๐Ÿ™

      THANK YOU for teaching your daughter to be gentle and respectful to men. How I wish every daughter had a Mama who could teach her these important things. ๐Ÿ™‚

      May God richly bless your walk with Christ, your marriage, and your family!

    2. “I thought that you could put them down verbally and they could handle it. I donโ€™t know if this was something I picked up from media or from family, but I got it so wrong.”

      A lot of this began with the media, by consistently giving women more power by giving them “the last word” in every argument before cutting away to another scene, all without showing men’s reactions/responses, thus implying that men have no responses, and that those women “won” their arguments. Our responses were literally edited out of the programs. This behavior of focusing solely on what women want to say/do later became “normal” in most households, until women believed that men have no reactions/responses at all – emotionless, because women were/are so focused on themselves to notice or care about any (pain) differences they caused/are causing in men – our thoughts and feelings became invisible and non-existent to women altogether.

      I imagine women spread this lie amongst themselves, by encouraging each other to “let their men have (every offensive word) it.”

      The sad irony is that, if women wanted men to hurt like they do so that men would “understand” their (womens’) pain, then why would women be so surprised that they hurt their men, when that is exactly what they (women) wanted, tried, and succeeded at doing?! The whole thing would be laughable if it weren’t so painfully serious!

      1. RG,

        I completely agree with you – our thinking is messed up when we do this. I can remember trying to make Greg upset and trying to make him angry the first summer we were married. I wanted to see that he had emotions and could respond and be hurt like I was hurting. I thought that then he would understand my pain and want to fix it.

        I know now that what I did was extremely destructive. ๐Ÿ™ It was such sinful thinking on my part. When I didn’t see Greg respond the way I would – getting upset, saying he was hurt, looking mad or sad – I eventually assumed he had no feelings and could not be hurt. I also assumed he didn’t love me. I was VERY wrong. I DID hurt him and he did love me. I just had no idea how he thought or felt or how he processed emotions. I expected him to act, think, and feel like me. How I wish I had known then what I know now. I understand now why I was so upset – my long list of unspoken expectations were not being met. But I also understand now why Greg reacted the way he did – he had never seen me be so disrespectful, unsupportive, ungodly, unloving, hateful, and controlling. What I did was pour gasoline on a fire with all of my sinful responses.

        I can’t excuse my behavior. I was so ignorant about how men think and what they need. I had no idea the harm I was causing. But I have no excuses. I was very, very wrong. If Greg had treated me the way I had treated him – my heart would have be torn to absolute shreds. My words were very hurtful.

        YES! I do think that what think men feel, need, and think has become invisible to many women. That is not ok!

        My prayer is that God might use me to help shine a BRIGHT LIGHT on what men need, how different a man’s needs are from a woman’s needs, how men think, how men process emotions, what disrespect means, what genuine respect looks like, what it means to be a godly woman, how to see and repent of every sin in our hearts as women… I want to see the disrespect, hurtful words, idolatry (of self, marriage, our men, romance, feeling loved…) bitterness, resentment, pride, self-righteousness, and control stop. I want to see relationships and marriages healed for God’s glory.

        Women are getting messages from the media that it is ok to disrespect men, they can take it. Or they deserve disrespect. And we are getting messages from our culture that men don’t have feelings, or that men should think, feel, speak, and act like women. Many women also got some very ungodly messages from their own parents’ examples. And then we have our own sinful flesh to deal with. This journey requires swimming against the culture, the examples we have seen many times, our own intuition, and our sinful selves. It is painful! It is a long, slow journey. But it is so worth it. How I pray that God might allow many more hundreds of thousands of women to join the other ladies and myself on this road.

        Thanks for sharing, my brother!

      2. RG,

        There is something about some women’s psyche that I have come to understand.

        They resent a man’s strength and authority. “He is the image of God, but woman is the glory of man.” (1 Corinthians 11:7)

        “Defeating” a man, I believe, unconsciously gives women a rush in feeling like they’ve beaten God. The idea that they’re capable of hurting a man makes them feel powerful in that sense. Or, just the idea that God was created for us and not vice-versa–like God is the responder to us and not the other way around. That’s why a submissive woman is a great example to any man in how to be submissive to God.

        And, we have the toxic paradigm I harp on a lot: woman are portrayed as a trophy for a man to work to get. That interaction is at the root of so many problems, including sexual sins. The man is the insensitive, dehumanized brute measured by his performance to earn the female trophy, who doesn’t have much actual function but just to be taken care of.

