Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Pursuit of Women by Men

The man in King Solomon’s the Song of Songs said his love was beautiful, and worth pursuing. The woman delighted in being pursued, and extolled the handsomeness of her suitor. Romantic pursuit of a loved one is as old as time. Even Adam pursued Eve: when he saw her, he was amazed. You could say, he was ‘in love.’ In the following verse, the writer says, “This is why a man leaves his father and mother and unites with his wife, and they become a new family.” (Genesis 2: 24)
In most other references to relationships between men and women, the Word usually indicates that a good woman is worth finding. It would follow, therefore, that men are looking for a good woman. In Proverbs it says, “A wife of noble character is her husband's crown…” (Proverbs 12:24) Proverbs also states that, “Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the LORD.” (Proverbs 19:14) Later, in Chapter 31 of Proverbs, it states, “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.”  (Proverbs 31:10) The theme here seems to be that men are looking for a good wife, and when they find one, they are blessed, because a good wife is given to the God-fearing man by the Lord, himself. Later, in Ecclesiastes, the Lord tells men to “enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this life … that God has given you under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 9:9).
Now pursuit, in and of itself, according to Dictionary.com, is “to strive to gain; seek to attain or accomplish (an end, object, purpose, etc.)” (Dictionary.com, 2015) In other words, pursuing something or someone is to go after them with the intention of gaining their affections. So, who does the pursuing in a relationship? Well, according to the above, men do the primary pursuing in a relationship. But in the words of the popular idiom, “he chased her until she caught him.” Men may pursue the women, but the woman can decide if she wants to be caught. William Cunningham doesn’t think it’s entirely true that it is the man’s job to pursue the woman. In fact, he states that, “…a man will pursue the woman of his dreams, however, the woman should also pursue the man of her dreams. The man and the woman will respectively pursue in different ways but both will still pursue.” (Cunningham, 2000).
Both parties are involved in pursuing a relationship, or the relationship does not stand a chance. The only difference is the way they pursue the relationship. Men may do more active pursuing, but the women do the subtle, or passive pursuing. In my opinion, both should be discussing the merits of the relationship before they decide they want to pursue marriage. After they have made a commitment to pursue marriage, then there is room for more romance. But even then, the romantic setting is always a springboard for building a real and lasting relationship. Men should pursue someone with whom they have determined to have a good foundation for a long-term relationship, especially after marriage; someone they can serve, and someone who also serves him and others. In order for you to find a good wife (or husband for the woman), that potential spouse must somehow catch your attention.
But what are they pursuing? Is it only romantic notions of a knight in shining armor, or a beautiful damsel in distress? Or is there more to it than that? The Dictionary defines ‘romance’ as “the display or expression of love or strong affection.” (Dictionary.com, 2015) I believe there is more to it than that. The motivation for pursuit should be love. However, ‘love’ is a much-overused word that is bandied about very liberally today, and needs to be refocused when it comes to relationships. Romance makes the relationship exciting, but there needs to be a foundation based on more than infatuation and attraction. There needs to be an understanding of the dynamic of the relationship.
Love serves, just as the Father in Heaven serves us, and Jesus came to this earth “…not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45). Love that only serves selfish desire and demands will die on the vines before it even starts. Romantic gestures are born out of a desire to serve, and foster trust and comfort in the one being romanced. It is a selfless gesture that is for the good of the romanced. Its motivation is not for the gain of the pursuer, but for the best interests of the one pursued. Paul expresses this notion of ‘true love’ in Philippians: “…having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:2-4). The purpose of the romantic pursuit is to be sure you both are one in spirit and mind, i.e. have the same values, and are both serving God in your relationship.
The problem in most relationships is that we base them on the idea of finding our ‘soul mate,’ and idea originated by Plato in ancient Greece.  Gary Thomas decides to take this one step further, and says we need to search for a ‘sole mate,’ i.e. someone who partakes of biblical love with us. He says, “The most accurate definition of true love is found in John 15:13 (NASB): ‘Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.’ He goes on to say that biblical love is not based on feelings but on sacrifice. In the Bible, men are called to “…act like martyrs towards their wives, laying down their lives on their wives’ behalf. (Ephesians 5:25).” Such love cannot be based only on emotion, but rather a commitment we choose to keep. It is not based on the worthiness of the one we love, but on the worthiness of the One who calls us to love: “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19) (Thomas, 2005)

Why should men pursue women?

