Dear Young Christian Guys: Love Her Like a Man

Christians and Cohabitation: Hey, guys, love her like a man and do the right thing.

As I speak around the country and talk to young people, one thing that really disturbs me is the cavalier attitude so many Christians have about living together before marriage. And I think of a few young men that I know in various geographical areas right now who are in this type of relationship.

Today I’d like to write an open letter to these young Christian guys–guys who may be involved in relationships that are heading down the wrong path. It is not that I think the girls have no part to play in the destructive relationship that they’ve developed, or that the girls shouldn’t make better choices. I’ve written to girls many times before about not sleeping together before they’re married, too. I would simply like to say something to the guys, because in several specific cases I’m thinking about, the guys are the stronger Christians, yet they’re still choosing to cohabitate. And here is what I’d like to say:

You guys know God.

I know that the church hasn’t always been kind and accepting of you the way you would want, and I know that people like me, who seem to have it all together, are part of the problem. I’m sorry for that.

I also know that you really love your girlfriends.

You’ve been searching for love, and you think you’ve found it. You’re with someone who makes you feel alive. You’re with someone who looks up to you, and that’s special, because you’ve often felt like everyone else wanted you to get your life together, but you’ve never really been able to do that.

I don’t doubt your love. I don’t doubt your sincerity.

But love is not only feelings.

And if you REALLY loved your girlfriend, then perhaps you’d consider these things:

She’s still young. She desperately, desperately yearns to be loved, probably even more than you do. Girls are like that, you know. They dream of their weddings. They dream of their Prince Charmings. And you come along and you make her feel loved.

But do you know what girls need even more?

They want to feel safe.

It is a scary world out there for a girl. And most girls will never really grow emotionally, and will never really mature, until they do feel safe. When they’re safe, they can look seriously at their options and decide what to do with their careers, or with kids, or with where they want to live. But when they’re not entirely safe, their emotional energy is spent trying to get safe.

And for them, you seem like the safest option.

But are you?

Safety means that you’re cherished. That you know that you’re loved for a lifetime. That you’re loved for who you are, not just for what you can give someone.

You may have given her those words, and she may have eaten them up.

But have you given her your actions?

If you truly love her, you will love her like a man does. And what does a man do? A man accepts responsibility. A man makes commitments. A man exercises self-control.

To me, that means that if you truly love her, you should be ready to commit to her. Marry the girl, for pity’s sake! And if you’re not in a position to marry her, then don’t say, “well, we can’t get married now, but that’s not our fault. So we’re married in our hearts, and we can act like we’re married anyway.”

No, you can’t. You’re taking the short cut. What kind of a man takes a short cut? If you’re not ready to get married right now, then you’re not married. Instead of just moving in with her and sleeping with her and treating her as if you’re married without actually promising her anything THROUGH YOUR ACTIONS (and not just your words), why don’t you put your energy into making yourself ready for marriage? Look for a good job. Upgrade your education. Work your hardest to be able to support her. That’s what she needs–safety. She needs to feel as if she has a safety net. Right now she’s clinging to you, because you’re living with her and you’re promising everything. But you’re not acting on those promises.

If you’re not married, then make yourself ready to get married–even if that means marrying young.

And a man exercises self-control, too. I know it’s hard to wait for marriage to have sex, and I know you likely feel there’s no point now, since you’ve already slept with her anyway. But here’s what you’ve told her through your actions:

I like being with you, and I like sleeping with you.

That’s really it. How have you shown her that you love her? Moving in with her simply shows her that you like being with her, and that you enjoy sleeping with her on a regular basis, and you’d like to make that more convenient. So once again, you’re showing her that you love her for what she can do for you, not just for her.

If you really loved her, you would move out. You would stop sleeping with her and show her that you love her just for her. So many girls are broken inside because of what has been done to them in the past. Their fathers have walked out. They haven’t had stable childhoods. They haven’t had unconditional love. And so they’ll grasp at anything that looks like love. If you really love her, demonstrate real love.

Stop sleeping with her and get yourself ready to support her.

Because if you love her, and you want to be with her forever, then you should also want to get that relationship off on the right foot. And if you live with her first, you’re 70% more likely to divorce after you marry. Get yourself sorted out first, and the relationship is far more likely to succeed.

I know you feel all kinds of things for her. But please, step outside of yourself for a moment and ask yourself this,

what is best for her?”

If you really love her, you’ll be honest. And you know that what is best for her is if she is in a stable relationship with someone who can show that he loves her unconditionally and is prepared to look after her. With the way you are acting right now, you are really showing the exact opposite, no matter what she may say.

She’s afraid of losing you. You’re afraid of losing her. You want to feel close and cement the relationship, which is why you chose to sleep together in the first place. But you’re not assuaging any fears; you’re just clinging to the relationship without building it up.

Can you imagine what a transformational thing it would be in her life if you were to say to her,

I love you so much. In fact, I love you so much that I am going to treat you like a lady. I’m going to get myself ready to support you. I’m going to aim to commit to you for life. I’m going to not demand that you fulfill my sexual needs, but I’m going to wait for that until we’re both more mature and ready to handle it.”

