What Qualities Should A Man Look For In A Wife?

I.

Today’s post is aimed at determining the qualities that Scripture says a man should look for in a potential wife. I first started this post some months ago, but put it on hold because it didn’t feel “right.” Something was off with it, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Occasionally I worked on it to add a quote or two, but mostly it has lain fallow. Then I wrote my post Adult Man Defines “A Real Woman,” and it clicked for me what I was doing wrong. This line by commenter Feather Blade was particularly important in helping me understand where I was going wrong:

No one is going to find a young woman with all the virtues that only an entire lifetime of faithful service to God can endow on one.

That comment plus a few others (and my own thought on the matter) helped me understand that I was making two mistakes with my post.

The first mistake is that I was mixing up character traits with life skills. They are not the same, and mixing them up creates the problem that Feather Blade warns about: you start looking to find in a young woman what only an older woman would have had time to acquire and possess. Character traits are essential qualities of moral character- qualities that are less a matter of training than they are of personal discipline and willpower. Examples include fear of the Lord, courage and kindness. Life skills, on the other hand, are qualities that are acquired as a result of training, eduction and practice. This includes skills such as cooking, good business sense and tailoring (to name but a few). These take time to develop- in some cases, a whole lifetime.

The second mistake is that I was simply going through the bible line by line, looking for positive qualities in a woman. This approach is problematic because there won’t be any context for these qualities. As you will see, running Proverbs 31 line by line, or in small chunks, obscures the fact that it is talking about an older, more mature and more experienced wife.

Rather than simply delete everything and start over, I’m going to leave some of what I wrote so you get a sense of how the picture isn’t very clear when you search for qualities line by line or even passage by passage. That will encompass Part 2 of this post, which is a rather ugly affair. Part 3 will be different- it will directly explain what the character traits to look are, and why they should be sought. Part 4 will conclude.

 

II.

…[previous lines were deleted to make way for the new intro] I tracked down as many verses as I could that offered advice and mentioned women who were/would be quality God-fearing wives. I will be quoting them below, and include some commentary, mostly focusing on what is held as valuable or important in each verse/passage. Many of these passages are ones that I’ve covered before, but I am hoping to consolidate as many as I can in this post.

A gracious woman gets honor,
    and violent men get riches.

(Proverbs 11:16)

Here graciousness is held to be trait worthy of honor, and thus recognition, in women.

Like a gold ring in a swine’s snout
    is a beautiful woman without discretion.

(Proverbs 11:22)

Other translations use wisdom or sense in place of discretion, but they all capture the essence of the same trait. This is, in my view, a very important passage. The analogy places something of great value in a position where it is utterly wasted. The overall lesson here is that beauty in a woman is an utter waste if she has no discretion- if she isn’t wise. Two points are made: the first is that beauty is indeed, a valuable thing (else why compare it to a gold ring?), and the second is that sensibility in a woman is of even greater value than beauty.

A good wife is the crown of her husband,
    but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.

(Proverbs 12:4)

The compare and contrast here makes it clear that a proper woman, a “good” one, is something to be esteemed, as compared to her improper or shameful counterpart. Essentially, a good wife is one who raises a husband’s stature in the eyes of others, and a bad wife is one who lowers it.

House and wealth are inherited from fathers,
    but a prudent wife is from the Lord.

(Proverbs 19:14)

Prudence, being a gift from the Lord, is a valuable thing indeed to have in a wife.

And this of course brings us to Proverbs 31. I will include only parts of it:

11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
    and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
    all the days of her life.

Trustworthiness is valuable trait in a wife.

13 She seeks wool and flax,
    and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant,
    she brings her food from afar.
15 She rises while it is yet night
    and provides food for her household
    and tasks for her maidens.

A good wife is one who is a hard worker. She is diligent and skilled with her hands. She can provide food for her family and keep the household well run.

16 She considers a field and buys it;
    with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.

Good business sense is a sign of a good wife.

17 She girds her loins with strength
    and makes her arms strong.

A wife who keeps herself healthy, and stays fit and strong is truly worthy.

18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
    Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
    and her hands hold the spindle.

Once again emphasizing good business sense, along with foresight and skill with her hands.

20 She opens her hand to the poor,
    and reaches out her hands to the needy.

Charity is a sign of a good wife.

