In the ongoing discussion about male and female relationships, several recent articles emphasize men’s failures for women’s discontent, such as “Childish Men are to Blame for Women Having Kids Late in Life.” Some articles pin the blame on behavior, while others look to economics, or education, such as this article in The Telegraph. It reports that, “A dearth of marriageable men has left an ‘oversupply’ of educated women taking desperate steps to preserve their fertility.” These “left-over women” are freezing their eggs for use later, should they finally meet someone suitable.
While it is tough to overlook real character flaws in men, a missing piece from these discussions is any consideration of the dramatic changes that have taken place in women over the last five decades. Perhaps females have become less marriageable? Women today are supposed to “be bold and assertive,” but could all this girl-power actually undermine our best efforts at finding marital bliss?
Feminism has ushered in a near-universal trend for women to “just one of the boys” or to be better than the boys. It is reflected in our sarcasm, sexual habits, attire, and goals. A recent study found that women are now dropping the f-bomb more than men.
“Fight like a girl,” “Strong is the new pretty,” and “Find your fierce” may sound nice, but we have to ask if they have led women to happiness or an endless fluctuation between ferocity and victimhood. For example, take Kathy Griffin presenting the faux head of Donald Trump on TV. She “resisted” but when public opinion (and a lot of money) turned away from her, she tried to spin it so she became the victim in the story.
While this example is extreme, women are daily encouraged to act boldly (and, of course, there are times when we must—I’m not suggesting becoming a door mat), but simultaneously to become the victim when things don’t go as planned. This may work in a media stunt, but it is toxic for real relationships when people are counting on wisdom, prudence, and loyalty.
What Men Find Attractive About Women
The bulk of advice women hear on happiness generally comes from other women—the new matriarchs of culture. But if we are talking about marriage, shouldn’t men’s opinions be considered? What they find attractive, compelling, endearing, and so on? You can learn a lot if you listen to men when they don’t know we are listening: poetry and music.
From the dawn of time, men croon about particular attributes especially found in women: loyalty, sweetness, a calming presence, kindness, thoughtfulness. Looking past lyrics dripping with lust, a pattern emerges. Dante, the Beatles, Elvis, James Taylor, Sting, The Grateful Dead, Tim McGraw, and on and on—all speak of loving a truthful, kind, loyal, soulful woman who brings them peace. There has been no love song dedicated to a nagging, angry, self-absorbed woman.
Even this poetic prose found on recently on Facebook by Aaron Ingram speaks to the constant desires of a man’s heart: “Can I just say that I got me a country girl, so honest, joyful and sweet. I got me an intelligent, sensitive, LOYAL queen who loves me for who I am. Makes me feel free and alive. I gots me a country girl. Thank you Maker. You are mysterious and, beautiful and faith worthy.” The message from men hasn’t changed.
Inflicting Pain Does Not Produce Gain
In the meantime, women who have found husbands aren’t finding it to be paradise either. Seventy percent of divorces are initiated by women. While yes, perhaps there is blame to attribute to husbands, again there is little discussion about what women might be contributing to the split.
In a shocking admonition, love expert Andrea Miller over at Your Tango, a site dedicated to love and relationships (that also has a section on zodiac signs and horoscopes), has suggested the radical idea that a wife’s job is, in fact, to make her husband happy. She explains:
Too often these women — even the strongest, smartest, most independent of them — weirdly believe that if they inflict enough pain back onto their partners or exact enough control of them, they’ll suddenly get with the program. Instead, the opposite usually happens. Their partners — not feeling loved enough and tired of feeling nagged, controlled, and criticized — do the opposite. They withdraw and tune out. And the cycle of drama and dysfunction only becomes more vicious and protracted.
Miller goes on to explain that after realizing that the pain she was inflicting upon her spouse wasn’t making either of them happy, she tried something else: tenderness, less judgment and punishment, and more affection. The results, she explains, were brilliant.
I started tuning much more actively into my husband — prioritizing him, touching him regularly (holding his hand, sitting very close to him, hugging him, rubbing his shoulders, etc), more actively praising and appreciating him, and — crucially — not letting my ego get the best of me and not letting my need to be right lead to Armageddon. As a result, I have managed to bring out the best in my husband.
While bringing out the best in her husband, Miller brought out the best of herself—kind, warm, thoughtful, compassionate. For decades, women have been told that somehow we can be happy without these things, but the real secret is as old as poetry and song.