A Return to Innocence: Better Relationships

Feb 19

Something is on my heart this week that I wanted to share – beyond design, and in the relational area of our lives. I’ve been sitting in a revelatory place the past month in which I’ve realized the way I’ve done things hasn’t worked – and perhaps doing the opposite of what the world has always told me, is the answer.

When I was 27 I married my college sweetheart. Our marriage didn’t last. I still love him dearly as we raise our three beautiful daughters together in a co-parenting relationship and a friendship and respect for each other that has developed through our commitment to our daughters.  

I have not yet remarried. And being single in this modern age with all kinds of dating apps and the swiping based on all things superficial, goes against how I would naturally go about meeting someone in real life, with all of the human, soulful ways we connect and communicate as people.

What I’ve come to realize with the men in all areas of my life, is that what is consistent in all of them is their need to be respected, accepted and appreciated for their natural, manly attributes and abilities.

Many men are not often respected or accepted at face value, and their manly attributes are not often admired or appreciated (whether it’s been with their parents, teachers, bosses, friends, co-workers). And I’ve met men who have been deeply hurt by women – their masculinity has dwindled and they’ve gone totally passive, not pursuing and leading and being decisive the way men are when they actually want you.

So what is a woman to do? If we take some of the responsibility for what’s not working, instead of letting the world turn us into victims, we definitely move forward in big ways.

There’s been a distortion in our natural feminine design that has corrupted our hearts and damaged men’s hearts, leaving them scared and wounded as they go onto their next relationship.

There’s something to be said for being soulfully connected as a woman and doing the work within ourselves to build our character and virtue, so we aren’t living in the bondage of trying to manipulate, trap, or constantly search for a man. When we fall for these snares and stop living in integrity, we hurt and frighten the men out there – and those same men go off into new relationships where they’re afraid to trust again. Practically speaking, when a healthy new relationship pops up, they’re second-guessing themselves and won’t commit.

Whether you’re married or single, how many times have you felt disappointed? How do we break this cycle of suffering in relationships? I think as women, we’ve been looking in all the wrong places – to feminism, to more self-love (even though human nature is already selfish), to heaps of self-help books or years of psychoanalyzing with friends and therapists, even victimhood as a virtue.

Not only have we been looking in the wrong places for happiness, but we have stopped being who we really are – feminine, loving women. To be truly feminine allows men to show up as men and to be honest, dependable, generous, providers and protectors. It’s an honor to be a woman and when we try to avoid our femininity we aren’t being ourselves. Being who we were made to be is so liberating.

I asked my dear friend, Jennifer Kass, her take on what can we do as women to change these patterns. She shared with me a book I had never heard of, with millions of copies sold since the 1960s when it was first published called Fascinating Womanhood.

The advice in this book is the opposite of everything the world has told me, the opposite of my natural impulses sometimes – and it’s completely glorifying to my feminine design. It reminds us that while men and women are inherently equal, we are not the same. Men and women are different and it’s better for men to embody masculine qualities and for women to embody their feminine qualities. This is the natural order of God’s design.

While some may think this book and its advice is antiquated, I believe it’s more relevant than ever. It’s not oppressive to choose to opt out of the feminist movement and act feminine. Feminine doesn’t mean never speaking up or having an opinion either. As a very practical example, I’ve learned to communicate in ways with the men in my life that makes me heard. Through my relationship with my ex husband and with other men in my life, as we’ve approached challenges and traversed rocky territory in our communication, with the men not always speaking in a loving, gentle manner, I’ve learned to have my voice rather than shut down, by choosing my words carefully and speaking with wisdom, patience and respect so they will hear me; I could have chosen to live out of emotional reactions, anger or bitterness and resentment, but I didn’t and I’ve been able to bring peace where there was conflict.

Fascinating Womanhood is written for women within a marriage and the same advice can carry over to all the men in our lives if we are unmarried – in how we treat the men we are dating, or are our brothers, co-workers, or friends.

We can break a man or build him up. Let’s be more responsible with the men in our lives. We want men to be better off for knowing us, not worse.

As a practical first step to mending our relationships with the men in our lives, I wanted to share two of Helen Andelin’s simple secrets in her book Fascinating Womanhood, that you can try putting into practice right away; these things are so simple, yet shockingly impactful. I’d love to hear your results, too.

1. Accept him. Accept him as he is. Look to his good side. Don’t try to change him. Forgive him for past hurts and allow him his freedom; compile a list of his masculine virtues. Humbly apologize to him for your past mistakes.

2. Admire his masculine qualities. Never wound his sensitive pride. A man’s greatest need is to be admired for his masculine qualities. His deepest misery is to be belittled by a woman. When you sincerely praise him for manly qualities, like running, swimming, sports, work skills, intelligence, you touch his heart.

The book may sound too simple to be true, but I’ve found the less over complex and complicated I make things, especially when it comes to men, the more straightforward and harmonious things are. I think we’ve missed building the foundation of simple truths, in order to have a happy, thriving relationship with men. Once we can respect men, and honor them for their unique qualities as men, show them how much we still need them even though we are perfectly capable of taking care of ourselves, and admiring all of their masculine qualities that make the world go round – they build our buildings, drive trucks of trash, protect in law enforcement, lead in so many ways in society for good – we will have built a foundation to a harmonious, loving relationship in which we feel cherished and adored as we should be.

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