To Daughters

Humble advice from a father to married daughters and their husbands

(and Sons)

by

Stephen D Evans

To Daughters (and Sons)
Humble advice from a father to married daughters and their husbands

Cover art, by Stephen D Evans: My first daughter’s wedding, April 2000.

Copyright © 2005 by Stephen D Evans All Rights Reserved Published in the United States of America, Los Angeles

On their wedding day, May 2004 groom: To my daughter and her groom: This dad is proud to gain another excellent son. You chose well, Baby Girl –a man worthy of my princess. I feel assured you two will build a strong household, also worthy of the whole family of God. three-togrowing In the three-to-four years we have watched your growing relationship; I have been impressed to see that your respect for each other has not deteriorated. For many couples, “familiarity breeds contempt”, and they will even consider growing disrespect, harsh words and impatient attitudes, to be expressions of affection. Don’t believe it! In truth, it is your mutual devotion to basic standards of courtesy that oils the engine of your marriage. Often, the first sign of destructive friction (at a deeper careless hidden level) is when a couple begins to allow careless habits of unkind speech and critical attitudes. Sure, it may start as innocent playful banter, but unchecked it soon creeps into other conversations and nonverbal expressions. That’s where it becomes harder to mask the little demons as mere teasing. demons picture— Remember that the tone of your relationship now –before kids enter the picture— determines the spiritual character of your household for decades to come. Your spiritual child is developing unseen. Long before you even consider starting a hidden family, this hidden child will exercise far more power of influence over your physical children than either Mom or Dad individually. A courteous tongue and gentle eyes, even when you are angry or frustrated or hormonal— marriage feeling tired and hormonal—That’s what will keep your marriage running smoothly over rocky roads. You won’t be pretending (you can’t really fake even affection). It’s not a show or façade for other’s eyes. But even while you are laboring through a disagreement, guard your words and nonverbal messages. show Continue to show grace and tolerance for each other’s failures. Remember the little everyday gestures that celebrate your union. So when the rough road ends (and it will) your engine won’t suddenly freeze, just when you finally feel the newwheels. new-paved highway under your wheels. girl: Another word just for my little girl: I said this to you and your sister as young teens. It’s your job to read your own body chemistry, to recognize and own its changeable moods. Then you can teach your own daughters how to be responsible hormonally responsible and less prone to punish others (especially those they love most) for their own physical/emotional tortures. This is properly your part of the curse of mankind’s fall. The temptation will remain ever before you to blame Otherwise, him for your misery. Otherwise, his only relief may be third month of

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To Daughters (and Sons)

pregnancies, menopause or death. (I did say, Maybe.) Live with it. Pledge to try to make him happy. One more for the wife: Remember that your man is legally and spiritually strongdesignated as head of the household for very good reason. A strong-minded woman makes a wonderful mother and manager of family affairs. You will learn to function as a team for most of day-to-day concerns. But never forget day-tothat you work for your husband first. Keep asking yourself how your actions or decisions may ultimately affect him. Where there are potentially legal, civil or social consequences, it is the man of the house who must step forward and take the heat. You will come to see that this is the best way to keep a household functioning functioning until the heat is off. Even the most liberal judge or feministic social worker will recognize this fact. There will probably be times when you believe that you know better than your husband. Listen to him anyway. Never defy or ignore or conveniently forget conveniently that his viewpoint is different as a man. He will see things that you don’t notice. (And like most women, you will probably see to it that he notices your point of view.) This is why it takes both a man and a woman. Whenever he remakes a point of it, you should do it his way. It is important to affirm and reaffirm his role and authority. Even assuming that your judgment is never biased— kids’ clouded or biased—you should practice respect of his authority for your kids’ sakes. Consider, Mom is the best (sometimes only) example to the children of true selfselfdenying discipline and obedience. It will always be most convincing to tell the kids, WE have to do this because Dad said so. It’s your ace card as the mom. If you don’t demonstrate how Dad is to be respected and nurtured and his word observed above all, the kids won’t get it. If they can’t learn to fear (meaning respect) and obey their first authority, Dad, they will be forced later to learn selfselfUltimately, control in a much harsher environment. Ultimately, it will be harder for them to grasp the idea that God as Father of fathers is the final judge. For many it is the beginning of the salvation of their souls. Finally, when you need and expect your man to stand with you, speak for you, to shield you and your little ones from outside abuse (including that threatened by your own rebellious child): On that day you want Dad’s word and authority to mean something, to yield its full power and effect. You have the power now to apostle make it so. That’s what the apostle meant when he said, Wives obey your husband. This is part of how your own dad is praying, that you enjoy a lifelong fulfilling marriage.

