22-24Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.
25-28 Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage. Ephesians 5:22-28
For all intents and purposes of this post if you’re not married, you’re single. With that said, let’s dive into an idea that’s been on my heart for a while now and I’m attempting to work up the courage to publish it: Honor and Love outside of the Ring. I keep thinking about how to uphold Ephesians 5:22-28 as I watch myself and others around me date.
As I’m not, nor have I ever been, married I don’t understand the bond between a man and a woman joined in marriage. But, I do know my appreciation for men and the role they play in my life. I’m also so in love with my husband (whomever he may be) and I know I want to honor him in my actions today as much as I want to honor him whenever we begin dating and then marry. I would hope he’s loving me in his actions today as much as he will when he marries my crazy self. So, it’s with all of those ideas swirling that I attempt to give some nuggets for all my single ladies and all my single fellas to think on as we date to mate.
For my ladies…
Understand and support… Respect… Honor (Ephesians 5:22 in various translations)
We live in a world where people tear down others to build up themselves. Ladies “bond” while discussing desperate housewives, an overweight co-worker, or the latest contestant kicked off a dating show. However, when we’ve been wronged by a man and we find another female who has also been wronged by a man… The girlfriend pact is made. We grab froyo, a table, and chat. And bash. And bicker. And get real catty real fast. Suddenly, we’re not just mad at the dude who cheated on us repeatedly; we mad at any man ever created. And the next dude better watch out because I will NOT get hurt again. No. I. Won’t.
Then, some well-meaning guy sees us a week later, asks if we’d like to grab lunch, and he suddenly becomes the one who’s gonna feel the pent up wrath.
LADIES! STOP. Look, we live in a fallen world and bad people exist. But, just because you got the raw end of the deal in a few relationships doesn’t mean you get to go all vengeance on the male species. It’s not fair. And it’s not godly. If I’ve learned anything in watching and being around men it’s that they want respect. And no, not every man deserves respect but instead of tearing a dude down that’s acting a bit tragic, I choose to just stay away from him. I figure he’s fighting enough demons on his own and I don’t need to add to them.
So, while single and on the mingle, here’s a few tips I’d like my ladies to do to show honor:
- Encourage him in his element. If he plays ball every week at the local Y text him before the game with a “good luck!” DON’T be negative and ask him why he’s “wasting his time cuz he ain’t no good”. (Y’all think I’m kidding. I’m not.)
- Give him room. Look, I like to talk a lot. If I like you and I think of something about you, I wanna tell you right away. No bueno. I’m telling ya… Just because I love an instant outburst of “I’m just thinking about you,” from a man I’m digging does not mean he’s wants the same from me. If your dude’s a writer and he’s in the middle of his creative element don’t bother him. It shows you realize what he does is important and you’re respecting what he needs to get the job done.
- Say thank you when he does something, anything for you. If he brings you a sandwich for lunch and it has the dreaded mayo on it, DON’T nitpick at him for forgetting you hate mayo. Thank him for thinking to bring you lunch. Honey, you can scrape that mayo off the sandwich as sly as you can get your thong out of your rear and we both know it. Shut it and eat it.
- Don’t you dare flirt with another guy. And not just flirt with another guy while your man’s around. Don’t do it on social media. Don’t do it on the sly. Don’t do it get a free drink. Honoring him means honoring him in AND out of his presence.
- Keep your clothes on. And I mean that literally. Ladies, your ultimate honor belongs to your husband. Stop hooking and shacking up with the dude you’re dating just because you like him lots. I’m so glad you like him lots. I’m sure he’s great. But, until he puts a ring on it, you’re not betrothed. I’m gonna bet my last dollar your husband will want all the parts of you he can get. Hold out for the best. Kiss that adorable man you’re dating and snuggle up to him tight. And that’s it.
And now to my fellas…
Love… cherish… wrap her in your arms and never let her go (Ephesians 5:25 for love & cherish – the Bible according to Arden for the last one)
Fellas, my hot, strong, smart, and wonderful male reader, it’s tough being a woman. We have cramps. We have bad hair days. We want to lose 5 pounds. And someone always needs us. ALWAYS! The man that piques my interest tells me I’m pretty (not that I have a banging body because, frankly, I’m never going to believe that) and he wants to know more about me. He asks how Bible study went and he puts up with my ridiculous flightiness. He defends me. He pretends to get me until he gets me. All in all, he loves me.
And loving a gal isn’t easy. We know that. But we want you to love us anyway. We realize we put too much pressure on you at times and we don’t mean to do it. We know you bear a burden we’ll never know being a man in this world. But… we need you to bear one more burden and love us when we’re lovely and when we’re fugly.
So, fellas, while you’re single and also on the mingle, check these tips for loving me, and I mean, a gal:
- Compliment her in a non-sexual way. Tell her you like her eyes or her smile. Stay away from her boobs and butt. Tell her you read her blog (hehe) and love her heart for the Lord. Show her you see her as a person. We ladies need to be reminded we’re not robots on autopilot trying to get through a to do list. And because we care for you, our man, we want to know you love us enough to see beauty in us besides sex.
- Take her on a real date that involves getting out of the house. Look, I see no reason to spend a lot of money on food. Impressing me does not involve a 5-star restaurant and I don’t, nor will I ever, own a Louis. And, if I did, I’d buy it myself. So, it’s not money most ladies want. We want to get out of the house so we don’t have to clean it, empty the dishwasher, or fold the clothes. If I’m with you AND not having to do chores, I feel loved.
- Cuddle with her already. Dang it, I know y’all don’t want to snuggle all the time. But, if I want to hold your hand or feel your arms around me because it makes me feel safe then just do it! Stop complaining. (Sidenote to the ladies: don’t push for this in public or around his friends. Give him grace.)
- Find her sweet spot and own it. Each woman has a place in her heart where she’s hides her deepest desires. But, it’s not a desire we want to stay hidden from everyone; it’s reserved for people we love. To find the sweet spot you must spend time getting to know her, asking her questions, and listening as she shares. When a man begins to interact with me in a way that stirs that desire I know he’s cherishing me as a person.
I know dating is hard. But, as Believers, we need to try to uphold standards worthy of a Christ follower. I think it’s especially hard because we’re never really given examples of how to date properly. The church typically says, “Don’t have sex until you’re married,” and calls that a lesson. Well, I’m not sure I’m honoring my man and loving myself if I’m acting like a loon while abstaining. My tips are my tips. Take them or leave them. Mostly, I encourage you to pray about how to date with honor and integrity. I know I’m praying that every day.