Rainey’s 11 Rules of Marriage

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 “11 Rules of Marriage You Won’t Learn in School” an excerpt from Dennis and Barbara Rainey’s book, Preparing for Marriage Devotions for Couples, is discussed.

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Familylife.com recently published an article including, 11 Rules of Marriage You Won’t Learn in School, which was posted on a friend’s Facebook wall.  This friend happens to be in his twenties and so I enjoyed reading the comments from his peers.  I’m curious to find out if my readers (who might have a few years on those twenty-somethings) have similar thoughts.   The subtitle for the article is:

“Here’s some practical, counter-cultural advice on how to make marriage work.”

My friend’s initial comment was, “…Welcome to the gender binary!”

Do you think Dennis Rainey gets these rules right?   What do you think?

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11 Rules on Marriage You Won’t Learn in School

Source

photo credit: RPatts via photopin cc

Rule 1: Marriage isn’t about your happiness.  It’s not about you getting all your needs met through another person.  Practicing self-denial and self-sacrifice, patience, understanding, and forgiveness are the fundamentals of a great marriage.  If you want to be the center of the universe, then there’s a much better chance of that happening if you stay single.

Rule 2: Getting married gives a man a chance to step up and finish growing up.  The best preparation for marriage for a single man is to man up now and keep on becoming the man God created him to be.

Rule 3: It’s okay to have one rookie season, but it’s not okay to repeat your rookie season.  You will make rookie mistakes in your first year of marriage; the key is that you don’t continue making those same mistakes in year five, year 10, or year 20 of your marriage.

Rule 4: It takes a real man to be satisfied with and love one woman for a lifetime.  And it takes a real woman to be content with and respect one man for a lifetime.

Rule 5: Love isn’t a feeling.  Love is commitment.  It’s time to replace the “D-word”—divorce—with the “C-word”—commitment.  Divorce may feel like a happy solution, but it results in long-term toxic baggage.  You can’t begin a marriage without commitment.  You can’t sustain one without it either.  A marriage that goes the distance is really hard work.  If you want something that is easy and has immediate gratification, then go shopping or play a video game.

Rule 6: Online relationships with old high school or college flames, emotional affairs, sexual affairs, and cohabiting are shallow and illegitimate substitutes for the real thing.  Emotional and sexual fidelity in marriage are the real thing.

Rule 7: Women spell romance R-E-L-A-T-I-O-N-S-H-I-P.  Men spell romance S-E-X.  If you want to speak romance to your spouse, become a student of your spouse, enroll in a lifelong “Romantic Language School,” and become fluent in your spouse’s language.

Rule 8: During courtship, opposites attract.  After marriage, opposites can repel each another.  You married your spouse because he/she is different.  Differences are God’s gift to you to create new capacities in your life.  Different isn’t wrong, it’s just different.

Rule 9: Pornography robs men of a real relationship with a real person and it poisons real masculinity, replacing it with the toxic killers of shame, deceit, and isolation.  Pornography siphons off a man’s drive for intimacy with his wife.  Marriage is not for wimps.  Accept no substitutes.

Rule 10: As a home is built, it will reflect the builder.  Most couples fail to consult the Master Architect and His blueprints for building a home.  Instead a man and woman marry with two sets of blueprints (his and hers). As they begin building, they discover that a home can’t be built from two very different sets of blueprints.

Rule 11: How you will be remembered has less to do with how much money you make or how much you accomplish and more with how you have loved and lived.

Pass on the rules to a friend who will enjoy them!

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81 comments on “Rainey’s 11 Rules of Marriage

  1. I hope you don’t mind if I make more than one post. My habit is to read a little bit, see something I want to comment on, comment on it, and then resume reading the original post and keep commenting.

    Anyway, where this page says, “If you want to be the center of the universe, then there’s a much better chance of that happening if you stay single.”

    That sounds like a demeaning and insulting thing to say about singles. I have never been married. The person who wrote this just seems to assume being single = being selfish or self absorbed.

    Studies show the opposite, that singles actually are less self focused than married couples! The unmarried tend to spend more time making friends, visiting sick family, etc, while married couples seldom step up but prefer to live in their little nuclear family bubbles. This study was published in The New York Times and other online papers and magazines.

    If I can find links to that study, I will provide them. For now, here is this link which mentions it in passing:
    Eight Myths About Singleness

    I am not sure how many links we can place per post on this blog before they get sent into moderation.

    Another stereotype about singles is that they are not as mature, that marriage “grows a person up.” Total malarky. There are plenty of married people who are immature and selfish.

    Also, evangelicals making marriage (and also having sex) as being markers for when a person reaches maturity / adulthood are doing a lot of damage to singles, women and marriage, and I see this attitude reflected in the article you are quoting.

    Christians making having sex/being married as being markers of being an adult is discussed in books by and for Christian singles, and in editorials such as,
    A Grown-Up, Not Sexed-Up, View of Womanhood

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  2. Rule #7 on the list is fairly bogus. Women like sex and want sex.

    Go spend some time on sites such as ‘Pinterest,’ where you have a ton of female participants constantly pinning photos of buff, shirtless cowboys, and saying under such photos, “Oh yeah baby, gimme some of that!” -then try to convince me women only want “relationship” and men only want “sex.” 🙄

    Also, go to google and type in “sexless marriage,” and you will find one trillion pages by married women who confess on blogs and in magazine comment sections, “I want to have sex, but my husband does not. I feel betrayed, unloved, and angry because of it. I thought men were supposed to want sex? Why does my husband not?”

    Rule 9 on the page overlooks the fact that women are visual, women enjoy sex, and that pr0n use is on the rise among women, even Christian ones (a factoid that gets reported once every few months on Christian magazine sites).

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  3. Daisy – I love your comments as it pertains to singles. Thank you for your personal perspective. It’s important.

    I think once you put 2 links, it goes to moderation. Maybe I’ll increase that and see what happens.

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  4. MissDaisyFlower said:

    Rule 9 on the page overlooks the fact that women are visual, women enjoy sex, and that pr0n use is on the rise among women, even Christian ones (a factoid that gets reported once every few months on Christian magazine sites).

