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There’s a new blog post I’ve seen friends talking about called The Real Truth about ‘Boring’ Men — and the Women who Live with Them: Redefining Boring (the site autoplays music so watch out). The post is written by Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts (a book I haven’t read, though practically every woman I know has and swears it changed her life).
Voskamp writes her post as a letter to her sons and uses this platform to address the pressure men feel to be romantic in flashy, internet-viral ways. She also speaks to women’s expectations about romance. Her main premise is that the world often leads us to pursue expressions of romance that, while great fodder for YouTube videos and great fun, ultimately miss the heart of what real love and real romance are all about. Real romance is, in a sense of the word, boring.
The main example of flashy romance Voskamp uses is in crazy marriage proposals. It seems like more and more guys view their proposal as a challenge to create the most viral proposal video. I’ve actually even seen this obsession in high schoolers. One high schooler I know put on the classic teen look-of-indifference while his mom told stories of how he and his schoolmates went to disturbingly extravagant lengths to ask girls out to dances in the most unique way. This kid ended up sitting in a big gift box on a girl’s front porch for hours because he drastically miscalculated her ETA. I found myself a little put off by how the theatrics these guys were putting on seemed to be more focused on competing for the best story than about wooing the girl they didn’t even seem to have the simplest of puppy love for. If high school girls are expecting this kind of treatment in a dance invitation, what will their proposal need to be like?
Voskamp isn’t really hating on the wild and crazy ways men find to propose to their wives or ask girls out. She’s just saying that the theatrics aren’t what really matter. In her words:
“Sure, go ahead, have fun, make a ridiculously good memory and we’ll cheer loud: propose creatively — but never forget that what wows a woman and woos her is you how you purpose to live your life.”
Later she says,
“The real romantics imagine greying and sagging and wrinkling as the deepening of something sacred.
"Because get this, kids — How a man proposes isn’t what makes him romantic. It’s how a man purposes to lay down his life that makes him romantic.”
And this is where the “boring” part comes in. Voskamp tells her sons that real romance is this lifelong commitment full of the nitty-gritty as well as the ecstatic.
Reading her post, I realized I could use Voskamp's advice in my own marriage. I realized that it’s easy to save the “romance” for special date-nights, Valentine’s Day and anniversaries. But the real romantic foundation of our marriage is built with the day-in and -out actions of speaking encouraging words to my wife, looking for ways to serve her, and putting her before myself.
Both the guys and gals reading this post should check out Voskamp’s blog (again, sorry for the awful autoplay) for a healthy dose of expectation-tuning, character-challenging, and encouragement. There’s a better and more beautiful romance available to us and one that looks more like Jesus’ love for the church.
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--For anyone who wants to read the article without the background music, here's a link: m.huffpost.com/.../4296073
--I wonder if she'll a follow up article entitled: "The Real Truth about ‘Mad' Men — and the Women who Live with Them: Redefining Mad".
Maybe talk about advertising and relationships?
--This was good, but there seems to be an imbalance in most of her stuff (I've spent the past 30-45 minutes perusing her site). To her daughters/young women, the advice is, "You're strong and amazing and wonderful and never let a man tell you you're not." To her sons/young men, it's, "You treat women like the gems they are." If this is all she's got, the little girls will grow up to be princesses, and the little boys will grow up to be their fawning servants.
Heck, even the advice she gives in her post entitled "How Can I be a Better Wife" is simply, "When your husband tells you you're beautiful, believe him."
Young men have been challenged pretty firmly by the Christian community at large for years now. Why do we shy away from being firm and direct with young women as well? Is it because we've painted a picture of them as emotionally-fragile little wallflowers who can't take criticism? Biblically, they need to be challenged and guided just as much (Titus 2).
--Yeah, her stuff is incredibly female-focused.
"I whisper it to her like a heart’s battle cry, like it could rally a generation of daughters and women and sisters:
Girls rival each other. Women revive each other.
Girls empale each other. Women empower each other.
Girls compare each other. Women champion each other."
While men are simply the women-serving servants, women are reviving, empowering, and championing each other. Right.......
--I never finished Voskamp's book. I really dislike her writing style and I didn't agree with all the different things she was saying. This particular post DOES have a good point even if she falls into the trap of challenging men to better themselves while women need only accept themselves. Though to be fair, whenever there is a blog or article about how women can change themselves there is a large outcry of how people are shaming women once again. Neither gender likes to be called out.
And I would have hated it if my husband and done some huge production of a proposal. He did propose in a public place without drawing attention to us but I was so distracted by the possibility of someone noticing (we lived in a touristy area where men came to propose often) that it made me want to leave more than anything.