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To Daughters (and Sons)

To Daughters Men are “jerks” –but they are generally jerks with high ideals. Makes them sound like hypocrites, but I am simply restating what Scripture teaches: All fall short of the glory, of the plan of their Creator. You have only two other choices in this world –men who are jerks with LOW ideals or men with NO ideals. Beware of those. To Sons Remember, your greatest blessing and greatest curse, in regard to the woman you love— she is there to remind you constantly what a jerk you are, though a jerk with high ideals. But you are to regard her much as God regards all His Creation. Not that she is anything like your creation ... however you may perform a leading role in her maturing. You must accept that, like God, you are called to extend grace without expecting thanks or grace in return. In fact you will often bear the blame. It is your lot to accept the blame with the blessing —partly because it is deserved. You are a jerk after all. You can never come up to your own high ideals, let alone your Creator’s. And nobody sees that more clearly as the one who regards you most dearly. But also, you accept the blame because this is the only strategy that works. It’s part of the grace, the sacrifice you were called to suffer with Christ. She is your salvation from irredeemable jerkitude. At least a couple days of the month (you never really know when) expect a storm of blame. Your love-lady will be looking then for the reason of her unrest and the cause for her feeling vulnerable and belittled. And most often, you will present the ready reason, the ready blame and scapegoat. Your body is her sacrificial bull, her temporary atonement. But don’t forget that you also deserve it. You are a jerk, her jerk. Remember also that society –our postmodern progressive society—does not truly believe in equal rights for women or men, nor equal opportunity. When blame is to be placed by legal authorities or social engineers— be ready to take it, to leap in its path, because they will readily blame you anyway as the elder male of the household. And even if you are not officially blamed, you will suffer the punishment, one way or another –financially, socially, with compromised reputation. That is actually as it should be. It is all for the benefit of the ones you love. It’s to rescue them. So don’t be surprised, and don’t resent it. Accept it as your appointed role. Though, when blame is launched at other undeserving men – fathers, brothers, and husbands— be ready to defend them. It is our job also as elder men to redeem and reshape society, redirect its path; to reflect again the Kingdom of Heaven.

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To Daughters (and Sons)

Daughters Daughters Men treat each other —and so expect to be treated— entirely different from what women expect (especially during their vulnerable times). So if you are going to call a man a friend, try to learn how a man treats a friend and expect no less; expect no more. When you call a man your lover, however, it is a different contract. You become part of him. So his frustration with himself –as he is ever falling short of his high ideals—will sloppily splash over onto you in many instances. He doesn’t mean it as a personal attack upon you as a separate being. He feels you as a part or extension of himself. The flip side is that you feel it as well. So when he is frustrated solely at himself, without even appearing to impugn your integrity, you may yet feel his disappointment to be aimed at you. Try to step outside that box. Try to see his perspective and understand that in neither case was it ever targeting you as a rival authority. He is trying to perfect himself. You may also feel the same on behalf of your children, your pets and possessions —again most specially during your low times … and only because they feel like an extension of you. So actually, you know very well why it is —when he corrects the children— why you feel so admonished. You feel disrespected. You feel your domain invaded, your pride trampled. You feel invalidated. But that is never how he intends it. He will be surprised, and bewildered to learn how you were so offended. Didn’t you realize that he blesses/curses you as himself? Sons Your life-love knows no secrets ... and she knows all your secrets ... which means that there are no secrets that will not be exposed. So if you are ever to realize your own ideals or strive for excellence in any area, begin with your love life, what happens in secret. Start there –make certain that THAT, at least, is without reproach, even if everything else is flawed. Focus on that first. Because anything that happens there will eventually be known outside the sacred bounds of marriage, and you will suffer for it. She will suffer for it, and your children will suffer for it. No, admittedly, this is not how honorable men would treat each other. But it is part of the blessing, the curse, of being one with your woman. And SHE knows no secrets. Speaking of secrets: If you decide that your best course is to do something in secret –even a good thing (such as corrections of hazards around the house)—be prepared to account for that decision. Because once your wife learns of it ... and she will learn of it, whether by accident or because you really couldn’t keep a secret ... she will be doubly offended that you could not confront the situation to her face. (And,

