Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Man, oh man...

Men, this might be revolutionary for you. This week, I had three conversations with guy friends who were struggling to find the right woman. They wanted to know why I didn’t address that in my recent week of blogging. And well, I kind of did (although it was directed toward women, I think it fits both sexes). But in the meantime, an even more interesting answer has presented itself. Stay with me…

Not long ago I read a really embarrassing book because a friend begged me to. I’ve read tons of relationship books, but this book taught me entirely new things. Some of this might seem archaic to you. If it does, read the book. Dr. John Gray makes better sense of it than I can.

One of the main things of note: A man derives his deepest satisfaction and fulfillment in a relationship by giving to a woman. A woman derives her greatest joy from receiving. The way this plays out over the course of a relationship is multi-tiered. But here’s the way I think it applies specifically to “finding the right woman.”

“When a man focuses on what he wants, he is sure to miss the woman for him. When he focuses on the question, ‘Am I the right man for her?’ then he will find clarity…” (Dr. John Gray)

Since men are happiest when they give, they’re missing the point by trying to figure out what they want to get. The better question to ask is, “What do I have to offer? And what kind of woman would be the best recipient of that?” Because when a man offers those things to a woman, he will find his greatest pleasure in being what she needs.

Common mistakes:
- Aiming too low. When a man is afraid he won’t be able to fulfill a woman, or when he's lazy, or when he wants to "rescue" someone, he “marries down” (intellectually, spiritually, etc.) to ensure he’ll always be enough.
- Looking for your exact opposite. While some opposites complement, others detract. Just because you can offer financial prowess doesn’t mean it’s wise to marry someone who can’t even balance her checkbook.

The best thing to do is to look for someone who needs nearly the exact measure of what you have to offer. If you’re a man of intellectual depth, it’s not going to serve you well to marry a dense woman. You may be able to meet her intellectual needs, but eventually you will feel that your gifts are being wasted, and you won’t find the satisfaction of using your gifts. You will become bored, because she won’t be able to stimulate you in that area. But marrying a woman who is your intellectual equal will serve as a continual source of fulfillment. And it will challenge you to greater heights.

If you possess spiritual insight, there are women out there who are praying for men who can challenge them in that area. They long for a man who is strong enough to lead them. You will find greater fulfillment in that area than in marrying a woman who isn’t your equal.

In short: think of what you have to offer and look for the kind of woman who needs it in the measure that you possess it. Being appreciated and respected for what you have to offer will be far more fulfilling and stimulating than trying to figure out what you want.

Thoughts? Criticisms? Hit me up in the comments.


Daniel said...

If only I could have received this counsel 15-20 years ago, it might have saved me a lot of "learning the hard way". I am still dealing with consequences of naïve and self serving decisions of the past.

All is used for our salvation. Glory to God!

While I have lived out the negative aspects of this counsel, I am now being blessed to live out the positive aspects as well. Perhaps, as thickheaded as I can be, it is only through the failures that I have been humbled enough to be able to see things a little more clearly-as they really are.

I am a very intense person. This is part of my personality. Sometimes this intensity can lead to selfish tantrums (though most don't see these because they are going on mostly in my head). But when I am able to separate intensity from pride, it is clearly a gift.

That being said, intensity scares many people. In our distracted culture, it can be difficult to find a person strong enough to face themselves alone in silence-strong enough to see what things are buried deep down in their own hearts. If some attempt isn't made at doing this with ourselves, how can we expect to reach any level of intimacy with another.

I understand that not everbody is a "contemplative" or "artistic" personality type. But, I am.

It has been difficult to find somebody able and willing to accept what I have to offer. This doesn't mean that what I have to offer is better than what anyone else has to offer. But, it is what I have to offer.

This has been the biggest difference in my new relationship. She's not scared off by my intensity, and she doesn't just tolerate or ignore what I so desparately want to offer. She willingly receives with a thankful heart. The fact that she independently identified what I see as my Gifts, the fact that she openly supports and encourages these Gifts, the fact that she gets excited by seeing me exercise these Gifts...this has given me a great sense of satisfaction and motivation. I have never experienced anything like this before.

