Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Women and Men of Quality

Female symbol. Created by Gustavb.Image via Wikipedia

Someone asked me why I decided to write the past four essays on finding the right person. My first impression was to say, simply to share some things I've picked up along the way that others might find helpful. I also had some ideas I'd been entertaining for quite a while and wanted to see what response they received. But it really goes much deeper than that.

For one thing, the concept that for everyone there is a special someone, was problematic for me as a young man. My first marriage, which scarcely ended soon enough, reflected it. If you had asked me then, my description of the ideal mate would have been tongue-tied. I read the leading books on the subject and was still virtually clueless. Nor I was alone; one of the frequent over-dinner-in-the-cafeteria discussions among fellow seminarians concerned this very thing. None of us knew, with any assurance, what we were doing.

It wasn't the case that our parents had told us nothing, because they had. It's just that most of them had married in the closing months of World War II when paring, at least in their experience, seemed far simpler. "You just know," sounded wonderful, but I guess it was far too nebulous for most of us to grasp, and so we all floundered together. Our situation was particularly distressing since the choice of a mate can exert tremendous influence on one's success in the ministry. It would be quite some time, for example, before telling of my divorce didn't result in a pregnant silence from ministerial colleagues.

What I've learned since are the things I wished I'd known then. Truthfully, one way or the other, they've come about through experience. At 25, for example, I was a complete novice, a total rube, when it came to understanding women. Not that I'm foolish enough to consider myself an expert now, but I have realized how important it is to take time and observe, noting how a woman interacts with friends and other potential partners before making a move. You snooze, you lose isn't always a good mantra to follow. My best teachers have been women who were willing to take me under their wing and share their secrets.

Snoozing, by the way, isn't a bad idea for either gender. It demonstrates emotional stability for one thing, something I can't emphasize enough. If you've been with someone who falls apart or flies into rage at the slightest provocation, you know exactly what I'm talking about. When a person's emotional temperature gauge fluctuates without warning, you spend a lot of time on guard, waiting for the next shoe to drop. The stress generated reduces your productivity, interferes with sleep, and can make you feel like you're losing what little bit of mind you have left. Coping may sound unexciting, but it creates an atmosphere of peace and calm in a relationship that is wonderful to behold and even better to experience.

Having had the chance to work with men, as I've written on other occasions, and find out what they regarded as critical characteristics of genuine masculinity, has made a big difference. The lessons they wished their fathers had taught, initiating them into the ways of manhood, their desire to treat people fairly, be direct and honest, and demonstrate integrity in their faith and behavior as evidence of a life well-lived -- these are the kinds of things I've tried to reflect upon in one form or another.

We can't undo what's already been done, but we can live in new ways based on our experiences. I can't introduce you to the women I've known and grown to admire tremendously nor to men who've shown me more of my own potential than I ever dreamed existed. But these essays give me an opportunity to show you how they live and function in ways that are not only worth emulating, but also worth searching for and finding in a person you'd like to spend your life with. And that's why I really wrote these essays, to share them and their wisdom. It was a good experience for me and I hope it has been for you, too.

(Public Domain image via Wikipedia)

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