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To Daughters (and Sons)

likely you were correct to expect she would have been offended anyway.) So then, clandestine deeds may ever be a lose/lose proposition, even when they are intended for the betterment of your household. Daughters There are occasions when your man will experience as betrayal something you have said or done. These may be simple indiscretions, but nonetheless trespasses that he would never dream of committing or defending in regard to another man, even a man he is warring with ... maybe especially not even then. For instance, when 25-26 days of the month you observe some irritation that you would never bother protesting —some quirk in his personality, behavior or habits— It’s no big deal. He knows it was never a big deal. Maybe it’s something he once tried to change unsuccessfully. Maybe it is something you should NOT rightly consider offensive, yet it irritates you. Suddenly one day you are feeling very low; and you didn’t even realize you were feeling low … until that moment when you are hurt or offended by that same old irritation. You see, the rules suddenly changed. This he experiences as betrayal, when unexpectedly, out of the blue, it appears to him that this woman —now so different from the one usually sharing his life—she has suddenly taken offense at something that was unworthy of offense the day before, even the hour before. Another example: Things shared between you –secrets, values, experiences, goals—especially sexual secrets. When you glibly disclose these things (perhaps even celebrating it) to your girl friend, mother, pastor’s wife … there is betrayal. Sometimes it truly is a spirit of gossip. Usually it is innocent and unmeaning, unintended harm in disclosure. It just slips out while laughing, maybe crying. But still, there it is ... out. He must then come to terms with one undeniable fact: the reality that in loving intimacy there are no secrets. It’s a shock to his incurably male honor system. Even the most secret, most private experiences defining your sacred relationship, these will all be known, shouted from the housetops. He must somehow reconcile this with your faith and love. Either that or he ceases confiding in you altogether. Daughters Consider this. When your man appears irritated, even angry or accusing ... when you feel the target of his anger, or when your loved ones appear targeted: It is most often because something seriously frightened him. That’s right, real men get scared, though hopefully not scared away. He feels the weight of responsibility being head of the household, in both God’s eyes and society’s. As a practical matter, he even blames himself for your lapse in

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To Daughters (and Sons)

judgement. This is why he often chooses to drive, though he acknowledges that you may be the better driver, the more defensive driver. He feels transcendently protective of you and of yours. If something untoward is appointed, finally, to happen that day, he chooses to be the one to blame, to suffer the shame for the rest of his life. The only greater horror is that you would so suffer instead of him. It’s true, that your man feels this obligation instinctively. It’s how he was made. He may not have reasoned it out, nor would he even admit it to himself. He simply owns the obligation to protect you, perhaps even to protect you from your own faults, from your mistakes. It seems irrationally unjust. It’s a god-like role. It’s not really practical or possible. But even if it is for seconds of the day that he might step up and step in-between and take the blame or punishment for you ... he will. That’s part of his protective role. He won’t even think about that before it is done. Sons It is often explained how men and women are wired differently, that males are actually brain-damaged, inhibited, during pre-natal development. It’s that rogue chromosome. Women grow up feeling more in tune with their emotions, so much so that it takes on almost supernatural significance in later years. She knows things about herself that you can’t hope to read. At the same time, she often believes that she knows things about you that you can’t read or won’t read. She understands you —at least your emotional You— better than you know yourself. She feels your feelings with you and sometimes for you, after all. And sometimes that’s even true … because it is human nature, man or woman, to deny the most extreme aspects of one’s character. (Do I spy a jerk in the house?) But her insight has this unintended fallout— that when she is mistaken or her feelings are misappropriated, it won’t do any good for you to point out her mistake. Even if her feelings about you are wrong, to deny it is to deny the obvious according to her world, her feeling worldview. She will feel you are untruthful. She may believe you are lying from hurt pride or lying to yourself. And again, it does no good to point that out, even if it seems reasonably obvious to you. During those periods when she feels especially defined by her feelings, emotions are her whole life and whole world; reason has comparatively little significance or authority. Evidence bears no weight. It is better then to simply ‘wait out the storm’. It will most likely pass, just as it did last month, given a few hours, a few days removed from that crucial moment. Then your jerkitude will no longer be the central issue —her feelings having relinquished command. Daughters Consider that your man may not really be the sex-consumed fiend that he seems at times, even though part of him is animal as characterized by animal sexuality. That’s how he was made. But in marriage or in a permanent relationship becoming marriage, he must learn to become a sort of hero of sexual restraint. Every time

