Let me be clear. I married ‘up’. I’m one of those guys. Please don’t patronise me by saying ‘oh, no, she did well too, marrying you’ or something like that. I don’t say I’ve married above my batting average because of poverty-induced, false-humility clad insecurity. No, no. I love it! When people quizzically hint, suggest or even look like they are trying to work out why exactly my wife is with me, I dance a little jig of joy inside. Because I know we got married for the right reasons.
There are times when friends of mine approach me wanting to have a man-chat about ladies and love. Typically this happens soon after finding that the girl they have been pursuing, dating, courting or stalking is less than perfect. The interaction isn’t what they envisioned it to be after growing up force-fed on a romance diet of Disney and porn. They’ve encountered the reality that not all men and women are meant to be together, that there is such a thing as unhealthy relationships, and that they have contributed 50% to this most recent one. I assume they see me and think ‘he’s done well for himself’ (forgive the male vernacular) and want to know ‘how did he do it?’. Let’s be clear, I’m not a relationship guru; I’m certainly not perfect, but I do know my wife and I built our foundations well. Start as you intend to proceed, so to speak. But what is my silver bullet that prevents and protects anyone and everyone from any kind of unhealthy or failing relationship ever? Hint: there isn’t one. But here is a good starting point:
Proverbs 31:30. “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
That’s it. After this cheeky build up, this is my simple answer to you. Keep reading though, you might be surprised by what this scripture has to say. It touches upon three foundations that romantic relationships can be built upon, with an implications of what we can expect to encounter if we follow these words.
Jeff’s new shirt gave him confidence;
it gave Jane a headache
We can build on a base of physical chemistry but beauty is fleeting and looks fade. How we look now isn’t going to be how we look in five, ten, twenty or forty years. Faces change, body shapes vary, facial hair grows… on both men and women! If your attraction is purely aesthetic, what will happen when the outward no longer appeals? If you are seeking a relationship primarily on a looks basis, you have your priorities wrong. Of course, physical attraction is important, but it’s not the whole deal. Building something on any foundation liable to change is foolishness. There is a reason the world’s supermodels aren’t in their sixties.
We can build on a base of emotional connection but charm is deceptive. The word translated ‘charm’ here can also be translated ‘favor’. And ‘deceptive?’ The Hebrew word has a sense of false hope or transience about it – as in, something here today, gone tomorrow. The verse is telling us that being in someone’s good books isn’t a daily guarantee. It’s saying that the nature of relationships is that they are variable and changeable, because people change. So many people want the ‘spark’ or chemistry, where they imagine endless laughing and gazing into each other’s eyes – BFFs forever. The reality is that in any real relationship, there are times when you annoy, irritate, hurt, are hurt by, get angry at or are disappointed by each other. What are you going to do if you have constructed a false reality where you never disagree, argue or have conflict? The things we sometimes find endearing in someone’s personality can become sources of frustration when they have a daily impact on our lives. Again, emotional attraction is important, but it isn’t the whole deal. People change and evolve over time as they grow and mature which makes entering the covenant of marriage an act of faith. You choose to be married to someone every day – even the days when the charm is not just deceptive, it has downright disappeared!
“I think I want my money back
from that dating website”
We can build on a base of spiritual attraction – a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. The context of this verse is defining what a godly woman looks like. I encourage you to read the chapter and then ponder what it means for you in today’s society, if only because dying fabrics purple isn’t really on any modern guy’s ‘dream list’ for their future wife (unless you are from Sussex). But a godly, spiritual woman is to be praised by people because of her conduct and manner. This verse shows us that the root and source of those behaviors is her relationship, with God which is first and foremost. Her internal life shapes her external life, and not the other way around. Such a woman carries a depth of character that permeates her being and makes her attractive in far deeper ways than just physical or emotional.
The challenge then, is not for us as men to be checking off women who don’t make our flimsy and superficial lists, but to become Proverbs 31 men who are attractive to Proverbs 31 women. Those women are not interested in relationships centered around merely physical or emotional connections. They want the real thing. We can build relationships on the foundation of attraction of the body, the soul or the spirit.
Which foundation are you building upon?