whether or not Your lips move

You speak to me

what a girl wants January 8, 2010

Several years ago, I spent several months doing some hard praying, thinking, and soul-searching. I had finally escaped a six-year, off-and-on relationship and had decided that I’d rather be alone the rest of my life than with the wrong person. I was beginning to conclude that I should never settle for less than God’s best in any area of my life. I was starting to trust that God really had my best interests at heart and wasn’t holding out on me.

During this process, I began a list. Oh, the dreaded list. Some of you are cringing right now and about to close your browser window. I ask you to hang with me for a minute here.

Many girls’ lists are made up of things like “tall, dark, and handsome” or “drives a convertible.” There’s nothing really wrong with those things, but I want to challenge you girls to look at “the list” a little differently.

I’m kind of laughing at myself right now because it is going to sound like I’m telling you what to do, and that is just silly. But I seriously have seen this work in my own life and in other girls’ lives, too. Guys, you might get a little ticked off at me and think I’m telling all these girls to be insanely unreasonable. I ask you to spend some quiet time searching your own soul, and see if maybe you want to be the type of person I am going to describe.

I need to be clear, girls: there is no perfect guy. I know you’ve heard it a thousand times, but you really need to let that sink in. No matter how many of these qualities he has, he will eventually do or say something that hurts you. He’s human. He needs grace just like you do. Keep in mind that the things I’m about to list may look different than you thought they would. They may come in a package you didn’t think was “your type.”

You know from my other posts in this series that I don’t support unhealthy levels of intimacy (physical, emotional, or otherwise) early in a relationship. So many of the character qualities in the list below SHOULD be demonstrated in a guy BEFORE you get into a relationship with him. These things will be evidenced in his other relationships as you get to know him in a group setting.

And as you are reading through this list (and add your own things based on  your personality and God’s leading), you need to evaluate yourself on each point and ask yourself how YOU are doing in becoming the person God wants you to be. It isn’t unreasonable to look for a man who is compatible with you and who has these character traits. It IS unreasonable to think you should be with him while not taking the time to prepare yourself for a man like this.

Okay. Without further adieu.

THE LIST

  • A spiritual leader. He loves God; he is someone you can look up to and learn from spiritually; has strong convictions based on God’s Word. He takes God seriously and challenges you and others to love God more each day. He prays about everything and obeys God’s direction. He forgives and extends grace whenever possible.
  • A servant leader. He loves others in practical ways; he seeks to be more selfless in his actions; he takes initiative; he is generous. He has a positive attitude.
  • A worshiper. He wants to give God his best in every situation; he lives out what he says he believes; wants to give God a good name. He wants others to know and love Jesus the way he does.
  • A hard worker. He has a good work ethic; he is a hard worker but not a workaholic; honest with finances and responsible with money. He has goals for his career and life.
  • Has integrity. He keeps his commitments and does what he says he will do; he treats all women (and men) with respect; he is real and authentic; he is honest. He is not on a search for power and he does not manipulate people.
  • Level-headed. He can handle a crisis; he knows how to argue without fighting; he is able to responsibly handle an emotionally-charged situation; he speaks the truth in love.
  • Humble and flexible. Things don’t always have to be his way; he doesn’t flee at the first sign of trouble. He can admit when he’s wrong and isn’t afraid to ask for forgiveness. He works to make things right and will try to resolve conflicts.
  • Has good friends. He is committed to a local body of Christ followers; he has meaningful relationships with other men; has accountability in his life. Those closest to him will encourage him to be the man God wants him to be.
  • Passionate. He has healthy ambition and direction; he has a vision for the future; he is confident in who he is and his gifts. He is fun to be around and you share many common interests.
  • Communicates well. He listens well and can interact with people who are not like him; he takes care with his words. He isn’t always complaining and he isn’t a bully!
  • Family-oriented. He can interact well with children; he is a team player; he is a “coach” rather than a “dictator;” not afraid to take the lead. He can see the gifts in others and encourage them to use them. If he already has children, he maintains an appropriate relationship with their mother (based on the circumstances) and you are ready to be a stepmom.
  • Sexually pure. He respects women as daughters of God and sisters in Christ; he does not attempt to interact physically with women inappropriately; if he has been sexually active in the past, he is currently demonstrating his commitment to saving sex for marriage. He has healthy boundaries in his relationships with girls. It has to be said–he won’t ask you for or expect sexual contact of any kind. He’s not a player!
  • Emotionally whole. He is mature and steady; he shows progress and commitment to overcoming significant weaknesses in his life; he knows who he is in Christ; he can handle his anger appropriately. He does not have an active addiction to drugs, alcohol, porn, etc. but is self-controlled.
  • Affectionate. He expresses his affection appropriately; he understands what his “love language” is and seeks to know others’ love languages; he is not afraid of intimacy and is willing to invest himself in a relationship. In a committed relationship, he cherishes the woman as a gift from God and is willing to sacrifice for her.
  • Has appropriate family relationships. He respects his mother but she doesn’t control his life; if he does not have a healthy family he seeks to interact with them appropriately and with grace. (Ideally, if you come from a divorced family, it is a blessing to be with a guy whose parents are still married.)
  • Looks good. You’re attracted to him; he sees his body as God’s temple; has good hygiene; he takes care of himself physically and seeks to be in good health. He does not, however, place inappropriate emphasis on his physical appearance.
  • You have compatible weaknesses. In the areas you are weak, he is strong. In the areas he is weak, you are strong. It is important to have a lot in common, but weaknesses are not one of those things.

