A Christian understanding of relationship dynamics

This post is inspired by some of the commentary over at Donal’s End of the Year off topic post.

A correct understanding of relationship dynamics is very difficult to see if you’re a man who is not conventionally attractive to women and charismatic. Thus, I’m going to outline some concepts about the correct frame of view.

The “blue pill” / false reality

Nemesis’ post is something I am intimately familiar with. I admit fully that this is how I understood things until I was more educated in relationship dynamics from the Scriptures and seeing the most successful relationships:

Okay here is the thing about power dynamics in a relationship. The person who has shown the most interest and investment in pursuing the relationship is placed in the position of less power and must work to attain the other person’s interest. The other person is put in the position of being the chooser. Now in the secular realm, the level of interest and investment see-saws between the male and the female like so:

First, a guy approaches a woman and asks her out, or sometimes if they know each other, he attempts to kiss her. At this point it is the girl who is in the position of chooser.

Second, if the girl accepts and all goes well, eventually the girl sleeps with the guy (either with or without “commitment” in the form of a prior offer of a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship). After this point she has invested more in the relationship and the guy is in the position of the chooser.

Third, if the relationship continues well, the guy proposes marriage, once again putting the girl in the position of chooser, as she now has the ability to accept or turn down marriage, and is the one to generally exercise subsequent power of divorce if she so chooses.

Now, if we’re talking about a chaste guy who is waiting-till-marriage, this see-saw doesn’t occur. He is placed in the position of pursuer throughout the courtship and must constantly work to demonstrate himself as a suitable mate to the girl who can sit back and decide at each point whether to continue the courtship or reject the guy’s advances. The only way the guy can have any semblance of power in the courtship process is if the girl showed clear signs of interest prior to him asking her out.

I contend that those of you who avoid showing IOIs to guys do so not out concern that it puts you in a dominant frame and the guy in a supplicant frame (it does not). Rather, you do so because you prefer to have the position of power and choice and don’t want to have to put yourself on the line. You wish to make the guy do all the work in courtship.

Although this view is false, for men who were raised by weak fathers or absent fathers this is absolute incontroverible a fact of life. Most of us men came to understand this world of view:

  • We had to “risk” rejection to put the ball in the woman’s court.
  • We had to romantically attract the woman with flowers, gifts, and the like.
  • We had to continually pursue her in some neverending chase.
  • We had to “risk” rejection again asking her to marry us.
  • If the woman is unhappy she can divorce (or in Christian circles the husband is blamed for marital failures and told to do better).
  • And the like.

However, this is false given what we know of women who are indisputably attracted to their man. It only describes the feminist’s fantasy: the so-called egalitarian relationship. In this, there is the guise of “equality” but in reality as you see by the bullet points the woman has all of the power while the man is qualifying himself to her. If this is your reality or how you perceive reality, you are already operating from the wrong perspective.

If you’re stuck in it then you’re doomed to repeat it.

The “red pill” reality and Christian’s the Scriptural reality

First, let’s look at the most successful relationships. This is the case for the type of man that most women want:

Women desire an “alpha” — a man with perceived value above hers — to court her. Depending on the woman she may or may not feign having the “choice” to choose whether she accepts him or not, but it is the man who has the real power because he can just move on and choose another woman and she knows it. All of the other actions are just superficial games to play, but the man has the real power always.

If women want an alpha they have to have the personality and ability to bring value to the relationship. Bringing value to the relationship is different between the sexes. But we already knew this. If women who are dating an alpha don’t meet or exceed his expectations he’ll just dump them for someone else.

I discussed this in I want you versus I need you. The beta NEEDS the woman. The alpha wants/desire the woman, but doesn’t need her. One is unattractive and the other is attractive. I’m sure you can guess which is which.

For Christians, the Jesus-Church relationship is one of headship-submission as is the husband and wife. This is reflected in the above where the man is the alpha: she may or may not feign choosing him, but all of the power resides with Jesus or the man (who will become the husband).

Thus, we understand that if a man is ever in a relationship with a woman where he is worried about if she wants to be with him and desires him then he’s doing it wrong.

This being the critical part for most Christian men to realize. If you don’t have that knowledge — with the knowledge being power in this situation — then you’re in trouble. Also, this must be tempered by the fact that this knowledge should not lead to puffing up but to actions of love.

However, let me first go back to one of the finer points that most men don’t realize about rejection.