21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
    for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes herself coverings;
    her clothing is fine linen and purple.

A good wife plans ahead for tough times.

23 Her husband is known in the gates,
    when he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
    she delivers girdles to the merchant.

Business sense and initiative are once again emphasized.

25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
    and she laughs at the time to come.

A good wife is joyous and always demonstrates strength and dignity.

26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
    and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

A good wife always speaks wisely and kindly.

(Proverbs 31:11-26)

Then there is this last part-

30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

(Proverbs 31:30)

Charm from a woman is not to be trusted. My understanding of the use of the word vain in the Bible is to indicate that it is fleeting, something one can only be proud of for a short time, before it is gone. Hence beauty is fleeting and not something that can be counted on in the long run. In contrast is fear of the lord, or faith, which is to be praised- that is, something of great worth that should be recognized as such.

Do not deprive yourself of a wise and good wife,
    for her charm is worth more than gold.

(Sirach 7:19)

Wisdom is once again mentioned as a valuable thing in a wife. As is good- which probably means God-fearing in the eyes of the author.

[I am ending this section here. You have an idea now what I was doing, and where I was going- or not going, as the case may be.]

III.

In this section, rather than track down quotes/passages and then draw out valuable qualities from them, I will lead off with the valuable qualities to look for in a potential wife. The key character traits that a man should look for in a wife are as follows (and in what I perceive to be the order of importance):

  1. God-fearing
  2. Sensible
  3. Courageous
  4. Trustworthy
  5. Diligent
  6. Kind

If someone disagrees about the order I have, feel free to express your position in the comments. Now to explain a bit why each is important.

  • God-fearing- This character trait, encompasses both faith and devotion, is of paramount importance. Proverbs 31 makes it clear that fear of the Lord is above all else in valuable qualities found in a good wife. The rest of scripture backs this up. Throughout scripture we can see the cost to a man married to a woman who doesn’t fear the Lord, and we can see the benefit to one who is married to a god-fearing woman. Moreover, fear of the Lord is the only real safeguard against the worst of female behavior- a man married to a non-believing woman is at the mercy of her capriciousness. This trait includes a number of manifestations of faith, including chastity.
  • Sensible- Other words fit, depending on translation: Prudence, discretion, wisdom. But all signify the same essential character quality- the ability to exercise sound judgment. Of course, a woman’s ability to exercise this will depend heavily on her circumstances. A younger woman will almost certainly be less wise than an older one- something to keep in mind. Look for if a women is willing and able to learn from her mistakes (or errors), or if she is insistent on obstinacy.
  • Courageous- Bravery may seem like a masculine trait, not a feminine one, but that isn’t so. Courage is essential to face the many travails of life, as well as to really live your faith as required. Standing up for you and your interests may require a lot of courage from her at times. So be wary about picking someone who will always fold in the face of difficulty or danger.
  • Trustworthy- Does she keep her word? Will she do what she promised, or will she “forget” or make excuses for failing to do as promised? You want a woman you can trust. Without that, nothing, including your marriage itself, is secure.  Keep in mind this is the woman who will be spending more time with your children than anyone else. Trust is huge.
  • Diligent- Is she a hard worker? Most life skills take a long time to develop. Years, or even decades are required to learn trades, or to acquire the “instincts” to be good at something like real estate, or to recognize a good business deal from a bad one. Instead of focusing on those, look instead to see if a woman is a hard worker. Does she work until completion on a task, however annoying or minor? If so, then there is a strong chance she will demonstrate that same diligence inside your household.
  • Kind-  Encompassing graciousness, charity and a quiet, gentle spirit, kindness is a quintessential feminine trait. It is also one of the most valuable for a woman to posses. Now, not every woman will be able to express easily all forms of kindness, or graciousness. Some are developed over time. But even early on in life you can usually tell if a woman is inclined towards kindness or cruelty. Keep in mind that in a long marriage you will be with a woman for far longer than her beauty will last- make sure to pick a woman whose personality is one that is warm and inviting, and not contentious or quarrelsome. Else you might find yourself living on a rooftop….

Something that it is important to remember is that individual women will demonstrate these qualities in different ways. Just as every woman is unique, so too is how each woman demonstrates her possession (or lack thereof) of these qualities. You cannot simply ask a woman if she is, say, diligent, and get an accurate answer. Instead you must observe her. See what she does, and what she doesn’t do. Just as you know a tree by the fruit it bears, you know the qualities of a woman by what she does.