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To Daughters (and Sons)

you speak, every time you move, every part of your body that moves —even the mere sound of your movement— is all sexually exciting. You are a walking, breathing tease … perhaps no less when you are seething with anger at him. So he must pace himself. He must deny himself. And this is the challenge of a sexual relationship— that he re-learn Adam’s appointed role of dominion over the earth, by continually denying the drives of his lower self ... to tame his animal self. Marriage is not normally the magic golden ticket providing ultimate fulfillment. It isn’t the ‘end’ of sexual frustration that Eros seemed to promise at first, wherein he finally gets to do it every day if it pleases him. It’s just not true. Marriage is more an exercise in restraint than indulgence or freedom sexually. About the only time he is practically free may be during your pregnancy, when you no longer fear getting pregnant. And then it may be only the few weeks that you feel receptive. If he respects you at all (and he does so much more than you ever realize) he will not insist. He won’t initiate lest he appear to be pushing himself on you, imposing his appetite in a way that will have repercussions, making him pay emotionally later. Yes he does pay emotionally. When you are down, when you are offended; when you feel invalidated or disrespected and your space is invaded … then he suffers. It clouds his whole day. And ultimately, for a healthy man to be enjoying mutually respectful, emotional relations with his wife —this is far more important than mere sexual gratification. You see, your jerk may yet be redeemed. Daughters Respected conservative radio talk show host, Dennis Prager, proclaims his studied opinion— The wife and mother of the household is appointed Minister of Happiness to manage the quality of contentment characterizing her household. She is therefore also in charge of the happiness of her marriage. One exception: when the husband/father is proven an irredeemable jerk. Guys When she has finally emerged from her hormonal storm, remember how she repeatedly forgave your fits of temper during hunger, injury or grief. Forgive her the same. Forgive, but don’t forget that the storm will come around again. She will not always be so forgiving of your foibles. She will not always overlook your irritations. She won’t always worship you, nor will she always need you. The day will come again –Judgment Day of your chronic jerkitude. No, your failings haven’t gone away. Even though whatever-it-was that seemed to irritate her so severely just hours ago … no longer does. So try to remember exactly what ticked her off, and try to separate the jerkitude from what was truly required of your role as head of the household. Though you thought that you already spoke your mind and you thought she was listening, remember— it’s

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To Daughters (and Sons)

almost like it was a different woman (during that stormy period) forced then to attend while you were barking at her. If you really want your authority to mean business … if you really want to improve the household as well as your relationships, the time is now to review those crucial matters. It may be painful (though nobody said you have to be intimidating). You may fear that confronting these things will drag forth that witchy other-woman again. But now is the time to gently correct, to instruct and enforce what you have determined is right for your family. Make that clear now. Don’t just overlook continued problems, in the same way that she seems (today) to be overlooking yours. It is not ‘grace’ when you fail to fulfill your calling this way. It’s not grace to believe it was already addressed … and then save it to throw up at her again when the storm returns. For then it will appear you have nothing to lose –she’s already mad anyway, so let’s just get it off your chest; bark it out and be done with it. Well, sorry Jerk: it just doesn’t work that way. Ladies Now that you have recovered from your period of temporary insanity ... Stop. You will want to forget that those hours ever existed, naturally. And you probably won’t feel that you need to ask him to forgive and forget. He is simply relieved that the storm is over. But stop and remember anyway. Review what you were and how you appeared to him then … and how it was that you actually despaired, believing that ‘this time’ the strife would never end … how that this time it seemed you really were seeing things most clearly. But now, what do you think? Now, looking back, reconsider your own supposed clarity of purpose and insight. No relax … I’m not saying that you were the jerk. Only don’t be so quick to hide it from him when you are recovering. Be truthful. Remember that he can’t read minds or emotions like you can. Seriously, he has no clue, just as he HAD no warning —until your first bite-back—that you had entered another storm. So he probably has no clue now, else very little indication, that you have recovered; that he may be back in grace and your good favor restored. His only signal may be that now you are laughing again or smiling at his jokes, tolerating his teases, chatting or singing absent-mindedly as you move about daily chores. Don’t fake it. Yes, allow things to return to ‘normal’ … but also don’t hide it. Sure time will heal, but it will also lure you to want to forget, even to deny that you were ever a bitch. Don’t forget. He will set it aside, the memory. And sure, go ahead and laugh about it with your friends. He may even giggle accommodatingly now that it’s over ... But he doesn’t really laugh. It wasn’t a laughing matter to him. It scared him ... it always does when you appear to be someone other than the woman he chose to marry ….