Rejection

The rejection in which a man approaches a woman to ask her out is not indicative of a loss of power. Rather, it’s the extension of a desire. It’s fine if women reject your desire to get to know you better because it’s not a loss of anything at all. Desire is just that: it is not always met kindly by others except for God. Where a man’s power resides in elsewhere.

A man’s power resides in his commitment.

This should be an obvious analogy for Christians. Those who are committed to following Jesus are going to forsake everything they hold dear for him. No one is going to be more important than Jesus. Not a woman, not a girlfriend, not a wife will be more important than Jesus. Asking a woman out is in no way committing you to anything. You aren’t risking anything of value to ask a woman out.

If anything, it is only in an engagement and marriage where a man is risking anything because that is where the commitment is involved. However, at this point the man should have the correct frame of reference above. If a man does not know if the woman he is with will absolutely 100% say yes to a proposal then he is operating from that incorrect frame of reference. A man should know that she wants to be with him and desires him. Thus, the commitment is truly trivial at this point.

Attitudes belie actions

To understand this we need to look past the actions and at the underlying attitudes in people. A woman who truly wants to be with a man will display it in her attitude and by extension of her attitude her actions. The attitudes you will typically see of women who strongly desire to be with their man are:

  • humility
  • respect
  • gratefulness
  • appreciation
  • enthusiasm
  • desire

She may do the right thing in a relationship, but if she is not displaying these attitudes then her heart is questionable. In a godly marriage, the attitude of respect towards the husband is what facilitates submission. If you truly respect/reverence authority then you will submit to it.

Of course, the direct analogy is that these are also good traits to look for in Christians who are willing to serve God. Christians are to act out of humility, respect, gratefulness, appreciation, enthusiasm, and desire toward God to love and serve others.

This, of course, is not a coincidence but rather an intention creation by God. The Father gives men the experience of the Christ-man relationship in order that man might be able to experience and see the cultivation of characteristics that he should be looking for in a wife.

Conclusion

Having understood this false reality before I truly encourage Christian men desiring to marry to read and reread if necessary to understand both what the Scriptures say on the Christ-Church relationship and the husband-wife relationships.

If at any point in the relationship where there is any question to who is in the headship seat or understand of who weilds the authority in the relationship then there is a massive black hole issue. Any man who ignores this ignores it to his own detriment. Women with control in relationships will almost invariably become the rebellious and nagging type.

Look for these attitudes both in women, and in your own relationship with God as a Christian:

  • humility
  • respect
  • gratefulness
  • appreciation
  • enthusiasm
  • desire

These characteristics tend to let you know if you’re on the right track. It will reveal those who are earnestly seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. And it will also reveal the type of attitude you should be looking for in a wife. These types of women will bring the most value towards the marriage, just as a Christian who operates in humility, respect, gratefulness, appreciation, enthusiasm, and desire to God will be fruitful for the kingdom.

For Christians, this is why identity is important. Our identity is solely in Christ, and all of these things come out of Him. This way, we understand that we can operate in accordance to women from desire rather than need. If you haven’t been following I would suggest reading the whole series.

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16 Responses to A Christian understanding of relationship dynamics

  1. I think that you over-trivialized this:

    It’s fine if women reject your desire to get to know you better because it’s not a loss of anything at all.

    There is notable risk of (nuclear) rejection which will probably quite hurt you (yeah, even though you know it’s stupid and unreasonable way to think about that) but what is even more important, there is a real risk it will hurt your chances with other girls from her social circle (if she tells to her friends something like “I can’t believe that this loser tried to ask me out. I’m way out of his league”, you can bet that her friends will have hard time saying yes to you even if they liked you otherwise – kind of reverse preselection). And after you try two girls from the same social group, you can forget about asking out others for a long time…

  2. @ Pilgrim of the East

    This is true. But on the other hand, would you really want to date/marry the friends of a girl who nuclear rejected you?

    The statistics show that divorce is contagious which means that the attitudes that lead up to divorce are contagious. Women with bad attitudes tend to hang around each other and influence each other in bad ways.

    Knowing this I’d rather say: “Thanks for letting me know how your social group treats men. Peace.”

  3. Looking Glass says:

    There’s also an issue of self-selection bias with nuclear rejections. The Man that simply isn’t phased will be highly unlikely to get one.

    Plus, well, there is always other social groups. Something to always keep in mind.

  4. donalgraeme says:

    @ Deep Strength

    That is a very astute point about nuclear rejections. Like does tend to hang with like, so it makes sense.

  5. Elspeth says:

    This whole want/need thing is overly simplistic an speaks to a lack of understanding of marital dynamics.