Note: I drew from many Books of the Bible to support this list. Proverbs and Sirach were especially prominent. However, other women were valuable sources of positive traits to look for, including Ruth, Abigal, Sarah (from the Book of Tobit), Esther and Judith. Also, Titus 2 and 1 Peter 3 also contributed.

[Update: Not all of these character traits are alike in how someone acquires them. Some, like diligence and trustworthiness, must be nurtured carefully from a young age in order to mature properly. Others can be acquired later in life. I think you can break them down into three categories in terms of how late in life they can be developed.

The first group, Fear of the Lord and Courage, are both amenable to change later in life. While someone can be taught the tenets of the faith throughout their life, the conscious decision to submit to God and to fear/revere Him as we should is an intensely personal choice. Such a choice is based on personal willpower and discipline, and is something that can manifest at any stage of life. A woman might have grown up an atheist, but can be convicted at some later point (such as when she turns 21) and become just as sincere in her faith as someone who was born to it. Likewise, courage is a matter of willpower. You cannot teach courage- you can give examples of it, but someone ultimately makes the choice for themselves to be courageous or not. This is something that can morph a lot during a lifetime.

The second group includes Kindness, Sensibility and Diligence. These are qualities that tend to require some nurturing to develop in a healthy manner. While not impossible, it is unlikely for a woman to have them without having had their seeds planted while she was young. Those who do change their ways and develop these traits later in life tend to be, in my experience, those women who had been reared properly but rebelled against it. Still, not impossible or unheard of for someone to acquire them without that foundation.

The last “group” is just Trustworthiness. I have never, in all my life, encountered someone who has ever changed in this regard. Either they can be trusted, or they can’t. Perhaps some folks will disagree with me here, but I can’t personally think of any examples which run counter to this. Whether someone can be trusted or not seems to be a fixed trait.

One last point- while these traits might be acquired later in life, one should never marry a woman expecting or hoping that she develops them. It is best, when one considers marrying a woman, to believe that she is at her best the day of your wedding, and will only get worse from there on out. While a cynical approach, I think it wise. It is simply folly to expect a woman to develop any of these traits after marriage. So only marry one who already has them- when she acquired them is less important than their presence and/or intensity.]

IV.

In summary, Scripture seems to indicate there are six qualities that a man should look for in a woman to determine if she will likely make a good wife: god-fearing, sensible, courageous, trustworthy, diligent and kind. Be careful not to mix up these important character traits with various life skills that can take years or decades to acquire or hone. I expect to expand on some of the ideas introduced in this post with follow-up posts down the line, and also to respond to any disagreements that arise in the comments. So expect that this won’t be the last word on the subject. Furthermore, I will probably update this post to correct mistakes and to fill in anything I’ve forgotten.

Final note- there is no such thing as a perfect woman. I rather doubt any of my readers need reminding of this. But it is important to mention all the same. None of us is perfect, and if we wait for perfection none of us will ever marry. So don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Look for a woman who has a good, solid foundation in these  character traits and the capacity, and willingness, for growth.

 

 

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43 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Femininity, God, Marriage, Women

43 responses to “What Qualities Should A Man Look For In A Wife?

  1. ballista74

    This approach is problematic because there won’t be any context for these qualities. As you will see, running Proverbs 31 line by line, or in small chunks, obscures the fact that it is talking about an older, more mature and more experienced wife.

    Proverbs 31 represents an attainable goal of the long-term wife. As I think you got, you can go through each of those things and get certain principles that come out of it that are not developed, but are already there. Those things, if the parents haven’t instilled them in her, will NEVER come.

    This is where the wise man resides in evaluating a woman. If she’s not honest when you meet her, she’ll never be. If you can’t trust her with something small, it’s a good sign she’ll never be trustworthy. If she’s lazy and not diligent when you meet her, the odds will be very high she will be that way as a wife. You can go on and on with these kinds of things.

    Speaking of parents, you can evaluate the mother in the same way. If the mother doesn’t look even closer to the Proverbs 31 wife than the daughter, odds are the daughter will never have had the positive qualities necessary. Studying the mother is a good way to determine what the daughter will be like in a lot of ways. As I’ve remarked on several occasions, doing exactly this has wisely disqualified several daughters.