I hope that this has helped you begin to know what God’s best is for your life in the area of relationships. Guys, I know this is a tall order. But you have what it takes. Is there a man you know who fits the description above? Ask him to hang out sometime. See if you can start to learn from him how to be this kind of man.

Girls, he is out there. If God has called you to marriage, it is not unreasonable to be looking for him to be like this. It doesn’t only happen in fairy tales. The hardest part is going to be the waiting. Don’t sell yourself short by settling for less than God’s best.

I wish I could be having this conversation with you over a cup of coffee (or more often in my case, spiced apple cider). Please tell me your stories!

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cougars January 6, 2010

I had a really interesting discussion at dinner tonight. A friend shared a story about her teenage son who just graduated from high school. Apparently a woman at their church (who has three kids of her own), fully aware of his age, gave him her phone number and told him to call her sometime. And this happened AT church. She even wrote her number on a prayer request card.

Obviously there are so many things going on with this situation that it’s impossible to discuss them all. But in recent years I’ve really been fascinated by this “cougar” trend. It’s been explored in movies, reality shows, and sitcoms. Normally a woman is considered a “cougar” if she is 40 or over and seeking out men at least 8 years younger than she is. “Pumas” are women in their 30s–“cougars in training.”

I like to try to understand people and put myself into their shoes. I know I could easily be just as susceptible to doing something “crazy,” too. I wonder if these women are fulfilling a part of their lives from the past. Maybe they didn’t feel attractive to guys when they were in middle school or high school, and so they are “reliving” that desire with much younger boys. Or maybe they never quite grew out of the way they related with boys at that age. Maybe older women are going for much younger boys these days because of the lack of father roles in their lives. For a long time everybody would say girls look to marry guys that remind them of their dads. I think a lot of women got tired of hearing this because they wanted to be with someone who was anything BUT like their dads. So some end up looking for WAY younger guys so they can “train” them to be what they want them to be, instead of dealing with unresolved emotional issues.

And, our culture seems to think it’s hot for a young guy to be with an older woman. Just look at all the movies that have this theme in them (American Pie series, etc.) and popular songs (“Stacy’s Mom”).

But I don’t think it’s just “older” women who are “cougars” these days. I’m often shocked at the way even young girls are with boys. The girls do all the pursuing. They seem to look for guys who need rescuing. In our society’s efforts to empower women, I really feel like we’ve gone quite a bit too far in this area. I’m looking around and seeing a lot of unhappy girls and women–single and married–who have taken pursuit into their own hands.

Call me old fashioned, but I really believe ladies should back off and give guys a chance to be the ones to pursue. Yeah, that means they have to man up and take initiative and not sit on their rears expecting the world to come to them on a silver platter. But honestly, deep down this is what they want. They want to have to man up. They want to have what it takes to make a woman truly happy (this will take up a whole other blog post). They want to have to fight a little for it. But many of them have no earthly clue.

What say ye, ladies? What can we do to change things around? Or do you think things are okay the way they are? What’s your story and experience?

 

thoughts from H. Norman Wright May 16, 2009

Filed under: healthy relationships series — Ashley @ 9:38 am
Tags: , ,

from Relationships that Work and Those that Don’t

“Infatuation moves quickly; love grows. Infatuation carries a sense of uncertainty; love begins with security. Infatuation could lead you to do things you might regret; love won’t.”

“Some people seem to thrive on volatile relationships. But the crucial question is, where is the relationship going? Are the two people growing together with each new disagreement? Or are they just replaying the same old issues? How do the partners handle conflict? Are they resolving it through healthy give and take? Or are they at an impasse, with neither one giving in? When they do get back together, is it because they’ve decided to make the necessary compromises to work out their problem? Or do they just ‘need’ each other so much that they decide to ignore the problem until it flares up again? Every relationship has its disagreements. But in a healthy relationship, the partners talk through the problems, work through them, learn through them, learn more about each other, learn about themselves, and move on. That’s growth. That may mean the relationship reaches a higher level of understanding and commitment. Or that may mean the partners decide the romantic relationship isn’t worth pursuing. Either way, the individuals grow as they deal with their conflicts.”

These ideas were pretty groundbreaking for me when I first read them. I hadn’t ever really experienced a relationship that wasn’t volatile or codependent. I began to realize that since it was all I ever knew, I perpetuated the drama in most of my relationships and didn’t know how to handle it when drama wasn’t present. It took some time for me to re-train my way of thinking and relating. Even after Aaron and I were married, we would have “marital growth moments” (we don’t call them fights) and I would have the opportunity to further learn healthy ways of dealing with conflict.

One thing that still strikes me about the first quote is that I had never really felt secure until I met Aaron. I didn’t realize just how much of my behavior stemmed from a sense of insecurity that I had felt all my life. With Aaron, I feel safe. (Please don’t hear me say that I didn’t or don’t have security in God. That continues to grow every day and a husband simply cannot and should not be the source of a woman’s ultimate fulfillment.) I really think all women have a fear of abandonment on some level, and with my background this fear ran deep. Aaron is aware of this and proves himself time and again in his faithfulness. Ladies, you want faithful men and don’t settle for less! Guys, we need you to be men; you have what it takes!