    Wasn’t that 50 Shades of Grey written for women?

    I, too, have been reading about more and more women using porn, even in Christian circles.

    I’d specifically like to hear from men about the relationship vs sex.

    I get that relationship is important for women and have even heard it said that communication with a woman during the day is like foreplay. But what about relationship for guys? Is it really as Rainey portrays it? Sex is more important than relationship?

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  5. Though I hate to give contemporary boy-elders any credit at all, he is exactly right on #9. “Pornography siphons off a man’s drive for intimacy with his wife” That’s exactly right.

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  6. However, #1 is predicated on Luther’s Theology of the Cross and is only true in ideal circumstances. You don’t bear the cross for an abusive spouse.

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  7. You don’t bear the cross for an abusive spouse.

    Paul, thank you for mentioning that. It’s an important one that often gets lost in the shuffle under “persecution for righteousness sake.”

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  8. We’ve been married over 20 years and I did not see the advice that I give people. Not only is a relationship about loving someone, but it’s about respecting someone. And, the respect works both ways – not just women toward their husbands.

    Secondly, allow each other to pursue individual interests. My husband loves photography and since he works during the week, he often spends at least part of one day on the weekend out shooting pictures. I love knitting. And, while that doesn’t take me out of the house as much as my husband’s hobby, it’s my own to do with as I please.

    Also, life is too short. If you can’t enjoy each other’s company and learn to laugh at yourself and each other, you’ll just end up being miserable together.

    I guess the only other thing that makes our marriage somewhat unique is that neither of us feel threatened if we have friends of the opposite sex. We made a commitment to each other and over the years we’ve been together we’ve never given each other the opportunity to doubt our trust in each other. We hear all the time how strange it is that I’m okay with my husband having female friends (many are fellow photographers), while I’ve had male friends over the years.

    And, I’m at a point in life where I do believe that there are valid reasons for divorce. If one spouse is abusive toward the other, the victim needs to get out. Yes, divorce is nasty, but so is staying in an abusive relationship which is not based on mutual love and respect.

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  9. @Julie Anne.
    I certainly understand about wanting to limit links from the blog admin/moderator view. A lot of spammers will try to stick in a million links to site selling stuff.

    I found another site mentioning the study (Single and Unmarried Americans As Family and Community Members, by Dr. Naomi Gerstel, University of Massachusetts). I think there were one or two other, similar studies, but I can’t remember who did them or what their titles were.

    In a Married World, Singles Struggle for Attention

    Yet as she (Naomi Gerstel, a sociologist at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst) and other experts note, single people often contribute more to the community — because once people marry, they tend to put their energy and focus into their partners and their own families at the expense of friendships, community ties and extended families.

    In a report released this week by the Council on Contemporary Families, Dr. Gerstel notes that while 68 percent of married women offer practical or routine help to their parents, 84 percent of the never-married do. Just 38 percent of married men help their parents, compared with 67 percent of never-married men. Even singles who have children are more likely than married people to contribute outside their immediate family.

    “It’s the unmarried, with or without kids, who are more likely to take care of other people,” Dr. Gerstel said. “It’s not having children that isolates people. It’s marriage.”

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  10. “Rule 4: It takes a real man to be satisfied with and love one woman for a lifetime. And it takes a real woman to be content with and respect one man for a lifetime.”

    That’s just wrong on so any levels. First of all, it’s operating from the false “Love and Respect” paradigm of Emerson Eggerich. Based on 1 verse from the Bible, women primarily need love, while men primarily need respect.

    “Love and Respect” is set up in an imablanced way- the woman DESIRES love, but the man NEEDS respect. Which is of greater importance, a desire or a need? And what is taught is “unconditional respect”- so women should respect those that don’t serve it. That is so bogus.

    The notion “real man” and”real woman”, tied to behavior, is similarly bogus. Real men and real women are all different. And real manhood and womanhood has nothing whatsoever to do with being content or satisfied with your mate.

    Rule number 4 is terrible.

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  11. All in all, pretty sound advice, as far as it goes. There are always caveats, exceptions and more details and nuance to be added (thus the value of the comments being made), but young married couples would do well to take this message to heart and to seek to live by it.

    I kinda like that he didn’t try to over-spiritualize what was meant to be practical advice by throwing in a lot of Scripture quotes or references. I love the Bible and believe it can provide answers to our deepest needs and questions, but I don’t think people need to be jabbed with the Sword all the time. As long as what someone says is consistent with biblical truth, sometimes it is nice just to hear truth in plain language.

    Having been married for a long time, I might not have thought about how singles would take some of his remarks. But when I was single I was pretty sensitive to the way the church often unthinkingly treats singles like incomplete, second-class people. But since Daisy brought it up, I think the article would have been better sticking to advice to married people without contrasting or comparing singleness and marriage.

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  12. I detest that ‘marriage isn’t supposed to make you happy, it’s supposed to make you holy.’ mantra. If that’s the case then why don’t we tell people to go out and marry the biggest jerk they can find? Also, the ‘don’t expect your spouse to meet your needs’ thing. The first thing you are asked in counseling is ‘are you meeting their needs?’ So I am supposed to meet all their needs, but not expect them to meet mine. That’s a big conundrum isn’t it? One more thing, I’d like to be respected also. Love and respect go hand in hand, imo.

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  13. That’s a good point, Daisy. Even Biblically speaking, Paul said it was better to remain single. It does make sense that singles would be more free to contribute in the community (or church).

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  14. @ Julie Anne,
    Yes, Fifty Shades of Grey was an erotica novel that was a hit among Christian and Non Christian women.
    The popularity of that book caused some male preachers to go into a tizzy about a year ago and write some very insulting posts about women (it prompted one well known Christian blogger to write a post about husbands supposedly needing to ‘colonize,’ ‘penetrate,’ and dominate their wives).

    It’s a crock that women are not visually stimulated at all, but it is a common assumption in secular and Christian culture.

