Please Don’t Promise Me a Cheap Fling February 18, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christina M @ 3:36 pm

Brittany Rotating Corpse found a gem of a Hallmark book-card. It’s from the 70’s, a fact that becomes obvious both by the cheesy mustache and the thoughts expressed. It’s title? Please Don’t Promise Me Forever.

Evidently it stood for all the deepest thoughts of the post-sexual revolution era. Commitment only dampens love, and as long as I say I love you, you should accept if I mistreat you. Love is the panacea word to excuse any and all mistreatment. Not surprising that a decade and a half later came a movie like Sleeping with the Enemy. The sexual revolution had taught women that if they really love in an open-minded way, they should submit to whatever excrement is flung their way. This from the same cultural revolution that told us that “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

But it’s just wrong. I want to know that the man I gave myself to will be here for me tomorrow. I NEED to know it. I wake up with a smile on my face because I do know it.  I deserve to know it. And he deserves to know the same of me. And I owe him certain things. I owe him a commitment that is deeper than a one-night stand. I owe it to him that I try to be kind, considerate, thoughtful, and helpful, even when I don’t feel like it, because love is a way you treat someone, not just a word used in foreplay. I owe it to him that if I fail in my treatment of him, instead of making excuses, I apologize. He deserves to know that he’s worth it. And so do I.

I am thankful that the era of “isn’t casual mistreatment really a form of romance” is winding down. And I’m here to say it, and say it loudly: Joel, I promise you forever. Or at least till death do us part. And I’m holding you to it!


Marry Well! December 30, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christina M @ 11:08 am

Today marks the sixth anniversary of the smartest thing I’ve ever done. I hope you’ll bear with me for a moment while I pat myself on the back. I married one of the kindest, smartest, funnest, manliest, and most fertile men I have ever met. And despite three well-rehearsed “You! You did this to me!”s, I have never, even for a two-second pause, regretted it.

So in the spirit of annual tradition, I would like to share a few words about how to marry well.

Choosing a partner:

  • Don’t expect change. A husband or wife might change over time, but you can’t expect it or force it. Don’t marry anyone who isn’t just what you want to be married to right now. A boyfriend or girlfriend who manipulates you is not suddenly going to become honest after the wedding date is chosen. A fiance who belittles you is not going to miraculously discover what a gem you are after rings are exchanged. Your loved one will have faults, yes. But you have to ask yourself if these are faults you are willing to live with for the rest of your life.
  • Don’t approach marriage thinking “if it doesn’t work out, we can always get divorced.” People who think of divorce as an option are not likely to try very hard to make things work.
  • Don’t marry someone who doesn’t think you are the best thing that has ever happened to him or her. You deserve to be appreciated, and not just loved but cherished.
  • Do communicate. If at all possible, take a marriage prep class, or attend an engagement retreat like Engaged Encounter, or go for premarital couples counseling. There will be areas where you think or assume that you are on the same page and it turns out that you are not. Most of these are minor hurdles that can be worked out with just a little bit of communication; but if it turns out that one of them is a deal breaker for one or the other of you, better that you should find out now, not after you’ve established a life, started a joint checking account, and bought a car together.
  • Do make decisions together about finances and children. Before you marry. Even if your decision is not to decide yet, make sure you both agree on it.

Keeping a spouse:
I like to tell my sons that the best way to have a happy marriage is to treat their wives the way my husband treats me. For the benefit of those who don’t know my Charming and Patient Husband, I will elaborate a bit here.

