Girls are far, far too easy on a guy when dating. They put up with so much. And then they are too hard on him when they are married, so that is over, and everyone goes looking for another one, and….. girls just end up having to take a lot of disrespect/abuse/junk.
Dissoluble marriage is the problem.
Indissoluble marriage. It sounds too rough–doesn’t it? Indissoluble. Yeah, if he hits you or cheats on you, then you might have to separate, maybe even permanently, if he’s dangerous. But you still have to…be true to him, be true to the love that you once had together, and not just pretend to forget and start over with another. Because…because…well, keep reading, I’ll try to explain.
Oh, and another thing. A man owes his wife love–unconditional love. Yes. It doesn’t matter if she gains 100 pounds or develops into an insufferable nagger or keeps the house an absolute mess or becomes intellectually boring or goes crazy from post-partum or turns out to be less than completely sexually pure or faithful. She deserves your unconditional love regardless. You owe it to her. No one else owes her that, but you do. It’s you and Christ, the two of you are in this together, to love her unconditionally. You gave your oath to, no one forced you. That is what all those lines mean in the oath, “for richer or poorer,” “in sickness and in health,” “for better or for worse.” Unconditional love is love that demands no conditions–love that chooses to remain steadfast, no matter what happens, to the death.
You chose this terrible burden, to love another human being as only God can.
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for her…”
(and for those unfamiliar with the biblical background: the allegory of Christ married to his church-bride is from the book of Hosea where she is a CHEATING wife, with hundreds of lovers, and he still takes her back and loves her anyway.)
And a wife owes her husband unconditional respect. Yes, unconditional. It doesn’t matter if his IQ is lower than you, or he keeps making embarrassing social faux-pas, or he made the most retarded investment decision with the family savings, or he fails and his career goes up in smoke, or runs afoul of social norms and is despised by everyone else, and the two of you have to live in a trailer home in a backwater.
Unconditional respect. You choose to respect his judgement, even if it means poverty or embarrassment.
Life has plenty of hardship, and it has moments of crisis, that are like the landing beaches on D-Day. The confusion and the smoke, and risky decisions must be made, at moments of uncertainty and crisis. The two of you are in this together: you are a platoon. You talk, you strategize, you make plans, and then you run through crossfire following the plan. But like a platoon, there will be times of disagreement, and in the end, like a platoon trapped in a battlezone, someone has to ‘make the call’, and decide the plan of action. A vote isn’t going to do it–it’s a 50%/50%–so you must respect his judgement, not because it’s better than yours (it probably isn’t…), but just because he is your husband. Unconditional respect. And you must accept that in times where you cannot agree and he just won’t listen, you must ‘submit’ to him by deferring to his judgement. (Of course, as his first adviser, you are there to give your urgent or fierce council when he is tempted or swayed by evil. And you are also there to tackle him if he is doing something evil, you must not let yourself be morally degraded, and you must protect the innocent, even if that means turning him over to the law.) But short of those emergency measures, you must respect his judgement. This isn’t about being his chattel. It is about the two of you–and only the two of you–a small platoon against all dangers and hardships, taking on the world together.
You must give him your unconditional respect. You must choose to believe in his integrity, through hell and high water, and financial/social/career failure.
I passionately hate the current, ‘christian’, conservative standard of marriage, which runs as thus: the woman has to pretend to be dumb and pretty, and the man has to…bring home the bacon.
It is just dressed-up prostitution. She’s snagged her man, her social status, the ring on the fourth finger. And for the man….he must achieve, he must provide, and if his career banks or he is out of a job, somehow…his wife is justified to…leave him. Because (as some Christian elders explained) it is “financial abandonment.”
That is not marriage. That is concubinage–when the woman can take her services elsewhere because her longtime client isn’t paying up anymore.
Look at the ancient oaths.
Your oath didn’t say, “To financially provide, to give status and respectability, till this contract is violated”
It said “to love and to CHERISH.”
Cherish. To treasure, when everything, everything, else is lost.
That is why you shouldn’t put up with a guy who doesn’t treat you right.
Don’t coax him into swearing an oath he can’t keep.
If he isn’t steadfastly cherishing you now…do you really think he is capable of keeping an oath to you of cherishing you his whole life? If you love him–don’t do that to him. Do not burden him with an oath he is incapable of keeping. It is like giving an eager child a heavy glass jar of sauce to carry during the grocery shopping. It will end in a tearful child and annoyed store janitor sweeping up the glass: failure and self-recrimination. For his sake, just don’t.