    Christian writers keep assuming that when and if women do happen to get / feel aroused, that it’s only over reading saucy novels. (Supposedly, in the Evangelical Universe, we ladies never, ever notice if a man has wavy, thick hair, gleaming, pretty teeth, a six pack, and broad shoulders.)

    I’ve seen males on the internet, ranging from their teens/20s to much older (50s) who admit they do want sex, but, they do not want sex all the time.
    Here’s a blog page from a Christian male perspective about the situation:
    I Am Not a Sex-Fueled Robot

    Based on that page, and some other male commentary I’ve seen online, some men are insulted, or confused, by the oft repeated chest nut (by Christians and Non Christians) that every man wants sex all the time and that they supposedly do not care at all about relationship.
    Maybe some will leave comments here explaining how they feel about it. 🙂

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  15. From Rule 10: “Most couples fail to consult the Master Architect and His blueprints for building a home.”

    Sounds good, but where exactly do we find the blueprints? I begin to detect the sweet aroma of speaking gigs, book royalties, a nationwide program of workbook-based “Bible” studies, retreats, conferences, dedicated websites, profit$, profit$ and more profit$.

    Actually, I’d say there is some good stuff in many of the rules, except I hate that it’s all being reduced to rules. It seems to me that you start with agape love, as in 1 Cor. 13, add a goodly dose of mutually discovered common sense, determine through discussion and dedicated effort what works for each couple, and generally grow together, together. The details will be different for each couple, and set rules will only serve to make everything rather mechanical; and unsatisfying to all concerned.

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  16. After a 9 year relationship/7 year marriage that failed, and a 35 year marriage that is better than ever after some ups and downs that are to be expected in any long term relationship, I have the following comment about the 11 rules. They read like a quick first draft of someone’s ideas as to what advice to give about to be or newly wed couples. They lack the depth that is required to be an effective partner in a successful marriage. All of the above comments help to fill in the omissions and the slants.

    As a male, I learned after my first marriage ended, that what I wanted more than sex was a relationship, and I avoided sex on dates (even when strongly suggested by my date). I decided that if a woman wanted to sleep with me w/o a commitment, she probably would with others, and for me a relationship meant a lifetime commitment. Sex could wait until the relationship was established.

    To me the secret of a good marriage: Place God first, your spouse second, your children third, and yourself last. Be prepared to run interference with your parents and siblings to keep interference by them out of your relationship with your spouse. Love your in-laws like you love your own family, and be prepared to help them when they are in need — they are the source and foundation of your spouse. Practice letting your spouse have their choice in matters to the extent possible, without becoming a door mat. Include your spouse in all decisions. Figure out the things your spouse values and make “gifts” of them. Encourage your spouse to have friends and provide whatever is needed for that, such as taking on the child care. Recognize that two people in a marriage are interdependent, but also to some degree independent; encourage your spouse’s independence. Try to make everything in the marriage 50/50, so take on 60 percent of the chores, and find ways to make as many things as possible joint projects from conception through planning and execution, to taking credit.

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  17. Another stereotype about singles is that they are not as mature, that marriage “grows a person up.”

    Example: Mark “Bee Jay” Driscoll.

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  18. Wasn’t that 50 Shades of Grey written for women?

    For women, by a woman (TwiTard, actually). “50 Shades of BDSM” actually spawned a genre called “Mommy Porn”, with a target audience of bored housewives looking for a fantasy thrill as opposed to their RL husband. Like EDWARD from Twilight, the Rule 63 genderflip of Perfect Porn Star Syndrome.

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  19. By the way, every one can feel free to just refer to me as “Daisy,” if they like.
    That is the name I use on most blogs. (I tried to sign up here as plain old ‘Daisy,’ but the name was already taken, so I had to go with the much longer MDF.)

    @ Greg Hahn
    (your post of) OCTOBER 25, 2013 @ 1:48 PM

    Thank you for mentioning that. It annoys me too, the paradigm I hear in Christian televised sermons or seminars about marriage and relationships, that I see on blogs, that men need respect and women want love. As a woman, I appreciate respect, too. I would think most men want to be loved, not just respected.

    Then there are other problems with that thinking, too, as you pointed out in your post.

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  20. @ lynetteduquette71 said,

    I detest that ‘marriage isn’t supposed to make you happy, it’s supposed to make you holy.’ mantra

    Thank you, yes, another post I totally agree with! And not just about marriage, but anything else with life.

    If you express any sort of pain or difficulty, one Christian cliche’ I keep hearing is, ‘God doesn’t want you happy, he wants you holy.’ 🙄

    I also don’t understand the Christian position that marriage is only about serving God. I think that’s hogwash. I think most Christians marry because they fall in love, want companionship, and/or want regular sex.

    I personally don’t knock those reasons for marriage (except for, if you marry at 22 years old only to have ‘religiously legal’ sex – because those sorts of marriages usually end up failing), but I don’t understand the Christian habit of insisting people should only marry thinking in terms of how they can ‘serve God better’ as a married person.

    A lot of Christians have this habit of over-spiritualizing everything, including marriage.

    And what does that mean, anyway, about getting married only to serve God better / to be more holy? My parents were both Christians, and when younger, they used to host the occasional church youth dinner at the local church, but other than that, their lives and manner of serving God while married did not look radically different from how I tried serving God as a single.

    You have some Christian marriages where the guy sits in his recliner watching football, and the wife does all or most of the spiritual stuff, has to nag the husband into going to church. So how is it that marriage is helping those types of guys be “more holy” or to “serve God better,” if they are not doing anything, but leaving all the churchy stuff up to the wife?

    So whenever I hear Christians talk about “you should only marry if you do it to serve God better” is a huge crock. Do you really, really expect me to believe that the big reason or only reason so many Christians marry is to “serve God better,” including the marital advice people writing this stuff? 🙄

    The Christians who get into the “marriage isn’t supposed to make you happy, it’s supposed to make you holy” stuff make it sound like it’s selfish or wrong for you to want to marry because you want companionsionship, love, etc. That sort of thinking drives me up the wall.