  • Accept your spouse. That doesn’t merely mean pretend to tolerate. Really accept him or her for what he or she is. There is nothing in the world that will help a person blossom into the best they can be better than genuine, unconditional acceptance. It heals past hurts, it raises future hopes, and it makes life a lot smoother.
  • Appreciate your spouse. Don’t merely overlook faults. Look, actively look, at qualities. And then express your appreciation verbally. Let him know that you are grateful for his hard work. Let her know how her smile warms you on a bad day.
  • Never let the kids get between you. Your kids will one day grow up and move out; hopefully your spouse will not. Don’t fight in front of the kids. Don’t contradict them publicly about child rearing. There will be times you disagree about how to handle something, but discussion should always be respectful of the other person, and private. The kids do not need to see places where they can drive wedges to get what they want. Nor do they need the insecurity of wondering if they will have both of you in their lives in the future.
  • Be the best person you know how to be, even in the areas of your life that don’t affect your spouse. It inspires admiration. Don’t just be generous with your spouse; also be generous with others. Smile warmly at the whole world, not just the person you love. It affects your entire outlook for the better, and it really can help your spouse to want to be a better person, too. I know that when I see my husband being kind to strangers, it reminds me to be kinder. When I see him being generous, it makes me feel proud of him. Don’t deprive your love of the opportunity to be proud of you.
  • Don’t be afraid to be weak. Yes, keep on trying; but don’t think that means you have to hide your weakness and vulnerability. That’s what a life partner is for! This is the one person who will back you up when your backbone doesn’t feel very strong. Let your spouse know how much it means to you that he or she helps you through your moments of weakness.
  • Most of all, remember that love is not just a noun, it is also a verb. It isn’t just a “thing” that you feel, it’s an action that you do. And like every other action, it requires that you make a decision of the will. You are not a victim of love, you are an active participant. Keep on loving. Decide each and every day to give of yourself. Remember each and every day how much you love this person.

I pray that you will experience the kind of joy that I have in love.


The Man Meme October 17, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christina M @ 5:44 pm

Hijacked from Christine at Domestic Vocation.

1. Who is your man? Joel

2. How long have you been together? We’ve been married almost 5 years (December 30)

3. How long did you date? 1 year 9 1/2 months

4. How old is your man? 39

5. Who eats more? Usually me, the knocked up one.

6. Who said “I love you” first? I did. We’d been chatting for about 9 months and he made a game of trying to figure out where I lived based on my verbal clues. (The man loves a challenge.) I realized I had fallen in love, and spent two weeks praying about whether to tell him, and the day my two week vigil was up, he figured out my address. I sent him an e-card that said “You’ve found the way to my heart.” And in white text, with a white background, I wrote “I love you.” He was supposed to figure out the secret message, but I ended up having to tell him to press control-A.

7. Who is taller? Joel by 11 inches.

8. Who sings better? I have a better singing voice, but he remembers the actual lyrics.

9. Who is smarter? He is. Even my family reluctantly suspects it.

10. Whose temper is worse? Mine. There’s a reason I call him my Charming and Patient Husband.

11. Who does the laundry? Usually me, but not exclusively by any means.

12. Who takes out the trash? The kids, if I have anything to say about it.

13. Who sleeps on the right hand side of the bed? Him.

14. Who pays the bills? Me, with the money he earns. (I kept Christine’s words here.)

15. Who is better with the computer? He’s better with hardware, I’m better with software.

16. Who mows the lawn? The kids. All I have to do is consider mowing the lawn, and I’m pregnant.

17. Who cooks dinner? Him. He’s a darned good cook.

18. Who drives when you are together? Men have that mysterious form of carsickness that shows up any time someone else is behind the wheel, ya know?

19. Who pays when you go out? Usually him, but does it really matter? It’s coming from the same source either way.

20. Who is most stubborn? Him.

21. Who is the first to admit when they are wrong? We both do, in different ways.

22. Whose parents do you see the most? His, because mine live too far away.

23. Who kissed who first? The first time we met was after we’d been “seeing” each other for five months online. I picked him up at the airport, and he walked straight into my arms and kissed me. The he backed away and said “I hope to God you’re Christina.”

24. Who asked who out? I guess me. When we met, it was for my niece’s wedding that I’d asked him to.

25. Who Proposed? Oh, he did. He took me to the nicest Mexican restaurant in town, together with all the kids. He had my oldest in his truck, and I drove the rest in my Geo. (We couldn’t all fit in one vehicle, even then.) On the way, he asked my son’s permission to marry me. While we were waiting for our dinner, he took out a newspaper printout that had a picture of him on one knee with the words “Christina, will you marry me?” And he took out a ring and put it on my pinkie, the only finger it fit on!

