Southern Man

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Reflections On Relationships

The teacher of Southern Man's Sunday School Class often confesses how back in her younger and wilder days she was a relationship junkie who traded "affection" (we'll put it that way) for a man's love and commitment.

It occurs to Southern Man that this is really what everyone wants. Most men would gladly provide commitment and love and "all their worldly goods" for genuine respect and, ahem, "affection." Indeed, the dream of most men is to build a world and put their woman and children in the center of that world and come home after a long day of dragon-slaying to enjoy the fruits of their labor and their love. Southern Man is convinced that the happiest women are those who are loved by a man they respect. Read Eggerichs' Love and Respect; he lays it all out there and Southern Man dearly wishes he'd understood these truths twenty-five years ago. But the balance of power works one way when dating and quite another after marriage.
When dating the woman gives her respect and affection in return for love and commitment. The man can bask in the pleasure of her "affection" for a time but is free to withdraw his love and commitment and end the relationship without suffering much in the way of consequences, leaving the woman devastated and alone. When dating, men have the upper hand.

After marriage and children the woman can enjoy the security of a man's love and commitment and possessions but can withdraw her respect and affection without suffering much in the way of consequences, leaving the man trapped in an unhappy marriage that he dares not leave, for if he ends the relationship (or have it severed against his will, which is usually the case) the world he's built is shattered and he's also bankrupt and alone and usually without much access to his children. When married, women can, if they desire, parcel out respect and affection to control the relationship.
Many of Southern Man's male acquaintances have trod this broken road: a marriage in which the wife withdrew her respect and affection, then wondered why she didn't "feel loved" (Eggerich calls this death spiral the "crazy cycle") and ended the marriage, cashed in on half (or more!) of the family assets and court-ordered alimony and child support, took the children, and moved on to another man. Southern Man himself is slowly edging away from the pit of bankruptcy - no, he didn't fall in but it was a closer call than anyone realizes - and faces four or five more years with only occasional weekends with his youngest and the frustrating inability to provide much in the way of assistance to his college-bound daughter (he had to move money around to send her a mere $20 last week!) The planned move to the FEMA trailer at The Land is, plain and simple, an admission that he can no longer afford the rent at Casa Southern Man and the only reason he's not out there right now is because he can't afford to break his lease. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise - divorce is harsh and life after divorce is, at least for a while, no fun at all. For men, the exciting post-divorce single life consists mainly of being broke and alone and wondering if you'll ever love or be loved again.

Southern Man's son is in a serious relationship (as in shopping-for-a-trailer-together serious); teen daughter is on the cusp of her dating life. Southern Man doubts that they have yet experienced the agonies of genuine heartbreak and figures that they will learn the truths of relationships the hard way, as Southern Man did. He certainly didn't pay much attention to his elders at that age, so this post will probably be of little help to them. Heck, Southern Man has read the words of the Apostle Paul about husbands and wives and love and respect for most of his life and didn't really begin to actually understand them until a few years ago. It's true - Southern Man can be a very slow learner. But perhaps they and others will read this and take a bit of care as to how they explore uncharted territory. And here are ten more books that Southern Man has found helpful over the last few years when dealing with relationship and their occasionally bitter ending. Lord, teach my children to guard their hearts and chose carefully who they love, but not to be so guarded that they don't love fully when they find the right one. Amen.


At Sunday, October 30, 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love is a decision. Love is a person, GOD Himself. Put HIM first and everything (been there, done that) else falls into proper place. Feelings fade. GOD never does...ever! I've been where the majority would have just simply given up and moved on. We are more solid than ever...I refused to break the covenant made before GOD even when my spouse chose to do so. SO, Southern Man, the woman GOD has for you is out there if you chose to find her (in a GODLY relationship, because all others fail) Yes, this is my soapbox. There is plenty of room for you too :)

At Monday, October 31, 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm confused. The second indented paragraph shows a very gloomy view of marriage! I don't think this is always true! Do you? Don't you know marriages that are NOT like that?

And if that is truly your view of marriage, will you ever choose to marry again? Or will it be just a string of dating-only relationships?

Girl Programmer

At Monday, October 31, 2011, Blogger Southern Man said...

GP, you shouldn't be confused; you once pointed out how angry I always seemed to be. An unhappy marriage was probably a lot of it. And to answer the second question: neither. I doubt that I will remarry, and although I've been on a short string of "coffee dates" I don't much intend to ever date seriously again. Unless the right one comes along...

At Tuesday, November 01, 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it safe in the South to live in trailers? I mean, aren't there a lot of tornadoes blowin' thru there?

Oh...never say never. It comes back to bite you on the butt. Some sweet thing will wink wink at you and you will be dating again. And it won't be for just coffee.

At Tuesday, November 01, 2011, Blogger Southern Man said...

Look at the May 2011 archives for lots of pics of tornado damage around The Land.

At Wednesday, November 02, 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

don't you have a trailer out there? don't trailers explode in tornadoes? do you have shelter to go to?


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