        Really, everyone can have feelings and has innate value, and everyone has function to serve one another.

        1. JC,

          I am not sure that this is correct, that women generally resent a man’s strength and authority. Sure, there are some who probably do. It seems to me that it is more of an issue that a woman believes she sees things clearly and that she is “right,” as well as a lot of fear and lack of understanding of God’s sovereignty and His design for marriage that fuels a woman’s desire to control – not as much that she resents a man’s strength and authority. Most women today don’t acknowledge that men have any authority from God in marriage.

          Hmm… I am going to have to think about this.

          But yes, everyone has feelings and has innate value because God created us. Today’s post talks about that very thing!

          1. JC,

            A few more thoughts – for whatever they are worth…

            I think that women, in general, appreciate men’s strength. (Of course, there are variations among women, just as there are among men. So, I’m sure it can be dangerous to make generalizations.) But, I think that if there is an issue, it is probably that we assume men are much “stronger” or even “invincible” emotionally/spiritually because they don’t talk about it if/when they feel hurt, or because they get angry instead of sad. Many times, women don’t equate a man’s anger with his “feeling hurt” because of her words. Lots of women have no idea that they are hurting men or that they are being disrespectful. Respect and disrespect are not on a woman’s radar the way that it is with men. A woman has to learn an entirely new “language” to understand masculinity and respect. I am STILL learning and have much to learn about how men think in general, and how my husband and individual men think, in particular.

            To me, the issues are largely misunderstandings more than a purposeful resentment of a man’s strength or authority.

          2. Thank you very much for your thoughts April. I do appreciate your efforts to offer insight into understanding. I’m somewhat familiar with your general school of thought as well.

            What I said, I think, applies more toward the feminist end of the spectrum and I don’t have too much doubt about it, to be honest. You yourself have said something to the effect of a wife’s submission is a direct indicator of her submission to God, and I think that’s reasonable (inasmuch as it’s an expression of it) for kind of obvious reasons (“submit as unto the Lord”), but beyond that, I think rebellion against God is manifested in a rebellion against men and a contempt for what a man looks like: “He is the image of God, but woman is the glory of man.” I believe feminists love the idea of bringing down God, ultimately, the truth can be whatever you want it to be attitude and resisting authority in principle. I believe that is the root of why they are enticed by “defeating” men and seeing them suffer.

            I sure wish I could convince you, though, that this business of men’s inexpressiveness is not something hard-wired in men whatsoever. I can’t understand why believers who think such things don’t notice the expressiveness of men of the Bible–I just don’t get that. How can you read the way countless godly men speak in the Bible and believe that there’s anything hardwired in men that they naturally aren’t expressive?

            I learned in psychology that a crying baby will eventually quit crying if it is left unattended; you’ll end up with a baby that doesn’t cry very much if it’s not used to others responding.

            I heard you say two things about your husband: that he believes men don’t show pain, and that he had a lack of understanding that he was the one being sinned against in a lot of cases and felt like he was at fault and to blame. I would say that clearly–CLEARLY–explains a lot on its own in his case and a lot of others.

            Furthermore, I have experience with a variety of people. I’m at the tail-end of a Master’s degree in computer science, having spent four years around these kinds of engineering types–great guys! It’s amazing how gracious they can be in their usual dryness. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Other guys are generally prone to workaholism which is terrible, they get macho and self-dehumanizing about it. But, communication is seldom their strong suit and the field in general is known for it. At the same time there’s no shortage of male poets, writers, and artists who are quite expressive.

            What I grew up with in general (and to this day), not only does the mainstream (including Christianity) maintain an absolutely disgusting disinterest in men’s protection, there’s hardly even a mention of the what men are up against in the culture with an attitude of understanding. The point is, it’s a feedback loop of a culture that is not conducive for us to being expressive about hurts, as there’s almost no place to go even to direct those hurts to someone who would listen–like the crying baby, very little is out there to respond, so we “quit crying.” We’re not warmed up to the idea that we have a right to “cry” about much of anything. Anger is all that’s left, and sadly, as a result, there’s lots of it among guys who discovered they had nowhere else to go (as you have experience with this). I keep trying to say this to men’s groups: yes, a big part of the reason men’s suffering is ignored, with so many basic rights being threatened, is just that men carry themselves as macho and having no weakness (so who needs to help an invincible person?) and, despite the fact that our culture decidedly pushes men in that direction, we have to fight that.