26. Who is more sensitive? Me. And he’s awfully sensitive to my sensitivity.

27. Who has more friends? Him. I’m not good at making friends.

28. Who has more siblings? Me. I have four sisters, and he has one.

29. Who wears the pants in the family? I think Christine was referring to this same movie scene: in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the mother explains that the husband is the head of the family, and the wife is the neck that tells him which way to turn. But it never really seems to come down to authority, because we both trust each other’s judgment so much.

And I can’t word the tag better than Christine did: If the spirit moves you, go on and leave a link to your meme answers in the com boxes!


Happy Valentines Day February 14, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christina M @ 12:27 am

to the man whose ring I wear.

Thanks to msog, who posted this image to Deviant Art.


Time to Hitch that Horse to a Carriage? February 13, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christina M @ 4:16 pm

A quiz for the ladies

You love him. And you remember how the song goes… “Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage.” You’re at “that” point, and it’s time to consider what you’ll say if he pops the question. Or maybe he’s already popped it, and you haven’t answered. Even if you’ve already said yes, until you’ve also said “I do,” this is a time of discernment in your life. Don’t waste it. Here, for Valentines Day, I offer you a marriage discernment quiz.

Answer each question as honestly as you can. Then read below to find out how to score. Don’t peek ahead!

The Questions

1. Do you feel ready for marriage?

2. Is he good marriage material?

3. Does he inspire you to be a better person?

4. Do you inspire him to be a better person?

5. How does he feel about having children?

6. What things about him would you like to change?

7. Does he lift heavy things for you?

8. Are you physically attracted to him?

9. Does he admire you ridiculously?

10. Is he the one you can’t live without, that you are absolutely certain you can spend a whole life with?

The Answers

I have a confession. Rather than answers, I’ve given some comments for consideration on each question. Come on, you knew better than to think that a total stranger could tell you whether you should get married!

1. Do you feel ready for marriage?
Sorry, this is a trick question. Well, sort of. The point is, don’t let feelings be your big deciding factor because feelings alone can be deceiving. Discernment will take your emotional state into account, but shouldn’t focus exclusively on how he makes you feel. Even less should it focus only on your state of readiness for marriage. Remember, you are not discerning just marrying. You are discerning marrying him.

This brings to mind another important consideration. It is tempting to reach a point where we want marriage and think we’re at the right place in our lives for it. Don’t make the mistake of deciding first to marry, then to marry whoever you happen to be dating. He’s a man, not a tool.

Objectively, being ready for marriage is important. You should know how to run a household of one before you attempt to run a household of two. You should be able to manage money and communicate effectively. You should know how to respond to hurt without temper, and you should be able to shop and cook on a budget and a timetable. Whether you feel ready isn’t very relevant. Are you ready?

2. Is he good marriage material?
Now that you’ve analyzed your own readiness, is he also ready? Is he able to give in sometimes? To do without the things he wants when there are things one or both of you need? Does he view marriage as permanent?

A good marriage is not give and take. It is give and give. You give to him, he gives to you. A good spouse is one who gives and allows you to give.

3. Does he inspire you to be a better person?
This is an important one. A man who makes you feel stable can be a good friend. A man who makes your heart flutter can be a powerful lover. But unless you want to grow when you’re with him, you may end up stagnating instead. When you are at a happy point in your life, it is very easy to forget that growth must be a lifelong pursuit.

Ask yourself hard questions here: does he urge me to be kinder, or does he teach me to look out for number one? Does he do little things that you admire, that make you think you’d like to develop that trait? Is he courteous to waitresses and salespeople? Does he encourage you to tithe and volunteer for worthy causes?

Ask yourself, also, the even harder questions. Does he lead you into temptation and sin? If you are having sexual relations, how would he respond if you told him now that you need to stop?

4. Do you inspire him to be a better person?
Yes: you may have a gem.
No: you should give some serious thought to why. Is he not interested in being a better person? Or are you not making enough effort on your own to inspire another?

If you do not know, maybe you should find out.

