Tuesday, October 6, 2020

On Men, Marriage, Life, and Survival

Photo and caption is from the Internet. Original source unknown.

By Timothy Gamble

I've been trying to write this article for over two years. And this is my second attempt at a published article. I took down the first article shortly after I published it. It is a deeply personal article, for reasons I'll give in a moment, and I'm not one who is comfortable sharing such personal thoughts so openly. It will also be controversial, because the advice I give runs counter to modern "wisdom." Nevertheless, the advice is something I've come to believe because of my personal experiences over my entire lifetime.

Now, for that important and surprising bit of advice I would give  to all men, survivalist or not: If you are not married, get married, and the sooner the better. Men, you as a man, will especially benefit from marriage. I know that isn't the common wisdom, as modern sensibilities tend to dismiss traditional ideas of marriage and family. And many men have had negative experiences that have left them bitter towards marriage.  But, please read this entire article and think about what I am saying before you dismiss this piece of advice.  

Now, for full disclosure:  As I write this, I am single, never married, and have no children. At one point in my life, I was very happy (so I thought) with being a bachelor and enjoying the freedom (so I thought) that being single gave me. I was wrong. And I have suffered because of it.

Modern wisdom says to put off marriage so you can "grow up", build a career, mature, and discover what you want out of life. But in reality the opposite is true. Married people, especially married men, mature faster, are more responsible, work harder, and are more ambitious than their single peers. Married people tend to be happier, healthier, and live longer than single people. The idea that you need to be single to do these things is flat out false. (For more on this, see the Prager U video "Be a Man. Get Married.")

What modern wisdom has given us is a greatly extended adolescence without responsibility, in which we have adults in their 20s, or even older, who are still childish in their behavior, pitch temper-tantrums and need "safe spaces" to sulk in when something doesn't go their way, and still need their mommy to take care of them. There is now a noticeable trend among college graduates in their 20s now bringing their mom or dad on job interviews. Pro tip: this doesn't go over well with companies interviewing you. And parents, you are NOT helping your adult children by doing this. (See this article and this article for more on this ridiculous trend.) 

My singleness has become the biggest regret in my life. I do believe I am worse off for it. In being single, I lived most of my adult life for myself, and made many mistakes because of it. Far from giving me time to "grow up," my singleness actually delayed my growing up, as I had no accountability or responsibility to anyone other than myself. My thinking was self-centered and short-term. I lacked important long-range goals, useful ambition, and failed to establish important priorities in my life. Perhaps most importantly, I lacked a real partner in life to be there for me when I really needed someone, and to help me maintain focus on what is really important.

Marriage is good. It matures a person, provides stability, gives focus and purpose, and provides one with a partner with whom you can face the challenges of life - something that I've come to realize is much more important than is commonly acknowledged. Finally, as a Christian (and I haven't always been one), I realize that God created and blessed marriage as something useful and good. Far be it from me to tell God that He is wrong!

I fully realize that not every marriage is perfect, or lasts forever. Nor would getting married suddenly solve every problem one may have. But that is not the fault of marriage. People get married and people aren't perfect. Because of this there will be bad marriages, and there may be times even a good marriage experiences problems. Blaming marriage for those problems would be like blaming the hammer for hitting your thumb! Its not the hammer's fault. 

Marriage requires work. and it requires work from both the husband and wife. In many ways, it is that work that leads to the real benefits of marriage. 

For the rest of this article, I am speaking primarily as a man to other men, since that is my natural perspective. But women may find what I say useful, too. 

As to who you should marry, I have some general thoughts. Over the years, I've known a few women who would have made a good wife for me, had I been smart enough to realize it at the time. I wasn't, but here is what I learned in hindsight:

Friendship - looks fade, and sexual and romantic excitement wanes over time, so be with someone who really will be your best friend throughout life, even after the looks and excitement fade for both of you. 

Compatibility - someone with similar values, beliefs, worldview, and goals as you is important. A necessity, in fact. This is why the Bible warns us not to be yoked to non-believers (2 Corinthians 6:14), though that verse apples to more than just marriage. 

Looking at the marriages that failed over the years among people I know, this is probably the area that ultimately doomed most of them. They simply weren't compatible over the long-term, but chose to ignore those differences in "the heat of the moment" as it were, and got married anyway. When those differences creating problems, one or both ultimately choose to walk away instead of working through those issues. 

Loyalty - life is rough and you will face many challenges as individuals and as a couple, so loyalty to each other is extremely important. You want someone who will stick with you through thick and thin, not run at the first sign of trouble. 

Finally, Christian men should check out what Proverbs 31: 10-31 has to say on the subject.

Once you find her, treat her well. She is your treasure in this life. Be loyal, kind, affectionate, caring, and protective of her. May she always feel safe with you, physically and emotionally. Never give her reason to doubt your love, friendship, or loyalty. 

A real men is steadfast in his love for his wife and family. "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" (Ephesians 5:25). We are to put our wife and family first - even to the point of being willing to die for them, as Christ died for us.  As real men, we are to put our wives and families above ourselves, our careers, our ambitions, our friends, and our hobbies. 

Questions: Do you pray for your wife everyday? When is the last time you lead your wife in prayer?

Always be a man. Not a modern, watered-down, metro-sexual, wimpy version of a man, but a real one. Look to the Biblical standard of manhood. This means strength, courage, honor, integrity, leadership, self-reliance, self-control, sacrifice, among other virtues.  At the core of true manhood is your relationship with God. 

On this subject of real manhood, there are several good books you can read, starting with The Bible itself.  Two other books that I like, both originally published in the 1990s, are Point Man by Steve Farrar, and Tender Warrior by Stu Weber. Also, check out You Tube for presentations by both of these men. 

Modern feminism, with its emphasis on tearing down men and the traditional family in order to promote some vague idea of Girl Power!, has damaged modern ideas of marriage and turned many women, and men, sour on the idea. However, the traditional, Biblical version of marriage still rings true for many women. Find one, marry her, and be the man God intended for her. You will both be better off for it.

Easier said then done, I admit, but still a worthwhile goal.

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Other articles in my Man Up! series: 
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