            Anyway that was a point on-topic but hopefully I didn’t wear you out . . . too much . . . ๐Ÿ™‚

            I wonder, is this a record for the most comments on a post of yours? ๐Ÿ˜€

            God bless and much love to you ma’am. ๐Ÿ™‚

          3. Hi JC,

            I grew up with a lot of feminist ideas swirling around in my head (basically as a product of the world/media, because though I became a Christian in jr high, I was still pretty much “wingin’ it” even afterward) and I know that not all women feel this way, but I know I had a tendency to, at times, feel resentful of a man’s strength. One minute I wanted a strong man to swoop in and save the day for me, and the next minute I resented men for their strength. I think that a lot of feminist propaganda is propelled by women’s fears: fears that men will use their strength against them. That then turns into resentment, because these women don’t WANT to be vulnerable. That’s also why a lot of women take self-defense classes. They’re worried that sometime, someone stronger may try to overpower them and they’ll be defenseless. There’s even a company called “Damsel in Defense” that sells pepper spray and hard plastic things to beat an attacker off with. I’m not knocking this company… this is a genuine concern for some women and just as not all women have good intentions, neither do all men, but I think it shows how much some women can fear their vulnerability.

            Obviously, these feelings are things that I have been praying about and those specific ones (resenting him for his strength)aren’t much of a problem anymore (though I remember wanting to be stronger than him at one point in the beginning of our marriage). To me, a lot of it comes down to fear, as I said. Sarah was in a very vulnerable place and she didn’t give way to fear. That’s pretty crazy, and pretty commendable of her. However, later on, in 2 Samuel, Tamar is raped by her brother Amnon and then she lives out the rest of her live in Absolom’s house, “a desolate woman”. This is really scary to a lot of women; the Word actually says that “since he was stronger than she, he raped her.” As I said, thatโ€™s a fear that some women have and it evolves into something more serious and detrimental.

            I’ve also seen a lot of people (I guess I could call them uber-feminists) who are all about defeating men… along the lines of the country songs that someone mentioned, there are lots of songs about that. Taylor Swift’s not considered country anymore, but her music video “Blank Space” is a caricature of that kind of woman: one who is needy and then destructive. She breaks his car and does all kinds of other ridiculous stuff… I remember Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats” song being pretty insane too.

            I’m definitely not an expert on either of these things (respect or resentment LOL) but I have seen a few things that kind of verify to me both you and April’s standpoints. I guess it depends on the woman though! ๐Ÿ™‚

          4. One minute I wanted a strong man to swoop in and save the day for me, and the next minute I resented men for their strength.

            This is such a great quote, because that’s the great paradox of feminism: it’s about “independence” of women, yet most of it largely boils down to demanding that men solve women’s problems like women are helpless damsels in distress after all.

            Many people are exposing feminism for what it is, though. Many great things are happening these days (that is to say, turbulent things)–and it helps me to see women actually polarize. I keep seeing that women want to see men polarize for their sake (“good men” should distinguish themselves from “bad men” for their sake) and it sure helps to see women do the same–I try to give women a lot of credit when they do! ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s definitely happening more and more.

            Many women realize they catch the feminism bug and are trying to get rid of it (God bless them). But I think most people underestimate the sheer malice behind the heart of it. It parallel’s Satanism, in it’s direct rebellion to authority and truth in principle. I was amazed at April’s comment a while back that feminism included things like the truth can be what you want it to be: yes, usurp authority of men, in ritual of usurping truth itself.

          5. JC,

            Thank you… yes, that is exactly what my problem was. It was like I wanted to be strong when it was convenient for me (or when it felt “empowering”) yet I couldn’t rid myself of the feeling that I wanted someone in my life who would be willing to fight for me, defend my honor, etc.

            The sad thing is that in order for a man to defend my honor, I had to behave honorably in the first place… and I was not honoring God by my selfish and self-righteous (not to mention man-hating, as man is the image of God) behavior! On top of that, what kind of man would be so foolish as to defend the honor of a woman who mistreats him? Just as it makes no sense to us women when a friend of ours stays with an incredibly unloving man, it would make no sense for a man to stay with an incredibly disrespectful woman (unless, of course, they were bound by the marriage covenant, in which case a heavy dose of prayer and/or professional help would be well-advised).