5. How does he feel about having children?
Again, if you do not know, you should find out. There are certain elemental questions that any two people considering marriage must discuss. You need to know his views about having a family. Does he want one? Do you agree? How do you each feel about adoption? Birth control? Abortion?

If you are Catholic, you should seriously consider the fact that the Church only views as valid a marriage that is open to the possibility of children. If you are not Catholic and do not agree with this view, you should at least consider whether a person who does not want children is open to full sharing of life. If the person is not willing to be “put out” by the inconveniences of child rearing, how many other areas might he likewise not be willing to give up his own comfort and convenience?

Finally, even if you are really both committed to not having children, you need to know how your partner would feel if a child was conceived without planning. It happens, folks. All artificial methods of contraception have a failure rate. You need to agree before the fact on how you would respond together to a surprise child.

6. What things about him would you like to change?
This is another trick question. You can’t change him. If you don’t accept him the way he is, you don’t have the option of pulling a bait and switch, offering him your unconditional love before the wedding and then placing conditions after.

7. Does he lift heavy things for you?
This falls under considerateness. Does he want to take care of you? Does he do for you the things that you have trouble doing yourself? You might also take a moment to ask yourself what things you can do for him to make his life easier.

8. Are you physically attracted to him?
By this I do not mean is he handsome. The most attractive man might have no appeal to you on a personal level, and a man who might seem homely to those not wise enough to see his quality could make your heart race. Don’t marry a man solely because he makes your heart race, but if he happens to be an amazingly good, kind, responsible man who also makes your heart race, it is a good sign.

I knew before I ever met my husband in person that I was attracted to him. We had exchanged letters and phone calls, and his character and personality heightened my awareness of everything around me.

9. Does he admire you ridiculously?
If not, run. Do not marry a man who thinks himself better than you. I repeat, RUN.

10. Is he the one you can’t live without, that you are absolutely certain you can spend a whole life with?
This is the $64k question. Don’t ask yourself whether you are able to spend a life with one man… ask yourself if you could possibly spend a life without him.


Love is More than Three Words April 12, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christina M @ 11:28 am

As I recover from childbirth, I offer a guest post from my daughter, Shannon.

Love is More than Three Words

As a teenager and high school student, you can bet that I hear the words “I love you” thrown around a lot. For a teenager to say “I love you” is just as normal as a cat drinking milk, or a soccer mom biting at games. But what does it mean when a person says it? And what is it supposed to mean?

Being a teenage girl, there’s nothing in the world I want more than to be in love. Because to us, love is the end goal. It’s the final destination, where we can really be happy. Now, I’ve had my share of boyfriends who’ve said, “I love you” to me. My first was saying it after we’d been dating for a grand total of six hours. But I don’t think that really meant that they did. Each one meant something along the lines of “I love you because you’re here”, “I love you because we’re together”, ‘I love you because you’re pretty”, and one of my favorites, “I love you because I’m supposed to”.

But that’s not what love is.

If you can sum up the whole of your feelings in one sentence, it’s not love. If you can sum it up in one hundred, it’s not love. Because love isn’t just something you talk about. It’s something you do.

Opening the door for her is love. Telling her that it’ll all be okay is love. Showing all your friends how proud you are to be dating her is love. Spending hours in earnest discussion about your favorite topics is love. There are so many actions that express love; it’s no wonder that it just can’t be said through words.

I’m waiting for the day to come along when someone loves me like that. And he won’t have to say a word to me for me to know it. What he does will be enough.


How the Bundys Saved Our Marriage December 1, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christina M @ 10:18 am

OK, they didn’t really. We already had a good marriage, and in fact I’m not terribly fond of “Married with Children.” That’s where it all began. You see, My Charming and Patient Husband loves the show, whereas I can tolerate it in small doses. His favorite episode is the one he calls his “birthday episode,” because it is his tradition to watch it every year on his birthday, which falls near the beginning of Advent: “It’s a Bundyful Life.” He had an old, poorly recorded copy on videotape when we met, but each year the tape has gotten more and more fuzzy. This year, he couldn’t even find the tape.