  2. This isn’t true. People aren’t stuck with only what their parents provided. Bad parenting certainly doesn’t help in such matters as finding a spouse, but just as there are tons of Preacher’s Kids who turn astray, there are plenty of nominally Christian-raised people who find their way back to the flock and make decent Christians and spouses. The Puritans understood that parents simply don’t have the level of control over their children that you seem to think is the case. They can’t instill all that much when it comes to these matters.

  3. @ The Unreal Woman

    Was your comment directed at me, or at Ballista?

  4. ballista74

    @TUW
    It’s not so much a level of control as what they’ve been taught over their years in the home. It’s hard to undo that. There are exceptions, but they are rare. That said, the mother is a very good picture of what the daughter will be for that very reason.

  5. Great post, Donal, nice way to pull it down to the brass tacks.

    @Ballista: There are exceptions, but they are rare. That said, the mother is a very good picture of what the daughter will be for that very reason.

    That depends, does the woman think her mother is wonderful and flawless? Or is she aware of her faults and the things that she will have to work to not emulate?

    My mother once said that either a child turns out exactly like their parent or they become the exact opposite. Looking at my grandmother, my mother, and I, I think it’s more nuanced than that. The child will do the opposite or the same on individual tasks or traits, depending on whether they feel they are healthy/normal or not.

    So an active comparison and maybe a conversation about her mother would be good indicators.

  6. I’m going to update this shortly to include some of my thoughts on what folks have discussed regarding parents and traits developing later in life.

  7. Updated. You will see the additions at the end of section 3.

  8. Elspeth

    I know (for an absolute fact) that it is possible for a person to make a positive turn away from some of the things that were modeled as a young person.

    I am married to someone who did it with regard to what his father taught his sons, and am friends with a woman whose husband is a marvel when you consider how he was raised.

  9. I’ll disagree on trustworthiness, but only so far. I was extremely untrustworthy in certain regards before my conversion, and afterwards have changed.

    That being said, I wouldn’t date an atheist at all, and certainly would not expect a conversion to solve all, or even any, problems in a woman’s character. Far too many people never get the true fire of faith that desires to burn away the self in offering that Christ might inhabit the spaces in our hearts left when we give up sinful desires. Instead they play the ‘God’s forgiven me, why can’t you?’ Game, with no desire to actually change or amend their lives

  10. deti

    Great post, donal. Important, and a comprehensive look at wifely character traits.

    A couple of points:

    1. A woman ought to demonstrate basic “competence” or knowledge in all these by the time she’s late teens and early 20s. She might not have the skills to run a house, but she can have the sensibility to know she needs to learn. She might not be a Bible scholar, but it’s sufficient that by 18 or 19 she has a basic reverence for God that shows in her everyday life. She might not be the most diligent person, but she tries, and she doesn’t give up easily.

    2. Next to God fearing, the next most important character trait a man needs to look for is kindness. A woman absolutely cannot be anything like a good wife if she can’t show basic kindness from her heart. And a man can put up with some degree of sloth or lack of diligence, even lacking some common sense, in a wife. But marriage to an unkind woman will make his life sheer hell. Unlike trustworthiness, this is something that a woman can change — I’ve seen unkind women repent and have a change of heart in this regard. I don’t think it’s easy, but it’s something she can do.

    By and large, it’s women, not men, who need to be told to “be nice”.

  11. Donal, I think you need to write a post about what a woman should look for/expect in a husband.

  12. Aquinas Dad

    Good insight, and good progress. I think, though, that the traits you are looking for are already codified by the Church:

    Prudence
    Temperance
    Fortitude
    Justice
    Faith
    Hope
    Charity

    We must all work on these for our entire lives but the foundations should be obvious by the mid- to late teens.
    And yes! Yes! Life skills are not character traits! This is the same error as mistaking management skills for leadership traits. Just as a young man who has a good character can grow into a skilled worker that can provide for a family a young woman who is of good character can grow into a skilled wife and mother that can provide for a family. Expecting a young woman to already be highly proficient at everything from sewing to cooking to book keeping to running a parich event at 18 or 19 is no different than expecting a young man to be earning sic figures at the same age. Are a few people there already? Yes. But most need the love, support, and grace of matrimony to grow into those skills and abilities.

