Sunday, April 12, 2015

Can a Woman Be Too Strong?

I was reading an essay, written by a female Christian author, advising strong women about the harm they can inadvertently do to their marriage if they let they don't tone down their personality.

The essay left me frustrated and then a bit angry.

The author was explaining how her strong outgoing nature was first very attractive to her husband, and then (after they had been married for some time), it started to grate on their relationship. She was always interjecting what she needed and what she wanted. She needed to tone down who she was in order to make the relationship work.

As a woman who considers herself a strong woman - I thought this was a dangerous article.

But I also know this is a real concern for many young women who find themselves considering marriage. At the Christian college where I taught, I was often approached by female students - in their final year of college - who were a bit dismayed that they had no marriage prospects and not even serious boyfriends.

Unfortunately, there is an unrealistic expectation among many in these circles that they should marry  or at least seriously dating by graduation. I remember one student complaining, "What am I doing wrong? Why isn't anybody interested in me?"

Truth be told, I was a little surprised. She was beautiful and intelligent and witty and sharp. I think she scared the college-age men. Many of my sharpest students dated very little in college. For many, serious relationships did not happen for years following graduation. It took time to find the right person.

Strong women are not a fit for every man. True. But strong women should not have to diminish their personality to make someone love them.

One of the things I most loved about my husband is that he admired and respected my strength. He was proud of my achievements, he wanted my opinion, he was never threatened by me.

To the young women who doubt themselves and wonder if they will ever find a match - I say, "Wait. Be patient. Refuse to settle or change who you are."

God created you. He knows everything about you. He will guide you and show you the way you should go (Ps. 32:7,8). You should in no way diminish what God has created in you in order to begin or sustain a relationship. Dumbing down is never the answer.

But I had another thought about the article. What if the author was using "strength" as synonymous with rudeness or selfishness?

What if, sometimes, in being strong we demean our spouse? If that was the case in the author's essay, she would be right to curtail it. True strength of character should never harm another person or push one's way at all costs. And that is true whether you are male or female.

I want to be strong in the best ways. I want to be courageous about my feelings. I want to say big words and answer hard questions. I refuse to dumb down my intelligence to be considered more attractive. I want to work hard and think deeply.

And I want my husband to be the same way.

We can be strong together.

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