I love my commentors! hehe Yesterday’s post received a comment and I wanted to add some more along the lines.
Comment by Latebloomer: “In my family’s church, the spin was a little bit different because compatibility was downplayed. The pastor taught that marriage was about sanctification, not happiness, so really any godly person could marry any other godly person. Your personality didn’t matter. In my opinion, this is a really irresponsible teaching to direct at singles, and I’m glad I found someone that I had a deep connection with because we are very compatible. I actually just wrote about this on my blog yesterday, haha. It must be spring .”
I didn’t even think about happiness and emotion when I wrote my post, but it’s such a huge deal!
Now, even when you’re believing that there is “the one”, emotion, happiness and love aren’t what you’re looking for. To quote countless sites and people talking about this issue: “Love is not an emotion, it’s an action. Love is not an adjective, it’s a verb. It’s something you do, not something you feel.”
I think this pretty much sums up what the movement preachers think about marriage. You don’t marry someone you love, you (as a woman) marry someone whom you can support and help achieve life goals, such as missioning. And as a man, you look for a woman who has all the abilities you need as support. Emotion is generally something that is not needed to start a courtship or get engaged. Love (emotion) isn’t even something you need to feel once you’re married!
For them, as love isn’t an emotion, all you need to do to “love” someone is.. well… let’s make a list!
Men loving a woman: Providing for her, listening to her, giving her gifts, respecting her mood swings, protecting her, being her spiritual leader, correcting her, training her.
Woman loving a man: Submit to him, respect him, fulfill his sexual needs whenever he needs it, follow him, share his vision, be a good mother and home maker, don’t talk back, don’t correct him even when he’s clearly wrong.
These are just the most common ones I could name off the top of my head. Depending on the author/church you’re looking at, there might be much more things to do to “love” someone. And some of the points I mentioned do sound very weird! For example the giving gifts part. They might not express it the way I did, but they certainly all mean it: A man should buy flowers/candies/give her massages every once in a while. The core of this idea is a very nice one, but it’s turned into an obligation here, and in that it means nothing if you ask me. Gifts are only worth something if they come from the heart, if they show thought, and as obligation they are nothing more than a meaningless duty.
One point that has bothered me to great extend, even more than the “submit” talk, is the “fulfill his sexual needs” part. Believe me, during my courtship I was given plenty of books to prepare to be a good wife and all of them stressed this issue. What you’ll typically read is something like this: “even if you don’t feel like it, do it anyway. Get pretty and do it. Offer it even if you’re tired and not in the mood. Be cheerful and happy during, show him that you enjoy it, even if you don’t.”
Can you imagine that? Out of the seven days the week has, would you feel good having sex with your husband every day if you don’t feel like it at all on 5 of the 7 days? As a man, would you enjoy it if you knew that there is no enjoyment for the woman? That she does it only and purely out of obligation? I think that’s a terrible thought. I know I wouldn’t enjoy something the other person is forced to do. Just like the gifts, it means nothing when it isn’t done out of love and honest joy.
So where does all that talk leave christian couples?
All of those fundamentalist speakers, authors and churches talk about the fact that there are so many divorces among the non-believers. They blame it on the fact that people marry out of emotion-love, not action-love. Besides the fact that this is untrue, because with emotion-love action-love usually comes naturally, of course christian couples don’t get divorces because they don’t love each other anymore! They didn’t love each other to begin with. Sure there are couples who are in love. Sure most couples have at least a crush on each other when they’re courting. But that doesn’t mean that emotional love will actually come – and stay. And because this part of a relationship is so unimportant, it’s easy to say you’re still loving each other when by love you mean actions out of obligation. None of the partners in a fundamentalist christian marriage want to break biblical law, hence they will keep up all the actions needed to qualify as “love”.
I’m not saying that none of the points I mentioned before are bad or not a sign of true love. If you bring your woman flowers because you thought of her that day, want to apologize, or simply want to see her happy smile, perfect! Go for it! If you give up your dream to help your husband fulfill his dream because you love him, good for you (and him)! Do it before you end up wondering for the rest of your life! Everything you do out of true, emotional love is worth doing in my opinion. Everything you do out of pure obligation, something you despise or would not do unless forced by some sort of law, give it some honest thought if your actions are really worth the price.
What good is it for the partners if nothing is done out of true love, but only because they have to? Of course we all have to do things we don’t like doing sometimes. That’s life. But if life is nothing but obligation, and your only joy the freedom of guilt, not the joy of seeing the other person’s smile when you did something for them… Yeah… That’s not the life us fundamentalist girls dream of when we wait for Prince Charming.