While we all love our own company, the fact is, it is unavoidable we will share a relationship with another person. Arguably, the greatest relationship that humans share is marriage. Much time and effort is spent finding a partner-for-life.
What we look for in another person, and what we find, can be good or bad, humorous or sad. Either way, there are consequences.
Amy Keyishian, writing for on-line dating service Match.com, asked Dr. Kate Wachs, a Chicago psychologist and the author of Relationships for Dummies, why women find bikers so alluring. She reported, “Motorcycles are still perceived as rebellious, tough, and strong —but unlike in the past, they’re now much more socially acceptable”. According to the Keyishian, “Like tattoos, motorcycles are often the hidden fun-factor in otherwise respectable citizens”.
Of all the girls I’ve dated in my lifetime, I don’t recall any indicating that they only wanted me for my bike. But they sure enjoyed the rides! What makes bikers —in other words, me—so sexy, according to Match.com?
Apparently, guys with motorcycles have a little extra oomph, offering instant invigoration and spontaneity, giving a woman an excuse to tap her wild side. Well that’s certainly me, spot on! Seriously, though, I think it’s fair to say that biker dudes like excitement and action, and have a certain joie de vivre that just can’t be found in lame ass car drivers.
Further, guys with motorcycles are the only match for … girls with motorcycles! That goes without saying, but I have certainly noticed there are more female riders now. I was recently at a Self-Service Night at Deus ex Machina and almost half the attendees were girl riders. So, of course, they want a bloke who shares the drive and experience.
Finally, according to the Match.com article, guys with motorcycles make even the most empowered women feel girly. One interviewee reported, “The back of my guy’s bike is the only place I’ll let a man (literally) take the front seat. I’ll give up my independent power to wrap my hands around his middle and put my trust in him for just that small while. It’s a little taste of being old-fashioned. That’s a great feeling —at least for a little while.”
In a round-about way, the author and the females she interviewed, are listing qualities of men they admire, find attractive even. These are therefore qualities some women are looking for in a potential mate.
If we were to be honest, guys do the same sort of thing. We too make lists of qualities we’re looking for in a life partner, someone to marry. Interestingly, there’s an example of such in the Bible. Proverbs, chapter 31, includes a list of qualities that at least one man thinks make a wife of noble character:
A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
The passage continues, describing all the things this wife will do while her husband lounges at the city gate with the other elders of the people. It sounds like she will be doing all the hard work while he goofs off. Does this sound familiar?
It’s not that there’s anything inherently wrong with making such a list while one is looking for someone to marry. It’s just that, carried too far, as it often is, making such a list is necessarily self-centred. When you make such a list you are thinking of what you want in and from someone else. Then your attention will wander to what she can do for you and what you will get out of the relationship. Making lists of desirable qualities doesn’t have to be so, but it tends to devolve into selfishness.
And selfishness is never good for a relationship. A nasty trend is developing in current generations that, once a person’s needs are no longer being met in a marriage, they abandon it, without making good on the promise “for better or for worse”.
The apostle Paul wrote about marriage in his Letter to the Ephesians:
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery —but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
There’s a number of interesting points in this short quotation.
First, God created two genders and intended they would be united in marriage (Genesis 1:27; 2:15–25). Becoming “one flesh” is more than finding a helper or someone who completes us (à la Jerry Maguire). Our spouse does not become our inferior but a partner.
For instance, I really hate it when my wife thanks me for doing chores around the house, like vacuuming or the laundry, etc. I should already have been doing those chores. She doesn’t need to thank me, as they are not her job and I’m not helping her with her job. In honesty, she’s probably thanking me for finally doing something, anything around the house!
Thanks aside, husbands, please value your wife’s contribution to the marriage. My wife does the laundry and I do the cooking. She cleans the toilets and I mow the lawn … eventually. We each have a role to play and responsibility to each other to contribute.
We also learn from Paul that males and females, while they may be equal in the marriage, they are certainly not the same. We each have different roles (Genesis 3:20) and different personalities, so therefore need to be given different advice.
My marriage is a perfect illustration: I am a visionary, while my wife is cautious. She usually responds quite quickly to my ideas and thinking out loud. While I don’t appreciate her shutting me down so often and so fast, her ‘putting the brakes on’ is more often right than wrong.
It turns our that our daughter is more like me in this regard and NOW my wife is thinking about how to support her. Why couldn’t she support me when I think out loud!
Nevertheless, husbands, resist thinking your marriage is all about you, to meet your needs. Yes, you have needs, but think bigger when it comes to your marriage. Be less self-centred.
When I suggest being less self-centred in your marriage, I’m not necessarily suggesting be mindful of your wife, sacrificing your needs to hers. There is a time to do that, as there is a time for her to look after your needs. But, like Paul, I believe that marriage is a case of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts (à la Aristotle). A healthy marriage is a witness to the world.
While it is certainly evident that modern people are discouraged away from marriage, for a variety of reasons. It is also true that everyone celebrates a long and healthy marriage.
The 1989 American romantic comedy film, When Harry Met Sally…, is sprinkled with faux documentary vignettes throughout. While the couples are not real, the actors recount real-life stories that the screenwriter, Nora Ephron, amassed. Everyone loves the movie and everyone loves stories of true love, successful love, lasting love. A healthy and long-lasting marriage gives us hope in our own relationships.
Be committed, therefore, to your marriage, realising that God has a purpose for you and she beyond yourselves and even beyond your relationship. That realisation gives marriage a sense of purpose —indeed, my wife and I seem to get along so much better when we’ve got a shared goal. If and when you experience struggles in your marriage, rely on God’s strength because he is invested in your marriage too.
Whatever stage of life you find yourself in —whether you are single or married or divorced, hoping to get married or not really interested— approach your relationships less selfishly. If you are looking for marriage, you will find a better partner when you think less about what you will get and how your needs will be met. This will, in fact, make you a better marriage partner for someone else.
If all else fails, get a motorcycle
You can read about another dimension of good relationships, how to be real, here.
Are you married? If so, for how long? What are some highlights that we can celebrate with you?
When have you been on the receiving end of the grace of someone with whom you have some level of relationship?