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To Daughters (and Sons)

And what about that other woman? Shouldn’t he love and validate that as part of you too? But ask yourself also: Are you sure that’s what you want your lover to value and nurture in you? Prefer that he continue to forgive. You should, perhaps, be the one to admit and own that witchy bitchy part of yourself. Why? In hope that someday you may grow up and grow out of it, even to resemble more closely his higher ideal of your character. Who’s ideal? Your husband or your Lord? Consider that they may actually be one and the same in God’s eyes. Take the time to pause and reconsider, re-evaluate. What was that he was barking about? Was there really something amiss about the house? Your habits? Your choices? How might you prevent having almost starting that fire or spreading pathogens over the kitchen counters? Maybe he had a point. Maybe there is some way you can —as First Mate of this ship— improve the operation of his household, its safety and health ... its happiness, joy.

Yeah, he has flaws. And it is truly very ‘nice’ of you to overlook them for most of the month. It’s kind of you. And it’s your obligation also to uplift him, to support and encourage him ... to challenge him. Yes, those flaws stick out like warts sometimes. During PMS it is hard to see anything else about him. Still, it’s not a sin for him to have been concerned about finances. It’s not a sin for him to have dared to notice that ‘things’ were getting a bit out of control about the house … again. It’s not a sin for him to have been alarmed when something was dropped or when he came home to discover a real danger. Yes, maybe it was your single mistake during an overwhelming day. Why did he have to notice that? Why did he have to stumble over that? Meanwhile he fails to thank you for all your sacrifices during the major balance of a difficult day. Well, there is that ... but it wasn’t a sin for him to notice what was fortuitous that he notice and interrupt a tragedy waiting to happen. It’s surely a very good thing that he discovered it in time. Consider, honestly, what kind of man does NOT notice —one with low ideals or no ideals, of course. That kind of jerk would simply slam the door and disappear into his corner WITHOUT noticing any threat to body, mind or spirit. He is beyond caring when encountering an atmosphere of joylessness. He is never disturbed or upset or affected in any way by your state of mind. If your man had failed to care or neglected to care enough to defend his concern, to stand his ground and declare what he believed was right, even to bark when he was alarmed ... just think. He wouldn’t be a husband at all. You would have no marriage at all. It would be as if you had never loved. Perhaps you have visited a household like that.

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To Daughters (and Sons)

Daughters As you are reviewing the events and conversations of the past storm, try to distinguish those ‘things’ that triggered your moods. Distinguish between those and the actual underlying causes. You may come to realize that what became triggers are no longer such delicate triggers. They may seem laughable now. In fact, they may seem loveable –the very things about him inspiring adoration ... because, you see, he really needs you. And it should be clear now, abundantly clear, that your certainty then about those causal things were merely triggers, irritants, tickles. Now you giggle. Then it was outrage expressed far out of proportion to the actual truth of ‘things’. Now is the time to recognize the true causes, the real underlying reasons. You may be obliged to admit that it was mostly chemical after all. So study again how to eat right and sleep right; how to exercise your joy as well as your body. There might also be some deeper, unresolved baggage left over from prior relationships; experiences that had nothing to do with this lover; memories provoking less rational fears, prides, impatience. Maybe it did involve him. But before you dare to discuss those causes, it is essential that you know first to distinguish what were causes and what were mere triggers of your righteous indignations.

ladies, So ladies, you are welcome to read also what I have written to the guys. But if you find anything offensive … keep reading. Read ALL of it. Get the whole context. If you still find offense, consider that you may have just proven my point. guys, And guys, you may or may not want to read what I wrote to your woman. I am sure even now you believe that you are an irresistible ass after all. But think of consequences donkey’ the consequences if you don’t keep your proverbial ‘donkey’ working to merit her not adoration —no, not THAT donkey, you jerk !!! What you have sought hardest to win, you are most at risk to lose. If you quit opportunity’ pursuing your Love, that ‘window of opportunity’ will shrink narrower and narrower, and yes ... it will finally shut. Nothing is certain in love and war, until you give it up.

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