    A huge thumbs up to your post.

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  21. @ Headless Unicorn Guy

    Example: Mark “Bee Jay” Driscoll.

    Yep. And the hypocrisy, Driscoll is one of the single most immature 40 somethings I’ve ever seen. He’s very juvenile. But he thinks he has a right to lecture singles that they’re immature dweebs until and unless they’re married.

    I appreciate that the guy thinks he is helping Christian single women who want marriage (because apparently a lot of Christian males -younger ones? – are apparently dragging their heels in making marriage proposals), but he’s going about things the wrong way.

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  22. I was about to say that maybe my hesitancy with these “rules” is that they’re written from a man’s perspective (Dennis Rainey). Then I read Greg Hahn’s comment, and I agree with his POV. So, that theory is blown. 🙂

    I agree with Kathi that divorce is sometimes necessary in an abusive relationship. And it doesn’t mean that either spouse isn’t a “real” man or woman. It means that someone is mature enough to make some tough decisions.

    Maybe my problem with this is that it’s very difficult to compose a list of “rules” that will apply to every unique couple. Maybe “suggestions” would be a better term?

    I married someone six years younger than me, and he’s had more than his fair share of “rookie seasons.” His youthfulness helps balance my tendency to take myself too seriously. Had we continued to follow our former “church’s” rules for how our relationship should work we probably would have landed in divorce court. I’m done with following those “rules.” I think Jesus summed it up perfectly when he said to love the Lord and love your neighbor (spouse included). If we are all striving for that, most issues will work themselves out.

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  23. #1 really gets to me, because I feel that his comment on “happiness” is not quite accurate. Yes, we should LEARN over time in our marriages that giving is more important than receiving but we should get married for our happiness and theirs. We do not start off in marriage with……
    “Well, i am not quite happy with the guy or gal that I just married, but I am not really getting married for my own happiness. He or she wanted to marry me so I should be giving and considerate to his or her wants and needs. This is what God would want me to do.” what a crock!
    We do start off by marrying for our happiness and getting our needs met AND if you are a smart chick or guy you also look to her or his needs and happiness as well. Throughout married life I also believe we can have have happiness and joy in our spouse- it is a give and take. There is self-sacrifice and selflessness also. But all these things within the godly perspective can bring us happiness as well.

    This comment leaves you wondering “Well what if there is abuse- should one then give up on happiness and live with it?” It is very vague and needed to be clarified.

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  24. OK, Julie Anne. I get it. I looked up “gender binary,” and this is what Wikipedia says:
    “The term describes the system in which a society splits people into male and female gender roles, gender identities and attributes. Gender role is one aspect of a gender binary. Many societies have used the gender binary to divide and organize people, though the ways this happens differs between societies.”

    These rules are written from the “Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” perspective. No wonder I liked Rachel Held Evans list better!

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  25. random non-related question. while at a used book sale today, i ran across one of the elsie dinsmore books. would anybody be interested in it if i purchased it? i’m going back tomorrow and plan on buying it just to get it out of circulation.

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  26. Awww, rats! Thought I won the prize on that one. J/K 🙂

    But, seriously, if you look at Wikipedia’s page on “Complementarianism” (I didn’t even think that was a real word! Did anyone else know it had its own Wikipedia page? 🙂 ), and scroll down to “Complementarian advocates,” you’ll find this:
    “Campus Crusade for Christ “has not taken any role of women in ministry”, though its FamilyLife organization directed by Dennis Rainey sponsors “Weekend to Remember” marriage conferences which reportedly teach male headship.[29]”

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  27. More thoughts:
    When people say “you should only marry if you do it to serve God better” I’ve always taken them to mean the same about anything else. “You should only __________ (fill in the blank) if you do it to serve God better.” Not meaning that serving God better is the only reason for doing it, but that it shouldn’t be done if you think it would not help you do so. (That is, if it is a matter of your own personal choice, you should marry / remain single / grow turnips only if you think doing so will not hinder your service to God.)

    Likewise, when I hear or “marriage isn’t supposed to make you happy, it’s supposed to make you holy” or “God doesn’t care if you are happy, only if you are holy,” I take it to mean that God desires us to be holy to the degree that He may even allow some things that will not make us happy in the short term if it will be for our benefit in the long term.

    I may be wrong about what others mean, but that’s how I’ve always taken phrases like those. I assume that they are trying to use a cute or pithy phrase — but the problem is they can end up sounding trite and shallow, lacking nuance.

    Also, personally, though I’m no complementarian, I kinda like the phrase “gender binary.” Base two is confusing enough to me already; I couldn’t handle three or more genders.

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  28. Number 7 makes me upset. My significant other believes this, and subscribes to everything Rainey, Focus, Demoss, et al says. I’m so tired of it. These formulas and stereo types are attractive to controlling people. I don’t just mean abusively controlling people. But fearful, “perfect”, controlling people. It has been the story of my life. I’m so far from perfect, and tired of guilt driven performance pressure superseding acceptance and contentment.

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  29. “Rule 4: It takes a real man to be satisfied with and love one woman for a lifetime. And it takes a real woman to be content with and respect one man for a lifetime.”

    Since the love/respect thing has already been addressed, I will add that the first part of each sentence is saying the same thing. Switch the key words in these phrases and nothing essential to the meaning is lost or changed: “It takes a real man to be content with….” and “It takes a real woman to be satisfied.” Because it’s addressing a man vs a woman, it can read, especially given love/respect, as if contentment (satisfaction) is a sex differentiated virtue. I propose a better wording:

    A man or woman seeking to honor the Lord in marriage will love, respect, and be satisfied (or content) with his or her mate for a lifetime.

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  30. Diminished5th,

    Welcome to the blog!

    “I’m so far from perfect, and tired of guilt driven performance pressure superseding acceptance and contentment.”

    That is a tough place to be – – especially when your significant other believes differently than you. 😦 I’m sorry to hear that.

