I’m sharing a series of “letters” originally written by Vince Miller. I regard Vince as a trusted resource for wisdom and insight on faith and family especially as it pertains to men and fathers. His bio is at the bottom of the post. Look him up. What follows is his work entirely. Vince communicates the messages I want my son to hear in a far more clear and concise way than I could ever say. Consider using these as conversation starters. I encourage you to share these letters with the important men in your life.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”—Genesis 1:27
“Marriage is a lot of give and take. You take a lot, and you give a lot.”—Verna Mae Baker
Son, It Seems The Times Are A-Changin’
We live in a time in our culture where it appears men and women compete with each other. In this battle for equality and preserving the masculine and feminine identity, it seems there is an attack on old customs. Former “gentlemanly traditions” are now brought into question as if their motivation was to force women to become our subjects in the home, marriage, marketplace, and the church. While this could long be debated, including the underlying motivations and resultant issues, it’s had an impact on what it means to be a man and how to best cherish and honor women. I would say it has made relationships more tricky to navigate. Some men are skittish, and others ignore it—but the world is not skittish and refuse to ignore it. Popular media throws out words that even I have to look up—like “misogyny” and “misandry.” Colleges now subject incoming students to pronouns about gender and sexual identity that inherently have a double meaning—like “cisgender.” And I wonder if this is creating more clarity for anyone, or just adding to the confusion. On our quest for understanding, could we be frustrating ourselves?
Maybe this is partly our fault as men. The unintended consequences of not living out the character of Christ might be catching up with us. Our misuse of power, objectification of beauty, locker-room lingo, misunderstanding of submission, and poor treatment might have created the perfect storm in our time. The sad part is that it calls into question all that was good about gentlemen behaviors like provision, protection, roles, and manners that had long-standing masculine charm. Our culture is trying at hyperspeed to redefine masculinity, but this does not change God’s plan for manhood.
So how can we best love the women of our life?
Eight Principles For Female Relationships
One | Be A Strong Gentlemen
“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”—1 Peter 3:7
Everyone gets tripped up by the “weaker vessel” part of this verse, yet why wouldn’t every woman want a strong man? But “strong” does not infer that we should use power to demand the submission of others. It means to steward our strength to “lift a heavy box” responsibly and with the understanding, we do have some common ground with women—a grace that redeems us both. Balancing this is a delicate art. Sincerely strong men know they possess a “power,” whatever that power may be, and manage it with care toward others. This is God’s obligation before us. Being strong is to know our strength and then practice it in a way that brings beauty to those who possess a different strength. I believe this is what it means to be a “gentle” man. And I want you to be this man—unashamed of your strength but not shaming others with it—especially women.
- Hold the door for a woman.
- Give a thoughtful gift to a woman.
- Wait until marriage to have sex.
- Respect your mother or any older woman.
- Put Godly boundaries on your interaction with women.
- Kiss her respectfully.
- Protect her dignity with other men.
- Mind your manners around all women.
- Defend and embellish women.
- Don’t put yourself in a compromising position with a woman.
Two | Connect Emotionally With Women
“Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.”—Colossians 3:19
One thing I failed to learn before marriage was how to connect emotionally. Due to the emotional damage in my life, I was unable to discover that emotional connection was critical in marriage, relationships, and leadership. Emotional connection is a part of life, and it requires honesty, openness, and transparency. If you want a great relationship with women and marriage, then you are going to have to learn how to connect with women emotionally. This means sharing your heart with them about the things you are experiencing, not just talking about the facts, your opinions, or being ready with the next best joke.
“Harsh” men, as Paul references above, have failed to learn to connect emotionally. Contrary to popular belief, anger is not the only emotion we have as men. Many men never learn this. Angry men have not learned or been taught the strength and power of real honest, open, and transparent sharing. They have not learned to identify and address their wounds, and thus, in fits of anger express this confusion. And when we are “harsh” with women, we end up treating women as submissive subjects rather than loving them the way God would love them.
Emotional connection is vital in a relationship with women, raising children, and leading people. “Emotional Intelligence,” terminology Daniel Coleman popularized, is the ability to understand self enough that we can connect healthily with others. But this is not to be reduced to a leadership tactic—it’s an emotional ability of mature men. Women have an intuitive sense in this area and know when we are not making an emotional connection with them. And emotional connection begins with us connecting and getting real with how we feel—angry, disgusted, fearful, happy, or sad.
- Listen to how she is feeling.
- Share with her how someone made you feel.
- Listen to her struggles.
- Share a struggle you are trying to overcome.
- When you are confused, confess it and ask her for advice or wisdom.
- Share something new you learned and why this was important to you.
Three | Let The Creator Determine Manhood and Womanhood
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”—Genesis 1:27
God is the Creator. We are not. He does not remain neutral on the fact that men and women are unique and beautiful and yet both made in his image. But the world is going to have a lot to say about men and women. In college, your professors and friends will have lots to say. The world will even try to define it for you. But don’t listen to the creation on Creator issues. Marketing, movements, and sensationalism cannot redefine what God has already established. It has been tried repeatedly. When you want the best answer, go to the Creator, not creation—their opinions and ideas don’t matter. The designer, in this case, is God. He has the best purpose, plan, and payoff. And the significant part is that he has given us the best model—Jesus Christ.
- God has the best plan for man.
- God has the best plan for women.
- God has the best plan for marriage.
- God has the best plan for a family.
- God is the truth; when you have questions, go to the truth.