--I will add that while this is addressed to men, women can learn from it as well. When we complain our men are not romantic enough, perhaps we need to take a closer look at all the things they do for us. I am so grateful for my husband and how well he takes care of me. I caught the nastiest of stomach bugs only 2 weeks into our marriage and yes, he had to clean up after me. He never once balked or grumbled or let me know how gross it was. We both learned a lot during that time (and I had to take care of him afterwards when it was his turn but he never gets as sick as I do)
--I am always skeptical when Christian bloggers claim that women have sky-high expectations for how a proposal should go. Many women would just be happy their boyfriends finally asked.
--I really loved this blog when I first saw it a few days ago. According to a recent boundless article 'The Difference Between Masculinity and Femininity' one definition of masculinity is" a relational style of seeing a situation that needs to be dealt with. Rather than passively letting someone else deal with it or aggressively taking over and bossing everyone around, masculinity moves gently and meaningfully into that situation." No wonder women find it attractive when a man can anticipate her wants/needs and do something about it. But let's be honest most men are good at doing something but not as good at knowing precisely what to do. Women (I'm talking to myself here) need to adjust our expectations AND stop pretending the men in our lives are mind readers. The photo above reminded me of one of the first conversations I had with a new neighbor. She and her boyfriend had recently become engaged. He had proposed at the top of the Eiffel Tower. She showed me a beautiful ring and then proceeded to tell me that she was still miffed because he hadn't gotten down on one knee. She was shocked to learn that my husband had proposed while we were sitting on the couch in his parents house without having even given thought to a ring and I was okay with that. My husband is not the' romantic type' and I'm not either. His lack of romantic notions didn't bother me while we were dating, but without realizing it I did expect certain things after we married (like he would buy me a Christmas present.) When they didn't happen I could dwell on how 'unromantic' he had been and pout. How silly! I'm married to a 'boring' man and blessed beyond measure. I appreciate blogs like this for pointing that out.
--Thanks for taking one for the team and dredging the dreck, @LAA.
Men should either not click through (I'm not going to; advice on how to be a man from women is, as a rule, completely useless) or just invert everything she advises.
Women probably should invert whatever she advises, too. Having had three older women of my church admit in extended conversation (or, actually, one of them completely unprovoked) in the last three weeks that, yes, older women just usually want to advise younger women into the exact same mistakes they made as their natural inclination on the bandwagon to Hell, reader beware.
--I really appreciated 1000 Gifts, but this blog post of hers on boring men? Not so much. I'm not looking for a servant to wait on me and tell me I look good when I don't. I want someone who will challenge me on my weaknesses as well as encourage me, and who will let me do the same for him. Who, yes, will help me when I need it, but who isn't doing it out of some sort of quasi-masochistic impulse.
And let's be honest--while thinking about whether you can imagine growing old with someone is good, it's really not romantic. It's usually an attempt to try to be objective about emotions--at best, I think a person could come up with a "doesn't sound too bad" response to that proposition. I highly doubt a person's heart would flutter with excitement over it. In the end, it is the gritty side of marriage which makes people balk at entering it, and encouraging people to romanticize the grittiness is neither helpful or honest. We marry because we find someone for whom the benefits of marriage outweigh the negatives, not because we cherish the negatives.
--@jaybees I generally agree on biblical grounds, though perhaps not to the degree you do.
@TaraPW True, "whenever there is a blog or article about how women can change themselves there is a large outcry of how people are shaming women once again," but the fact of the matter is that 1) there are far less of these articles than there are articles telling men to shape up and 2) most of the articles calling out women are written by women (very few articles are men telling women how to woman up and be the woman men deserve), while, on the other hand, finding Christian articles written by women telling men how to man up and be the man women deserve are all over the place.
Men are constantly told that women are wonderful and that they, as men, need to suck it up--not only by men, but also by women. And we wonder why young men leave the church. Well, you got women taking the reins and telling them how to be men and rehashing the same old "guys, y'all are immature and need to grow up" lines that apply just as much to the young women of our generation as it does to the young men. There's nothing more "immature" about a young person wasting time playing video games than there is about a young person wasting time watching Downton Abbey or rummaging through Pinterest or spending hours on shopping websites.