    For instance, over the course of our courtship the who was “more invested” thing kind of went back and forth. Without question in the beginning I cared a lot more than he did for a whole host of reasons I needn’t list. The gist is that wasn’t lonely at the beginning and he wouldn’t have been lonely had I decided to cut ties.

    But the deeper a relationship grows, the less of that dynamic is at play. If it is, something is terribly wrong in that relationship. Spouses should feel a need for each other.

  6. jonadabtherechabite says:

    I do not think “risk” is the best lens to view the dynamics of men, women and marriage. One reason, Christian men do risk all in marriage; for he is commanded to love as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. So if a man is committed to following Christ he will give his life for her.

    Since the Christian marriage is to image the relationship of Christ and the church, one manner of understanding the marriage dynamic is theological. In the following analysis, the bride is interchangeable with believer or church as lord is husband or Christ interchangeably. The parallel of the relationships between husband-wife, Christ- elect is so close that the apostle Paul intentionally confounds them in Ephesians 5.

    The Arminian theology/heresy, is the dominant view in America today and reflected in the state of Christian marriage. The woman, who is not flawed by original sin, chooses her lord if he woos her sufficiently, remains in covenant with him only as long as she desires. Rather than fear and glory in her lord she views him as close friend and seeks to glorify herself and her choice. She does not think that he would ever discipline her, because that would not be “loving” in her opinion and her lord is nothing but love. He loves everyone, but she is special because she is responds to his romancing. She has loving feelings for him because he unceasingly loves her until she loves back. (The typical Arminian woman “feels” it is acceptable to move in and out of relationship guided by their “feelings”, for if the man/lord is correct they will know it in their heart and be happy. Consequently it is not unusual to baptized several times or to view fornication as searching for the true lover of their soul.)

    The Lutheran and Reformed doctrine (Calvinist for you Arminians) is quite different. The bride is born a sinner and a reprobate, who is chosen by the husband/lord to be in an eternal covenant relationship not because of how awesome she is, but because the lord chose her to love. She is saved from her desperate condition and sanctified by discipline and obedience. She fears him and seeks to glorify her husband in all that she does. He cares for her including: leading her to holiness, providing for her needs, protecting her and never breaking his covenant. She learns gratitude for him and is made holy by his leadership. She finds joy in his victory and believes his love for her in all circumstances will result in her growing in holiness.

    I am not as familiar with the Roman Catholic soteriology as taught in America today, but my understanding is: The bride must stay in the relationship (RC church) and constantly try to prove/purify herself to/for her lord. Then the only is she accepted by Him. (Sorry if this is caricature, it is meant to be summary of my understanding.)

    We live our theology out in our marriages and their formation. Henry Van Til once stated that “culture is theology externalized and lived out”. Case in point: Today, we are taught not to fear the Lord of heaven and Earth, but to embrace our personal Jesus girlfriend, so we cannot expect wives to fear her husband. We are taught not to subject to the Lord, (that is often called legalism), we can expect wives not to be subject to their husbands. We are not taught to humble ourselves in worship so we can expect proud, arrogant and narcissistic women in the church. We are taught to feel and not reason from scripture and we have become irrational and emotional in relationships.

  7. @ Elspeth

    This whole want/need thing is overly simplistic an speaks to a lack of understanding of marital dynamics.

    Maybe not for your marriage. The vast majority of marriages I have seen it simply is true. You’ve been around the ‘sphere enough to know that the majority of men don’t have the capacity to do what your husband does.

    But the deeper a relationship grows, the less of that dynamic is at play. If it is, something is terribly wrong in that relationship. Spouses should feel a need for each other.

    Yes, IF the marriages roles and responsibilities become entrenched according to the word of God.

    What if the relationship grows with a dominant, nagging, ball-busting wife and a timid husband? The relationship is growing deeper… in the wrong direction. In this case, a husband will feels the *need* to say “yes dear” as she leads the marriage. It’s the terribly wrong portion.

    Basically, you’re assuming in your comment that all marriages are like your marriage.

    Remember, this blog is meant to get men into a correct frame of reference first, then they can learn the nuances later. The foundation must be solid before building on it.

  8. @ jonadabtherechabite

    Which parts of Arminian theology vs Lutheran/Reformed are we talking about here?

    For example, if I remember correctly both the Arminians and Catholic Church believe in prevenient grace as opposed to irresistable grace of the Calvinists et al. There’s also a couple of other kinds of theological positions: common grace, sola gratia, and free grace.

