Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Advice on Love and Marriage for a Young Man

 

“How to handle a woman?
There’s a way”, said the wise old man
“A way known by every woman
Since the whole rigmarole began”

Do I flatter her? I begged, him answer
Do I threaten or cajole or plead?
Do I brood or play the gay romancer?
Said he, smiling, “No indeed”

“How to handle a woman?
Mark me well, I will tell you, sir
The way to handle a woman
Is to love her, simply love her
Merely love her, love her, love her”

— Frederick Lowe, Camelot (1960)

There is a lot of truth to the song but it is not a complete answer for marital success. Keep in mind that in the musical play Camelot, it is King Arthur who sings this song and as much as he loved Guinevere, she turned out to be a narcissistic tramp who ran off with Arthur’s best friend, Lancelot.

So, let’s start with finding the right woman then return to the question of what to do once you find her.

Forget lists of traits and qualities. I promise you that the right woman will be a surprise. She will be both perfect and unexpected. Aspects you did not think about putting on the list will become the most important things about her.

She is unlikely to be found on a barstool or a dating app. Go where and do what you find interesting, meaningful and important. She could well be there already. Smile a lot, be decent and be nice to everybody in case she’s watching and because you should anyway. It is quite possible you already have mutual friends. She is looking for you in places where guys like you should be. She may even have a job working with kids to get ready for the big task ahead.

When you find a woman who could be the one, you may experience what seems like a perfect moment such as a ‘perfect’ first date but you are not there yet. (Remember it was all poetry, songs, and laughter when Arthur met that useless slut Guinevere.) The real measure is going to be how she responds when it all goes wrong. If the weather is awful, the car has issues, the waiter at the restaurant a complete idiot, the movie sucks and at any time during this fiasco while dripping wet she just laughs and squeezes your hand, it would be OK to propose on the spot. Marriage is mostly about having a best friend and partner when it matters because your lives are bound up in a project bigger than either of you.

Love is obviously the indispensable ingredient but if you are a 20-something young man, I am sorry, but you are a moron who has no clue what love is. God bless you for thinking you do but you don’t yet. If you haven’t blown it, a few years into marriage, if you are smart enough to pay attention, you will have a sudden realization that everything that mattered in your life since you met her involved her—especially if there are kids. She will be irresistible when she is in knock-around clothes, hair out of place, doing several things at once as only women can do, completely unaware of how perfect and beautiful she is, right there in the center of your life where she was always meant to be. Then you will know what love is and it gets even better. Again, if you don’t blow it.

Before you embark on this mission, make sure you have fully defined yourself. You need a line of work you can love and respect but which does not compete with family. You really need to deal with whatever makes you restless. Google “acedia” and make sure that your life is not just about finding entertainment and mere distractions from boredom. She will be looking for somebody with formation, a code, and character. She will need that from you.

To really do it right, it will help to recall Adam’s job before he met Eve. He woke up every day and accepted the entire universe, his life, his mind, and personhood as a gift. He went around experiencing and knowing then saying “Thank you, this is wonderful.” If he had a business card, it would say Affirmation Specialist. With that preparation and practice and a completely clear mind and soul (pre-Original Sin, remember) imagine how he responded in the moment he met Eve. He would have begun a sustained effort to take in her entire being and instantly found her to be the best part of creation he had ever encountered and started living his life as if gratitude for her being was his purpose. (How those two blew our inheritance is a topic for another essay. In the meantime, look up “acedia” again.)

A man will often settle for mere applause in life but a woman usually thinks bigger, seeking affirmation, a demonstration that someone is so grateful to have her in his life that his gratitude for her shapes his purpose in life. If you can give that to a good woman (or give her a damn good approximation), pretty much everything else will work out somehow. You know that in reproduction a man contributes a single cell, heck, not even a cell–it’s half a nucleus with a shell and a tail–and a woman gives a fully formed baby (that’s about a gazillion cells) in return. Women are also like that with love–the input of small thoughtful gestures generates much, more in return. Know and live that and you are well on your way.

Oh, and if you know how to perform a really good foot massage, you can get away with almost anything. Cheers, enjoy the adventure.

