One of the aspects that stood out to me in Shaunti Feldhahn's studies was the pretty consistent 80/20 percentage. In other words when you paint with a broad brush for men you'll hit about 80% right. The other 20% will be somewhat different. (I found the responses from women to be more diverse.) So if you don't quite match up that's ok. The purpose isn't to be right or not it is to help you and your spouse reflect further on what it means to live life through a masculine soul. Ann will pick up with the feminine soul tomorrow.
Back to Shaunti and for women only. This post is on her romance chapter, Chocolate, Flowers, Bait Fishing. She says that, "Men enjoy and want romance but sometimes find different things romantic or are conflicted over their poor romantic skills."
She says she was shocked to find in her survey that men want romance for themselves. Guys care more about romance much more than she thought.
She mentioned our hesitations:
- "I won't do a very good job." She quotes one man who described the tension: "The flip side of the need for respect is horror at the idea of humiliation. I'd rather burn at the stake. That's why a man won't risk trying to be romantic. I'm risking humiliation if I do it wrong." So this gets back to our biggest question as men, do I have what it takes. Specifically in this area one great scene to overcome this fear is shown in 10 Things I Hate About You (Based on The Taming of the Shrew) starring Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles. Heath embarrassed Julia. His friend tells him he has to return the favor. So he arranges for the school microphone, the marching band and sings a big number (I love you, baby!) at the practice field completely risking embarrassment for her. It was a fun scene...if only we had more takes in real life.
Shaunti lists more hesitations but they really center on that one big question of do I have what it takes. Men just do have to risk in this area. Ladies, be gentle when we are making fools of ourselves on your behalf.
More importantly she speaks of the different definitions men and women have for romance. Here is what men said.
- Playing together is romantic. She says, "Men want to go out and do things together and view that as incredibly romantic. I couldn't agree more. This was a huge theme for Ann and I. We had lost the ability to play together. I can't tell you how hurt I was when she threw the Frisbee around with her affair partner. It just killed me. That's when I knew something was really going on. I don't think Ann got it but I did. So we take walks and hikes together now. We work out some together. It's true what Shaunti says, "Men want to go out and do things together and view that as incredibly romantic." She says that it is a man's version of a candlelight dinner. So when Ann and I went on an anniversary trip and I gave her diamond earrings and we went out and had a nice dinner too what do you think I remember? The horseback ride that afternoon. Our guide was from Boston. I purposely fell back so I could have the horse trot a bit to catch up. He said he would get in trouble if his boss saw that. :) I don't recall where we went to dinner.
- Romance without sex may not feel complete. She says, "To make a giant generalization, women can often experience emotional closeness and feel that an evening is romantically complete without sex--while men often can't. One guy talks about what we men desire at our best, "A guy wants romance not to somehow manipulate sex, but to reexperience the spark of dating, to reconnect after days of draining work at the office, to feel love and intimacy, to know he is wanted and enjoyed, and to utterly escape the crushing nonstop pressure of life. And sex can be a wonderful part of that. Romance is all about escaping--escaping with the person you love and discovering to one's monumental delight that she wants to escape--with me! I love that last sentence. Obviously that escape is a big part of why affairs begin. So the point here is to nurture that in your marriage. When you have little kids that can be very difficult. So it is important to be honest about the loss of alone, fun time together, but also intentional about including it in your lives in some form.
She ends with what women can do to increase romance in their marriages knowing that nagging doesn't work too well. She has tied into a man loves to be invited by a woman to move towards her. So she says, Encourage Him. Men need to be affirmed here even if we aren't perfect. Let us know you appreciate our efforts. Also, she adds that when a man asks you to go out and play realize he is being romantic with you. So most of the time go with him and you'll bless him.
Then she says Entice Him. She says, "Make yourself the kind of friend and lover he constantly wants to pursue." I just want to step in here and give the ladies a break. She isn't intending this to be some form of pressurized performance environment for wives. In plain language what happens often is that a woman who works is all dolled up at the office but comes home and puts her sweats on for her husband. 'Dolled up' can mean a lot of things but even if you are wearing sweats you can still flirt a bit. You can still do something or act a certain way where he begins to think, 'What is she up to?' The theme of playfulness is here too.
She closes with Keep Him Number One. The primary theme here is that kids often slip into being number one ahead of him. To be fair it is a difficult balance. But put in perspective the kids are to be around about 18 years and the marriage is to last fifty.
I didn't realize I was making this mistake myself in our marriage. We both felt it but thought we were doing the right thing. I made a vow to spend all our free time as family time. It sounded so Christian. It wasn't like Ann and I never went out but we lost the central importance of why we were married. We lost the US 2 and turned it into US 4. We got married to be married to journey through life together. We got married to experience the highs and lows, to be friends and lovers, to be playmates and sorrowmates. It sounded so Christian to say we got married to have a family and to build that family, but that is only a piece of it, an important piece but just a piece.
I like Shaunti's words to end the chapter. 'We have a tremendous opportunity to start over with our men...and in the process rediscover the delight of the mutual pursuit.'