    See sidebar of this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_(Christianity)

    If we’re making analogies I want to be sure of what I’m making analogies with.

    If we’re not talking about grace in terms of your post, then are we talking about justification or something else?

  9. Mrs. C says:

    The Catholic understanding of marriage can be found at the link below. This is to clarify the uncertainty in the comment above.

    The Catholic Church recognizes that marriage is under the regime of sin. Which is really what the Christian manosphere discusses and attempts to figure out. It says this:

    1606 Every man experiences evil around him and within himself. This experience makes itself felt in the relationships between man and woman. Their union has always been threatened by discord, a spirit of domination, infidelity, jealousy, and conflicts that can escalate into hatred and separation. This disorder can manifest itself more or less acutely, and can be more or less overcome according to the circumstances of cultures, eras, and individuals, but it does seem to have a universal character.

    1607 According to faith the disorder we notice so painfully does not stem from the nature of man and woman, nor from the nature of their relations, but from sin. As a break with God, the first sin had for its first consequence the rupture of the original communion between man and woman. Their relations were distorted by mutual recriminations;[96] their mutual attraction, the Creator’s own gift, changed into a relationship of domination and lust;[97] and the beautiful vocation of man and woman to be fruitful, multiply, and subdue the earth was burdened by the pain of childbirth and the toil of work.[98]

    1608 Nevertheless, the order of creation persists, though seriously disturbed. To heal the wounds of sin, man and woman need the help of the grace that God in his infinite mercy never refuses them.[99] Without his help man and woman cannot achieve the union of their lives for which God created them “in the beginning.”

    The Church also recognizes marriage in the order of creation, under the pedagogy of the law, and marriage in the Lord. For more of an explanation of these things which explains the relationship dynamic of marriage for Catholics, they can be found here.

    http://www.christusrex.org/www1/CDHN/matri.html

  10. Mrs. C says:

    Just realized this may be more of what was attempting to be compared in the above comment. This is how the Catholic Church defines itself as Church in relation to Christ:

    “This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic.”256 These four characteristics, inseparably linked with each other,257 indicate essential features of the Church and her mission. The Church does not possess them of herself; it is Christ who, through the Holy Spirit, makes his Church one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, and it is he who calls her to realize each of these qualities.”

    The Church is one…unity is the essence of the Church.

    The Church is holy….The Church is held, as a matter of faith, to be unfailingly holy. This is because Christ, the Son of God, who with the Father and the Spirit is hailed as ‘alone holy,’ loved the Church as his Bride, giving himself up for her so as to sanctify her; he joined her to himself as his body and endowed her with the gift of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God.

    The Church is catholic (universal)..first, the Church is catholic because Christ is present in her. “Where there is Christ Jesus, there is the Catholic Church.”307 In her subsists the fullness of Christ’s body united with its head; this implies that she receives from him “the fullness of the means of salvation”308 which he has willed: correct and complete confession of faith, full sacramental life, and ordained ministry in apostolic succession. The Church was, in this fundamental sense, catholic on the day of Pentecost309 and will always be so until the day of the Parousia. Secondly, the Church is catholic because she has been sent out by Christ on a mission to the whole of the human race: “Having been divinely sent to the nations that she might be ‘the universal sacrament of salvation,’ the Church, in obedience to the command of her founder and because it is demanded by her own essential universality, strives to preach the Gospel to all men”:339 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and Lo, I am with you always, until the close of the age.”340

    The Church is apostolic…..The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the apostles, in three ways:
    – she was and remains built on “the foundation of the Apostles,”362 the witnesses chosen and sent on mission by Christ himself;363
    – with the help of the Spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching,364 the “good deposit,” the salutary words she has heard from the apostles;365
    – she continues to be taught, sanctified, and guided by the apostles until Christ’s return, through their successors in pastoral office: the college of bishops, “assisted by priests, in union with the successor of Peter, the Church’s supreme pastor”:366

    Since the above is a very brief summary, more indepth information is here:

    http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p123a9p3.htm

  11. Don Quixote says:

    jonadabtherechabite says:

    The Lutheran and Reformed doctrine (Calvinist for you Arminians) is quite different. The bride is born a sinner and a reprobate, who is chosen by the husband/lord to be in an eternal covenant relationship not because of how awesome she is, but because the lord chose her to love. She is saved from her desperate condition and sanctified by discipline and obedience. She fears him and seeks to glorify her husband in all that she does. He cares for her including: leading her to holiness, providing for her needs, protecting her and never breaking his covenant. She learns gratitude for him and is made holy by his leadership. She finds joy in his victory and believes his love for her in all circumstances will result in her growing in holiness.