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  31. I detest that ‘marriage isn’t supposed to make you happy, it’s supposed to make you holy.’ mantra. — lynetteduquette71

    “Our Duty to The Party.” — G.Orwell

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  32. Sounds like I am preaching to the choir, but here are my thoughts:

    First, I find these lists of free advice a bit condescending. I love that Rachel Held Evans’s recent list was linked above, as she uses more I/we language and instead of implied “you shoulds” found in this post. And she is sensitive to the hot topic of divorce and realizes how her words could unintentionally demonize people whose hearts and circumstances she can’t simply label from her married, Christian perspective.

    Secondly, Amen, MissDaisyFlower! I once attended a wedding in which the pastor flat out said to the bride and groom, “You are now leaving your lives of selfishness and entering your lives of selflessness together.” My friends sitting on both sides of me, both married, turned and whispered to me, “I’m so sorry!” This is one of many, many examples of insensitive and immature comments that singles get to be the brunt of the weird world that is Christian culture.

    Thirdly, amen to all the comments about Rule #4. All men desire respect. And don’t need love. All women need love. And don’t need respect. ???? I’m so tired of this sexist BS twisting of scripture. Pretty sure God loves AND respects us just as he made us, and that we are all equally in need of both.

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  33. I spent so many years with this foolishness and it IS a business, folks. It sells. Not as much as it used to but there is still a market for it, sadly.

    If all married believers did this one thing::

    “Seek first the kingdom of God….”

    then their books would not sell because they would not be needed. Simple but not easy. However, it requires NO gender rules, roles or formulas because the Spirit of Truth would be leading them both.

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  34. I often wonder if this ‘its supposed to make you holy’ thing feeds into the narcissism infiltrating the church today. It’s like a get out of jail free card. “I can treat you like crap and you can’t do anything about because it’s supposed to be making you holy!”

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  35. “I often wonder if this ‘its supposed to make you holy’ thing feeds into the narcissism infiltrating the church today. It’s like a get out of jail free card. “I can treat you like crap and you can’t do anything about because it’s supposed to be making you holy!”

    Yes. Exactly.

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  36. Lynette said:

    “I can treat you like crap and you can’t do anything about because it’s supposed to be making you holy!”

    That comment made me of that “bitter” word with regard to abuse or mistreatment in a marriage. Someone used that word yesterday and it got my dander up. People are very uncomfortable with negative feelings. If we were allowed to feel, to get rightly pissed off about injustices, maybe it would wake people up to reality. We should not be sucking it up about abuse. Goodness, this mentality is wrong.

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  37. These rules are pretty useless. I learned nothing that will help me in my relationship with my special someone. And that is exactly what it is – a relationship first and foremost. Why not just give advice on how to have healthy relationships? I know I am still learning how not to be the cliche “nice girl” that gets walked all over. Another thing- why don’t married couples ask singles for their observations? We spend a lot of time observing the dynamics among our married friends and can often point out things that nobody else sees.

    Oh, rule 7 is insulting to the disabled community. There are a lot of times when sex just isn’t possible so sex is spelled “romance”. You do whatever you can to keep the intimacy in the relationship knowing that intimacy and sex are not the same thing.

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  38. Hello all!

    Read through all the comments and it’s worth noting that the person who (IMO) had the truest things to say is Daisy, the single woman. You are very wise! I agree with you, Daisy, that marriage should NOT put God first – it’s a dangerous precedent and one which has often negative repercussions (for instance, JW’s and Mormons who routinely turn their backs on their loved ones (‘apostates’) because of commands from Jehovah) – what hogwash!! Surely everyone can use their intellect and instincts to be nice to someone else without a supernatural being involved. I’ve been married for 36 years (and I was a ‘child bride’, too) and I would never give any advice to ANYONE about what makes a good marriage. Know why? Everyone’s different and I certainly do not think that I have that kind of superior wisdom, nor do I think anyone else has. (I read through his list of ‘rules’ and was struck by the ominous overtone of the ‘little boys need to grow up so they need good women who’ll help them’ – a little offensive, don’t you think?)
    Of course, you can always say ‘gotta have love and respect’ – but that applies to any relationship. If I had to pick one single thing about our marriage and point to it as the thing that holds us together (aside from having 4 kids) I’d say, “He makes me laugh – EVERY day”. Sometimes it just doesn’t get any more difficult than, “I love him ’cause he loves me back!”

    Just my two cents worth. ..

    Like

  39. Going back to Rule #1…If the goal of being married is to be selfless toward the other person, doesn’t that mean that the other person is practicing selflesness toward you? Therefore, I would think that it would be perfectly fine to expect your needs to be met.

    I guess I’m not seeing the logic in the argument that as a wife, I should constantly be focused on meeting the needs of my husband and not expect my needs to be met. In this theory, my husband should be focusing on meeting my needs, so I should expect him to meet them. It all boils down to the fact that we’re human. We all have emotional and physical limitations. There are times when we will have to have our needs being met by our partners because we just can’t do it on our own.

    Also, I don’t buy the “marriage is not about your happiness” argument either. I think this person, and a lot of other influential Christians, have a problem with being happy. Why would any person wish to spend the rest of their lives in a miserable marriage?

    Like

  40. I did the Raineys marriage conference 12 or so yrs ago. I look at our workbooks every now and then. Not much to say about it. I do remember the women speakers appeared to me as Christian stepford wives.

    I saw an old Davis/Crawford movie on TMC last night and watched a Davis interview on the Tonite show, and I found this.

    JA-Was wondering if you
    or readers agree and whether they believe this aligns with the Word of God. As we all deal with forgiveness issues whether at church, abuse. etc. THX!

    **JA removed video p/request.

    Like

  41. Hannah, go ahead and post the link and I’ll put it in your other comment. If I’m not understanding you, let me know. I’m at a choir festival all day and checking in, so a bit distracted.

    Like

  42. @ carmen.

    I am glad you liked my post. It’s not that I am opposed to Christians putting God first in their lives.

    I’m not sure how to articulate my views as this pertains to marriage. It just drives me nuts when I see in Christian books and blogs that one should get married only to “serve God” or to “serve God better,” and that is one piece of advice I see crop up from time to time in Christian dating or marriage commentary.

