Falling in Love is the Easy Part

I know I’ve jumped up and down on this many times before in many contexts, but it is still true: marry a man you respect. It is easy to fall in love. That presents no difficulties at all. But wait. What kind of man is this? Are you sure you look up to him, admire him, appreciate him and feel confident you could follow him without wanting to grab the reins away from him?  Not just any man is respectable, and no woman wants to find out the hard way, but many do. Falling in love is not all that is necessary, though it is nice. And by all means, fall in love with the man you marry. But respect him first.

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28 thoughts on “Falling in Love is the Easy Part

  1. Thank you for your wise words of wisdom, Nancy! Even though this is something I know, I need to be reminded of it often. I hope and pray more girls my age will learn this lesson.

  2. Valerie, a woman so sharp and well-read as you will have a hard time finding a man to respect and look up to! Your brains have narrowed the options, considerably!

    Nancy, I think this is the best advise I ever received. You said something in one of your tapes, I think, about how women fall in love with irrespectable jerks all the time. We don’t want to marry one of those, so just falling in love shouldn’t be our criteria. SO so true. My parents always told me I should marry an intelligent man, but until your advise came, I didn’t understand why. It all sounded kinda snobby! I mean, there are godly bufoons out there, right? But could I respect a bufoon? Even a godly one? Thanks for making it all make sense and setting me on the right path! Your wise counsel has blessed me beyond measure over the years, and in case I haven’t already said so, Thank You!!!!

  3. Finding a man to meet the criteria is a challenge, but you only need one, and God delights in giving us the desires of our heart. (Psalm 37:4) …(and I should hope that a smart man would see the value in an educated, intelligent wife).

  4. This makes me laugh! It’s really quite amusing the way some people seem to think that it is somehow horribly sacreligious to marry someone that they aren’t “in love” (whatever that is supposed to mean) with. Although…I never have really understood how anyone could “fall in love” with someone they didn’t respect…

  5. This is what was wrong with the Charlotte-Mr. Collins match — not that Charlotte wasn’t romantic like Lizzy, but that she must have known she was marrying one of the stupidest men in England. Lizzy’s rejection of him hadn’t been because he didn’t rouse some twitterpated, romantical, fuzzy feeling in her soul (or in her hormones), but because she could not respect him. Finally, she doesn’t get the twitterpated, romantical, fuzzy thing going on with Mr. Darcy until she comes to respect him. Inversely, she loses her feelings for Wickham as she loses her respect for him. Lizzy’s error was in giving or withholding her respect too rashly (her prejudice); her virtue was in tying her romantic interest in a given man to her capacity to respect him.

  6. Valerie: I laughed. I mean at your joke, not your explanation of Austen.

    I think though that even with a man one respects one will sometimes feel like grabbing the reins. It’s the curse. It would happen if one were married to the wisest, best man on earth: not only because he’s still a sinner, but more importantly because one still is.

    One being of course, me. πŸ™‚

  7. Thanks, Kamelda!

    And that’s a good point about us being rein-grabbers even under the best of circumstances. I found myself thinking yesterday that it sure would be nice not to have to make every. single. stinkin’. decision. by myself and not to have to carry the whole weight of life on my shoulders alone, but that it’d still be a challenging transition to learn to trust somebody else’s lead after all these years on my own. Which makes Mrs. Wilson’s counsel all the more important — it’s going to be hard enough, fer cryin’ out loud, so don’t make it more difficult on yourself by marrying somebody you can’t respect!

  8. Very wise! It is why guarding your heart is so important, so that you don’t find yourself having feelings (“falling in love”)for a man, and then telling yourself (not truthfully) that you do respect him, when you don’t.

  9. I just can’t help myself – got to chime in on this one! I can’t say Amen! enough to Mrs. Wilson’s words of wisdom in this blog entry. How often my Pastor-husband and I have seen too much swooning and too little respect. Years later it all comes out and things can become a bit messy. And Kamelda – you make a very insightful and valid point. I know, ’cause I’m married to the wisest and best man on the earth! and realizing my need for God’s grace to temper my will is something I see more than I care to admit! However, I can only imagine how worse it would be had I not married a man I respected.
    Blessings to you, Nancy!