Rarely, if ever, are young men, as a whole, affirmed or praised by today's church in the way that young women are. Rarely, if ever, are young women called out for their immaturity and pettiness (especially by someone of the opposite gender) in the ways that the church calls out young men. This is why Voskamp's stuff is generally accepted, but if the genders were reversed (not in roles, but in amount of time devoted to calling out men vs. women), it'd be portrayed as entirely misogynistic and wanting to "put women back in the 1950s". Heck, if Boundless had the amount of stuff written specifically challenging guys that it has challenging girls (and vice versa), and you switched the genders as well, it probably would be labeled as misogynistic as well.
--I'm not saying girls shouldn't be called out (I think they do!) and yes, they need more attention. However, I think some of the outcry comes from the fact that the "girls should change this" usually revolves around the sexual and not other characteristics. I think girls get tired of that. Women are human and of course are susceptible to many of the same sins as men. I have a husband and a son, both of whom I love dearly and think highly of and do not want people to assume they are monsters or deviants because of their sex. And I would love to see a blog post from a woman criticizing women forming cliques in the church or being petty towards each other. I find women are more likely to get offended by the silliest things. People were upset with me because I didn't ask them to make me meals when I was sick. Sometimes I feel like I'm in junior high all over again! But I digress...
And the idea of growing old together IS romantic. I don't see it as a necessary evil at all. I remember seeing the love my grandfather had for my grandmother and it was not the practical "I'm taking care of you because I have to" sort of love. I saw the sappy, gooey smiles and look in his eyes. He was crazy about her! Both my father and father-in-law are clearly in love with our mothers. THAT is romance. Maybe I"m easily smitten, I don't know. And yes, i want my husband to tell me I'm beautiful lots and lots!
--TaraPW, it is very hard to take seriously claims that women are grown up and mature these days when you see women like conservative blogger Jennifer Erikson, who, publicly on her blog and on twitter, wrote about how she nuked her family basically because she was unhaaaapy. (It is al still there on her blog as I write this.) Oh yes, her case is also one of the correct use of church discipline, which she mocked publicly on her blog. Her husband didn't have an affair, didn't beat her or the kids. She basically had to resort to the typical feminist tactic of calling things she didn't like to experience "abuse" or "cruelty". She accused the church of "spiritual oppression". And this is a woman who claims she relies on Jesus every day and blogs about conservative/TEA Party politics. There are a lot of comments on her blog. Only a few women had anything negative to say about the way she detonated her family. Most women said things like "You go Grrrl" and "God's cool with whatever you choose". Thus, I am doubtful about the ability of articles like this or any admonishment from elder, more experienced, and wiser women (Titus 2) to have any effect on the women in our culture.
These proposals that are so over the top can set up a ridiculous standard, not just for others, but for the man involved. Probably, he's going to have to keep topping it, lest she get bored and suddenly, realize "Well, we have two kids, but all he does is work, so I guess I love him but I'm not IN LOVE with him. He must not be THE ONE, so I need to divorce and find THE ONE. God Understands, cause He told me he just wants me to be happy."
To me, it appears that articles like this are pretty much too little, too late. American culture is in an advanced stage of decomposition. It seems the only sane, reasonable thing for men to do if they don't want to risk being financially destroyed and having their relationships with their kids destroyed at the whim of a woman is to not marry. Christian men, maybe, ought to consider eschewing relationships with women altogether or expatriating out of America and Western civilization.
--Though this article is seemingly written to men, its message to me was, "hey girls, let's appreciate what we have in these men who love us so much--even if they don't give us roses every day" and that's how it was used by my Facebook friends who linked to it...most of them were married, and wrote comments like, "thanks for all you do, honey!" so I thought it was a good article. Because it's so easy for young women to buy into this idea that "the One" will be a fairy-tale romance, and if a guy doesn't deliver that, he must not really love us, or we must be with the wrong person. Nitty-gritty is not romantic but it points to the love Jesus says is the greatest: the love where someone lays down his life for his friends. But that kind of love is not limited to marriage, which is I guess why we crave romance so much...why living as a roommate, even with a fellow believer who is gentle and kind, sounds kind of sad if that person is your spouse. is it wrong that I want Song of Songs as well as the Gospel in my marriage? Romance and love are not inherently in marriage, they are in peoples' hearts, so I know I will have to make an effort, but I hope my husband and I can enjoy romance for many years to come.
That's why in some parts of the article, methinks the author doth protest a little too much. :P
--Greg, it sounds to me like you have a cynical, distrustful view of women, including Christian women. I'm sorry to hear that. I've been hurt by women in romantic relationships, but I don't assume they're all bad. I know many who are wonderful--they're just married to my friends.
But I do second that there are many more articles aimed at men to shape up--including Boundless--than there are aimed at women. It does make me wonder if feminism has infiltrated Christianity.
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