Hope I didn't get off on too much of a tangent. Just wanted to say thanks and share a little bit of my own experience.

Jud said...

I don't think I've heard this idea before; it's probably the most dead-on accurate thing you've written about these past few weeks.

TLC said...

Daniel & Jud:

Thanks so much for your comments! I'm going to re-post them under the other blog (same content, different name) so that the discussion can continue where it may.

Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure about this. So by not focusing on what you want, you get what you want. My question is what if you find someone using your philosophy, but you're unsatisfied? You're basically saying, ignore what you want, find someone that X (X="she needs what I want to offer") and she'll be what you want. ... So, she'll be X, but won't you be like - she's not hot enough, she's not intellectual enough, she's...

Does this make sense? I LOVE YOU TLC, but I'm confused.

spiderboxguy said...

You reminded me of the verse that says mean are to love their wife as Christ loved the Church. Christ did exactly what you described...He did everything His Bride needed him to do in laying down His life. It was truly all about "her".

Anonymous said...

This is good stuff. I also heard a married fellow say something remotely similar, "it's not my job to look for her, it's my job to deserve her. (the providential Proverbs 31 woman)" Again, maybe only remotely similar.

I think some are missing the point that traditional attraction and such are still necessary and one's needs and wants are being ignored here.

The point, as I'm seeing it, is that a lasting relationship isn't built on selfish desires, but on selfless ones. I feel like love is this circular "thing" built on giving and receiving. This example you've given fits that dynamic.

If your desire for her is not "to give" then there's likely another desire at work.

TLC said...

Jesse Phillips:

Good question! I think it's a bit of a paradox. Kind of like the whole "the first shall be last" thing. It seems counter-intuitive, I know, but the married men who have chimed in here (so far, all but you and ThaDeej are married or have been) have suggested that it's a wise move to approach things this way.

Perhaps one of the reasons many relationships fail is that we approach them in ways that seem to make sense based on our social norms. And while seeking the good of someone else doesn't really fit into society's priorities, it's fundamental to the truth of Christianity.

This also seems to be a lesson that many men learn after they've gotten married. They either learned that they chose wisely by incorporating something along these lines into their decision making process or that they should've paid more attention to these things. At least, that's been the input I've received personally and on here.

I can't speak for any man, though. That's why I'm asking. :)

Thanks for your thoughts!!

Anonymous said...

It is like sometimes I want it a taco and sometimes the fish stick, but I ask it to myself, what do I have in fridgerator that most compliments taco or fish stick? If salsa there being, I say Taco time!!! If tartar sauce plenty, I say fish fry! You one smart misses, Misses TLC Cobble.

Jared said...

Two major "sayings" have left a profound footprint in my marital relationship. One was said to me before I "found" my wife. I had always been searching for the "perfect" girl and never knew why I always came up short. Was I too picky, was I overlooking what was always there? Then a friend told me to stop looking for the right person and start becoming the right person. He said that it is possible for me to find "the right person" but what would I do when I realized I might not be the right person for her. So instead of searching I decided to skip a step and work on myself for a change. When we were both ready I trusted God to bring us together. Faith proved true because he did exactly that. Don't get me wrong - I'm not one who would tell you to sit on your butt and pray that God delivers her to your door while you read nothing but scripture and are trying to become mega holy hubby. You still have to be sociable so get out of your house people.

The number two thing that has had a profound impact on my marriage, which is also the most important, was told to me by my friend Joy Williams. She told my then finance and I what her father told her on her wedding day. "Love each other as you need, not as you deserve."

Let those words sit with you - If the love in your household is a little off may it be because you are loving too much the way you wish to be loved yourself? Are you loving her too much the way you think she needs to be loved or how you think she deserves to be loved?
Have you talked to each other about how you need to be loved - if not, try doing so!

~Jared R.B.

Anonymous said...

It is like sometimes I want it a taco and sometimes the fish stick, but I have to ask it to myself, what do I have in fridgerator that most compliments taco or fish stick? If salsa there being, I say Taco time!!! For another other man, maybe tartar sauce plenty, so he says fish fry! You one smart misses, Misses TLC Cobble.