    As for the impact of parents, the Church has long taught that a key element of courtship is to spend time with the potential spouse’s *family* so you may learn about them, see the interactions of the family (including with the potential spouse) and uncover at least some of that dynamic first hand.

  13. I’m going to chime in about the parents thing, too. Both my husband and I came from bad homes- sleeping around, drugs, welfare, drama, abuse, neglect, mental disorders, etc. There were so many nights in the beginning of our marriage that we’d lay in bed and wonder out loud how we could possibly end up like this instead of like them. Then I happened upon Jack McCoy of Law & Order explaining to someone that he never emulated his horrible father because he never respected his him (or something like that).

    It makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? We never looked up to our parents. Even as children we knew they were wrong. We had stronger minds, we had the influence of other people be it at church (me- my mother was far from religious but liked to milk all the charity she could) other family (him), etc. I read a lot so I knew what a person should be and what they shouldn’t.

    My sibling, on the other hand, has really copied my mother in some ways and it breaks my heart. But she was always attached to our mother in a way I never was. That’s what the judge should be- not where someone comes from but how attached they are to it.

    We’ve been told “you must have had great parents” a lot but the truth is a lot of us get where we are in spite of our parents not because of them. The one thing our parents gave us was a strong example of what not to be.

  14. I should probably make a post of this on my own but there can actually be benefit in being with someone from a bad family. My husband and I are closer than most couples because we are all we have. There is a bond there. We’ve seen it before- being too close to family can make leaving and creating your own very difficult. I’m not saying being close to one’s family is bad at all! I envy those people! But there is something to be said for really having to bond in that way.

  15. deti

    Maeve:

    Things a wife should look for in a husband, off the top of my head:

    –God-fearing
    –Independence (he doesn’t need a woman)
    –Interdependent on other men (is part of a “tribe” and has a place in it)
    –Firmness of resolve (has a well developed worldview of facts and Truth, and is wedded to it)
    –Industriousness (works a job and has some material things, or the potential for same)
    –Temperate (even keeled in his day to day life, has basic mastery over his mind and body, does all in moderation and nothing to excess, easy going, slow to anger)

  16. Deti’s list is good.

    I would add “willingness to lead and/or stand up to her [when she is unhappy or disagrees if he is making a decision]” — it’s embedded in independence, resolve, God-fearing, etc. But most men and women don’t understand that until after he caves to her decisions a lot… and then they can’t figure out why she wants to be more rebellious, disrespectful, and wants to run roughshod over him.

  17. deti

    Deep:

    You could broaden out your “willingness to lead and/or stand up to her”

    To

    “enforces his boundaries”. By that I mean a man has boundaries, tolerances and limits. Once they’re reached, a man has to either (1) enforce the boundaries and restrict others’ behavior to remain within them; or (2) remove the offending person/situation/behavior. This can be applied to jobs, social situations, friends, girlfriends and wives.

  18. Interesting thoughts there, gentlemen.

  19. deti

    Maeve:

    Yeah. The problem is that most of those characteristics, except for “independent”, aren’t “sexy”, not even to Christian women.

    Most women, including Christian women, intentionally overlook men who have these traits and go STRAIGHT for Mr. Thugalicious.

  20. @ deti

    Good distinction there. So we have:

    –God-fearing
    –Independence (he doesn’t need a woman)
    –Interdependent on other men (is part of a “tribe” and has a place in it)
    –Firmness of resolve (has a well developed worldview of facts and Truth, and is wedded to it)
    –Industriousness (works a job and has some material things, or the potential for same)
    –Temperate (even keeled in his day to day life, has basic mastery over his mind and body, does all in moderation and nothing to excess, easy going, slow to anger)
    –Enforces his boundaries (1) enforce the boundaries and restrict others’ behavior to remain within them; or (2) remove the offending person/situation/behavior. This can be applied to jobs, social situations, friends, girlfriends and wives.

    Of the ones above, independence, firmness of resolve, and enforcing boundaries tend to be attractive.

    God fearing (at least in word not deed), interdependent, industrious, and temperate are not attractive.

  21. Elspeth

    Most women, including Christian women, intentionally overlook men who have these traits and go STRAIGHT for Mr. Thugalicious.