  10. I got to have my cake and eat it too. I’m glad that I’m enough of a snob to be incapable of “falling in love” with someone I don’t respect. But in church circles, “respectable” can be the nice way of saying “BORING!” Respect is ABSOLUTELY necessary, but it is not sufficient. I’m reminded of Nancy’s earlier post about milk and honey. I’m not necessarily saying giddy, head-over-heels romance is essential, but he should excite you, challenge you, inspire your creativity. I knew a couple of guys whom I COULD have respected, but only one I was excited to.

    Hang in there, Valerie. Let me guess, people tell you that you probably intimidate guys? Just the pansies. Good riddance, I say.

  11. I think that respect is one of the hardest things a woman can render to a man. Like everything else it takes practice, purposeful planning, and a willingness to learn. I tend to be the myopic hausfrau as it is, I’m home all day with four munchkins, but I’ve come to learn over the past few years that God’s use of my husband to redeem my view of men (used to be feministic) is yet another tool to better enable me to worship Him more fully. Please keep up the great writing!

  12. Just to clarify that I wasn’t in the least disagreeing with Mrs. Wilson’s point that one should marry a person one respects: indeed I can’t imagine being married to someone I didn’t trust to spiritually, practically, and intellectually help me along (and Valerie, your lamentation of having to make all the decisions yourself simply cut me to the heart for you: that is something I would be terrified of: God be with you). Truly I don’t know that the wife must *always* have less capacity than the husband — for instance intellectually — in order to respect him? -Some very good men I know are not so intelligent as their adoring wives: that probably varies according to what secondary things – beyond the spiritual – each woman is more attracted to: for instance some very intelligent women will value a gentle temper more than a mighty intellect quite intelligently (though I perfectly sympathize with the need to be able to trust someone else’s reasoning more than one’s own), and one will probably not find all things united to perfection in the same man: being able to respect him doesn’t mean he’s going to be already glorified. Indeed unrealistic expectations seem to lead to lack of love and respect, which would have been strong enough to stand up to fallen nature — it’s this kind of thing that I have found more prevalent among girls in my own circles, but this wasn’t the situation Mrs. Wilson was addressing.

    I do like what Erin said about respect being something we are constantly learning to render. Even in an unideal situation one can learn to render it. Mrs. Wilson’s point is to stay away from the unideal situation in the first place and in our society esp. that can’t be said enough. It’s just that the ideal situation still involves loving and respect working in sinful people: at least I am so imperfect as to have experienced many desires to twitch the reigns away, and this though it’s hard to believe Mrs. Vaughan is married to the wisest and best because I R 2.

  13. Kamelda,

    I agree that not all women should or do marry men that are their superiors in intellect; just as not all husbands are better surfers than their wives. What gifts each women needs her husband to have varies according to the woman. Some need a stronger man while others can physically bear their own burdens, some need a funnier husband while others tell all the jokes and some need a more intellectual man but we all need to submit to our betters. Our husbands should excel us in Christian virtue as our teachers should excel us in knowledge and our coaches excel us in skill.

  14. Amanda and others, Mrs. Wilson — I was actually going to ask — because this raised a confusion for me — if the idea of the man having more capacity than the woman is involved in a Christian idea of respect, where does the line fall between the Christian concept, and the world’s concept which involves superiority/inferiority necessarily and which has caused them to misunderstand the dignity of a woman’s place in marriage? Your pointing out that it is Christian virtue, spiritual leadership, that we are looking for our husbands to excel us in most of all somewhat clarifies that; but I still feel for instance, extremely grateful that my husband excels me in many other ways as it makes it so much easier to ‘respect’ him? How am I — staying clear of the world’s misconceptions, not buying into their paradigms? … because while I have no problem acknowledging my husband’s superiority as well as many other peoples’, in a variety of ways, I certainly don’t hold that submission or respect somehow involves ‘inferiority’ of being or of role and don’t want to promote any such unbiblical nonsense.

