A few years ago, on a broken bench in a small nature reserve, I asked a lady (Sandra) to date me exclusively, so that we can decide if we want journey together in this adventure called life. Much to my relief, she said yes- allowed me to keep a picture of her, and to hold her hand from that day onwards.
Now that we were dating though, I had the dilemma of what to call her…how to refer to her. Obviously, when a guy dates a gal, normally they refer to each other as “boyfriend” and “girlfriend”. However, something within me did not allow me to refer to her as my girlfriend- not even in my own mind. My problem, I found, was that I was not dating a girl.
She was not a girl- not by virtue of her age nor in any sense of the word. She was mature. Independent. Smart. Strong…and gorgeous. So the “girl” prefix of the title was not fitting to her status. I called her my womanfriend.
How grateful I am that she said yes that day. She would again say yes when I officially proposed a few months later and when we got married a few months after that. All in all, 10 months, from dating to married. I would then add “wife” to the title “womanfriend”.
Some will of course recognise the title line of this blog and know where it comes from. The original woman, the created and unborn one, whom we will later know as Eve, is first called “woman”, by her manfriend Adam. Adam does this because he is overwhelmed (strongly emotionally affected) when seeing this new being and recognises who “this other being” is in relation to himself. She is as he says “flesh of my flesh and bone of my bones”. Adam recognises that she is who he is- she is part of him and he a part of her. Some will read this and understand me to mean that I am affirming a possessive or object/owner-type relationship, as we often tend to see displayed by men. This is far from the case. There is something beautiful about a man who recognises and understands the (true) nature of his relationship with his wife (and vice-verse).
There is a detailed etymological explanation of the word “relationship” here. In summary, the word can be broken up into RELATE+ION+SHIP:
- RELATE means to “I bear, I carry”,
- ION denotes the action or condition of relate,
- SHIP(S) mean “to make, create, to shape”
If you want your mind blown in trying to follow the full reasoning of the origin of the word, read the blog in the link. “Relationship literally means TO MAKE STRONG, TO CREATE STRENGTH AND TO SHAPE”.
My own conclusion about the nature of a relationship between husband and wife (which is also consistent to what I see in the original design), and supported by the original meaning of these words, is this: the “personman” that I am becoming MUST include the person that my woman is. Put another way…the end result of the best version of myself is dependent on my ability to become a more complete human being…i.e. becoming more like her [adding to, not subtracting from]. The same is true for the wife.
This is why the saying “opposites attract” is so true, and why we often tend to be attracted to and marry those who differ vastly from us. This difference is what we also often site as the reason for conflict and breakups, and do not recognise the purpose and opportunity of that very difference.
Perhaps we know it intuitively that who we are is enhanced and made complete as we learn to become more like our spouses. When we learn to actively bear/ carry our wives in our hearts and minds, we can make/ create/ shape a better version of ourselves.In times when things get difficult in my wife and I’s relationship, I have often had to remind myself that Sandra is MY wife.
Not, the next door neighbour’s, not my father’s, not anyone else’s. She is MY wife…meaning that I have responsibilities (and for that enjoy certain benefits) towards her. We know very well that many men and women insist first on their own benefits (and far too often see them as rights) in marriages and relationships. In such cases, things go from bad to worse more often than not.
In reminding myself of this, I remember that my duty is first to uphold and fulfil my responsibility as a husband, and to bear and carry her within me, so that I can make myself strong, create strength in me and shape myself towards the best version of myself, as I become more like her in character and in being. I do not have time here to explain why this is not only an unselfish act (as it first appears), but is the deepest act of love. Such as view of RELATIONSHIPS and marriage can go a long way in helping us men (and women) to have better relationships in our marriages.
One quick but critical aside though, is that we MUST BE COMMITTED to the long-term process…becoming the best of who we are to be will take a lifetime. I thing the post-baby boomer generations have grossly undermined and distorted what commitment means.
Rather than to correct the misinterpretations of commitment that the baby-boomers had, we have killed it altogether, thinking that this was the best way to free ourselves.
But we cannot have the kind of marriages that we all dream of when we enter them, if we are not first wholly committed to them. The cost for the life you and I really want (at the core of who you are) is payable upfront and in full…and there are no refunds.
If you need more convincing of my argument…just look at the definitions of man vs woman:
- man: “a featherless plantigrade biped mammal of the genus Homo”
- woman: “female human”