As he was testing the dvd player on my laptop, I pulled out his birthday present: season four. “Could you test this one?” I asked, handing him the box. I have no words to describe the look on his face. “Greater love hath no wife,” said he. He promptly plugged it in, and proceeded to spend much of the rest of the day watching episodes.

Last night I slept the sleep of the exhausted and well-satisfied, aside from one thing. I kept getting snuggled and kissed, and hearing sweet words of praise whispered in my ear. It was clear that what had brought Joel possibly more pleasure than the gift was the fact that I, who did not care for the show, had given it to him.

There is a lesson here. Love isn’t about sharing the same tastes, the same interests, and the same personality. It is about valuing one another above self. Love is wanting to see the other person happy, even when it is at an inconvenience to self. Love is giving, not taking. And in return, love appreciates and returns such love.

Which leads me to the second lesson, one about human nature. If you want to be appreciated, if you want your loved one to cherish you, you will do well to make your loved one feel cherished. Nobody has taught me this lesson more clearly than my own husband. He makes me feel like the most important person in the world, and acts as though he didn’t see my faults. Oh, if I have a moral fault, he cares enough about my soul to encourage me to overcome it; but if I am sometimes a frustration (as he won’t admit it, but I frequently am), he strives to help me feel better, rather than adding to my burden by criticizing me. The way I’ve learned from this is by my own response. When he treats me this way, I feel a swelling of gratitude, a surge of love that makes me want to do foolish things like buying him a season of Married with Children for his birthday.

I hope for you, gentle reader, that you have someone in your life that inspires you to love more fully by loving you so fully. If you have not, I hope that you can inspire your loved ones in such a way. I hope that your marriages and other significant relationships do not need saved; but if they do, take that first step: put them first. Few people can resist responding to unselfish love. I know I couldn’t.


One Wedding and a Funeral July 11, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christina M @ 8:21 am

Last week, my husband and I went to the funeral of our next door neighbor, Mrs. Rhoads. She was a very kind lady of 91, who had worked out three times a week at the health club, and never complained. To give you an idea of the sort of woman she was, about two months after my baby was born she saw me mowing the lawn. “Should you be doing that so soon?” she asked. Then she offered to mow it for me. Yes, a 90 year old woman offered to mow the lawn for her 37 year old neighbor that she barely knew, out of concern.

She didn’t tell anyone she had cancer. We found out by accident, when we participated in the Relay for Life, a cancer fundraiser. There were paper lanterns with names of people with cancer and people who had died of cancer, and we saw her name. Even after we spoke to her about it, she never complained, though. She just said that she’d had a good life and was ready to meet the Father.

Her children, also faith-filled, said the same. Yes, they would miss her dearly; but there was no doubt in their minds and hearts that this loving lady would be full of joy in the presence of the Father of all Love.

The funeral was a beautiful testimony to the life of a woman who lived for God. It was also a testimony to love: the love between her and her spouse of more than sixty years, the love between her and her children, the love that she extended toward all — strangers and friends alike. My husband and I both found ourselves hoping that we will one day be that kind of witness of a life of love.

Then a speaker at the funeral said something that stopped me in my tracks. He spoke of people feeling guilty for the things they meant to say or do, but never got around to. He said not to focus on those things, because Mrs. Rhoads certainly wasn’t. But I was already thinking of the loaf of bread I had meant to make her, to thank her for her kindnesses. But then I found out she had high blood pressure and worried that my recipe would be too high in cholesterol or sodium. I never got around to finding another recipe, or even letting her know in some other way that even though we didn’t know each other well, she had deeply touched my life with her enormous heart.

Saturday, we went to the wedding of my brother in law. It was one of those “finally” weddings, and we were all delighted to see him stand beside someone he loves enough to step into life together with. The priest at the wedding said something I thought beautiful and wise, just as he was wrapping up his homily. He referred to couples, after many years of marriage, being able to say “I shared the best years of my life with the person who made them the best years of my life.”

After seeing both an ending and a beginning of deeply loving marriages, and after being reminded twice within a few days of the beauty and importance of love, all I can think is to pray that I and my husband may live the kind of life together that will fulfill all the highest expectations of people stepping into marriage, and inspire others when we reach the end of our life together. I hope I will never again put off till tomorrow offering signs of love and appreciation.