            As you said, there is much malice behind feminism. Many of them say they think God is a woman (perhaps the idea of them worshiping anything that resembles a man is THAT abominable to them?), and I certainly don’t see any proof of that in the Word, though certain characteristics of His he likens to feminine ones (Isaiah 66:13 “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you.”). He is always spoken of as a man and the verse in 1 Corinthians 11:7 really seems to contradict any idea that God might be a woman. Does He care about women? Of course! There is neither male nor female in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:28), but it really seems to me that women who believe God is female are only believing what they want to believe, and not relying on the Word as we are instructed to do.

            I never went all-out in feminism… I “dabbled,” I guess you could say… but I also didn’t realize what a strong effect my dabbling was having on me, and I also didn’t realize how contrary to the Word most extreme feminist views are. The definition of feminism is “the belief that women should have equal rights and opportunities.” That, in and of itself, isn’t bad. In fact, Galatians equalizes women to men (as well as slaves/masters, etc). I think the trouble is that the idea that the women began with eventually spiraled out of control. Women started going overboard, pushing the envelope. I feel that many, if not all women who began the suffrage movement back in the 20s would be appalled if they saw how men were being treated today. I think their reaction would be along the lines of, “No, this is not what we meant at all!” …sort of in the same way I think our founding fathers would be appalled at how liberally we apply our “freedom” to do whatever we want in this nation now.

            Some feminists I have heard of claim to take the purist view (equal rights, not “women are better than men”). Of course, I don’t know their hearts. The feminists I am talking about are the ones who are so extreme that, as you said, they are malicious and rebellious to authority. God created a chain of command, so to speak… and we are to follow that. It is His way of creating order. When we don’t follow the chain of command, there is chaos. I’m speaking personally as a woman who has mistakenly tried to usurp my husband’s role as head of the household… I can say now (with confidence) that I was not made for that role. The stress was enormous, and I felt absolutely out of control emotionally and in every other way. I was trying to do something God didn’t make me to do! It’s like an anglerfish deciding it wants to try its hand at flying!

            When I read that I’m not in charge of my family’s finances, part of me was worried (fear was a big part of what propelled my actions then), but another part of me was remarkably relieved. What a load lifted off me! I couldn’t believe I was carrying something for so long that God never intended me to carry! I was to HELP my husband, not BE him! ๐Ÿ˜›

            Sorry about the length of this reply. God bless you for being patient enough to read all of this! LOL

          6. That’s great Jenn. Thank you for sharing. I am happy for you.

            I oftentimes wonder what could be done for women to appreciate themselves as they are such that they won’t be motivated to be competitors with men (i.e. women too are fearfully and wonderfully made), and be happy with themselves as women–I wonder if you would say if that’s part of it. Could it be that modern women could use more help appreciating the benefits of femininity? (To themselves and others)

            I think it’s a big help for women to expose themselves in such a fashion (as you have here). It helps men understand, from across a “chasm” that just shouldn’t be there.

            Of course Galatians 3:28 concludes “for all are one in Christ,” and so I think that helps that unity. We have struggles from all sorts of different places but as a church we’re in it together.

            God bless you and your walk with Christ, sister. ๐Ÿ™‚

          7. JC,

            Yes, I think that may be a part in it as well. In the past, I’d focused a lot on how I was at a disadvantage because of my gender (weaker physically, the yearning for love [which to some is considered a definite weakness], feeling like emotions are completely out of control sometimes… I also have often heard feminists complain that women don’t get paid at the same rate as men do, so there’s that as well). The fact alone that the Bible encourages women to stay home with their children is enough to rankle some women, because in today’s culture, that’s “not as important” as going out and working. Some women feel as if the Bible (and the world) treats them as inferior. Partly because of this, these women are also prone to judge other women who fail to meet the standard of what they think a “good woman” is, so that may also play a role, which is sort of silly when you think about it, because the same women who feel that way are sometimes perpetuating that onto other women. It’s like we’re eating ourselves alive. And when we’re not judging other women, we’re judging ourselves by those women and falling short, loathing ourselves for not being the carbon copy of that woman.

