There’s a dangerous line of thinking that’s implemented itself in our culture. There’s a narrative that when it comes to dating, relationships or marriages, that women are, “The better half” so to speak. But it’s not just something to be laughed off. It’s a big problem that’s damaging to crafting solid relationships. Above all, it’s false. Ladies, you’re not the better half.
And more importantly, you shouldn’t have to be. TV sitcoms and romantic comedies play the same narrative over and over again. The goofy aloof husband is the weak link in the marriage. His friends all know know it and they admit it to themselves. It’s understandable that he’ll chase other women, after all he can’t control himself.
“Dog, pig, bum” He can’t cook, can’t clean, can’t even get the dinner reservations right. And now he’s home trying to change a baby’s diaper while his wife is at yoga? Here comes trouble!
The Hopeless, Aloof Husband
The wife comes home to broken pipes and water spraying everywhere. Gerbils are ripping apart the couch, the cat is hanging from the shower curtain and the baby is being rescued by the fire department. Somehow the ice cream sundaes he made for dinner are on fire. “Oh Honey. Men can’t do anything right. Good thing women are the better half and can fix everything…”
But the exaggerated art we see is merely an imitation of real life. A real life full of examples and anecdotes we’ve allowed to exist. “Men are incapable,” we hear, and we accept it. “Meh, everyone knows that.” But beyond just what we see in movies or hear from friends, is the most disconcerting issue of all; that this thinking pays a tremendous disrespect to women.
By implicating them as “the better half” and accepting it, we’ve allowed the culture to put women in a position that does not allow them to reach their full potential or craft the most dynamic life for themselves. That this line of thinking has seeped into the Christian community as well is even more disappointing.
“Make Sure to Marry Up”
Friends laugh and relay advice to men to be sure to “Marry Up.” Church leaders joke about their wives being the ones to straighten them out and get them in line. Pastors and politicians give sermons and speeches about how lost they were before they met their wives. It’s even appeared on Christian ministry forums and websites.
Not too long, a Christian website I’ve done some writing for, recounted a story of a man meeting his wife. Asking the girl out on a date, he said he couldn’t fathom why she said yes. “For some reason she took pity on me,” he recalled, as she agreed to his request.
That’s great for him, and I’m happy he had her pity, but that’s not the way I’d want to begin a relationship. I don’t need a woman’s pity and I’d encourage every man reading this, Christian or not, to avoid seeking it as well. Whether it’s for men or for women, that’s among the worst possible things we can say to men and women seeking to begin a solid foundation for relationships and marriages. If someone is taking pity on the other person, then the relationship parameters are already set.
If someone is “winning” then someone is “losing”.
The author’s point was in jest, maybe, kind of, sort of. But there’s usually a grain of truth to our anecdotes. The narrative that men are the lost souls who can’t get their act together is the wrong one to be promoting, not merely when it may be wrong, rather because in some cases it may be right. And when it is, that it provides men an “out” and allows them to continue in their ways, and not seek to grow, strengthen or improve themselves for the women in their lives.
There are things men need to do better, especially Christian men when it comes to their treatment of women. They should receive no free passes and plenty of deserved kicks in the right direction. Gentlemen, there’s no excuse to be given if we come up short in being the leaders we need to be. We’re called to be outgoing, supportive and take charge.
We should take risks, take chances and be willing to go after the women we find desirable. But we set relationships on the completely wrong path when we continue the narrative that somehow the aloof, pitiable man who can’t take the initiative, is something to be celebrated instead of criticized.
The Problem With Marrying Down
Women shouldn’t be the one’s who have to grit their teeth and accept the hand they’ve been dealt. Instead men should be providing just as much benefit to the young women in their lives as the benefits they’re receiving. It shouldn’t have to be a one-way street. Women should receive support, help, and love from men, just as Scripture tells men they’re supposed to act (Ephesians 5:25-28).
There should never be a situation where one partner is clearly the one benefiting over the others. Encouraging someone to “Marry Up” means that the other person has to “Marry Down.” We start our marriages off with the assumption that someone is getting a raw deal (usually the woman) and then we wonder why so many of our marriages fail. But when it all comes down to it, here’s the main problem.
Ladies, you’re not the better half.
And that’s okay. Because you weren’t created to be. Men aren’t the better half either, the two halves were always meant to work together. Each partner doesn’t belong to themselves; rather they belong to God and then to one another. They were created for each other and for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 11:8-12).
Ladies, saying you aren’t t the better half isn’t meant as a slight. It’s meant as a compliment. For too long it seems you’ve pulled more weight than you should have to, picking up the slack for the men who’ve been given a free pass. And unfortunately even the Christian community has furthered the narrative, allowing men to continue to act just as they have.
And ladies, continuing to tell you that you need to be the better half isn’t fair to you. It’s a slap in the face to God’s word that tells us men and women were created for a purpose and need to serve that, especially in marriage. But it goes a step further. Continuing to say that men are the lovable losers, who need a good woman in their life to clean them up, shortchanges the women. You don’t need to be religious or spiritual to see that.
A Major Disservice
It does a tremendous disservice to the girls and women who we’ve told to seek the men willing to take chances, risk rejection and stand up and be leaders. The Christian community is filled over and over again with examples, imploring women to find the man willing to go to bat for them, willing to take chances, risk rejection, and get their house in order. A real man needs to show support to his wife (1 Timothy 5:8) and be someone she respects.
But then we tell women to cast that aside, and take pity on men who aren’t able to get their act together. Ladies how many of you are looking forward to having a boyfriend or husband whom you have to clean up after like a child? Or maybe you find yourself in a relationship like this now. Is it something that’s strengthening you as a person?
Wives vs. Babysitters
Too often we turn women into adult babysitters who need to watch after their grown up children. And it sets men up for failure when we view them as the weak link who need a woman’s pity. Ladies ask yourself this; if the man you’re going to accept a date or marriage proposal from is someone you need to “pity” how is he supposed to help lead alongside you in the relationship? Do you really want a man who you had to settle for out of pity? Is that really the foundation you want to begin your marriage on?
We’re all one in Jesus Christ, be it Jew or Gentile, male or female (Galatians 3:28). We hear this over and over again but I sense we may lose some of the translation. Women are called to love their husbands and men are called to be willing to give their life for their wives. But the worst thing we can do, Christian or not, is crack jokes to further demean the men we’re asking to “get it together.”
Not only does this weaken the resolve of men, (after all what’s the reason to work harder to impress a lady if she’ll just accept what she has before her?) but it’s disrespectful to the ladies in our lives. They deserve more than that, and men need to be the take-charge leaders that they’re called to be. The best thing we can do is making sure men are held accountable The worst we can do is continue down the path we’re currently on.
Ladies, you’re not the better half. And that’s a good thing.