My Knight in Shining Armor
The Man Every Woman Longs For
After more than 35 years of marriage, with the ups and downs that come with it, as well as watching so many other marriages struggle and fail, I realize there are a lot of different reason why the married life is so difficult. One thing I have heard is that men have a hard time reading women. They can't tell what we want and they get frustrated. So, several months ago I started writing down some of the things I've observed from a woman's point of view to help guys get in our head and understand a little bit.
Remember guys, not all girls are exactly like me and there are always those hormones and other circumstances that will still make us unpredictable, but maybe these few points will help you a bit!
Every Girl Needs a Knight in Shining Armor
And every man can be one!
"A Knight in Shining Armor" . . . Wait, I know what you're thinking. "That's the stuff fairy tales are made of." As I've considered all the things you are about to read, I wonder . . .
I wonder if it was really a GIRL who wrote all those fairy tales?" We're conditioned to accept the fact that they were all written by men, for example, the "Brothers" Grimm of the famed Grimm Fairy Tales. But could a man really understand that many women want a "Knight in Shining Armor" to come to their rescue? Some in the medical profession may speculate the reason we want to be rescued is because a man wrote fairy tales and convinced us that's what we needed. And while I suppose that could be true, I have discovered that somewhere deep inside of what makes me "me" there is a part of my very independent, completely self-sufficient womanhood that wants just that, a knight in shining armor. And as I look around and talk to other women, I think there's something deep within many of us that has a need for such a thing.
We fight it, of course. I mean, come on, it's the 21st century. Women have fought for years to be independent and have equality in the workforce. We're still often confronted with the whole "equal job/unequal pay" dilemma. Most women have a really hard time even considering that our only purpose on this earth is reproduction and being subservient to a man. America has experienced a whole movement dedicated to liberating women, giving them equal rights and releasing the voice of the oppressed.
I happen to believe women's struggle for self-sufficiency is Biblical. Look at the Proverbs 31 woman. Here's a woman who trades for profit. She's in real estate and merchandising. Not only is she a craftsman, she is the kind of business person that commands the respect of everyone in the city. She is a wise woman, in complete control of her household and able to handle a career as well as a home. And if that's not enough proof, let's look at the first book of the Bible. I've read that the word "helpmate" used to describe Eve in the garden of Eden is literally translated more of an equal partner than a subservient helper.
On the other hand, I've found scripture that also supports the picture of a "Knight in Shining Armor." Peter refers to women as the "weaker" partner (I've looked this up in the Greek, and it appears to me to mean physical strength). Ephesians instructs men to love their wives as they love themselves. The entire Bible paints a picture of God as the husband with the nation of Israel, and then the followers of Christ, as the bride He wants to rescue.
Meanwhile the entertainment industry bombards us with images of men rescuing women, and we think it's romantic. We loved "Pretty Woman" and "Runaway Bride." Over and over again we girls watch the movies our husbands call "sappy." Is this because we've been programmed that way since we were infants? Or is it perhaps because we were created to be the "weaker" gender?
The whole family laughs at "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "King of Queens." Why do we laugh at these and cry at "sappy"? Tears come to our eyes when we see the groom rescue the bride and ride off into the sunset as partners because somewhere deep within us we know that's what we were created for. We laugh at Raymond and Doug because if we stopped to think about the truth in these shows we'd weep. Sometimes I really don't like to watch them because it reminds me of what marriage has become compared to the picture of what God intended it to be.
In the next few paragraphs I will attempt to paint a picture of what I think a "Knight" looks like. I hope to share scripture and insight as well as stories from my own marriage that have helped me understand why I needed a "Knight in Shining Armor." I also hope to demonstrate how much marriage is a gift from God that shouldn't be taken lightly. Ladies, too often I've seen our gender give up on marriage when the dragons come in and our Knight can't quite find the tower we've been taken to. Never give up! I believe that God has created every man to be a Knight. The problem is that either the world has convinced him that he is just a knave put on earth to be a servant, or the dark knight has dinged up his armor and he's fallen from his valiant steed so many times he feels like he just can't get up again.
Men . . . I believe that you can be that Knight in Shining Armor.
The first step is convincing yourselves.
Bible Studies to Help you in Your Journey to Knighthood
- Step Out On Faith - Bible Study Discussion Guide
A Five week Bible Study Discussion Guide based on Peter's short water walk and the faith he used to make the journey.
- Barnabas, the Encourager - A Bible Study
When we read the book of Acts, we find that Barnabas is a central character in much of the book. This is a Bible study designed to help us discover how to become an encourager like Barnabas.
A Knight has GREAT Self-Esteem
(Great means Healthy)
One of my biggest complaints about "Everybody Loves Raymond," "King of Queens" and other sitcoms with similar themes is the way the men are portrayed as not intelligent enough to think for themselves. These guys are trampled at every turn and aren't permitted to make any decisions. They have no self-confidence and never take a stand for themselves. How many men in our society are like these guys? They feel beat up and put down, like they can't do anything right. Are you one of those guys? Have you only read this far out of curiosity? Are you convinced you could never be anyone's rescuer, let alone a full blown Knight?
Between the entertainment media and women who love to male bash, it's no wonder a lot of guys feel less than qualified to be a knight. So, the first step in becoming a true Knight in Shining Armor is believing you can be one. Gentlemen, it's important for you to understand the truth of who you are in Christ. In order for you to become the man you were meant to be, you need to have a healthy self esteem.