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  1. KentForrester Moderator

    There’s just a ton of wisdom in this post. Your wife, Old Bathos, is a lucky woman. (You do follow your own advice, don’t you?)

    BTW, Marie massaged my feet this morning with Nivea. (The piggies were getting dry and crusty.) Went straight to my pleasure center, wherever that is.

    I will keep that massage in mind so that I can do her a favor in the next few days.

    • #1
    • February 20, 2020, at 10:16 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  2. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    There’s just a ton of wisdom in this post. Your wife, Old Bathos, is a lucky woman. (You do follow your own advice, don’t you?)

    BTW, Marie massaged my feet this morning with Nivea. (The piggies were getting dry and crusty.) Went straight to my pleasure center, wherever that is.

    I will keep that massage in mind so that I can do her a favor in the next few days.

    I often tell my wife how lucky she is because it’s always fun to make her laugh.

    • #2
    • February 20, 2020, at 10:27 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor

    You have either learned well, or your wife has taught you well–or both. Beautiful, practical advice.

    • #3
    • February 20, 2020, at 11:25 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  4. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Acedia was mentioned often in First Things under Father Neuhaus. I recalled it to be basically the same as ennui. But apparently the term has quite an interesting history

    • #4
    • February 20, 2020, at 2:32 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  5. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Post Title: Advice on Love and Marriage for a Young Man Men.

    FIFY. I don’t think any man of my acquaintance is too old to read and heed your excellent advice. It’s great if they “get” it from the “getgo,” but sometimes a refresher course, or at least a few reminders, are helpful, even as he passes into middle-age and on to impending geezerhood.

    Great post!

    • #5
    • February 20, 2020, at 2:44 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  6. Merrijane Thatcher

    Old Bathos: … your lives are bound up in a project bigger than either of you.

    No truer words were ever typed on Ricochet

    • #6
    • February 20, 2020, at 3:06 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  7. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Acedia was mentioned often in First Things under Father Neuhaus. I recalled it to be basically the same as ennui. But apparently the term has quite an interesting history.

    Neuhaus had read Josef Pieper’s Leisure, the Basis of Culture which is a powerful little book. It can’t be easily summarized but in essence, a life where work is compelled with idle pleasure as compensation is no life at all. There needs to be time, space and willingness to contemplate and affirm. Acedia, whether in the form of idle pleasure or unreflective intense disproportionate activity, is the refusal to perform the acts that should be central to life.

    • #7
    • February 20, 2020, at 3:11 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  8. Full Size Tabby Member

    Old Bathos:

    When you find a woman who could be the one, you may experience what seems like a perfect moment such as a ‘perfect’ first date but you are not there yet. (Remember it was all poetry, songs, and laughter when Arthur met that useless slut Guinevere.) The real measure is going to be how she responds when it all goes wrong. If the weather is awful, the car has issues, the waiter at the restaurant a complete idiot, the movie sucks and at any time during this fiasco while dripping wet she just laughs and squeezes your hand, it would be OK to propose on the spot. Marriage is mostly about having a best friend and partner when it matters because your lives are bound up in a project bigger than either of you.

     

    I still remember that my first thought of, “yes, I think this is the girl to marry” was the evening she was hanging on the top edge of the garage door at my mother’s house to hold it in place while I attached new springs (and she and my mother were laughing through the whole process). The garage door spring replacement project was a last minute substitute (because a spring had broken during the day) for our planned date of dinner at our favorite seafood restaurant and a stroll along the beach boardwalk. 

    • #8
    • February 20, 2020, at 3:58 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  9. Samuel Block Member

    I can’t say whether this is good advise or not, I got no experience in this department… but I’m probably gonna follow it – it’s the best I’ve heard so far.

    • #9
    • February 21, 2020, at 7:27 PM PST
    • 1 like
  10. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    I can’t say whether this is good advise or not, I got no experience in this department… but I’m probably gonna follow it – it’s the best I’ve heard so far.

    Then I should probably forward the disclaimers and liability release forms.

    • #10
    • February 21, 2020, at 7:30 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  11. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Great advice! Now do you happen to have a time machine handy so I can go back and deliver it to myself 20 years ago?

    • #11
    • February 23, 2020, at 4:22 PM PST
    • 3 likes