Four | Learn How To Love & Sacrifice For Women
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”—Ephesians 5:25
My grandmother used to say, “Marriage is a lot of give and take. You take a lot, and you give a lot.” And her point is well taken. Nothing is more humbling than discovering there is no end to the need to cherish and sacrifice. There is no line, no boundary, and no limit. We take and give endlessly. But personally absorbing and acting in the beauty in this is difficult. Women are not perfect. Men are not perfect. But we can love and sacrifice in lieu of this and see perfection through it.
In those moments, I am most challenged by my wife, I still think to myself about the high responsibility I have to love and sacrifice for her. Sometimes my selfish nature says, “again?” But in the years we have been married, I have continued to fight off this broken logic. I have discovered I do still love her underneath it all—we are merely having one of our moments.
You too will have these moments—moments of deep frustration. This is sometimes a communication issue and sometimes just part of the challenge of relationships. Don’t be quick to think it’s just a woman thing. It’s a human thing. People are sinful and broken—men and women. Due to this, you are going to have to love and sacrifice in spite of the challenges. Jesus did the same. He loved and sacrificed for a people who did not love him, and he did it anyway—so should you. And this is the point of this text. Learn to love and sacrifice—anyway.
- As a man, love a little longer than the moment.
- As a man, love when you don’t want to.
- As a man, love a little longer when people tell you not to.
- As a man, sacrifice till it hurts and discovers real love.
- And look for a woman who will do the same.
Five | Seek A Covenant Not A Contract
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”—Genesis 2:24
Oneness is a great mystery. God wants us to enjoy it live in it. He wants us to find someone with whom you will spend the rest of your life with whom you will share sexually, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.
All I know is that we can corrupt this oneness. We have the opportunity to take and steal from this oneness even before marriage by separating them from a covenantal relationship. Don’t make this mistake. God’s covenant of marriage is not something to adulterize. Many do this thinking they will be fine, and they are not.
Many people hold a “contractional” or “transactional” view of marriage. Don’t keep this view. If it’s contractional, then it’s meant to be broken. If it’s transactional then determining your half of the contribution will lead to much debate. But understand marriage as “covenantal,” and then you will take it much more seriously—because there is a third person involved in the covenant—God. And it is God who created us for a relationship, a forever commitment when the time comes. Look for a woman who wants this kind of commitment with you and God.
- Identify marriages that you admire and pray for them.
- Identify characteristics in women that you want and pray for them.
- Identify characteristic in men that you want and pray for them.
Six | Avoid Immorality
“Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?”—Proverbs 5:20
Yeah, this is one of those points that never gets old. It’s a timeless truth. Don’t treat women this way, and don’t treat yourself this way. What more needs to be said?
Don’t do this:
- View pornography or undress women with your mind.
- Joke sexually about women even with others, it’s not funny.
- Endorse the objectification of women by giving your money to entities that do.
- Don’t support others who do any of the above.
- Don’t be alone with an untrustworthy woman.
Seven | Find A Woman Who Cares About You & God
“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.”—Proverbs 31:10-12
“He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.”—Proverbs 18:22
Your mom has made me a better man. Women often see us as their favorite project. And while some think this could be interpreted as overstepping and positionally arrogant—honestly, I want to be better. Daily I am challenged by her to be better, push harder, do more, serve further, love more, be more open, become more romantic. While once I used to see this as a drawback, I now view it as an advantage I have. So look for someone who will make you better—a better man, husband, father, and leader. And someone for who you can do the same.
And nothing is more important than finding someone who not only makes you better but loves God even more than you. Someone who puts Him first. A woman who is wholly subject to God. Who wants to grow in character and virtue with Him and then you. Find this woman. Settle for nothing less. I am blessed to have found it. And only now I realize that it is the great “coincidence” of my life. And why would I suggest this? Because a woman who honors God will always honor you. It sounds a little selfish, but it’s wisdom to be trusted.
- Pray for a woman who loves you just the way you are.
- Pray for a woman who enjoys you—your style, humor, personality, and values.
- Pray for a woman who loves God.
- Pray for a woman who makes you better.
Eight | Be The Right Man & You’ll Find The Right Woman
“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”—1 Corinthians 16:13
Often, men and women date, hook up, or even get married because they are missing something in their lives and believe that one of these things will fill that void. While there is much to be said here, many fail to remember that Jesus is the relationship who completes us regardless of our married state. If you cannot come to a place of contentment, joy, and understanding your identity in your singleness, you will not find this in marriage. In fact, if you cannot find it now, it might complicate it further to be in a relationship or get married. Your identity is not found in a relationship or marriage because neither of these relational states takes the place of one’s identity in Christ—it only compliments it. You are a complete person in Christ, dating, married, or not. Regardless of popular opinion, your spouse will not “complete you,” Jesus is the only one that does. So be secure in who you are in Christ. Act like a man, the man that God made you be.
- Groom yourself.
- Smell good.
- Act in Godly character daily.
- Seek a career path.
- Work hard and play hard.
- Have fun but don’t overdo it.
Love you, son. Dad.
After serving in notable ministry organizations for over 25 years (including Young Life, InterVarsity, TCU Football, and Eagle Brook Church), Vince founded Resolute, a non-profit organization focused on providing men with tools for discipleship and mentorship. He’s written 13 books and handbooks, along with small group videos that are resources for mentorship. He also produces THE MEN’S DAILY DEVO and the MAN TALK PODCAST. His latest book is a devotional and mentoring guide for men called THIRTY VIRTUES THAT BUILD A MAN.