All through scripture we are told how precious we are to God. The New Testament makes special mention of the power we have in Christ. These promises aren't limited to the matriarchs in the church. Every word in the scripture was written for you! Isaiah 43 was originally written to the nation of Israel, God's chosen people. But in Romans 11, Paul explains how Christians have been grafted into that "olive tree." So, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then read Isaiah 43:1-7 as if God is talking directly to you. (If you aren't a follower of Jesus Christ, click here and find out how you can become one.)
The King of all the earth has called you by name. You belong to Him. He doesn't promise to make the road easy, but He does promise to walk every step with you. You are precious to Him. When you bowed before Him to humbly submit to His reign, He brought out His Holy Sword and dubbed you Sir (insert your name), Knight of the Holy City and the Most High God.
Don't believe me yet? Well, check out some of these verses. In Zechariah 2:8, the Lord Almighty called you "the apple of his eye." In the first verse of 1 John, the most Perfect Father called you His Child! In Romans, Galatians and Ephesians Paul reminds us that we are heirs of the promise of God. If you've never read "The Purpose Driven Life," by Rick Warren, I encourage you to go to the library and read the first seven chapters so you can begin to discover your true worth in Jesus Christ.
You can not begin to be the best you can be until you start to grasp the reality of who you are in Christ. Understanding our place in the Kingdom of God helps us in two ways. First, this knowledge empowers us to live in the fullness of God's love. When we truly grasp the whole concept it helps us see ourselves as valuable and worthwhile. Second, when we consider that the Creator of the Universe has chosen us to be His personal assistant, His child, His lover, His friend, it can be very humbling, and in turn, help us not to become conceited which can lead to abusive and self-serving behavior.
Look at your life. How do you see yourself? Is it from God's point of view or the world's point of view? When we examine ourselves under the "God Microscope" the picture is balanced. We see the flaws, but we see how the blood of Jesus Christ covers them and makes us perfect before the Father. It's only through God's eyes that we can begin to comprehend our true self worth.
Perhaps, though, you see yourself more through the lens of the world. Do you doubt that you are truly good enough to make anything of yourself? Does your sense of self-worth tend to be measured by your paycheck, the size of your house or the car you drive? Do you find your identity in your occupation, your spouse, your children or your parents? If so, you've been listening to the lies of the dark knight. Your enemy wants you to think so little of yourself that you never bother to get the armor out of the closet. And if that doesn't work, he'll try to convince you that if you put others down, you are better than they are. If he can talk you into belittling others, abusing your wife, children, girlfriend or co-workers, then his job is easy.
Yep, there are two extremes, and the enemy doesn't care which one you choose. If you won't accept the fact you're nothing, the other destructive alternative is to get to you think too highly of yourself. If you expect others to wait on you hand and foot, you can't be a Knight. A true and good knight is a servant. Even though he is a son of the King, the Ruler of the Universe, he doesn't let it go to his head. Philippians 2:5-8 gives us a picture of what God calls his knights to be. If you have a relatively healthy self-esteem, and the dark knight can't convince you to look down on yourself, he'll try to convince you to look down on others. As I mentioned, he really doesn't care if you think too well or poorly of yourself, just so you don't see yourself through the eyes of God. Even this dragon is aware that when we begin to understand our true worth in the Kingdom, we will gradually become better people, we'll treat others with respect and we won't allow ourselves to be beaten down.
A healthy self-esteem is the first step in becoming a great knight. But it's important to note that for a truly great marriage, the damsel in our fairy tale needs to be able to see her true worth, too. Yes, ladies, your unrealistic view of yourself has to be addressed as well as your knight's. We hear marriage described as two halves, the husband or wife being called "the better half." But a great marriage is made up of two wholes. Each person in a marriage needs to understand the magnitude of their value to Christ. Without this knowledge we are in danger of having an unbalanced view of ourselves. Not only do we hurt ourselves by not having a healthy self-worth, but because the Bible says "the two become one," we hurt our partner, too. An unhealthy view of our lives can cause us to treat our spouse and even our children in a way that doesn't honor Christ or cause those we love most to be less than the best they can be. Even if our spouse has a healthy self-esteem, if our self view causes us to be abusive, (physically, emotionally or verbally) withdrawn or negative, the members of our family won't be able to function like they should.
What is your self-esteem keeping you from doing? What is your self-esteem making you do that causes you to like yourself even less? Are you working at the job you love, or are you there because you don't believe you could get a better job if you tried? It doesn't matter how much money you make. That has nothing to do with your worth. However, if you occasionally think, "I wish I could . . ." but you've never tried because you think there's no way you could ever get that kind of job, you're not smart enough, don't have enough money or enough education, then perhaps you need to look into the steps necessary to make your "dream" a reality.
I know sometimes it seems impossible to overcome the things that life throws at us. You may be thinking that there's no way you can change your job or some other part of your situation. There's a good chance that your dream seems too far away. But I challenge you to be creative. Set a realistic date to accomplish your dream and go for it! You may not be able to change your situation today or even next week, but little by little over time, you can. Finances and circumstances can hold you up, but they don't have to stop you. More important than your situation is your attitude, believe you can and believe you deserve it!
Scripture to help you with your self-esteem
Here are just a few of the beautiful pieces of scripture that can remind us of how precious we are to God.
Take each of these passages and read them as if they were written for you and only you! Remember always that Christ Loves You . . . He lived on earth for YOU . . . He died for YOU . . . He rose for YOU!!!
- JOB 12:10 In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. (NIV)
- ISAIAH 46:4 Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. . . .