As I said, women appreciate being pursued: it makes them feel valued and special. If they are truly precious to the men pursing them, wise men will always make them feel valued, precious, and special. Being romantic is something that women appreciate more than men, so as a general rule, men should ‘romance’ the woman they are interested in. It will show that they are in earnest about pursuing her. This should continue after the man and the woman marry, as well, because women have an innate desire to be pursued, which doesn’t stop after the wedding day, but, in fact, should increase.
I believe that the spouse must be pursued both before marriage and after the wedding day, as previously stated.   This pursuit is active and involves many things that you may take for granted. Helping your beloved with chores around the house; making her feel safe and secure and well-taken care of. Does this mean that the man should always be the primary breadwinner? This has always been the traditional model, but in some cases, the woman is the primary breadwinner, while dad stays home and plays “Mr. Mom.” But even then, that does not mean that the man should not pursue his wife romantically. Romance for one woman is not necessarily the same for another. But in cases like the one of “Mr. Mom,” even then things that are considered romantic may be as simple as make sure the affairs of the house are taken care of: kids, bills, meals, whatever.
This, of course, does not forgo the traditional ideas of what is romantic. I have found, that sometimes being romantic is making time for each other, especially when there are children involved. It is a natural tendency for husbands and wives to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life: jobs, kids, church, activities, etc. at the expense of spending time with each other. But what the spouses need is to be constantly feeding their relationship, and that can only be done by having the time to communicate: to share thoughts, ideas, dreams, and kinds words together.
Even though men may traditionally talk less than women, and then about non-emotional issues, I think men would be wise to learn the fine art of expressing their feeling and their inner thoughts to their wives. This, in a very real sense, is pursuing and romancing you wife. She appreciates communication above all else, and works at great lengths to foster this communication. According to an article in Focus on the Family about dating your spouse, the main purpose of communicating with your spouse is “to share your hearts and to be vulnerable.” This forgoes the worries and the stresses of everyday life we face, like administrating our households and solving problems. In order to keep up with what your spouse is currently going through, and always find out new things about your spouse, we must foster closeness and intimacy, even in the midst of life’s everyday challenges. (Focus on the Family, 2014)
Then there is just plain old-fashioned ‘romance.’ These are those gestures husband make (and wives as well to their husbands) to show their brides just how special they are to them. A thoughtful act, non-provoked and creatively thought of by the man alone, are the most appreciated. This primarily involves learning your spouse, and knowing what she has expressed as desires or wants. Keeping track of such things shows her that you are truly interested in her, and that she is special enough to you to be shown kind and thoughtful gesture of love. It could even be something as simple as saying, “I really like your outfit today. The colors are pretty and work well on you.” And then, there is that old standby: “I love you, baby.” But this might need to be accompanied in why you love her, especially after many years. And I find that my wife has taught me something profound. She has told me that roses and chocolates on Valentine’s Day only go so far. She reasons, ‘…if you haven’t shown me how much you love me before Valentine’s Day, then February 14th is just another day.” Of course, my wife loves to tell me what she want on Valentine’s Day or any other special occasion. If your wife is willing to be this generous, the jump on it, gentlemen!

Why aren’t they? 

Why don’t men pursue the woman much any more? The concept of a ‘liberated woman’ has given women the impression that they either don’t need or don’t want men to pursue them. They have just as much right to pursue a man, and take on a more masculine role in the relationship. I will not argue that women are as smart if not smarter than men, especially since they think with both their logical and intuitive sides of their brain. According to an article in Rosetta Stone’s Fit Brain Blog, “Men’s brains tend to perform tasks predominantly on the left-side, which is the logical/rational side of the brain. Women, on the other hand, use both sides of their brains because a woman’s brain has a larger Corpus Callosum, which means women can transfer data between the right and left hemispheres faster than men.” (Niu, 2014)
However, I do think that the female of the species appreciates being loved, and cherished, and taken care of. Probably because men created and joined the corporate world, the job has become the mistress, and men have neglected their wives for a long time, thus creating a backlash among women, which started the now famous “Woman’s Liberation Movement.” Women can pursue whatever they want to do in life, but they still have a need to be cherished by men, and men have neglected this responsibility to their great detriment.
Pornography is another reason men do not romance women. It has created a fantasy world of false intimacy, and women have become ‘sex objects’ rather than real, wonderful people, and sex has been substituted for real love. I believe porn has had a very detrimental effect of relationships between men and women in general, and especially in the way men see women.
Further, according to an article in Focus on the Family, “Porn is always available, never too busy, and always inviting. It doesn't criticize, doesn't require foreplay or patience, isn't dependent on "feeling close," and never has a headache. When a guy is engaged in this type of sexual outlet, his sexuality becomes centered on his immediate needs and demands. The prospect of working through the messy issues of marital intimacy is pretty unattractive.” Porn destroys intimacy in relationships, and gives a false substitute, which takes men (or women) away from pursuing their mates, and, instead, leads them to pursue a fantasy. (Slattery, 2009)
But at the root of the lack of romance and pursuit of their wives, men have succumbed to the lies in this world. Selfishness, in the form of all sorts of pleasure, has devalued relationships in general. No longer are many young people (and older people) interested in long-term relationships. Too may have fallen for the lie that ‘it is all about me,’ and this applies to both men and women. No relationship will work or be worth anything more than a moment’s pleasure if we don’t remember that love gives and does not take.

Proverbs 18:22

Proverbs 18:22 states, “The one who finds a wife finds what is enjoyable, and receives a pleasurable gift from the Lord.” It first states that a man will look for a wife, and not vice-versa. It also implies, taken in conjunction with Proverbs 31, that a man who finds a wife of great character, and with a servant’s heart, finds something ‘more valuable than rubies.”
It also states, that this kind of gift come from God, who is mentioned here by name, indicated by the small capitalization of the word Lord. This was originally written as God’s name, Jehovah. In other words, God himself, will personally guarantee that a good wife is a gift from Him. There can be no greater blessing than to receive a gift from the Father in Heaven. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” The Father in Heaven is always good, always desires the best for us in abundance, and encourages romance!

Note: all scripture references are from the New International Version Bible.

Works Cited

·         Cunningham, W. R. (2000). The Christian Marriage Series, Part 2: Finding Your Mate (Vol. 2). Pursuing the Truth Minisries.
·         Dictionary.com. (2015). http://dictionary.reference.com. Oakland, CA, USA: Dictionary.com.
·         Focus on the Family. (2014). Dating your Spouse: Unwrapping the Present. Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA: Focus on the Family Publications.
·         Niu, A. (2014). Gender & the Brain: Differences between Women & Men. (R. Stone, Ed.) Arlington, Virginia, USA: FitBrains.com.
·         Slattery, J. (2009). The Impact of Pornography on Marital Sex. Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA: Focus on The Family.
·         Thomas, G. (2005). Soul Mates or Sole Mates. (F. o. Family, Ed.) Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA: Boundless.org.
·         Zondervan Press. (1971 - 2015). New International Version Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA: Zondervan Press.

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