One of my male readers (bless his heart) wrote the following comment on one of my posts:
“I think your readers may build a stronger hope if they knew what makes a ‘good man’.”
I’m not sure I’m the one to fully answer this, and I’m not fully sure that what makes a good man to me is what makes a good man to anyone else. But I believe that there are a few things you can look for (or if you’re a man, a few things you can strive to become).
A relationship with Christ that is self-sustaining. What I mean by this is, did he have a relationship with Christ before you came along? Was he already attending church on his own? Could you tell that spending time with God was a priority before you came into the picture? This shouldn’t be something that you have to nudge along. And this isn’t about words. This is about who he is, and it’s foundational. Seriously. If your walk with Christ is important to you, you will want a man whose walk with Christ is important to him.
Humility and admission of wrongs. Give me a man with a past who is truly sorry and walking around with a softened, changed heart over a man who won’t admit he’s done anything wrong, blaming everyone and everything for his problems, any day of the week.
An awareness of his own brokenness. This flows out of the last point, but a man who thinks he’s got it altogether when he so clearly does not (because, if I can point out, none of us do) is a relational ticking time bomb. But a good man knows his areas of weakness and is open about them. Huge. Like game-changing-ly huge.
Pursuing. If I’m having to do all the actual legwork (calling, texting, setting stuff up) or the emotional initiating (asking all the hard questions, never being asked back), that’s just not a good sign. I want to feel like the man wants to know my heart.
Accepting. I spent two decades not being myself, because if I were, I would be criticized. A good man will take me as I am. I’m not saying I shouldn’t be open to change or try to become a better person or woman or Christ-follower or friend or fill-in-the-blank, but for the most part, he should be pretty happy with who I am. In other words, he should just plain like me without trying to change me.
Conflict resolution. How a good man handles conflict is a pretty big deal to me. I apologized for things I didn’t do for over twenty years. I now only apologize when I’m wrong. The good man will apologize when he’s wrong too. And kindness should win over rightness. And when the conversation is over, you shouldn’t feel smaller. You should feel like you both owned your parts and understand each other better and even have a little plan in place for how to handle the issue next time it comes up.
Support/investment/encouragement. I’m lumping all these together though they are each super important on their own. But a good man will be proud of you, will stand beside you, and will build you up. You should feel like a better woman when you’re with him. If you feel depleted or put down or misunderstood as the norm, that’s not healthy.
A caveat: I was sharing something with a girlfriend who’s in a very healthy marriage about how when this good man and I had the occasional issue come up – which was rare – that we had to work through, how we actually talked, and we listened, and we each asked how we could have handled it differently, and we owned our parts and apologized (I even got an “I’m so sorry, baby” once…I know, right??). But my friend said, “That’s how it’s supposed to be. I don’t want you to think the norm is this high bar thing. That is what you should always expect from now on.” Good, good point. And very good to know.
Ladies, there are good men out there. As you move through this season of life, think through what’s important to you. Prepare yourself to have to patiently sift (ugh, I know). Pray to have wide open eyes to discern a man’s true character from the beginning. And…and this one is key…cultivate in yourself the kinds of qualities you are looking for. Lean into Jesus to become a good woman.
What’s on your “good man” list?