- PSALM 138:7-8 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; . . . (more)
- PSALM 139:1-18 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. . . . (more)
- EPHESIANS1:4-10 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight (more)
- JEREMIAH 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD . . . (more)
- JAMES 1:12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial . . . (more)
- ISAIAH 43 . . . Fear not . . . I have called you by name, you are mine . . . (more)
Stop back, these aren't the only verses that Christ gave to us . . . I'll be adding more later
These verses were mentioned above. I just thought it might be easier to have them listed here in one place:
- Philippians 2:5-8
- Romans 11
- Isaiah 43:1-7
- Zechariah 2:8
- 1 John 1:1
- Romans 8:17
- Luke 6:31
- Galatians 3:29
- Ephesians 3:6
Chapter 1 Continued
How does one get a GREAT self-esteem?
So now you're wondering, "But what can I do to help get myself a healthy self-esteem?" I've got a few ideas here for you. I'll have to admit, they aren't all my own, but I've seen many of them work:
- Begin to read scriptures that will help you see yourself like God sees you -- There's a list to the right to get you started.
- Get a notebook and everyday write down at least three things you did well
- Make a list of your best qualities (if you're having trouble thinking of any, get a few friends to make a list for you)
- Look in the mirror everyday and tell yourself one positive thing from your list
- Create a list of your bad qualities and choose one to work on for the next month. Every day pray about it and make a decision to alter your bad behavior. Then DO SOMETHING to change. This might be anything from spending more time with your family to making lifestyle changes that will help you lose 100 pounds (remember excess weight is not a bad quality, the lifestyle that causes you to be overweight is)
- If you can't find any bad qualities to change, you might have an unhealthy HIGH self-esteem. As mentioned above, thinking too highly of yourself is at least as bad, if not worse, than thinking poorly of yourself. Find some friends you trust and tell them you really want to be the person God wants you to be. Then ask them what kind of things they think you should change. If you've always been exceedingly arrogant, this might surprise them a bit, so be prepared.
- Don't let yourself get caught up in belittling others, gossiping or talking behind someone else's back. As soon as you find yourself in the midst of this kind of situation, walk away.
- If you find yourself constantly abusing others, seek professional help. A strong man with a healthy self-esteem can admit he's not perfect and find someone to help him overcome it.
I have one last suggestion for helping with your healthy self-esteem. Have you ever seen the play/movie "Taming of the Shrew" and/or "Pretty Women"? The lead in both of these dramas did a complete 180 not only in their attitude about themselves, but also in the way they carried themselves. It is important for you to realize your worth in the eyes of God, but it's also vital that the rest of the world knows you've discovered it. The way you walk, dress, speak and groom yourself will tell the world volumes about who you believe yourself to be.
When you walk be sure to hold your head up high. Throw your shoulders back and stand up straight. Being slumped over is not only bad for your back, it makes you look like you think poorly of yourself. Pick your feet up and make it look like you know where you are headed. Watch others who you believe have a healthy self esteem and walk like they do.
You don't have to be wealthy to "dress for success." Get out there and buy clothes that fit, wear them where they are meant to be worn (if you are a younger guy reading this, please note that wearing clothes that are too big or pants that hang down to your knees is not only unattractive, it tells me, as a women, that you have a low self esteem and need to work on your confidence levels). An iron is a valuable home appliance for a man of worth.
I know it's generally girly to talk about what colors you look good in, but even guys look better in some colors than others. It's OK to shop that way. Wear shirts with collars (polos and dress shirts) more often. For some reason a collar speaks confidence. There is a reason the old saying, "The clothes make the man" has stuck around for so long.
If you tend to be a soft spoken person, practice speaking up and annunciating your words (if you aren't sure you fit the description, stop and consider how many times someone asks you to repeat yourself or replies to you in a strange way). Pray out loud to practice. Record yourself and listen. Do you sound self confident on the recording? If you believe you have something worth saying, then convince the world it's true. When you mumble, speak very softly or have the sound of doubt or a little child in your voice, you are not convincing. Do you sound more like Eeyore or Tigger when you talk? Tigger's voice is the epitome of self confidence. He knows who he is, and he likes who he is. And better yet, you know it as soon as you hear him speak. Eeyore on the other hand, sounds like he believes he's a bother. The tone of his voice leads us to believe what he is about to say is quite unimportant.
Lastly, comb your hair, take a shower, shave or trim up your beard and/or mustache, get hair cuts from a good barber or beautician on a regular basis, brush your teeth, wear deodorant . . . did I miss anything? Good grooming is the finished look you have and the first impression you make on strangers. Looking good will not only tell the world you believe in yourself, it will also help you feel better about who you are. It's a nice little circle. You feel better about yourself, so you make yourself look better and it makes you feel better about yourself.
Remember, you are a Knight in Shining Armor, so let's see it shine!
Devotions to Inspire Knights
- Readings to Inspire the Leaders of your Church
The leaders of our churches need inspiration, they need rejuvenated and restored. These devotions are designed to do just that!
- Inspiration for your Meeting or Group
Devotions are an important part of Christian growth. These devotions were especially written to help those trying to get closer to Christ.
- More Devotions for Church Leaders and Small Groups
Many meetings start with a devotional reading. Here you'll find several readings with links to more to inspire you to have a great meeting or just a great day!
Chapter 2 - Knights are Chilvalrous
Ladies LOVE Chivalry!
Chivalry is dead. That's the thought in the 21st century. The "women's liberation" movement started before I really had an opportunity to understand what it was, but they tell me this movement helped to turn the chivalrous man into a politically correct pacifist fearful of retribution should he unknowingly offend a person of the fairer gender. Oh wait! He can't call her fairer!