  15. (Sorry for the second post, but wanted to clarify that my idea of submissive respect ‘in the abstract’ -though quite concrete enough- would be rooted in Christ’s submission to the Father: they are ‘the same in substance, equal in power and glory’: God cannot be better than God. Perhaps I’m missing some nuances of submission brought out of the abstract?)

  16. Once, twice, and again — I asked my husband about this last night. He agrees that submission and respect is not a concept of better/worse or superior/inferior; and that comparisons are simply irrelevant to duty. In the case of an unmarried woman, she is not thinking in better/worse comparison terms, but simply of getting the most suitable husband she can get. She doesn’t think (or shouldn’t) “Can I respect him because he’s better than me in these nine areas” but “do I respect him” – in spite of human failings? Does the whole man inspire trust, respect, love, a desire to follow etc., not because I’m inferior in these ways but because following is right and natural to a woman in relation to a man she loves (exactly what was said in the post). I agree with Amanda that a man’s spiritual bent should be the foundation of his character, as well as of our appreciation of it: probably that isn’t a comparison either, but an appreciation we can only cultivate by cultivating our own spiritual life. I’m sorry to have been confusing, if I was — I was certainly confused: I do believe this is the right answer though; certainly I didn’t think in terms of my husband’s superiority when I agreed to marry and to follow him: I simply knew he was a man I could trust. Indeed at that time of life I still had a much higher opinion of my faculties, and a much lower assessment of his and everyone else’s, than he, everyone else, or I deserved — no doubt a misapprehension I’ll be laboring under to some degree, until I get to heaven.

  17. Good questions, girls. I also find it hard to disconnect respect from merit. Not that my particular husband does not merit respect, but I am to render it whether he does or not, based on God’s design. He does not lead because he is smarter than me, or less gullible, or stronger, or anything else. (In the same vein, men do not preach because they are more capable orators than women. My husband jokes that male pastors are a great example of God intentionally using the “jar of clay” to show His own sovereignty.) Based on merit and skill alone, many women are qualified for the pulpit, or to lead and teach their husband. But God designed otherwise, for His own reasons. We must remember that Jesus submitted to the Father, and that the Spirit is frequently referred to as “helper.” Skill level and intelligence are almost irrelevant.

  18. Mrs. Wilson (or anyone else inclined to answer),

    I’m not sure that you’ll even see this comment, it being on an older post . . . but I think I’ll forge ahead anyway!

    Have you read – and if so what is your opinion of – the new book by Jennifer Marshall titled ‘Now and Not Yet’?

    I just saw a favorable review of it in WORLD magazine, and wondered if it would be worth a trip to the bookstore for a single girl.

    Blessings on you and yours . . .

  19. Chiming in very late, but I just stumbled across this blog and I’m going through archives–others might do the same!

    A resounding YES! to this post. I made this error in judgement…My husband is certainly not a “jerk”, but I can’t say I respected him. ‘Are you sure you look up to him, admire him, appreciate him and feel confident you could follow him without wanting to grab the reins away from him?’ The answer to all these questions for me was no!

    Now, I do love my husband very much, and I’m working on respecting him more. God has also transformed him into a more respectable man…(Or is he changing me? I can never tell.) Regardless, this issue caused very deep rifts in our marriage for the first two years (miserable ones), and even rears its ugly head once in a while now, heading into our 4th anniversary this month. The Lord blesses our poor choices in the end, I believe, but the consequences are still realities.

    The best advice to young women “being courted” is truly in this post. The Lord tells us to respect our husbands…make your duties a lot easier by choosing a man you really do respect!

  20. This reminds me of an article I read of yours last fall in Credenda Agenda about making a decision for or against a man based on respect. This was new to me, but it shouldn’t have been, because I knew it was important for wives to respect their husbands.
    Briefly, that article was an answer to prayer and helped me with an important decision. Being able to respect the man you marry is vitally important, and I thank you for pointing that out to me!

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