Here are a few answers to questions that a counselor friend gave when talking with a woman about her particular situation, on the subject matter of attractiveness, the ideal mate, learning from past relationships, and managing future relationships when children are present going in. He has worked with individuals and couples before and in marriage, and he has quite an experience of his own in these areas that he draws a great deal from, so I value his insights. This post just my way of collecting these responses and putting them in one place. I like how they really make me think as I read through them. Perhaps some of it may be helpful or encouraging to you the reader…
How do you define attractiveness?
I think of physical attractiveness as physical compatibility, where the two feel comfortable and good about each other, which I believe is just as important as the social/emotional and spiritual compatibility (not to diminish God in this, because I believe He can be found in all three aspects).
As far as overall attractiveness, I believe beauty begins from within. The person’s heart, attitude, character…this is what makes them beautiful or not. Their outward beauty becomes far more attractive when they maintain inward beauty. Moreover, those who walk with God have the beauty of the Holy Spirit residing within them, and that always has a unique effect. The Bible says we are to worship Him in the beauty of holiness. So when someone seeks modest living, this emits something that further beautifies their interpersonal and physical aspects. For me personally, this ends up attracting me more to her physically, as well as personally. Even the plain, the ordinary, the mistakes, the imperfections can be attractive to me. It’s probably a big part of how I’d define chemistry.
Describe the ideal mate.
Ideal doesn’t mean perfect. Ideal to me has more to do with having chemistry, which seems to start with the two having a compatible pursuit of God, important core values in common, really good friendship, and physical compatibility. I’m probably going to be very attracted to this type of woman, inside and out. And the outside will be so special to me because of what I know is on the inside. When a woman has her own independent walk with God, that gets my attention. But at the same time, that same woman, who will make mistakes, have failures, accidentally or not, will be just as beautiful to me in those times as she is in her most shining moments.
Beyond this, with other things like communication style, managing the house and kids, etc, I’m flexible. I value communication highly. I believe balance can be reached when working together. I know it takes two, so I guess I’m also somewhat assuming the ideal man in my answer.
What have you learned from past relationships?
I learned about the three areas of compatibility, spiritual and interpersonal common ground, and physical compatibility. I also realized how important it is for me to be a good leader, especially as a servant. It’s much easier for me to appreciate my partner and what we share, including the little things. I recognized that I am a sensitive person, but not outwardly emotional. I also have strong inner emotional loyalty and attachment. Previous relationships also taught me to be more patient with myself, with my partner, and to manage feelings better.
Also, I had a big realization of how rare and special it is to have someone you can share everything you have within…seemingly very rare! I also realized how much it means to have someone who is same person all the time, with you or with others, not changing with circumstances or different people around. I think overall, most importantly, I’ve learned to grow in giving and receiving grace, and how awesome it is to share similar values with someone in faith and building a home together.
What do you say to a single woman with children as they seek a healthy relationship?
I know you must feel like men steer away from commitment with you because of your children. And truthfully, many men will. They may talk and chat with you, or even more, but there’s a point where they have to come clean with themselves and you as to whether they will embrace your children as an integral part of you…and as their own. There won’t be as many willing or able to do that. But there are some. Your children are beautiful gifts from your Father, and they will be dearly cherished by the right guy.
Don’t be afraid of someone not accepting your kids or being able to go forward with you because of them. It’s better to know early, now, then later. So be confident, be proud of them, proud of having them. The right type of person will have the heart capacity to go with you where you are.
Ideally, in a first-time marriage, the couple hold each other first, and the children come second…albeit a close second because we never neglect. We know that everything in parents’ lives revolves around the caretaking and upbringing of children. But children thrive best when they see their parents put each other first in the relationship. They grow healthier, they have a strong, healthy view of marriage and family, and they are actually more at peace within because of the order and stability this brings. So it’s a major investment in the children to be this way.
So, what do people do when there is divorce and remarriage? Well, ideally, the spouses still come first, but it’s tricky, perhaps a lot harder, because the children belong to one and not the other, and they can sometimes feel betrayed or diminished. After all, they are already experiencing the separation of their parents.
The parent and new spouse/step-parent have to work as a team in this. The spouse with kids must work to keep their new spouse first in a sensitive way, while the step-parent is understanding and doesn’t make it a competition between him or her and your children. There is a very simple, godly way to handle it. But it takes maturity, understanding, and willingness.
[Woman’s reply to the counselor in this conversation: I have grown a lot since everything happened and there were things that I even wanted in my marriage that didn’t work. What I had always wanted was to put God first. I was the one who wanted to get out there and find a church and get involved and sadly he didn’t want to do that. What I know now is it is God first in my marriage and family. Then my relationship with my spouse and then my kids. Of course I know at times it will have its challenges and they will come first but I think in any relationship it will be that way. Oh yeah, and the guy has to love the kids in order for me to love him. I hope that whoever I end up with that it won’t be that difficult, that it will all just fall right into place, but not sure if it’s just fairytale thinking. I have learned that in order for a relationship to work you still have to make time for each other despite kids and work, because a lot of the time when people don’t have that, and good communication, then it all falls apart.]
Definitely communication and fun together without the kids as well as with the kids is important to keep the couple’s relationship growing and thriving. And absolutely, to say that the other spouse is first before the kids doesn’t mean common sense is out the door. Basically, although the spouses come first, the way it plays out is oftentimes is that everything totally centers around the kids and their livelihood, well-being, etc. I think the emphasis is on the posture of the heart, that deep within, each spouse knows that each other is first, but then, after looking over across the room with that look in their eyes for each other (you know, that look, with a deep sense of connection, passion, solidarity, partnership, without a word needed), they then sacrifice whatever they need to in order to put the kids’ well-being and caretaking first.
I’m not sure I would call these things fairytale thinking. I know couples who live this. It feels like a fairytale to us because we haven’t experienced it. But God puts those things in us. You know that this is the way you would do it, right? Well, if you find someone that has that same way in his heart, then things can be good with that. But, as we’ve both experienced, finding these people is the trick!
You should have nothing less than someone who not only loves, but cherishes your children. That would be one of the greatest ways he could love you, all of you.
Crossover at Eagles Point | A safe place of rest…