Gentlemen, you may think I'm totally off base in this chapter, and I'm really hoping to get a lot of response from the ladies so I'll know whether I'm completely crazy or not. My theory, after watching and talking to many women, is that most ladies truly desire a chivalrous man. We like it when doors are opened for us. It's appealing when you are careful where you park so we don't have to get out in the mud or get attacked by a bush.
Perhaps you are wondering what the word "chivalrous" means exactly. According to my favorite online dictionary chivalrous is being courageous, courteous and loyal as well as treating women with courtesy. Chivalrous is a synonym of honorable and gallant. Most girls don't expect a man to race her to the door or carry 10 bags of groceries while they stroll along beside. But even the independent type enjoy being treated special.
Chivalry is really something that just needs practiced more in general today. In fact women who appreciate a chivalrous man will find it quite attractive when they see you being courteous and respectful to everyone, including your children. I personally find it very unappealling when I see a man be disrespectful to his kids, even if they are very young.
Before you can be truly chivalrous, you may need to go back to chapter one and learn its lesson a bit better. It is impossible to truly respect others until you have a healthy respect for yourself. Luke 6:31 is that very familiar verse that includes Jesus' instructions, "Do to others as you would have them do unto you." Until you respect yourself enough to believe you should be treated well, there is a good chance you won't be able to be chivalrous. I truly think that many people who are disrespectful to others, act that way to cover the fact they don't really respect themselves. True chivalry doesn't allow itself to be walked on (remember, it's the number one trait of a knight, and I can't feature a knight being a doormat). No, chivalry is a person with a healthy self esteem being thoughtful and courteous, carrying themselves with an air of authority without a hint of arrogance.
Chivalry not only opens the doors for their fair maiden, it holds the door for others with a smile of self-confidence and courtesy. Chivalry carries its true love's books and bags, but will also pick up the dropped keys of the elderly man in the next car. The chivalrous knight introduces his lovely companion to his colleague right away, not as an afterthought, but is just as quick to introduce his children no matter how young they are.
I believe chivalry is more an attitude than an action. It's a way of looking at women rather than a way to treat them. The attitude produces actions, but the actions in and of themselves are not chivalry. Knights don't act like the door is too heavy or they're doing a great favor, their attitude is one that conveys, "It's no problem, this is what I'm here for." They don't expect a thank you (although a true lady will always offer one), and they don't show false humility.
I've seen men act chivalrous; however, their condescending attitude was quite unattractive. I have experienced men who treated every other person in the room, male or female, with respect and honor; however, when their wives try to interject into the conversation they speak to them as though they are uneducated wenches.
Let me give you an example of two men in particular. The first talks to me (as a woman) with perfect respect. I would never have suspected that he was a false night until my husband and I were at an event with him and his wife. She didn't say a word all afternoon. Even when I asked her questions directly, he answered for her. Her demeanor left me thinking she was beaten down, probably not physically, but mentally. The second involved a discussion group I was in for an entire year. The husband was the group facilitator. He gave every person in the group adequate opportunity to express her opinion; however, when his wife would speak, he would cut her short every time, often dismissing her words as though they were not valuable to the discussion.
You may have guessed by now that chivalry is not only valuable to me in my personal relationship, but in order for others to earn my respect, the true qualities of a knight are a must. And something I have discovered over the years, as much as I'd like to think I'm unique and unusual, I've found I'm really more "normal" and similar to the majority of the population than you might imagine.
I recently stumbled across a site that actually confirms my suspicions that it's time for the chivalrous nature to be revived. I haven't had a chance to review the entire site, but the pages that I did read just affirm my thoughts on the need for knights in the 21st Century. They even introduced me to the word I've been searching for to give you maidens who are more than just "ladies of the court." Perhaps you are a "Sheildmaiden" and you didn't even realize. Check out Chivalry Today to get the details.
Chapter 2 Continued
Steps to being Chivalrous
OK guys, here are some practical tips to being that chivalrous knight that is attractive to every women. (Well, at least most of us).
1. This should be a given, but I'll repeat it again. Hold doors open. If it's handy (and you don't have to race to the other side of the vehicle) hold the car door open too. And remember, not just for your damsel, but also for others.
2. Another repeat - Introductions. Do you remember how to make proper intros from grade school? Perhaps you never had those lessons. Generally when you make an introduction, you will greet the colleague or whomever you may "run into" first. Then you will say the name of the female or elderly person first followed by, "I'd like to introduce you to . . ." You then repeat the second name and the first.
For example, "Jan, I'd like you to meet my editor, John Crum. John, my wife, Jan." I have met men who never introduce their wife or children. It's not something they occasionally forget. One man in particular I've watched several times. He just doesn't think it's important for others to meet his family. He doesn't respect them enough.
3. Carrying a girl's books as the boy walks her to school seems like an fairytale, but when chivalry was alive, it was a common practice. If you see a woman (or anyone) with a huge load and you're carrying nothing, but headed in the same direction, ask if you can help. When you're performing this act of chivalry for me personally, please don't act like you think I'm weak. There's a good chance I can carry as much as you can. If you already have your hands full, don't try to take my load, too. Maybe you're just trying to be sweet, but it makes me feel as though you think I'm incapable. Now perhaps you're thinking, "How do I know when to offer assistance?" If you wonder ask yourself, "Would I want someone to offer to carry that load?" The "Do unto others" rule works well.
4. Speak kindly to others. Treat every person with respect whether they deserve it or not. You deserve to have others think well of you and treating others with respect will go a long way in creating a good impression.
5. Please don't embarrass me in front of others. Knights know when to stop teasing, and if a correction needs to be made in something someone says, they do it with tact or wait until there's no one else around.
6. Knights are not obnoxious, they don't tell embarrassing jokes in mixed company and they consider how their words will affect others.