    And I don’t buy it. I doubt that the guys who write that stuff even believe it. How many Christians honestly say, “Well, I was going to marry Joe Smith, but I think I will back out and call off the wedding, because really, I want to marry him for romance, companionship, sex (or insert some other non spiritual reason here). Golly, my motive for wanting to marry Joe was not to serve God better, so I better cancel the wedding plans.”

    Who honestly does that, or thinks that way? What normal person does that, I should say?

    I’ve seen very, very few Christians who think that way, and out of the small number I’ve seen, it’s Christians who are neurotic and have hang-ups.

    Like I once found a blog page by a 40 something Christian guy who said he wanted marriage very badly. He dated a woman. He popped the question. She said
    yes, she would marry him.

    But then, he says, he called off the wedding because he was concerned he had ‘made marriage an idol.’ I sat there reading that thinking, really dude? You basically left a woman ‘at the altar,’ so to speak ,because you are over-spiritualizing, over thinking marriage vis a vis devotion to God? What he did was not so much honoring God but shirking his promise to his fiancee.

    And that happens to some other Christian singles. We’re told we should get married, but if we say, “okay, I’d love to get married,” we are then told to “stop worshipping marriage and be content in Jesus alone.” Then the round of complaints starts up after that: “Why aren’t you married? It’s single and immature to stay single.”

    But I hardly ever see Christians say they got married to “serve God better” or that they called off a marriage because their motive for wanting marriage was not to “serve God more.”

    A similar line of thought I see to the “marry to serve God better / be more holy not happy” is that you are to marry to “help your partner spiritually grow,” or “to help your partner grow in Christ / grow in who God wants them to be.”

    I know some Christians who write that crud must think they sound super spiritual, but I think they sound horribly naive and unrealistic.

    Like

  43. Kathi said,

    If the goal of being married is to be selfless toward the other person, doesn’t that mean that the other person is practicing selflesness toward you? Therefore, I would think that it would be perfectly fine to expect your needs to be met.

    I think I’ve written of this before on this blog, but I’m walking out of codependency myself, after having been raised by a very codependent Christian mother. Now that I’m out of it, I see it all over the church and in Christian culture. It is everywhere.

    Codependency is taught as a virtue by many Christians and preachers, especially for women, as taught under the label “gender complementarianism.”

    Christians often take the verses about being humble, meek, forgiving, loving others, and helping/ serving other people, etc, and twist them out of proportion.

    Many Christians also ignore, or try to explain away, the verses, or examples of Christ and others, who stood up to people, showed anger, were not forgiving, got their own needs met, sometimes said “no” to people, etc.

    These teachings of course come up in Christian writing and sermonizing about marriage, where partners (usually the woman) are taught to ignore their own needs, submit no matter what, put their partner first and his needs first all the time, etc.

    The sad thing is that it is really not biblical to avoid all conflict all the time, to be meek all the time to everyone, to always defer to someone and their feelings and needs (including abusive people) no matter what.

    The Bible teaches a balanced approach to this stuff…. yes, there are times you should be loving, be humble, and help other people etc, but there are occasions in your life where God wants and expects you to defend yourself and get your own needs met.

    Like

  44. Hi Daisy, I AM opposed to putting God first in lives – I think people should put other PEOPLE (like their families) first in their lives; just on the MILD chance God might be a figment of their imaginations. . .and you are being very diplomatic when you state that the Christians who write that crud might be naive and unrealistic. I think they flat-out sound bonkers. Again, my two cents worth.

    Like

  45. Oh, and that whole gender complementarianism idea? Just a slave/master relationship at best and, at worst, downright misogyny.

    Like

  46. @ Carmen.

    Oh. Well, I’ve been a Christian since I was a kid, but for the last 2 – 3 years have been a little on the agnostic side.

    I can’t completely explain away or discount the person of Jesus Christ – who he was, his teachings, his claims, etc, which is one narrow thread that keeps me hanging on and not totally rejecting the faith, but I sure have been questioning it lately.

    I don’t feel like going into a big explanation of things, only to say my problems with Christianity as of late have nothing to do with intellectual reasons.

    I spent many years (from my teens and into my early 30s) reading apologetics material by Christians, learning the history of the Bible, and reading counter arguments by atheists against the faith / theism.

    I’ve been down that road before and don’t see a reason to abandon the faith over the usual reasons I see some give on the internet by others, reasons mostly having to do with intellectual objections. My reasons have to do with other things.

    I do think that some Christians are so keen on God, with appearance and/or being religious that they don’t care about how they treat people, and end up treating people like trash.

    What’s really weird here for me though is that, well, I don’t really like people (even during my years as a very stalwart, devout Christian)! I’m a bit of a grouch. I’ve never been a sunny, sappy, happy clappy type.

    I’ve been a lifelong introvert, I prefer animals to people, but… I have never gone around intentionally trying to inflict harm on others, and I have tried to help people when and where I could, and I am appalled by stories of things like churches that cover up child abuse and domestic violence (like what we see discussed on this blog).

    Like

  47. I wanted to add a P.S. to my post above about codependency.

    The rule at the top says,

    Rule 1:
    Marriage isn’t about your happiness. It’s not about you getting all your needs met through another person.

    I do agree that a person can never get all their needs met via a romantic partner all the time, and it’s foolish to even try.

    But, Christians often present this as meaning you should not or cannot expect or hope to get any needs met by a partner (or friend, or whomever) at all, ever.

    Some Christians also behave as though if you want or expect anyone to help you get your needs met ever, that this makes you “selfish.” That is the attitude I am opposed to that I was writing about above.

    I have seen a lot of women, including one of my female family members, try to find peace, salvation, security, total love, acceptance, etc, through a man (i.e., in marriage or boyfriend), and it always ends in failure and frustration.

    I don’t think it wise for a woman to expect any guy to be able to 100% fulfill her in all ways, so I agree with ‘Rule 1’ in that sense.

