How the Good Guy Gets the Girl: Real Romance 101
- 2009 14 Feb
For many Christian Nice Guy marriages, Valentine’s Day is a painful reminder of how disengaged their marriage really are. But there’s hope. If handled in a better way, Valentine’s Day can be the beginning of something much stronger and better than they imagined—provided both spouses are willing to look at their problem from different perspectives. They’ll see that what was once a bone of contention is actually intimacy in disguise.
A Christian Nice Guy has mixed feelings about Valentine's Day. He wants to be more demonstrative with his feelings of love, but something inside him thinks it's too dangerous. That something is usually fear, which is in the driver's seat of his life. And chances are he doesn't know it yet. Making matters worse, his wife or girlfriend often takes his limited emotional range and his reluctance to express what little emotional capacity he does have personally.
Sometimes her anger gets the better of her and she says things she regrets and unintentionally pushes him away. This is too bad because chances are his inability to be Mr. Romance began well before they met, especially if he had an alcoholic parent or if he attended churches that unintentionally denatured his masculinity.
Christian Nice Guys and the women who love them need to take a different approach toward how they reveal emotions. Such men need to take more chances, and their wives or girlfriends need to provide more room for them to express their true feelings without fear of reprisal or correction. The following exercises have helpful Christian Nice Guy marriages as well as single Christian Nice Guys get closer to saying those two words they long to say and hear, “I do.”
Married Christian Nice Guy: This Valentine's Day, concentrate less on flowers and more on feelings (Okay, do both). Write down the ten most powerful moments in your life, spanning from great (honeymoon) to horrible (the day Buddy your dog died). Then, beginning on Valentine's Day – or even better, on a series of date nights over the next few months - share these moments with her. Share more than just the facts about these moments, but how these moments made you *feel.* Fight the urge to make sure that your feelings must come out "right." Just express them. Avoid the tendency to "clip" your negative feelings by pretending not to feel pain or sadness when you really do. If the woman sitting across from you is one of goodwill, your emotional revelation will draw her toward you, not away. It is our imperfections that make us relatable.
Christian Nice Guy Wives: You possess a heroic opportunity like no other. Chances are that you are the most instrumental person in his life, and chances are you have more power than you realize. Use it justly. As we explain in Married But Not Engaged, you need to proceed with wisdom, grace, and love. One of the best ways to get past his well-fortified defenses is to ask him questions about better times in his life. Ask him the following questions:
- Who made you feel good about yourself when you were growing up?
- When did you feel most alive and happy as a boy?
- Of all the people you knew as a kid, who would you want to reunite with and why?
And when he speaks, listen. Don't judge him. And please don't correct him. Let him be him, warts and all. Ask him questions about how he felt around the good people of his youth. Chances are he will need help giving his feelings names. Watch his body language and his facial expressions and tell him what you see without judging him.
This will help him feel more comfortable expressing himself, leading to greater intimacy.
Single Christian Nice Guys: Of all the men I work with SCNGs have some of the most painful stories to tell. They want to be married, but they follow a very bad script when dating. They often think that the way to a woman's heart is to become her newest girlfriend. They also follow spiritual advice that denatures their masculinity, so much so that they appear creepy to many women. Here’s some advice this Valentine’s Day that will put you on a better course:
- Express self-confidence, which you aid by pursuing interests that you are good at.
- Show excitement with life, which you aid by figuring out which settings make you feel happiest and most alive.
- Cultivate opinions and an independent spirit. While on a date, disagree without being obnoxious or shrinking back. Show some gentlemanly backbone.
- Get active. Start an exercise routine or change your existing one to be around women more.
- Don’t gush on and on too early about your romantic wants and desires.
- You aren’t required to tell her everything you think. Be shrewd.
- Resist trying to control everything that happens while on dates. Romance is a mingling of wills and desires that is allowed to become a new creation. Trying to control this creation often kills it. Not trying to control everything takes the pressure off, helping you become you.
- Show some humor. Memorize a few jokes. And gently tease her—not about something sensitive like appearances. This is unusual advice I know, but it helps Single Christian Nice Guys get over their overriding desire to earn the complete approval of their date. This helps them display a certain independence, which they lack. It also helps SCNGs lighten up.
Valentine’s Day (and all the other days when we’re expected to show how we really feel) doesn’t have to be another reminder of how unengaged you are. It can be the beginning of a new course for your marriage and for your spiritual growth.
Paul and Sandy Coughlin are the authors of Married But Not Engaged: Why Men Check out and What You Can Do to Create the Intimacy You Desire, which helps Christian Nice Guy marriages grow and deepen. Paul is also a founding member of Godmen (www.godmen.org). For more information about the Christian Nice Guy problem, read No More Christian Nice Guy or visit Marriedbutnotengaged.com or Christianniceguy.com.