The Most Romantic Time of the Year December 30, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christina M @ 9:28 am

It’s that time of year again: the time when I wax self-righteous over the wisest decision I ever made… the time when I become one of those obnoxious givers of romantic advice. Yes, it is my anniversary, and I’m full of gooey romanticism, warm thankfulness, and solid insights about what it takes to make a marriage succeed.

I know, I’m just a two-year veteran. The bloom has not yet faded from the rose, so to speak. Yet the Newlywed Game rules stated that eligibility went to those who had been married less than two years, so I guess we officially qualify as having survived the honeymoon. And I’ll tell you this much: in an objective sense, the honeymoon wasn’t easy.

That isn’t to say that getting along has been difficult, but rather external circumstances have often, in the past two years, offered more challenges than typical newlyweds face. Aside from the fairly common challenges of blending families, we moved three times, had a baby, struggled together through postpartum depression, began homeschooling, and discovered the responsibilities of first time home ownership. I started and quit a really horrible distance school program, while we were living (at the time) in a house half the size we needed for so many people, with no windows that opened. I had moved nearly a thousand miles away from my family, and was homesick, and didn’t have a single friend.

If we could make it through all that and still have any bloom left on our rose, we must be doing something right. Or we must have done something right from the start, when we chose each other as partners for life.

That, I think, is the key.

Marriages can and sometimes do survive between people who are wrong for each other, or people who choose unworthy partners, or people who are not mature enough to make such a commitment. But more often they do not. Rather than hoping a bad marriage can survive despite its wrongness, isn’t it better if we can be fortunate enough to marry well in the first place?

Last year I gave a whole list of things to look for in a spouse. This year, I will focus on just one, because I believe it is the most important. Does your potential spouse make you want to strive to be a better person?

One of the first things that impressed me about my husband was his generosity. He would give money to people he suspected were scamming him, on the off chance that they really did have need. He would give to those who he knew had genuine need… until it hurt. He made a habit of putting other people before himself.

Obviously, I have fared well with this generous nature. He has given me flowers many times in the four years I’ve known him, and he’s endured hardship and discomfort on many occasions in order to do something kind for me. But his generosity has had another more important effect: in seeing this goodness in him, I have grown in desire and determination to be a more generous person myself. If loving him didn’t affect me, change me, then love would be a stagnant and unimportant thing.

The goodness in my spouse makes me want to develop whatever goodness I have in myself. And that is the way it should be. If it didn’t, then it would mean he didn’t have what it takes to move me, to connect with my very soul. It would be a superficial enjoyment, not an abiding love. And certainly not the kind of commitment that can last when enjoyment wanes.

It isn’t just by example that he encourages me to improve, either. He is confident enough of my love that he knows he can encourage me by word, or even by correction, to do right. A good spouse will encourage you to make amends for your mistakes, mend your broken relationships, and live honestly. A good spouse does not want to see you suffer guilt and heartache, and will have the courage to help you avoid both. If he only makes you want to be good, kind, and honest with him, then he isn’t really encouraging goodness but only seeking his own well-being. Such a spouse is to be avoided, because he is selfish. A truly good person, the kind who will be a good spouse, will want you to be as good to others as you are to him.

And if he truly touches your heart, he will inspire you to want to be good to others, too.

A person who really loves you will love all the good in you, not just the good that benefits him. Anyone less isn’t worth marrying.


She Has Hi-i-igh Hopes… February 14, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christina M @ 5:53 am

This is primarily for the ladies, but gents please feel free to read on. What I want to talk to you about today is standards. Particularly for those of you who are not in a permanent relationship, I hope to share some insights about what to look for in a man. It can be hard to keep a soft heart while holding firm on the things that really matter, but ultimately it’s worth it for both of your sakes. To settle for less than you are looking for only demeans men in the long run; it implies that you believe they are not capable of being the kind of partner you deserve.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking: here it is, Valentines Day, and I don’t have a Valentine — yet you are telling me to raise my standards?