    But the Christians who tell you it’s always wrong or selfish to get your needs met (from a spouse or whomever)? No, I don’t agree with them.

    Like

  48. Daisy – know what? I think we need more introverts. It sounds to me like you are living what a lot of people would consider to be a Christian life. Me, I’d say it sounds like you’re a nice person who does good things for others, like most (if not all) of the people who have commented on this Blog. I don’t believe anyone has to identify as a Christian to necessarily BE a nice person. But it’s amazing how many Christians assume atheists CANNOT be as nice/good as Christians. I guess it just makes more sense (to me) that the important things in life are just that – what we experience IN LIFE, not geared toward a gamble about what happens after death.

    Like

  49. I’ve been told the only scriptures that matter to marrieds are the ones in Ephesians. All the ones you spoke of about not giving in, saying no, etc don’t apply. Basically the church has marriage an idol, and sadly they don’t even realize it.

    Like

  50. @ Daisy

    “I do think that some Christians are so keen on God, with appearance and/or being religious that they don’t care about how they treat people, and end up treating people like trash.”

    This is one of the things I have struggled with over the past year. This entire sentence is so true. I think the general mindset is that it really doesn’t matter how we treat one another because you (the offended) are suppose to forgive 70 x 7. Of course no one will EVER say that, but in their actions, behavior and attitude it totally exposes what they truly believe. I don’t understand how the church expects to be salt and light to the world when we unapologetically treat one another like dog doo.

    Like

  51. @Daisy

    @ Headless Unicorn Guy

    Example: Mark “Bee Jay” Driscoll.

    Yep. And the hypocrisy, Driscoll is one of the single most immature 40 somethings I’ve ever seen. He’s very juvenile. But he thinks he has a right to lecture singles that they’re immature dweebs until and unless they’re married.

    No, “until and unless they’re married like ME and gettin’ some like ME!”

    I don’t know about Bee Jay, but I’ve seen pics of other megachurch big dogs and a lot of their wives look like “silicone wonder trophy wife” — bazooms-of-doom looker Alpha Females for the Alpha Males to parade before the beta- to omega-males. “See what *I* got that You Can’t Have!”

    Somebody on an Internet Monk comment thread about singleness put it this way: “In the world or in the church, the attitude is the same. If you’re not doing somebody, YOU’RE A NOBODY!” Just in Christianese there’s a ring and a ceremony involved.

    Like

  52. that last line ^. So true. Only I find my atheist and agnostic friends in general to be much more accepting of my values and marital status than Christians. They think it’s a little weird for adults to willingly choose not to have sex, but they also listen to the reason with so much less judgment than Christians who often come across as having a sole mission of making everyone just like them. Many Christians are so afraid of anything that doesn’t match up to their marriage ideal/idol that they push away some of the positive aspects of secular culture, such the movement toward a general societal acceptance of one another and those who are different from the norm. Some would call this normalizing sin. I would call it treating other human beings with grace.

    Like

  53. Thanks, Mark, for the proper spelling of S-E-X. I’m an English teacher; these things matter.
    I would think that men would be highly insulted to hear that there are people out there who state such nonsense. I’ve heard this sentiment before, particularly in the fundagelical sphere; that men are hormone-driven hedonists with one-track minds and incapable of thinking with the proper head. Perhaps that’s why they need God – to keep them on the right track??
    How terribly condescending and downright hateful. When you consider the other side of that equation – that women are responsible NOT to dress immodestly, lest they tempt and seduce these poor creatures – you’ve got a toxic mix of warped thinking.
    Recovering Pharisee, I’d say you’re onto something when you suggest that we all need to treat each other with grace and acceptance. I’d further suggest that we need to trade the ‘Biblical Ideal’ of marriage for what’s real – two people who love and respect each other and want to be together, with or without God.

    Like

  54. When a thread isolates that “men only” are mentally or physically abusing women, I get a little insulted.

    In their attempt to vent out the pain they have endured that have been caused by someone who happened to be a man has made me more sensitive to them.

    Make no mistake about this, the severe pain caused by “Spiritual Abuse” that my Wife endured was caused by Women, who support a “Reckless Interpretation” of Scriptures and their Sinful Enforcement of their Methodology that is practiced by both genders, who happen to be both Men and Women.

    In many cases Matriarch and Patriarch role playing feed off of each other and one can’t exist or thrive without each other.

    Like

  55. “I would think that men would be highly insulted to hear that there are people out there who state such nonsense.”

    Yet, not one man in this thread expressed feeling insulted by that statement…

    Like

  56. Oasis,

    There may be some who may be insulted and haven’t expressed that because in truth we haven’t walked in the shoes of the author.

    I have to believe that some of the problems described in these threads, were by one or both spouses that probably didn’t love each enough to even get married in the first place. Which is nothing new, judging by all the divorce that is happening in our churches. (including Pastor’s who divorce)

    If for various reasons intimacy isn’t enjoyed consensually, spouses if they truly love and care for each other, will explore and take the time to understand each others mental and physical anatomy.

    That means that both have to be open and both need to be self-less which actually creates a power emotional connection, experienced by both partners.

    This essentially means being able to get inside each others head, again a “rush” that is a powerful feeling experienced by both spouses..

    This is something that many Men and Women BOTH fail to do before they get married and throughout their marriage and end up suffering the consequences that include abuse and divorce.

    Like

  57. Because of the differences in sexual response between men and women, a man really needs to be sure his spouse’s sexual needs are fulfilled before his are. That is loving. Getting his own should not be the priority, since most men tend to lose interest after, except maybe for a little cuddling.

    Like

  58. Attorney,

    That’s why they need to open each other’s heart and that typically can’t happen if one or both lack love.

    The point you made (which is more physically gratifying for both) may not require love on the man or woman’s part, it just requires technique. (which is shallow)

    When Love is lacking in a relationship that is a remedy for abuse and divorce no matter how great their intimate technique’s are.

    Like

  59. But a man’s willingness to postpone his own gratification in favor of his spouse’s is more likely sourced in his love for her than anything else. Putting her first (after God) should always be in his heart and mind.