7. Chivalry includes integrity. Your word should be dependable, and your actions, when no one's looking, should be as though you are in front of a crowd.
8. Be yourself. I know some of you just laughed. If so, I'm guessing "yourself" is not typically chivalrous. OK, you may have to modify your behavior a bit, but as a general rule you should be self-confident enough that you can be yourself and still treat others with chivalry. People who are comfortable with themselves are some of the most wonderful people to be around.
These are just a few of the steps you can take toward becoming "The Man Every Woman Wants." If you're thinking you just can't do this, think again. Remember, you are a knight!
Chapter 3 - Knights ALWAYS come to the Rescue
Please save us from Our Dragons
Every story from medieval times includes a rescue of some sort. Cinderella was rescued from her step-mother, Sleeping Beauty from a lifetime of sleep, Rapunzel from the enemy's tower and Snow White from the spell of the evil queen's poison apple. Yes, rescue is vital to the success of these fairy tales. And it plays an important role in helping the maiden in your life see you as her knight.
Fortunately, there's a good chance you won't have to traipse through a forest or fight any dragons to save your damsel. Rescuing the ladies of the 21st Century will seem a much more mundane task than your early century counterparts. I remember several of the first few times my "knight" rescued me.
My knight's first rescue attempt came even before we began dating. I wasn't quite 16 at a carnival with friends when a couple of Senior boys began being more than "friendly." Now, don't get me wrong, they weren't really being inappropriate, just lavishing more attention on me than I was comfortable with. Suddenly a knight in shining armor noticed my dilemma and rode in to gallantly sweep me off to someplace else (I think it may have been another carnival ride) and delivered me from my "captors."
OK, so I wasn't really captive, I just felt like I couldn't get away. And maybe I didn't need deliverance, but I have to tell you that rescue and the lack of any expectations of a kiss, date or commitment after it made a great impression on me. I felt respected, valued and more than a bit of admiration toward my hero.
Many years later, this same knight, whom I'd obviously begun to date and then married, came to my aid once again. It was late at night, and I'd hit something with the car blowing out a tire. This was before cell phones were popular (perhaps before they were invented), but I managed to call him and tell him what happened. Immediately, he came to my rescue, fixed my tire and had me home in no time at all. For some reason this event, which I'm sure seemed insignificant to him, made me feel immensely important in his life and truly adored.
I love it when my knight rescues me, and in talking to other women, one of the biggest complaints I hear is that the man they love doesn't rush to their rescue. They feel alone and abandoned even when the guy is right there. I know, gentlemen, it doesn't make perfect sense, but I believe if you'll make rescuing damsels one of your top priorities (right after becoming a confident man of God and being chivalrous), you'll discover it is an attractive quality to your fair lady.
While it's fortunate that there are no real dragons and the chances of kidnapping by evil knights is extremely rare, there is a downside to the lack of imminent danger. It may be difficult to see when your lovely maiden needs rescuing. The peril your helpmate faces may be more in the form of unexplainable depression, days full of screaming children or draining employment and life in general. The mode of deliverance may simply be a shoulder to cry on, an evening out or an ear to listen. Relief from the ugly enemy might include words of encouragement, time for a bubble bath or a red rose. I guarantee you it will not be easy to discover when a rescue mission is needed. She may not even realize she's in need of emancipation, but let me give you a few signs.
- She stops talking. Oh, she still may answer questions and even chat, but pay attention to the amount of conversation. It may not be like she's mad at you, it might simply sound like she's disinterested.
- She seems exhausted. More than just tired from a long days work, she sometimes can't get out of bed and doesn't even want to do fun things.
- She's always nagging. It will be difficult to rescue her when she's constantly giving you a hard time, but the fault finding can be a sign that she's drowning.
- She's short with the kids. If it seems like she's always yelling at the kids, you may want to pay attention. Not only is it a sign that she's in danger, but remember, she loves those kids and probably will be beating herself up for being so hard on them. She'll need you twice as badly.
A true knight will pay attention to every signal that indicates the dark knight is around the corner and counter each attack even before it comes. The more often you can catch the evil prior to it stealing her away, the easier the rescue will be. I know you have bad days, too, and I realize that you may need an escape from time to time also. You don't have to give up your ball games or nights out. Just pay attention to the details of your lady's life. Know as much about what's going on in her day as you do about the last sporting event or the details of your job. And then as you discover those moments when a knight is what she needs, get on your trusty steed and ride in to steal her away before the villain makes off with her.
I believe that you are a knight. You have the potential to be your lover's rescuer and save her from all the dragons that lurk in the dark corners of her life. The issue is do you believe it?
Chapter 3: Continued
Here are a few strategies for successful rescue attempts:
- Plan a night out. Don't make her decide anything except what she's going to wear. A meal and something fun - miniature golf, a movie, bowling, maybe even paintball depending on what she likes to do. If you have children, secure a reliable babysitter, overnight if possible!
- Plan a night in. Can you cook? Go ahead, cook her a meal, then afterward, suggest she get a shower or relax while you clean up. No matter what you plan, don't leave her work to do the next day. Even a wonderful surprise can feel like it's pulling her into the enemy's trap if she has to clean up the next day.
- Help around the house. Especially if she works outside the home or is a full time mom, help around the house will feel like deliverance. Find out what she likes to do least and make that your job. If you really want to be a gallant knight, don't act like you're doing her work. Take that task (or tasks) and make it yours. Remember that most of the work around the house was created by ALL of the people who live there. To expect ONE person to be responsible for all of it is a bit unrealistic, especially if she is also leaving the house everyday to work. Additionally, take a note from strategy two and be sure that what you're doing doesn't cause extra work. For instance, if you take on the job of laundry and you begin shrinking clothes or she now has to iron everything, she hasn't been rescued.