    Well said.
    However, if I may put my arminian hat on for just a moment…
    In the Scripture we find 2 covenants compared to marriage and betrothal.

    1) The marriage covenant described as a permanent bond, until death. This is reflected in Israel’s covenant. The wife of God. This is the model that Calvinism embraces, the ‘P’ in TULIP Persistence of the saints or Perseverance of the saints.

    2) The betrothal covenant, described as bond that ~may~ be called off if the bride fornicates. This is reflected in the Churches covenant. The Groom has already paid the price, and will complete the deal, but sometimes the bride’s is unfaithful to her betrothed.

  12. jonadabtherechabite says:

    @DS & Don Q

    The main thrust of my theology/marriage observation is not any particular postulate in isolation, but the sum as it characterizes the relationship of husband/wife and Christ/church. Especially how the various views characterize the personality and essence of the God-head.

    The modern Arminian views the relationship as egalitarian or as a the something that the wife/church decides and can also undecide. She responds to His love either for her good or her bad. Thus divorce is her choice if her man no longer woos her to feel happy, just as a christian can apostatize from grace to damnation. In general the law of God is despised as despotic and their is little emphasis on the justice, authority and sovereignty of God. Jesus is a BFF not the lamb on the throne who will come again to judge with a vengeance. Her narcissism is encouraged, she sing of herself more than of God. Subjectivity and relativism is also a common trait, after all it is purely subjective whether her feelings are sufficiently satisfied to remain in relationship.

    The classic reformed views the covenant relationship as inviolable; it is built on ultimate authority, not human desire. The woman responds not by choosing to be in covenant, but by obeying and worshiping. She is aware that she was saved from horror to a life of worship. She has confidence that Christ is faithful to His covenant and she need not fear the dissolution of the relationship, but fears disappointing her King. Jesus is more the victorious king on the throne making all His enemies His footstool. The relationship is a now and not yet just as the kingdom is now, but not yet fully consummated. Thus a wife is to fear her husband/lord, submit to him and serve him as his helper who brought her out of a worse fate to a higher purpose.

    An additional idea worth thinking about is the different views of history and eschatology. The premill/pretrib group do not think that we are in the kingdom age and are seeking deliverance by leaving in a rapture, hence escape is part of their DNA. It is not difficult to extend escapism to wives escaping the reign of the current reign of evil patriarchy. Post-mill thinkers and to a lessor extent the amill’s see this current world as an opportunity to magnify the kingdom reign of Christ. They believe in the continued dominion of creation including the institution of marriage, by proclaiming the law/word of God in all things. One view is of the husband who is ruling and conquering the other the husband is loving from a far and while evil reigns the woman must make the best and escape.

  13. Don Quixote says:

    I agree that salvation is of the Lord, not of the individual. He does the calling and the choosing, all we can do is believe and keep His commands. Joy!
    Understanding relationship dynamics is simple enough if we are obedient to Christ. Obedience provides a model for both husbands to Christ, and wives to husbands, but where can you find such [simple] teaching these days? Do any Reformed or Presbyterian churches teach that? Do any christian churches teach that? Hardly. If a cleric tells women to obey their husbands he will have to find another job.
    BTW: I still retain my pre mill belief that Jesus will reign on earth for 1000 years. God bless you Jonadabtherechabite.

  14. I’m not sure if this is even the right place to put this, but I thought I would share something with you that made me decide I wanted to marry my husband:

    When we first met face-to-face (we originally met on a Catholic singles’ website and we wrote for a year before exchanging photos, which I personally think is smart, but take it or leave it as you choose), I was going to his state to attend a teachers’ conference. He picked me up at the airport and took me to the hotel where I was staying, which turned out to be in an out of the way area with poorly labeled street signs. The upshot is, neither of us had a clue where it was. He stopped to ask for directions.

    Right there I knew he was the one for me. He demonstrated humility in that one gesture. Right away I knew that a person with humility would have the qualities of a man.

    Our first date was a picnic in a park — i saw lightning bugs for the first time in my life. It was so cool!

    Our second date we attended Mass together.

    He wasn’t trying to impress me, and I am not impressed by great displays anyway. Nor was he trying to act like some kind of big-shot, as the person I had dated previously had done. He was just plain good. That is all. And that is EVERYTHING.

  15. Pingback: Navigating the Biblical basis of attraction and marriage with others | Christianity and the manosphere

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