            So it’s a very destructive pattern to get into, and a very difficult one to get out of… but with God’s help, anything is possible! I definitely think that it’d be helpful for modern women to learn to appreciate the benefits of femininity. The thing that worries me on that front, however, is if the woman is already very much immersed in feminism, it would take great care to approach (and it would probably do no good at all for a man to approach it, since for whatever reason, they seem to have a distrust of men ๐Ÿ™ . I think that’s why it’s so helpful to have godly women (because as we know, the feminist mindset also filters down into the church) who are living out their faith in such a way that other women are drawn to them. It’s interesting to me that the women I was most drawn to when I began attending my church were the ones who lived out their faith quietly and were respectful and admiring of their husbands. It doesn’t take the fanfare and loud cries of feminism to get a woman’s attention if she’s seeking the Lord with all her heart: God will eventually show her what she needs. ๐Ÿ™‚

            Thank your for your encouragement, brother! God bless you as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

          8. “The definition of feminism is โ€œthe belief that women should have equal rights and opportunities.โ€ That, in and of itself, isnโ€™t bad.”

            There is no such thing as “good Feminism.”

            It is all (100%) a lie.

            The definition you quoted and which most people believe is not and never has been the “Feminism” that politicians and advocates fight for.

            The reason so many people want to support “Feminism” is because that definition was created to sound like a “good goal” worth supporting – it was accepted easily by millions, which was the whole point of marketing that definition in the first place.

            But that marketing is where that definition ends, and the reality of Feminism begins.

            That “good goal” is like asking parents if they value an excellent education for their children – of course they will answer yes! What parent would not want to “help their children succeed!”

            The problem is that most people want to support a “good cause,” without thinking about and discerning what specifically and why they are going to support it.”

            That is the lie.

            “Equality” is good, but Feminism isn’t about equalities. It’s about more privileges, advantages, and conveniences for women (And less for men) with little to no accountabiity for their (women’s) actions/behaviors.

            Is a woman jobless and having a bunch of kids with different men?! No problem, because taxpayers will “help her with her unfortunate circumstances” via free/inexpensive government medical insurance – no questions asked. And Title IV of Family Law basically guarantees that women always receive custody/Child Support/Alimony for life, just because they are women.

            Is “violence against women” bad?! Yes! But when people vote to support a “Violence against women act (VAWA)” that declares that men are always (100%) the perpetrators of “domestic violence” and therefore MUST be arrested on-site, regardless of evidence to the contrary (and even when men are the victims of domestic violence) then the system is sexist, and does more harm than good.

            Is rape wrong?! Absolutely! But 50% of rape accusations are false accusations. And literally nothing negative ever happens to those lying women as innocent men get kicked out of college, lose jobs, and spend years in prison because of those lies.
            Women’s lies are just shrugged off as “no big deal,” and those men receive no justice for the permanent , undeserved damage done to their lives and reputations.

            Here is the heart of the matter.
            Every time someone (fears upsetting women) decides that they “don’t want to be sexist/misogynist against women, so they will (appease) “help women,” then they are already deciding to be sexist (misandrist against men) by choosing not to (support equality by) “help(ing) men.”

            This is a daily problem!

            People assume “helping women” is promoting “equality,” but it isn’t (anymore, and hasn’t been for decades). It is promoting sexism (Misandry) against men – every day.

            Feminism is NOT good, because it teaches people that women need and deserve more _______ (whatever women want) than men, and that men “owe women” _______ (whatever women want) because of events well over 100 years ago, therefore each man is overlooked, ignored, dismissed, and disregarded, all in the name of “avoiding the appearance of “being sexist/misogynist” against women.”

            Each time someone decides that “helping women” equals “promoting equality” (as if being a woman is automatically a disadvantage to them) then they are being sexist against men.

            Every time your pastors and church leaders praise (every little success done by a woman or) “the right for women to vote,” they are showing their sexist bias towards “helping women” more than men, as if women are still disadvantaged because they are women, and are in need of the church to “help” them. They think a success is more important and meaningful if done by a woman instead of a man. They praise women often for small things and overlook the majority of successes of men as just another expectation.
            I’d like to see Christian women challenge (discuss) their pastors inclination to fear, appease, and “help” women” in order to avoid appearing “sexist/misogynist” to those women, or act as women are always the victims of every circumstance in their lives. I’d like to see Pastors and church leaders hold women responsible and accountable for their actions, rather than just making excuses for women’s sinful choices and behaviors, and expecting men to deal with their abuse.

            This is part of what needs to be done to rebuild unity and true equality between men and women in the body of Christ.

          9. JC,

            Men being inexpressive may well be completely culturally conditioned – but it is a real issue for many men (and the women who love them) today. That is why I address it. I don’t want them to be inexpressive. I want them to feel safe with their wives and girlfriends or friends and to be able to share their hearts. But, we as women also need to be sure we are creating a safe place for them to be open and to share. I think that may be the first step.