She may not take that well, because she’s likely afraid, at heart, that if she stops sleeping with you she’ll lose the hold she has over you. And she probably enjoys sleeping with you, too! But honestly, if you keep with her over the next few months, spending time with her, talking with her, showing her that you’re interested in HER and not just her body, you’ll see a change in her. She’ll become more confident. She’ll become less self-destructive. She’ll become a better person. Isn’t that what you want for her?

There is a reason God tells us to wait for marriage. God wants the best for us, and God wants us to experience real love, not conditional love.

You want this relationship to work? You love her?

Then step up to the plate and love her like a man.

UPDATE: A commenter pointed out that I missed a huge point: how about REPENT BEFORE GOD? So true. The reason I left it out is because that’s ALL many of these guys have heard: what you’re doing is wrong, and you need to turn away from it because it’s sin. I completely agree, but that message hasn’t touched their hearts. So I’m trying this one instead. But I still should have mentioned it, because it absolutely is true!

Wedding of the Century

Royal Wedding of William and Kate +23
photo © 2011 Jens Rost | more info (via: Wylio)

Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a bunch of newspapers in southeastern Ontario. Here’s this week’s!

The hats were plentiful, colourful, and unforgettable. The guests were delighted to be included. The participants were nervous–except for the best man, who looked like he was having the time of his life. And the spectators, at least on this side of the pond, were bleary-eyed and coffeed up.

It was a wedding to be remembered, of which I only watched highlights, because my dedication to cultural moments only goes so far. Nevertheless, I did find the wedding lovely, especially Harry’s whispered, “wait til you see her” to his brother, who was staunchly facing straight ahead, just as he was supposed to, while the eyes of two billion people were on his bride.

Her image will now adorn not just books but plates and mugs and spoons and teacups forevermore. And yet as over the top as much of the coverage was, I can’t say I was altogether sorry to see a million people lining up to catch a glimpse of the couple, or billions more tune in to see the vows.

We have lived through turbulent days. As I’m writing, our country does not yet know who will win the election. We have witnessed tornadoes and floods and earthquakes and tsunamis and wars and disasters. So it seems fitting that we should, for a time, focus on something as seemingly mundane as a wedding.

After all, the best remedy for much turbulence, I think, is weddings. It is family that keeps our society functioning and strong, even when all around us is falling apart. Government can’t do that; it is only family that gives you the sense of belonging, love, and constancy. So William and Kate have the right idea. It is a good thing to find someone to spend your life with, not just because you love them, but because you vow and promise that you yourself will stay true. That commitment changes us, and has ripple effects through the whole culture.

Unfortunately, these effects are growing slimmer as more people eschew vows altogether. Though in the United States 83% of the upper middle class are currently married (and tend to stay married in huge numbers), less than half of working class adults are currently married, and those marriages are less stable. Much of our society no longer believes in the dream of marriage because they have not seen it work. This does not mean that people have given up on love; they have just given up on the thought that love could last forever.

I think that’s a tragedy, because marriage brings huge rewards. Married people have the best sex. They’re healthier. They live longer (especially the men). The women are less likely to be victims of crime or even domestic violence. They earn more money. They’re far wealthier.

Their children are happier, healthier, better adjusted, and more likely to go on to higher education and marriage themselves.

And a society where kids are healthy and make good decisions, and where adults are in stable relationships, is a society where people can use their limited resources, time, and emotional energy to focus on their neighbours, on their communities, on their jobs, and on their hobbies, because there is not as much dysfunction in their lives.

I know not every marriage is perfect, and not every marriage is worth saving. But marriage is still a worthy goal, and for a brief moment last week the world was captivated by it. If that causes a few more little girls to dream of their wedding day again, or a few more little boys to start thinking about the girl that they’re going to see walk down the aisle, then maybe the monarchy has proved its relevance once again.

Don’t miss a Reality Check! Sign up to receive it FREE in your inbox every week!

Wifey Wednesday: Why Marriage Matters

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post and then linking up!

Today I want to do something different. Instead of writing a long post on why marriage is important, I thought I’d just post this really well-done 2 minute video clip. Watch it!

That’s the truth. Too many people think that “living together” is good practice for marriage, because when you live together, you learn about each other. But living together and marriage actually have very little in common. When you’re married, it’s based on a commitment. I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to learn to love you. I’m going to learn to consider your needs.

Living together, on the other hand, is based on “testing”. Is he meeting my needs? Is he making me feel loved? And when you’re always testing, he’ll always fail.

That’s also why, in my opinion, marriages that follow cohabitation are 70% more likely to fail than marriages where the couple did not live together first. The relationship didn’t start out in this testing mode.

For a marriage to work, commitment has to be at the root. When it’s just about “love”, or “feeling good”, or “making my needs met”, it won’t work. Cohabitation is only about feelings, not commitment. You need the promise to keep a relationship together.

I wish more couples understood that. So spread that video around! Hit “share on Facebook” below, or “share on Twitter”. Thanks!

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Write your own Wifey Wednesday post that links back to here, and then leave the link of THAT POST in the Mcklinky below. Thanks!