    Like

  60. Attorney,

    I don’t know how it is possible for a man to find “true” gratification without favoring his spouse’s first. (and even the unmarried)

    Love isn’t always achieved just because the physical intimacy is full-filling for both the man and woman. Which is why it is dangerous to “love being intimate” with “someone you don’t love”.

    I don’t see how it is possible (regardless of Faith Preference) for Abuse and Divorce to occur if the Man and Woman truly love each other when they get married.

    Abuse and Divorce are results of a Marriage that is lacking emotional Love that goes beyond the intimate physical make-up.

    Like

  61. JA- I see that video is still on. Can you please delete it? It was for my daughters friend who is a makeup artist-hairstylist! . I meant to paste an interview with Joan Crawfords daughter and her comment on forgiveness. Thanks. It is weird seeing it here and I am sure your readings think the same!

    Like

  62. I don’t remember now if it was Bette Davis’ daughter or Joan Crawford! They both endured abuse and wrote books. Sorry, I was in a bad accident and have been recuperating the last 5 weeks , and I guess the pain meds messed up my brain -hopefully not permanently..

    Like

  63. Lynette D

    I’ve been told the only scriptures that matter to marrieds are the ones in Ephesians. All the ones you spoke of about not giving in, saying no, etc don’t apply. Basically the church has marriage an idol, and sadly they don’t even realize it.

    I agree.

    Despite the fact that Paul wrote that in some sense, singleness is preferable to marriage, a lot of evangelical and Baptists still behave as though singleness is second rate. A lot of Christians really have turned marriage into an idol.

    At the same time, though, I would still like to get married.

    I find myself getting caught here because on the one hand while a lot of Christians have turned marriage into an idol, if you a single, confess to wanting to get married or ask Christians to pray on your behalf that you receive a spouse, you will get told that YOU are making it an idol, that you should find Christ alone sufficient and other such dreck.

    So, I don’t mean to say that it’s incorrect for a single to want to get married, but that many Christians have made far more out of marriage than even God has in the Bible, and singles get left out in the cold quite often, as a result.

    Like

  64. @ carmen
    carmen said,

    I don’t believe anyone has to identify as a Christian to necessarily BE a nice person. But it’s amazing how many Christians assume atheists CANNOT be as nice/good as Christians

    Oh, I hope I didn’t give that impression in my posts above.

    I believe that yes, atheists can and are nice at times.

    In one of my posts above (or maybe in another thread on this blog), I was trying to explain that a lot of Christians teach codependency as being a virtue, but they tend to call it gender complementarianism, or confuse it with “being nice.”

    Lots of Christians think that being really, really nice is probably the greatest virtue a Christian can have… but it often entails some very un-biblical traits and positions, such as being passive aggressive, not confronting people when you’re upset with them, being a doormat, etc.

    A lot of Christians do seem to prefer extroversion to introversion. I’ve always been an introvert. I get nervous and drained being around people for long stretches of time.

    I never did like the “meet and greet” thing Baptist preachers make people do at the start of a church service. That’s when you’re supposed to go around and shake hands and make small talk with other people. That kind of thing is a nightmare for introverts, and I wish Baptist churches would drop it.

    Some guy wrote a book about all this, how churches tend to favor extroverts and how they can be more introvert-friendly. I’ve thought of getting that book before.

    Like

  65. HUG said,

    I don’t know about Bee Jay, but I’ve seen pics of other megachurch big dogs and a lot of their wives look like “silicone wonder trophy wife” — bazooms-of-doom looker Alpha Females for the Alpha Males to parade before the beta- to omega-males. “See what *I* got that You Can’t Have!”

    Somebody on an Internet Monk comment thread about singleness put it this way: “In the world or in the church, the attitude is the same. If you’re not doing somebody, YOU’RE A NOBODY!” Just in Christianese there’s a ring and a ceremony involved.

    Yes, I have noticed that some of the more famous preachers have wives who have that plastic Barbie doll look about them. They have those frozen, big smiles and some wear lots and lots of make-up.

    (That reminds me of that Aqua song,
    ‘I’m a Barbie Girl, in a Barbie world, Life in plastic, it’s fantastic!’)

    About this:
    If you’re not doing somebody, YOU’RE A NOBODY!

    I have a difficult time understanding how the married Christians who idolize marriage don’t seem to care that Jesus and Paul were unmarried. Or, they seem to think it’s fine for Jesus and Paul to be single / chaste, but it’s failure for the rest of humanity to be single/chaste.

    You have several verses in the New Testament by Paul recognizing singleness as being fine and acceptable, but most evangelicals and Baptists and other Christians do not seem to feel that way.

    One of the few times I see those “pro singlehood” verses mentioned by married Christians / preachers, though, is to condescendingly lecture those of us singles who want marriage that we should “be content” in our singleness.

    That is one of those times they might say all chipper-like, “Remember, Paul was single!,” or, “Being single gives you more free time to serve the Lord, as Paul said!,” or, “God gave you the gift of singleness!”

    Being single is fine, and singles should not be treated like second-rate Christians, but, I also tire of the married Christians parroting (and it’s usually in a condescending way), comments like, “Lord is your husband!,” or “Jesus is sufficient for you!” to those of us who do still hope to marry.

    It’s like, please treat my hope for being married with respect (please don’t tell me to I am the one making an idol out of marriage), but as so long I do remain single, please don’t treat me like I’m damaged, a loser, or a potential man-stealing hussy, and please don’t quote religious platitudes at me (such as “be content”).

    Like

  66. Not to diminish your experience as a single, but try to imagine what those of us who have unsaved spouses go through, ‘spiritually single’. Especially if our marriages are difficult too. It can literally be hell. I could tell you some stories, but I don’t want to sidetrack too much.

    Like

  67. Dennis Rainey used to be a CJ Mahaney fanboy…I can not take anything the man says without remembering that he has aired portions of CJ’s creepy sermon on modesty for women on his radio show…yuck.

    Like

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