- Help with dinner or at least go in the kitchen and talk to her while she cooks. After dinner, help clean up. If you have children, help them with homework before dinner and then, if they're very young, get them ready for bed while she does those necessary after dinner chores. She will feel completely rescued if she can sit down and enjoy a TV show or a quiet time with you rather than fight with the kids or throw in laundry.
- Send or bring a card or a flower from time to time.
- Accompany her to a concert or event that you normally wouldn't attend and don't complain about it. Taking an interest in something she enjoys will be refreshing.
- Make time for her to curl up with you often.
- Take her grocery shopping, but while you're there don't insist on filling up the buggy with things that will put her way over budget.
- When she needs to cry, just let her cry. Don't make her explain why and don't assume that it's something you did. If she says it's nothing or she doesn't know why she's crying, believe her. It's probably true. Sometimes we just need to cry and to have someone hold us while we cry (you can even watch football as long as you let us curl up next to you).
- Read "The Love Dare Book." That's the one made famous by the movie "Fireproof" and do what it says.
- Read "The Five Love Languages" by Dr. Gary Chapman and put it into practice.
Chapter 4: For the Ladies
Remember only "Ladies of the Court" truly deserve a Knight!
Ladies, if you've read this far, I assume you truly do want a knight in shining armor. Unfortunately, most of the fairer gender don't act like they want a knight. If we didn't know any better, we'd be convinced that they want a knave, not a knight.
As I said in the Introduction, I believe that scripture calls us to be our husbands' partners. God's Word encourages us to make our mark in the world. Women weren't made to be walked on, but somewhere in our quest to be heard, our knights have sometimes taken a beating.
It's a tragedy that many of today's TV sitcoms mirror real life so closely. Many men have begun to believe the sterotype that they are incompetent. They relate too well with Raymond ("Everybody Loves Raymond") and Doug ("King of Queens"). Ladies, it's up to us to change that mindset. It's really amazing the power we have. Our words and actions carry more weight than we might imagine.
As women of the court, we have a responsibility to build up the man that God has given us. It's up to us to show him respect and speak positive words into his life. Yes, our knights should ask our opinion and treat us with chivalry, but it will be very difficult for him to keep that up very long if we are in the habit of putting him down or talking to him like he's useless. You've probably heard it said that "behind every successful man . . . " There are a lot of different endings to that quote, but in my experience behind every successful man you'll find a woman of tremendous self esteem, high integrity and great wisdom. The question is, "are you that kind of woman"?
If your husband isn't living up to your expectations, your first step is to make sure you are preveniently acting as though he is. Everyone we interact with on a regular basis, our children, co-workers, family, even our spouses will tend to rise to the level of success that we project upon them. If we treat people as though they are incompetent, they will not generally disappoint us.
Are you acting like your husband is a knight in shining armor or a knave? Do you treat him as though he is deserving of respect or like he's your slave or servant? When you talk to him on the phone, do you treat him with the same courtesy you would if the Queen of England or the President was on the other end of the line, or are your short and preoccupied? Do you complain that he never does anything right? Have you ever told him he wasn't "allowed" to do something?
Your husband is an adult. He is capable of making wise decisions, paying the bills, changing the diapers, feeding the children and getting those odd jobs done. He doesn't need a list, and he doesn't need reminded unless he asks you to remind him. And even then be very careful, reminding can spill over into nagging quite easily if we aren't careful.
Your husband needs time to do his "thing" just as much as you need time to do yours. If you haven't done it much in the past, It may take some time for him to get used to you treating him with respect. And unfortunately for you, if his mother catered to his every whim and never gave him any responsibility, it may take even longer. But I believe it will be worth it.
Now you're probably thinking, "but you don't understand, he'll break us in a month." As you show him respect, never forget that the Bible says we are partners together with our husbands. It's OK to voice your opinion. If he wants to spend more than your budget allows, tell him. But tell him with respect. For instance, "Are you sure we can afford that right now?" or "I was looking at the checkbook and I'm not sure we're going to be able to spend that kind of money. What do you think?" are entirely different than you "putting your foot down" and saying, "No, you're not allowed to buy that."
No one changes overnight. It will be difficult for you to change your tone, your actions and your words. And it will be equally hard for your spouse to begin to see himself as a person of worth not only in your eyes, but in the eyes of God. As helpmates and partners we should also be praying for these men that God gave us.
I'll be honest with you, if your husband hasn't yet met Christ, transformation will be much more difficult. I spent several years being married to an unsaved man. When I finally realized my responsibility, I began praying daily for him to be saved. In fact, I used to meet weekly with a group of women. None of our husbands knew Christ, but we prayed for them as a group. In our individual prayers throughout the week we prayed for each others husbands. We were on an Air Force Base at the time, so it wasn't long before we had all gone our separate ways; however, within just a few years, I had heard from all but one of those women that their husbands had found Christ. Since then I've made it one of my personal missions to pray for husbands. God doesn't disappoint me. I've seen many of these men come to know Christ through the prayer of faithful women.
Ladies, if you're finding it difficult treating your knight with the respect he deserves, I hope you'll go back and read the section about self-esteem. It's important that we girls have a proper view of ourselves. Without that it's nearly impossible to treat others with respect. I'll say it again, an elevated or lessened self-esteem will cause us to treat others in such a way as to make us feel better about ourselves and generally debases the other person.