    I disagree. It’s the confidence and frame that are the draw, not the thuggishness, although I’m certain we could go round in circles about that one all afternoon.

    Thinking a bit more about instilling these things from childhood, and contemplating that I spent my formative years motherless, learned when I got a mother that it was important for a wife to work and have her own money (ironic given that she married a man 22 years her senior who had invested and saved well), and then I turned around married a guy who wanted absolutely nothing to do with a so-called “independent women”. I fell in line too, and quick.

    I wonder how true it is that some things can’t be instilled later. Or that other things can’t be unlearned later.

  22. Elspeth

    I’ll add that honesty, kindness, trustworthiness, and not taking yourself too seriously are things that are harder to acquire later in life apart from continuous yielding to the Holy Spirit. But I contend that they can be learned.

  23. Thanks for the comments everyone. Will try and respond in short order.

  24. @ Alla

    Thank you.

    @ Elsepth

    I know (for an absolute fact) that it is possible for a person to make a positive turn away from some of the things that were modeled as a young person.

    Same here. And that applies to myself. I know I have changed a huge amount in the last few years.

    @ Chad

    I’ll disagree on trustworthiness, but only so far. I was extremely untrustworthy in certain regards before my conversion, and afterwards have changed.

    I’ll take your word on that. Personally, no one I know that has converted later in life was lacking in honesty and trustworthiness beforehand. But that isn’t a huge sample. Still, I think it takes a genuine road to Damascus moment to really shake someone up like that.

    @ Deti

    Yes, what I was trying to explain is that a woman needs a certain amount of each of these qualities before marriage to be considered wife material (at least at the time).

  25. @ Maeve

    Donal, I think you need to write a post about what a woman should look for/expect in a husband.

    Sounds good. Give me a couple of days to see what I can do.

    @ Aquinas Dad

    I had the Seven Virtues in mind when I wrote this post. Some of them translate over fairly well- Prudence for Sensibility, for example. But others not so much. There is a spectrum of specificity when it comes what to look for in someone. The Seven virtues are far to the end of the “general” part of the spectrum. Because of this, they are somewhat less useful than having more exact standards of what to look for. Which is why I used Kindness instead of charity, and Diligence instead of Fortitude. At the same time, I didn’t want to go too far and pick life skills out either.

    @ Margery

    You have gotten to an important point here. I think that it is important to keep a man’s or woman’s family in mind when considering them a potential spouse. But do so through a careful prism of understanding. If the parents are “good”, then does he/she respect them and try to emulate them? If the parents are “bad”, does he or she try to not emulate them? This kind of investigation is very important, but quite context specific.

    And I look forward to your post idea. I can see where your argument has some strong merit- I know that marrying a woman from a good family which she has strong ties to concerns me slightly, as I worry that it will interfere with her ties to me.

    @ Deti and Deep Strength

    I will integrate your thoughts into my next post.

  26. @ Elspeth

    I wonder how true it is that some things can’t be instilled later. Or that other things can’t be unlearned later.

    It depends on what those things are. What you were taught about working outside of, or inside of, the home is not a character trait. Its more of a preference thing- which is, in my view, a lot easier to change than a deficiency in character. Not that the latter is impossible, just really hard. And not something we should ever expect to have change in marriage in a positive way.

  27. Elspeth

    What you were taught about working outside of, or inside of, the home is not a character trait. Its more of a preference thing- which is, in my view, a lot easier to change than a deficiency in character.

    I agree, unless your independence is sold as part and parcel of who you are, it can be challenge. And it was for me. Prayers, silent wailing and the -metaphorical of course- beating of the chest. It tainted the amount of joy I was able to bring to my role as a homemaker.

    It really wasn’t until we got pregnant with number 4 and it became crystal clear to my stepmother that this IS my life (and she accordingly ceased the subtle digs) that I was able to fully make peace, although the process began much sooner mainly because it sincerely pleases me to please him.

    But our actions and heart need to be in alignment more often than not for our works to have a positive impact on those we come into contact with.

  28. God fearing (at least in word not deed), interdependent, industrious, and temperate are not attractive.

    Sez you. The man who does not have these qualities would best be described as self-centered, isolated, lazy, and feckless – none of which are attractive traits.