            I do understand why so many men are angry. It breaks my heart to see what many of my brothers in Christ are experiencing in relationships and in the church. I see the pain behind the anger – but many women cannot see anything but the anger. It is hard for many women to understand what is behind the anger.

            Ha! I am not sure. I think there is someone who still has you beat on the record!

          10. I understand April and I’m with you–you do a lot of wonderful work.

            I’ve been trying to interact with men in men’s groups: this machismo business is just making ourselves our worst enemy, and we need to abandon these notions that that’s the road to masculinity. It’s so far from Scripture’s portrayal of Godly men (in examples and teaching), it ruins our abilities to courageously face ourselves emotionally (and therefore take care of ourselves), I’m SURE it causes men to struggle to be the best they can be for their wives too. So many women I do believe have nurturing hearts and just can’t wait to go to work with them with their husbands! ๐Ÿ™‚

            Some guys are on the ball of seeing a “shaming” culture versus an empowering one for men. Well, that’s what we need to do: shed notions of shame. I want to be a strong man myself and be useful and able as possible.

            Not a criticism of you, here! It’s just my input as far as the men’s end of things.

  21. Charli-

    We are fairly tough. But not nearly as tough as we are assumed to be. Feminism also teaches women that men are brutish creatures that above all things need to be scolded and bullied into “correct” behavior.

    The whole thing is just one broken heart after another.

    1. Jack….

      I have been in this situation (and still am) and instead of leaving church, or turning my back on God because I was not given the skills, the looks, the charm, the right-words-to-say to make a woman fall for me…..or getting mad because I am not like “everyone else”

      I just had to turn harder to The Cross in the end. I could blame feminism, blame pastors who “don’t live in reality today” (Mark Driscoll / Perry Noble come to mind). I could blame God for not giving me what I wanted, or what I thought I deserved. I could just blame women in general for my plight (and I did for awhile).

      But in end, I am responsible for my continued obedience in Christ. Following Him, for just the sake of being with Him. I cannot put that on a pastor, a woman. I cannot put that on a Christian denomination, or the infamous “they” in a church.

      It falls on me. Only on me in the end.

      Countless stories and situations in His Word where the men and women who were used by God were not always “upper-middle-class” and the didn’t have “the looks” fame, money, or what was considered attractive in those times. Many were sinners, or had situations in their own lives where they were far from perfection. Many had to be taught as well.

      Many had to allow themselves to indeed be used by God.

      Even when they did, many did not have perfect lives afterward, but they understood to give Him the Glory.

      1. Good going, Jason. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Somewhat related, I suppose, I was just meditating on the current day of trials in which we are called to be patient.

        One day God will straighten everything out; and everything that has happened in His great story will show its meaning to us.

        In the meantime, I’m in the middle of it, long before the whole thing reaches its conclusion.

        We have a tendency to look for heaven on Earth in various things and situations (the biggest theme in my book btw), but what I recently repeated to myself in faith was that that place where God has already worked everything out, where everything reaches its conclusion, is already in my heart and already giving me peace about today. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Luke 17:21
        nor will they say, โ€˜Look, here it is!โ€™ or โ€˜There!โ€™ for behold, the kingdom of God is in you.โ€

        Yes, that “place”–the kingdom of heaven–where all things at last reveal their meaning in God’s great intent already lives in me even as I go about my life in trials in submission to Him.

      2. seventiesjason,

        YES!
        This is what I long to get across. It is easy to blame others and other things and influences. I do think it is important for us to recognize ungodly influences and sources of ungodly ideas or things that are stumbling blocks for us individually. We must recognize our thoughts so that we can compare them to Scripture and take every thought captive for Christ. But, ultimately, we are each accountable to God for ourselves. That is where our power is – to take responsibility for ourselves and to focus on our walk with Christ alone.

        LOVE this!

        What God has been doing in your life and heart in the past year is amazing.

        Amen! Amen!

        Ladies,

        If you are interested, here are some related posts to this topic:

        “I Am Responsible for Myself Spiritually”

        “I Am Responsible for My Emotions”

    2. Well, other times I’ve heard feminists criticizing men for being conditioned not to express their feelings. I would actually agree with that, except for problems (where do you even start?) including the basic fact that feminism purposefully calls attention away from men’s issues and opposes all discussion of them, and basically, they’re the most guilty party of all if I ask the logically-following question: if men express themselves and their vulnerabilities, who is listening? Certainly not feminists.

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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