Wives have the ability to help the men in their lives reach their fullest potential in Jesus Christ. God wants to bless us and give us a meaningful life; however, we have to live up to the promise. I pray your are doing just that. I pray you are able to see God working in your life as well as your husband's and that you will able to live life in all the abundance that Christ has for us.
A Poll for the Ladies - Chivalry - Give us your opinion
This is a poll for the ladies to complete. Let's give the men a good indication of what we want.
How much "chivalry" would you like to see from your Knight?
Chapter 5: Knights are always in Court
I hadn't really considered this aspect of knighthood before. Last weekend I heard a speaker (on a totally unrelated subject) tell a story of how his wife still expected him to "court" her after 30+ years. I wondered for a moment why it hadn't occurred to me to put it here before, but I think it's because my own personal knight really does a great job in this arena. So, to demonstrate a great way to court your bride, whether you've been together 4 or 40 years, I'm going to share a bit of my own knight's strategies.
Courting is the way one acts when they are dating. For some reason when the clergy person signs that marriage license, we often forget that the love of our life still deserve to be wooed. And it's not just the men. We ladies often forget to treat our spouses as though we are trying to win their affection. It's not that we have anything to prove, but there's something about that bit of additional effort that causes us to feel extra special.
For instance, when we were dating, my husband (then boyfriend) really wanted me to learn to water ski. He and his dad spent a whole afternoon and an entire tank of gas trying to get me on top of the water, but the only think I learned (and learned quickly) was that as soon as you fall down, let go of the rope! Years after we were married and after many Summers in his dad's boat, my husband asked, "Why don't you ever try to ski anymore." My reply: "I don't need to impress you anymore."
Now, even knowing I need to be courting my husband, I'm still not going to drown myself water skiing anymore. But unfortunately, we often get this attitude about every aspect of our life. We get so content and comfortable that we neglect the relationship. We wonder where the "spark" and "spice" went. However, if we're honest with ourselves, we threw it away when we picked up the marriage license (or moved in, if you've opted to live together rather than get married).
It's the courting that keeps the relationship interesting and fun. Ladies, we need to make sure we still care enough to fix our hair and paint our nails. Smiles and flirting, flattering clothes and sexy lingerie are just a few of the ways we can remind our spouse that we're still interesting. I know it's much more difficult after the kids come along, but a note in his lunch or briefcase, a text in the middle of the afternoon or a surprise invitation for lunch are just a few simple ways to keep the spark alive.
So, gentlemen, let me share with you the mode of operandi of my knight.
Courting is really one of my knight's fortes. In fact he's so good at it, I didn't even consider that all men don't do these things all of the time. My spouse never misses a day of saying, "I love you." He is sure to kiss me good-bye in the morning and stops at my chair to kiss me good night on his way to bed. And those are just the simple things.
Steve and I wink at each other often, from across the room or at each end of the couch. He genuinely likes to spend time with me and makes it a point to tell me he misses me when we have a busy week that prevents us from having lunch together each day or makes it impossible to spend our evenings together. When we are together, he likes to tap me on my thigh or my upper arm and say, "love tap," perhaps it's a little corny, but it always makes me smile.
He often tells me how beautiful or wonderful I am. In fact earlier this week he told me I deserved so much better than him. He said it in several different ways. Finally, after he said, "I'm really not good enough for you," I smiled and agreed with him. Then I said, " but no one is, so fortunately I got the best out there." He laughed!!! Sometimes he'll call my cell phone just to say, "Hey beautiful." And now that I've added texting to my cell plan, he's started texting a short "love you" occasionally.
Don't imagine that these are the only ways to court your beautiful princess. These suggestions might not fit your personality. That's OK. Be creative. Remember the things you did to win your lovely lady and mold them to fit your station in life. And did you notice that not one of the ideas I've shared cost any money? The only courting my husband does that can require some funding is date night. He loves planning date nights. He'll call me at work and ask me out. He picks the restaurant and sometimes we catch a movie or rent a few DVD's.
Courting can be one of the most fun things about being a Knight. It also might be one of the most rewarding.
Chapter 6: Working together to make it work
Remember, You're in this together - For Better or Worse
Well, if you've made it this far, I'm guessing you really are attempting to have a strong marriage. So, let me end with a few observations that are for the both of you.
- It is all right to have "ME" time every now and then. - Whether you work a full time job or you're a stay at home mom or dad, kids or no kids, you'll probably need one day or evening every couple of weeks to just to "do your own thing." For the ladies, it might be a "girls night out" or a day at the spa. The guys might enjoy a game of golf or a night at the hockey rink. Whatever it is, it is your job to make sure the other person gets their time. Did you hear that? It is NOT your job to make sure you have YOUR time. It is your responsibility to make sure your spouse has his or her "day." That doesn't mean you can't plan your own day. For example, gentlemen, you come home and say, "John's got tickets to Saturday's game. Do you want me to see about a sitter so you can go do something with your sister?" You see, you can make plans, but your plans include the fact that she might not want to be left at home with the kids on Saturday. And then, YOU GET A SITTER. Gentlemen, the girls don't always have to call to book a babysitter, it's true the phone will work for you too.
- At the end of the day everyone is tired. I'm not sure why one person always thinks he or she has worked harder or is more exhausted than the other one. When 5 o'clock rolls around everyone could use a little break. Ladies, if you're a stay at home mom, I understand that you want a break from the kids for a while. However, sometimes your spouse will feel like he's spent a day with a bunch of spoiled brats. Don't expect him to come in and immediately be the world's greatest dad. Try to let him have some time to recoup before you hand him the reigns. And gentlemen, if you're fortunate enough to have a wife that is able to stay home with your children, never forget that raising kids IS a full time job (more like an 80 hour a week job). It's draining and sometimes very unrewarding. On those days when you can see it's been more rough than usual, take her out for dinner or gather up the kids and take them outside to play while she takes a shower before dinner.