    If those negative traits do attract a woman, you can be sure that she is looking for a “project man” and/or one that she can freely hen-peck.

  29. “God fearing (at least in word not deed), interdependent, industrious, and temperate are not attractive.”

    Sez you. The man who does not have these qualities would best be described as self-centered, isolated, lazy, and feckless – none of which are attractive traits.

    If those negative traits do attract a woman, you can be sure that she is looking for a “project man” and/or one that she can freely hen-peck.

    Yes, being a Christian is NOT attractive. It’s desirable trait for a Christian woman. If being a Christian was an attractive trait then all Christian men would be attractive to all Christian women and all secular women. This is empirically false.

    What is it with women and not being able to understand the difference between attractive traits and desirable traits?

  30. It’s a bit ironic that the traits in and of themselves do not generate attraction, however the lack of them can produce an rather unattractive result.

  31. @ Feather Blade

    The man who does not have these qualities would best be described as self-centered, isolated, lazy, and feckless – none of which are attractive traits.

    This is true, they aren’t attractive. But they aren’t unattractive either.

    Just remember, I use around this blog (and others mostly follow suite) attraction and attractiveness to describe sexual attraction, or what some others might call arousal. So you can have a self-centered, isolated, lazy and feckless man who is still sexually attractive if he scores well enough on the LAMPS/PSALMS attributes.

    @ Deep Strength

    What is it with women and not being able to understand the difference between attractive traits and desirable traits?

    This isn’t entirely dissimilar from the recent matter on your blog involving women and respect. Sometimes the language we use makes it more difficult to carry across certain concepts. We use attractive and attraction to describe both sexual attraction as well as desirable traits in a spouse. Heck, even desirable has a sexual and non-sexual meaning. It isn’t a surprise, really, that we should have trouble with this area when our language is so confusing.

    Also, I don’t think this confusion is entirely accidental. I think that there is a goodly chance some want to mix things up and create confusion, for the sake of plausible deniability.

    @ Maeve

    It’s a bit ironic that the traits in and of themselves do not generate attraction, however the lack of them can produce an rather unattractive result.

    Yes, it can have that effect. For some women (and it seems like it applies only to the “better” women out there), a man who severely lacks in desirable traits loses some sexual attractiveness as well.

  32. @ Donal

    This isn’t entirely dissimilar from the recent matter on your blog involving women and respect. Sometimes the language we use makes it more difficult to carry across certain concepts. We use attractive and attraction to describe both sexual attraction as well as desirable traits in a spouse. Heck, even desirable has a sexual and non-sexual meaning. It isn’t a surprise, really, that we should have trouble with this area when our language is so confusing.

    True. Though attraction and arousal are not the same thing either. They do overlap significantly too.

    Attraction before marriage is not a sin. But stimulating arousal I would say is as Song of Songs says… “don’t awaken love (or rather arousal) before it’s time.”

    I may have to write a post on this.

  33. deti

    Deep: “What is it with women and not being able to understand the difference between attractive traits and desirable traits?”

    Donal: “Also, I don’t think this confusion is entirely accidental. I think that there is a goodly chance some want to mix things up and create confusion, for the sake of plausible deniability.

    Donal, you answered it well. Diplomacy is one of your strong suits, I think. For me, not so much. I tend too much toward cynicism in this regard, which I’d try to eschew if girls and women didn’t encourage that cynicism over and over again.

    Most women don’t themselves, on the surface, understand what they find arousing, or sexually attractive. I think that very deep down who understand it, but they never, ever talk about it, ever, other than to other women and those “in the know”. Or they reveal it unwittingly, in their actions or on blog posts like some Boundless commenter about a year ago who said girls don’t like wimpy, spineless Christian simps. Because when they talk about it, when they give voice to it, they get shamed for it (or shame themselves for it). They know they can’t marry the hawt guys, but they want want want those guys so badly they can taste it.

    Most women say they like nice guys, they like hard workers and faithful devout men, because when they say those things they look good to other people and to themselves. They can look themselves in the eye and reaffirm their basic humanity. They aren’t shallow or superficial. They aren’t bad people. They are Good Girls. They believe, and do, The Right Things. Then when they have sex with a jerk, they can call it a “mistake” or a “slipup”. Or if they find themselves drawn to a bad boy, they can say “but he has so many other good qualities; you just don’t know him like I do”. Of course a woman’s attraction to a bad boy isn’t disordered, it just is what it is. It’s just that those couplings don’t tend to work out well, for all the reasons we know so well.

