It’s not good for the man to be alone – I will make a helpmeet for him. (Gen 2:18)
DISCLAIMER: Yes, I know there are exceptions, I’ve met several of them. The trend, however, still significantly outweighs the exceptions.
Guys seem to know this inherently… let a woman get sick, and she’ll hide away under the covers, occasionally coming out to make another cup of tea…. let a man get sick (you know this, ladies!), and he can’t quite reach the remote control that’s laying on the floor beside him – he need only drop his hand from the couch, yet he calls out for his wife. Let death visit a long term marriage, and the widow will more often than not shift into the single life and new (or renewed) interests… the widower, on the other hand, will often remarry in fairly short order. It’s not that he doesn’t miss and grieve for his lost wife, it’s that he’s simply lost without her and flounders until he gets remarried.
We ladies (take note, fellas) also crave companionship – we were designed to respond to, lean into, a partner. We want to share thoughts and projects and dreams and sunsets (maybe a sunrise or two, on special occasions) with someone who is committed to be there for the next one (or at least try). Those who find such a relationship, once, consider themselves very fortunate, and frankly don’t expect to find it again. This is why the widows tend to say “that was good, now for something different”. They have given their whole selves to one man, and it’ll take a lot to find another worthy of a similar gift.
Strangely enough, most people don’t get past the schoolyard mentality when it comes to relationships. The ladies are still anxious to let everyone know that someone regards them as special, and the guys are still blase about the whole thing – “oh her? yeah, we’re together”. Maddening! But it’s so classic that musicals have been written about it – ‘Grease’ comes to mind. Why is that?
Some time after Gen 2:25, the first man & woman made the decision that they should know and decide for themselves what is right and good, without interference from their Creator. We have been on our own ever since, except for those who have gone back to Him for direction. He told the woman, “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” (Gen 3:16). I had long thought this was part of the decreed penalty, but I’m starting to believe it was a simple statement of fact. The world has been jostled from it’s original design (geek translation: there’s now a bug in the system), and this unreserved partnership will never be the same again. The core is still there, the need for a helpmeet, and the need to be needed… but, like all other things, it developed a protective thorny shell. Now we have this crazy denial dance we go through, so that we don’t have to admit to getting our hopes up in case the relationship ends.
Some of us, especially ladies, deny who we are so that we can appear to be what *he* wants. Some of us, especially men, deny the need for another person by juggling two lives – one still single, and one focused on winning *her*. He finds security in his independence, she finds security in belonging. When we get past the honeymoon, or 10th anniversary (depending on how long the mask holds out), we look at each other and wonder what happened to the person we married and who is this stranger? Eden’s scene plays out again: “this woman…it’s her fault”, “I was deceived” (Gen 3:12-13). Women in every generation since have been wary of another deceit, and men wary of a companion they cannot control – both certain that if they let their guard down, something will go wrong. And in the insistence on protecting ourselves by hiding from others, it inevitably does.
What’s the solution? Well, society tells us to keep putting on masks, maybe changing the color or texture from time to time in a frantic attempt to be attractive and fresh. It also gives us ways to pursue independent interests and suggests that we can satisfy some of those companionship needs outside of the Designer’s blueprint. The catch-22 spins around and the marketers profit from leading us through our own shortcomings. We try to emulate the airbrush models that hold his/her attention, while scooping up another magazine or TV show to safely partake in other peoples’ lives as though it were a spectator sport, all the while desiring to know and be known fully in a secure relationship with someone who will not leave on a whim nor take abusive advantage.
God tells us to stop hiding, and find our security in Him, confident that He will guard what is entrusted to Him, and fit persons together to their greatest potential. Take as an example the story of Ruth and Boaz, great-grandparents to Israel’s famed King David, or the tale of Esther, who through circumstances became Queen of Persia and was in the unique position of opportunity to save the Jewish people from genocide. History is full of such pairings that seem to have happened serendipitously, and worked out to great advantage to the couple and/or society as a whole. God has the best view of each life, and knows when & how to best combine two. Go about your days, be real with yourself and others, and trust Him who knows you inside & out.