This is one of those spontaneous posts that just occurs to me and I feel like expressing.
Whatever else I might “get” about relationships, this is one thing which I struggle with and which is almost guaranteed to cause me a (metaphorical) headache whenever I try to think of it.
In theory, I am all for letting a man take the lead, or letting him make the first move. In practice, that almost never happens in my life! But I am sincerely all for it.
2 issues here:
why I do not accept a man’s leading
Why I might often seem to initiate leadership myself
Not accepting a man’s leading
I think that the main issue with me is that I have many thoughts and theories about marriage which can often deviate from what other people consider “normal”.
For instance, this to me is the way that is considered “normal” for people to initiate their romantic relationships.
Secular, ie non-faith-based version:
Two attractive people meet. They get to know one another for varying lengths of time – before the man expresses interest, perhaps asks the lady out for a drink. They might also build some kind of friendly banter or light flirtation between themselves to establish that there is a basic compatibility between themselves.
The Christian variation. It would be wrong to suggest that there is a consistent “Christian version” of this, because different Christians and Christian communities believe and do different things. However this is what may happen in the Christian communities that I am most familiar with
Essentially the same as the secular version! Perhaps “the brother” would get to know “the sister” better but basically it would boil down to the same thing.
2. Spiritualising the thing:
Once again the two people would probably get to know one another to a certain degree. Then “the brother” might hear from God that God is telling him that “the sister” is to be his wife. That is, he might believe that God is telling him this. Then he might approach “the sister” with this information. If she agrees then they can go ahead to start planning towards marriage. If not, then nothing will happen until he persuades her, or either of them marry someone else.
This is why I would not be able to accept either the secular or the Christian version of these;
might this look as if I am not accepting the man’s leading?
1. Secular/Christian-lite version:
Is he a Christian?
If not, then the answer is going to automatically be a no. This would account for perhaps 90-95% of the people who have ever expressed romantic interest in me or asked me out – automatic straight out “no” on account of the faith incompatibility between us.
If he is a Christian, then the question is: have I known him for two years? Have I had a chance to really get to know his character and observe him in a neutral setting? If not, then similarly the answer would be a no. That is, for instance if I have met him once, and he asks me out. Er, no! So in these cases, men might try to assert all the leadership in the world. The answer would be “no”!
If there is any kind of friendship between us or ongoing interaction, then hopefully we would be able to discuss this; I could explain to a guy who shares my faith that I would prefer to get to know him for two years (if I think I could possibly be attracted to him, otherwise I would just tell him that I don’t think that I could be attracted to him); similarly if there is strong attraction between me and someone who does not share my faith, then I would explain that yes I am strongly attracted to him, but my man has to be a Christian.
2. Christian “Spiritual” version
Hmm, hard to describe what I might do in this situation. If I had already “two-yeared” him, and he seemed to have outstanding character, then yes, I would definitely go and pray. Even if he did not seem to have outstanding character, I would likely still go and pray…just in case!
The difficulty would be if I had not yet managed to get to know him for a full two years. Deep down, I would want to at least give it two years so that I could get an idea of his character. I guess something that I could do would be to go and pray, and act only on direct and clear guidance from God, that is, only if I am utterly sure that God has given a firm and direct yes.
So here, there is a slim possibility that I could be seen to be submitting to the man’s leadership by going off to go and pray rather than giving a straight out “no”. However this kind of interaction would be quite rare, men are more likely to “hear from God” about women they already like. That said, there has been one guy who said to me “God said” – and I just said a straight out “no”. I did not go to pray, I did not pretend I was going to pray – from what I knew of him, I just was not interested. Last time I saw him, he was wearing a wedding ring, so thankfully things apparently worked out for him romantically.
So then the overwhelming likelihood is that if anyone asks me out, the answer is going to be a straight out “no”.
This is one possibility that is open in either the secular way or the Christian way: that somehow it happens that both parties manage to form a friendship and in that they learn to care about one another, communicate, etc and then that blossoms into a romantic relationship.
I guess that this would be the ideal that everyone dreams of. However, if someone, that is a man, is looking for a relationship right that minute, eager to get married, why would he bother developing a friendship with someone? Why would he not just jump straight in and ask her out? The only situations in which I would think that men and women would work to deliberately develop friendships over romantic relationships would be if either party is already in a relationship with someone else, or if either of them is not in sincerely in a position for marriage, or if they have already established that for whatever reason, marriage would not be a viable option between them. Somehow though, I feel that building friendships with men is something that happens more naturally when you are younger. When you are older, you have responsibilities in terms of family, financial responsibilities, career, and you are so much busier, why would any particular “friendship” merit that kind of time or effort to build from scratch if it was not going somewhere really special?!
That said, if it did so happen that somehow, I found myself with a really close friendship with an amazing guy who just magically happened to be single, then yeah I would be more than happy to consider the possibility of a relationship with him, and I would be more than happy to let him lead in that. It seems highly implausible to me that this might happen but I daresay stranger things have happened.
Why I might seem to initiate leading of a relationship.
To be blunt, there is one main reason for this! Because I find it hard to interact with men that I am deeply attracted to – and these happen to be the kind of men that I would actually want to marry! Ideally, how I would like to act is that I would love to be simply friendly! You know, smile at the guy, “Hi [insert name here!]” But no, unfortunately, at my age, when many of my school colleagues and age-mates have been married for a decade if not longer, I am still crippled by immense shyness/fear/whatever else. So what happens is that I struggle to talk with these people, I am essentially unfriendly, and then I have to over-compensate. And I have to explain, and I have to write all these blog posts! Which then makes it look as if I am making the first move! To make it worse, there is also the fact that I have clearly thought about this at such length! And I’ve got this blog with all these thoughts expressed on it. So someone might easily think that with this blog and then with having to apologise, and then also having to admit why I acted that way, that I am trying to prove that I am the boss and a relationship is only going to happen on my terms (so there!) and I am going to be the one calling the shots, thank you very much! And furthermore because I am clearly so uber-confident in so many things it might be extremely difficult for someone to believe that I truly am shy! He might think that I have been playing some elaborate game.
But I truly am shy! And I am the most frustrated person on earth about it! And I sincerely abhor game-playing in relationships for this precise reason:Relationships are awkward, difficult and embarrassing anyway. They require so much vulnerability. Why would you complicate that yet further by adding any weird games to the mix? Unless you are not truly that attracted to one another.
Sometimes I think in frustration that my life would be so much easier if I just decided to marry someone that I was not truly that deeply attracted to. I know I would have no problem whatsoever talking to him, laughing, smiling; allowing him to take the lead in admitting attraction etc. No shyness or fear whatsoever!
However, that would feel like such a failure. I am not going to do that. It has been so important to me for such a long time to insist on being utterly crazy about my husband. I have been holding out for something real. I cannot now cheat myself by accepting anything less. So I am going to persevere through this awkwardness and I am going to pray and I am going to ask for God’s help, guidance and leading until hopefully I can finally overcome this crazy fear/shyness, and smile just as brightly at someone I am deeply attracted to, as I smile at everyone else!