    Women don’t want to be brutally honest about what they like; because it makes them look bad if they are. Men are mercilessly shamed for liking pretty faces, slender, toned bodies, long hair, big breasts, firm shapely butts, and long legs. Pretty much the same thing here.

  34. What is it with women and not being able to understand the difference between attractive traits and desirable traits?

    I’ll go with the assertion that the confusion is a failure to define terms. My understanding is that “attractive” and “desirable” refer to the same traits, but from opposite directions. After all, if one desires something, that which one desires must necessarily attract one, or one would not desire it, yes?

    I will agree that the mere fact of a man’s Christianity is not enough to attract a woman. If that were so, then she would be inappropriately drawn to any Christian man, regardless of his other qualities, some of which would necessarily put him out of consideration – e.g. he’s already married, or he is a committed celibate, or he is not of an appropriate age.

    It is however, the sine qua non of Christian relationships. If a man is not a Christian, then that mere fact disqualifies him from an intimate relationship with a Christian woman (and vice-versa, to be fair). And if she pursues such a man (or gives into his pursuit) despite this disqualification, then she is a fool, and worse than a fool.

    Once that hurdle is passed, then one must use secondary criteria such as availability, looks, intelligence, all the other supposedly unattractive traits listed above, and/or… how to phrase this… sympathetic resonance of personality, I suppose, to figure out if one could stand to have kids with and be around the person for the rest of one’s natural life.

  35. Or they reveal it unwittingly, in their actions or on blog posts like some Boundless commenter about a year ago who said girls don’t like wimpy, spineless Christian simps.

    I’m inclined to think that the “wimpy, spineless simps” part is the primary turnoff. Remove the question of religious affiliation entirely, and you still won’t find much attraction for someone whom that descriptor fits.

    Adding “Christian”, merely heaps contempt upon contempt, as the last thing that a Christian can afford to be is spineless.

  36. @ Feather Blade

    My understanding is that “attractive” and “desirable” refer to the same traits, but from opposite directions. After all, if one desires something, that which one desires must necessarily attract one, or one would not desire it, yes?

    Under common usage, yes. However, on this blog I use them differently, in order to express different ideas. I can understand how that is confusing. Once I have written the post for women I think a post about definitions will be called for.

    sympathetic resonance of personality

    I like that turn of phrase. Chemistry also works, although that is another word which has a multitude of meanings.

  37. I’m inclined to think that the “wimpy, spineless simps” part is the primary turnoff.

    You would be correct. The problem is that men are taught to be nice, and being nice as a man turns you into one of those “wimpy, spineless simps.”

  38. @ Elspeth

    I disagree. It’s the confidence and frame that are the draw, not the thuggishness, although I’m certain we could go round in circles about that one all afternoon.

    I agree with Donal Graeme’s take on which of Deti’s traits are attractive and which aren’t.

    Additionally, I want to point out that “God fearing”, “interdependent on other men”, and “temperance” are all traits that must necessarily detract from the confidence and frame, at least to a certain extent. They all show deference from the man, whether to God, to other men, or to standards of temperance. They simply lie in direct contradiction to the DGAF attitude that makes thugs so attractive.

  39. @ Deep Strength

    Though attraction and arousal are not the same thing either. They do overlap significantly too.

    Yes. There is sexual attraction and there is romantic attraction. This dichotomy is best exemplified by the madonna/whore complex.

  40. mdavid

    deti, …girls don’t like wimpy, spineless Christian simps.

    There are good, pure reasons girls think like this. I generally do myself. If he’s not a spineless Ned Flanders (using religion to be a girly-man) he’s probably an extroverted CINO waving his bible around to justify himself. Religion attracts some real losers.

    I think traditional male Christians (strong, silent, firm, obedient to a faith not himself, willing to have lots of children) find their religion a considerable asset when dating traditional Christian girls. He’s nearly extinct, so that helps.

    But this scarce character doesn’t use his religion as a crutch to not be confident, attractive, and flush…because the attractive girl in the pew next to him has options. She’s one of the few chaste women left in Slutville.

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