In a word, yes. The fact is that men appreciate when you expect maturity and nurturing behavior from them, because it demonstrates that you have confidence in them. Most men — most people, for that matter, have low confidence in themselves. If you believe in them, then they will begin to believe that they are capable of living up to those expectations. They will want to try to be the kind of man you deserve. So having high expectations isn’t about picking a man apart, but rather about bolstering him. And that, ladies, will appeal to them more than you realize.

That said, what exactly are these standards I propose? Call me old fashioned, but I believe in traditional romance. I can assure you that a man who doesn’t open doors for you now is not likely to begin after a year of marriage. A man who thinks roses are a waste of money is highly unlikely to become a romantic suddenly after rings are exchanged. The fact is that what you see now is what you can expect later. It is unfair and unrealistic to think that you can change a man, so don’t even contemplate it. Do not think that once you are a wife, you will have the right and authority to tell him his faults; if you get involved with a man, knowing his shortcomings, you have no place objecting to those very shortcomings later. So decide early on: can I live the rest of my life without roses?

It’s true that not all worthy men can afford roses. Most, though, can afford the occasional single rose. My father in law wooed my mother in law with a single chocolate truffle at a time. Limited budget does not have to mean showing limited interest, and roses are not the only way to show appreciation. They are merely symbolic. So if your man doesn’t buy roses, it doesn’t necessarily mean he isn’t a keeper; but please be sure that he shows appreciation in some way. A man who thinks you aren’t interested in that sort of thing isn’t going to provide it. So when he does give roses (or serenade you at your window, or send you a romantic card for no reason) let him know that you appreciate it. And if he doesn’t, find some opportunity to let him know that such things mean something. Don’t nag or complain, but with a smile on your face tell about the delight of a friend of yours when her boyfriend (or husband) had a candle light dinner waiting for her when she got home. Say it without rancor, because hinting can be an ugly habit… just let him know that without being jealous of your friend, you recognize and are glad of her good fortune. You get the idea.

More important than romance, though, is character. Romance can be (but isn’t always) a sign of character. It isn’t enough on its own, though. Do not settle for a man who insults you, treats you with disrespect, or fights unfairly. If someone you care about begins to slip into these behaviors, tell him in a gentle but firm voice what he is doing, without trying to strike back with anger of your own. You don’t have to be angry to be firm. And firm means being willing to lose him before you let bad treatment become a pattern. A good man will treat you like you are the kind of woman who deserves better than he can give you, but he’s willing to try to be what you deserve. And you do deserve that kind of a man. Every woman deserves to be treasured by her man, and every man deserves a woman who deserves to be treasured. If you still question that point, ask yourself this: am I willing to spend the rest of my life never feeling more than “adequate?”

A good man is also moral. He should not ask you to do things that contradict either your faith or his. And he must never try to pressure you into doing anything that opposes your conscience. A moral man makes you want to be a better person; he doesn’t make you feel guilty for what virtue you have. And he responds well to you, making him want to be a better person, too. Good love should motivate good people, not bring them down.

A good man does not have to be a perfect man, but he should want to grow in grace. No man is perfect, and that is a fact that you — also an imperfect being — have to accept. One man is moral and treats you very well, but leans toward laziness. Another is strong and protective, but forgetful. A third might have a tremendous work ethic but very little sense of humor. Regardless of what some people will tell you, you can’t have it all. Love isn’t about having a perfect partner, it is about having a worthy partner, whose imperfections are not moral flaws, but are traits that you can live with. And a good woman, who deserves such a man, is willing to communicate her needs in a kind way, without ever expecting to change him in the future by manipulation. If he is worth having, he deserves better than to be manipulated.

Ladies, if you really love a man, you will have patience with him for being a unique human being. You will love him for who he is, not for not for being just like you, or like some image you’ve created. You will respect him, though, enough to allow him the opportunity to live up to your standards. Do not insult a man by shrugging and tolerating him with the attitude that he’s the best you can do.

The happiest wives I know are women who didn’t need a man enough to settle for one who wasn’t worthy. And once they knew they’d found a worthy one, they treated him that way.