And if you both work outside the home it's even more difficult. You will both come home and be tired, but there will still be a whole day's worth of work to do around the house. Dinner, laundry, yard work, homework (if you have kids), meetings, general house cleaning, etc. The list seems to never end. You will do yourselves a huge favor if you never assume that any job belongs to the other person. If you're frustrated because the laundry isn't done, perhaps you should do it. Don't come home and plant yourself in a chair in front of the television every night and expect your spouse to do all the work (regardless of your gender). And don't get upset because one night a week your spouse does just park. Maybe that would be a good night to order a pizza and park yourself! Don't beat each other up, lift each other out. Be there for one another when you're tired. You can do it!
- There is no such thing as "His Money" and "Her Money" This is the hardest part of many relationships. One spouse thinks she deserves to spend as much as she likes because she makes more than her spouse. Or one spouse believes he should make all the financial decisions including how much his wife can spend on groceries or getting her hair done. Each wants the better vehicle and thinks "my toys" are more important. If you have financial problems, seek out a good financial plan. There are a lot of Christian financial planners that offer help:
- www.crown.org - Crown Financial
- www.daveramsey.com - Dave Ramsey
- Money Matters - available on Amazon
If you feel like you don't have financial problems, yet your spouse is always asking permission to spend money, you may still need some help. Each of you should be able to spend a certain amount without asking the other. This amount will be different for each family depending on their budget. In our home, we know that from time to time we can each spend $20-$40 on "fun stuff" without the other person caring. Plus, groceries, hair cuts and general "maintenance" aren't even discussed. They're just needed. Your budget may require close planning for even the essentials. But the main thing is one person in the relationship should never feel like they are always "asking permission" to spend money. Asking, "Do we have this money that I can spend" is respecting the other partner, but having to ask, "May I buy . . . " or "Am I allowed. . . " is unacceptable in a healthy relationship. And always expecting your spouse to make the financial sacrifices, drive the junker or settle for second best isn't any better.
- Date Night - No matter how long you've been married and even if you work together, do date night. Even if you just turn on the TV and curl up together, do it on purpose and make a date of it. Take this opportunity to really lavish the compliments on your partner, just like when you were dating. Make this the night you dress for your date and try to impress him. Pick a romantic spot or make the living room more romantic with a couple of candles. Whatever you do, have fun!
- Pay Attention - Some times we get so used to being together that we forget to pay attention. We don't notice when our spouse tries to do something nice for us or we expect more from our partner than we expect from others. Pay attention to your spouse's moods. Don't wait until he or she gets depressed or angry. Pay attention to your partners signals. Even after KNOWING she shouldn't, she may still try to drop hints instead of just TELLING him what the problem is. And even after being told over and over he needs to SHARE his feelings, he may still spend an evening quiet and she won't know what it is. The key is to Pay Attention and don't take it personally (unless you did something to trigger the behavior).
- In all things Christ First and Mutal Respect - If you remember this one rule, everything else will fall into place. In your finances, your time, your family, if Christ is first and you respect one another, most of your problems will be defeated before they have a chance to surface. Worship together at least once a week. Pray together often. Respect one another always.
Because I Read "Have a New Husband by Friday"
Dr. Kevin Leman would have me believe that all men are "dumber than mud." I just don't buy it! I will concede that women should not expect you to be mind readers and that men and women are wired differently, so women shouldn't expect a man to act like her girlfriend. However, I believe that men are intelligent creatures uniquely designed by the Author of Life. You may not be created to be multi-taskers, but you are intelligent enough to know that if the garbage needs taken out, it's perfectly acceptable to do it. Dr. Leman would like it to be a women's responsibility to tell her husband every little thing that needs done. His premise is that if I expect less from a man, he'll change.
I think the book is a good read for women, because there are so many of my gender who don't understand that a man is very different from a woman. Dr. Leman does present an accurate appraisal of many of the differences. However, the good Dr. would like me to show men more respect and assume they aren't smart enough to know to pick their socks off the floor.
Men do deserve more respect. Women need to quit nagging and complaining. They need to understand we are created by God to be different, to complement one another and not expect a man to act in a way that a man just wasn't created to act. My fellow females have a responsibility to treat men, and in particular the one she's chosen to be with the rest of her life, with total respect, not some kind of "I'll humor you to make you think you are respected" kind of attitude. I believe that treating any person with more respect will go a long way in helping them live up to their potential.
But gentlemen, if you think I, or any other true sheildmaiden, will buy the "dumber than mud" philosophy of Dr. Leman's book, you're going to have serious problems finding the girl of your dreams. The ones worth having, the ladies who will respect you and not usurp your authority, these gals will expect you to live up to the respect they are willing to give. They won't mind asking you to do something or even reminding you if you ask, but they don't want to marry to have another child around the house, they want a man, a partner whose helpmate they can be, they want a strong, chivalrous leader, not a knave. You can be that man, that Knight in Shining Armor!
Because I read "Wild at Heart" by John Eldredge"
I highly recommend Mr. Eldredge's book (as well as the one to accompany it for woman written by his wife). Mr. Eldredge digs deeper into my philosophy of why I need a Knight and why every man needs to be one! He and his wife also agree, that we woman don't want to stand by and be rescued all of the time, sometimes we want in on the adventure.
If you're looking for more reading to help you understand some of those longings that people have been trying to tell you are wrong, check out "Wild at Heart"
© 2009 Lynne Modranski