I had a charming encounter with a random stranger when the power went out. I was at the mini mart trying to round-up 3 cups of coffee, and a nice gentleman held the door open for me and then proceeded to pour coffee and help me over to the counter. I appreciate the kindness of men and always try to take note of it so I said, “Thanks, you’re a good guy!” And he said,”No, I’m not, I’m not at all,” which then compelled me to quip, “Amen, even better!” He was taken a back for a moment, but then he smiled and I knew he understood.
Nobody else got it however, and the cashier looked at me like I was just plumb crazy. I could have tried to defend myself I suppose, and launched into a long explanation of how I wasn’t really flirting with the bad boys, but that seemed like entirely too much work and I didn’t want the coffee to get cold.
There’s an interesting theme among the marriage bloggers right now, some who I respect a great deal and some who are just abysmal lunkheads, but it is the theme of the “good man.” Men are just “good men,” who don’t intend to become awful husbands or else I am just a good man and women need to change. Regardless of how it is phrased, it is this idea that I am a “good man” or that men in general are just good, so if marriage doesn’t work out, maybe it’s because a woman just can’t see my goodness.
Reading those blogs it suddenly dawned on me why I am still married. The Lord has led us and guided us of course, but it’s something else too. I’m laughing here, but I think I would have gone insane if I’d married one of those “good guys” who thinks they’re good! I don’t mean to be unkind here, I think they really don’t see the arrogance behind such statements or what it is like to hear men protest almost too loudly about how “good” they are. Male solipsism, it’s a real thing in the world.
I am a fallen woman who married a rotten man. I say that with complete delight and all due praise for this glorious blessing. The Lord convicted me long ago and sometimes still does, fallen, broken, having a capacity for great evil. It has never occurred to me that I was a good woman just by virtue of being me. I’m intimately acquainted with my dark side. Conversely, my husband has never pretended he was a “good man,” he too knows what lurks within. When you accept how deeply flawed and fallen you are, gone is the idea that I should be loved based on nothing more than my own goodness.
Gone too is pain and pride and offense…..
Well, not totally. We all have our moments, but one thing I have always been able to count on in marriage is our mutual humility and willingness to accept that perhaps we aren’t “good” meaning the one who is right, meaning not to blame, meaning incapable of inflicting harm on one another, or incapable of doing wrong.
I have wounded my husband several times, sometimes deliberately even, but often unintentionally. Conversely he has absolutely crushed me on a few occasions, metaphorically and emotionally, because he actually is a nice guy, just not always the most sensitive or considerate. Love requires lots of swallowed pride, constant forgiveness, and some empathy. When I am wrong the Lord will convict me and then all I can do is say I’m sorry and try to make amends.
One of the hardest things for me has been letting go and trusting that the Lord will convict my husband too. If he won’t listen to me, than the Lord will handle it. I don’t need to say a word. That can be very challenging. Without fail however, if he’s wrong, if he’s hurt me in some way, he will eventually recognize it and self correct.
I have heard hubby say rather defiantly, “I am a good man” or in our house it’s usually, “I know what I’m doing.” That is like a wall going up, an impenetrable fortress, a defense mechanism, what some in good humor refer to as “his inconvenient self-preservation instinct acting up again.”
The idea that men actually have a self-preservation mechanism kind of makes me laugh. The idea that some of us find this most inconvenient makes me laugh too. But here is the idea behind it, when men go into self-preservation mode, defense, flight or fight mode, there is no communication that can happen. They sense an attack and everything just shuts down. They start prowling the perimeter ready to toss barbarians into the moat.
That is a good time to go for a walk or soften your heart or stop talking, or whatever works for you, but you’ve bumped into pride and you have to give him time to process it. You cannot communicate with a man in defense mode. This took me forever to learn because women are not like that at all. My defense mode is to go out the door or to cry or to throw in the towel and take a nap. It would never occur to me to put up walls and start patrolling the emotional perimeter. Politically correct or not, women tend to win our battles by surrendering, men win theirs by fighting.
There is brain chemistry at work here, chemical changes within our brains, hormonal differences between men and women, that speak quite a bit to why we have the problems we do, why communication between the two genders can be so challenging. I use to say, “I’m talking to a wall,” and I really was, a chemical wall within his brain, that had a rather razor sharp focus and had compartmentalized me right outside the box, somewhere out among the barbarians.
It’s kind of sad to me, we’re living in a culture that doesn’t want to recognize these brain differences, differences backed up by science and research. Men really do get written off, misunderstood, shamed even, for being just the way God designed them, wonderfully and fearfully made. And we make women crazy by trying to deceive us into believing that there is no difference, that men should be able and willing to act and think just like women, and when they don’t we tend to think there’s something wrong with them as individuals. That’s a tragedy.
God doesn’t love us because of our innate goodness, He knows our flaws and He loves us anyway, while we were yet sinners, He died for us. The idea of being a fallen woman, redeemed, healed, washed in the blood for sure, but fallen just the same, led me to feel grateful someone would love me, humble enough to not feel entitled, and not fearful someone would discover I wasn’t “good.”
I’m laughing here, but marrying a “bad man” was the best thing I ever did.