If he is glancing longingly after other women now–do you really think he will be capable of sticking to his oath “forsaking all others, cleave only to thee as long as we both shall live”? Through the passion of his love for you, he can stay faithful, for…five years, ten years, fifteen? Like youth, passion-love dies through the course of time. Does he have the character to plod through the hard times, to choose to steadfastly cherish? If he doesn’t…then for his sake, just don’t.
Don’t promise something you can’t keep.
If you don’t trust his judgement now, do not swear an oath that promises to respect it.
If he makes you feel bad for speaking your mind now, or if he doesn’t take your counsel seriously…do you really want to sign up as his Chief Council? It is your job to advise, but if he doesn’t listen, to obey.
I know, impulsive love will promise all things, will jump off the Niagara for someone. Of course–but even the love that is willing to leap in front of the bullet for the beloved–even the passion that would give up everything–is not enough. That is not as hard as sticking by, through dullness, humiliation, and bitterness in those long-drawn out years when things go wrong–when his aged mother is going through debilitating strokes and all the unresolved issues of his childhood are putting him through so much pain that he starts acting like a jerk, or when he is in a mid-life crisis, or when when your adolescent acts up and you wish your husband had been a better father to your wild son, or when you are tired of being confronted with your own shabbiness with how you’ve acted over the years and you just want to run away from it all and forget your own failures and shames, and you are tempted to run off and start over fresh with an adoring lover, where you can be the hero again.
Amid the joys, there will be times when life is just hard. Grinding, waterless, aching muscles kind of hard. Are you willing?
It is possible. Monks have obeyed their cantankerous superiors, and Marines and military platoons have proved that it is, indeed, possible to give unconditional respect, to the end. But it is going to be hard. Are you willing?
It isn’t a question of, ‘do you love him enough?’. With marriage, it is a question of, do you respect him enough? Respect him enough to be his counsel through the decades ahead, to be his counsel, but defer to his judgement? Do you respect him enough to trust his judgement–for decades? Do you respect his integrity enough to give up your freedom to him, and trust he will not abuse it?
Do you? Because a marriage oath is a terribly dreadful thing to swear, and you’ve got only one chance at it. If it goes wrong, you’ve promised to endure the suffering for decades–be it emotional strain in an unfulfilling relationship, or years of separated celibacy.
So if he doesn’t cherish you enough now, or if you don’t respect him enough now…get out. Leave.
If you really love him, don’t try to be his saviour. You don’t have it in you. Leave him to God. God will save.
So stand up for yourself, woman, and walk out. Don’t take sh*t from a guy. Just don’t.
Because you have only one chance to give yourself with a lifelong oath. And then you have to love and respect no matter the personal cost.
That is the problem right now. Girls get abused so much by guys, because they let him. With a 50% divorce rate and even the old Roman Catholic Church dispensing annulments rather freely, the enlightened twentieth century has destroyed the indissolubility of marriage.
It was supposed to save women from being trapped in indissoluble marriages, having to endure mistreatment from their husbands. Every few years another historical movie/novel comes out and all the divorcees at the local book club duly express their gratitude at being born female in the twentieth century.
But instead, it means girls are just that much more likely to take disrespect/junk/abuse from a guy. Now, we will move in, we will undergo the trial period (living together), as we hope desperately for the ring, cut capers and pass tests in order to earn the guy’s much anticipated ‘commitment.’ In order to ‘earn’ his conditional love.
There was a time when the general idea was that the girl was on a glass mountain, and the guy had to ride around doing exploits, answer the ancient riddle, and risk his life to get her hand in marriage. She did nothing. Why? Because we well knew all she would do and suffer afterwards.
There was a time when courtship was about the man proving he was good enough. Courtship was the man’s ‘trial period’–when the girl gave him nothing, and he had to prove to her and her kin that he was capable of steadfast devotion, that he was worthy of her oath of unconditional respect. Then, and only then, did she deign to accept his oath and give hers, to keep through all suffering, come hell and high water. These old and quaint structures were there for a reason: it works better. They let you know what you were getting into, to discourage all those who were incapable of it (note the pile of dead suitors at the bottom of the glass mountain).
We threw unconditional respect and indissolubility out the window a long time ago (conservative Christians too). It was supposed to make things better for girls, they claimed.
But it just shifted us into the “concubinage” mode, where love is nothing but a contract with conditions, that can be terminated if the boxes aren’t checked. Where all love–even the most intimate, bonding, personal love–is still conditional.
And so now in our modern era, girls are just having to put up with a lot more junk.