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Dating with a masculine heart

July 7, 2009
by
By Mark Houck
As I reflect on my dating life prior to marriage, I can’t help but think of how exhausting and deflating at times the journey was for me. The constant thought that I needed to be in a relationship with someone to give my life more meaning and purpose was an unhealthy lie that I all-too-often bought into along the way. In my immediate recall are a series of painful blind dates that served to teach me all about the things you shouldn’t do on a blind date. Perhaps I will write a future blog titled: “The Top Ten Things You Shouldn’t Do on a Blind Date.” Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for all those who asked if I would be interested in being set up on a date. Although I have to chuckle to myself when I think of all the family members and friends who said they had the “perfect girl” for me. Don’t these people realize when they say things like this that it gives you an expectation of the blind date that is almost never fulfilled?
Despite my failures in dating, I have tried over the years to be a good student of my life. As I look back now after 14 months of marriage to the woman of truly my dreams, I am grateful for the journey that I traveled because it led me to a deeper knowledge of the vocation of marriage. In my twenties, I dated with no real understanding of the sacrament of matrimony. Back then I figured if I found someone I liked and eventually could love, provided we dated long enough, then I would ask that girl to marry me. The primary question that I was asking myself was not “Is God calling me to be with this person?” Rather it was “Do I want to be with this person?” There is a huge difference in the answers and an even bigger difference in the results of a “yes” answer.
In my youth and young adult life I was always a very passive man when it came to pursuing and relating to women in relationships. I had yet to develop any real understanding of my role as a man in a dating relationship. My approach and attitude about my role had been largely shaped by society and I am regretful of the mistakes I made and the people I hurt as a result of the passive masculinity I was taught.
Armed today with the biblical understanding of my role as a man in relation to women (Ephesians 5), I write this blog in the hopes that I can spare women the heartache of dating passive men who don’t know the first thing about pursuing and loving women and inspire men to date with a truly masculine heart.
The Art of Pursuing a Woman: A Man’s Perspective

In order to date with a masculine heart, a man must first understand what is required of him to win the heart of a woman. My wife Ryan-Marie shared with me once a powerful quote that I think will serve as a good starting point for all men as they attempt to discover the art of pursuing a woman.
The heart of a woman should be so close to God, that a man must seek the heart of God to find it.
Wow! Think about that one for a moment and ask yourself if your dating up to this point has imaged something like this. I think it would be safe to say that many fall short of this goal. I know I did for years.
So the art of pursuing a woman begins with getting to know the heart of God. If a man is going to effectively pursue a woman then he must ask himself first, am I right with God? I don’t believe it is possible for a man to properly lead, protect and provide for the heart of a woman if he isn’t first living a life pleasing to God. As the old saying goes, “You can’t give what you don’t have!” Therefore a man can’t pursue a woman if he isn’t first pursuing God.
Men are called to be leaders and in order to lead others they must first learn to serve others. If a man is going to properly pursue a woman he must possess a desire to serve the woman he is pursuing. If he does not have this desire then he will serve only himself in a relationship with a woman. Where can a man find and learn how to be a servant? He needs to look to Jesus Christ as his example.
Jesus many times in Sacred Scripture teaches men how to protect the heart of a woman. Remember the Samaritan woman at the well; the woman caught in adultery; the woman who washes Jesus’ feet; and His direction to John to care for His mother at the foot of the cross. Jesus also gives us unique insight into friendship with women in His interactions with Martha and Mary. These examples should be helpful in guiding men into right relationship with women.
As a man contemplates how he can possibly change his approach to pursuing women based on the above, I invite him to consider these powerful words of wisdom:
It requires the strength of a real man to care for the heart of a woman. It takes the beauty of a real woman to arouse the courage of a real man.
A man benefits greatly from a woman who allows herself to be pursued and who understands how to encourage this type of pursuit from a man.
Allowing Herself to be Pursued: A Woman’s Perspective

Reflecting on my courtship with my wife, I recall how much I came alive as a man when my wife encouraged me to take the lead in our relationship. I distinctly remember how masculine it felt when I was pursuing her. My wife was able to prompt my pursuit in very simple and subtle ways which I would like to share with you now.
First, my wife understood that it was my place to pursue her, but she also knew that it was her responsibility to let me know that she was receptive to my pursuit. For instance, on our first date she subtly indicated that she was willing to go on a second date. She did it in such a way that enabled me to ask her with full confidence to meet again.
During our courtship, my wife did something very simple but very effective in helping me to continue to pursue her. She never called me on her own initiative. That’s right! She would return my calls, but never once till we were engaged did she initiate a phone call. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? When I asked her once when we were engaged why she never called me she said she had no intention of calling me during our courtship. She did this so as to continually encourage me to keep coming forward, to keep pursuing her!
My wife was also very good at encouraging chivalrous behavior. Whenever we would travel by car, my wife would wait at the car door if I ever forgot to open it for her. She never emasculated me with this, but she would simply wait for me to realize what I failed to do. I know it is a small act of courtesy, but believe me when I say it goes a long way in helping a man take the lead in a relationship. Try it, ladies! Trust me, it works, and don’t be afraid of the response. If he won’t open the door for you, he is not worthy of your heart. Sorry, men! Looks like the bar has just been raised for you, but relationships and marriage will be better for it.
God bless! Mark Houck
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