I strongly urge those of you who are single to make having a shared interest in your field of study and ministry a top criterion in selecting a spouse. It doesn’t matter how beautiful she is or what a great cook she is if she has no interest in your field of study and so sees talking about things that you are passionate about as an annoyance.
Shared interests in marriage has always been one of those things that people seem to value highly that I don’t understand. I don’t see a need for a wife to share your interests, whatever they may be. I do understand that one or two shared activities, something like dancing, that you can do together on date nights is probably beneficial, but for something like philosophy: what use would there be in discussing philosophy with your wife? Why would that be even remotely necessary?
As you can probably tell by the hundreds of thousands of words I’ve written on my blog and the thousands of articles I’ve linked to in my Lightning Rounds, I have a strong interest in socio-political theory and have a moderate interest in philosophy, theology, economics, history, etc., but I would never expect my wife to have to have an interest in this or for her to become my regular politics discussion partner.
That’s what I have friends for.
Would it be nice to have a wife who liked socio-political theory? Sure. It would also be nice to have a wife who liked ultimate, board games, science fiction, video games, and anime (as for shooting, hunting, and martial arts, see here) but these can be nice little bonuses. These are not things a wife is needed for and I don’t see the point in making them requirements.
I think this shared interests thing comes from the modern phenomenon of making your wife your friend. A century ago, most men would have thought the idea of discussing politics, theology, or philosophy with your wife was absurd; those discussions were what you did with your friends at the pub. Your wife was the one who dragged you home when you were too sloshed too distinguish between monarchy and anarchy.
But the pubs are now co-ed, men’s clubs have been destroyed, and male friendship has been destroyed. Men no longer have easy ways to find someone to trade bullshit about politics and philosophy with.
At some point in the last century, male friendship began to die, so well-meaning people looking to fill the bleeding wound in their chest its absence caused confused the categories of wife and friend. A husband-wife relationship is not a friendship, it is a unique form of companionship centred around the creation and care of a home and family. Neither relationship is better, they are simply different.
A wife can not be your lover, your friend, your confidante, your parenting-partner, your home-building partner, your BS-ing partner, your debate opponent, your drinking buddy, your complaint outlet, and your dance partner all at once. That is simply too much load to put onto a single relationship. A man needs male friends to fulfill many of these needs.
I’m pretty sure that expecting too much from a single partner is one of the great contributors to the breakdown of modern marriage.
Build a home with your wife and make her your lover, save philosophical diatribes for your friends.
Another, difference with WK I want to comment comes from this:
And it also allows you to lead a woman so that she can develop herself to be ready for marriage to you. I hope that she would already have done a lot of the work by herself, (chastity, STEM degree, debt-free, good job, apologetics, conservative politics), before she even meets you.
Earlier WK writes about the male’s role as provider, but here he he puts down a STEM degree and a good job as developing herself for marriage, but if the man is meant to be the provider of what use are the degree and the job in a potential wife? Is a career-oriented women the kind of woman at traditional Christian wants raising his children? I think there’s too much focus on what a women studies and works at in the Christian community.
That being said, a degree is a basic signalling mechanism of low time-preference, so if dating any woman without a degree, ensure it’s not because she has high time preference and verify a low time preference in another way. But other than signalling why does it particularly matter what kind of degree she has or if she has a job. I’d much prefer a woman who had spent that time developing her home-making abilities and volunteering at the church than studying and working.
I can understand not wanting a wife who wasted a decade doing nothing, but then the question becomes why would a traditional man consider marriage to a 30-year-old woman?
We’ll look at the advice-seeker, named Wesley, who illustrates my point nicely.
I recently got married this past summer to an amazing woman I met at a one year bible college I attended a couple years ago and it has been great. But between transferring to a new (secular) school and being constantly busy with school and work I feel like my relationship with God is constantly on the backburner, as I am not getting into the word nearly as much as I used to and my prayer life is nearly nonexistent, and because of this my relationship with my wife is not where it should be either.
I love my major and I love my wife, but they don’t seem to overlap very well, as my studies are normally more time intensive than hers and also she see’s my talking about it more as an annoyance than anything. I guess why I am writing you is because I am getting so spiritually burnt out and need advice on how to ignite/maintain my relationship with God and keep a healthy relationship with my wife and if having an aspiration of being an apologist is worth it. Not only does everyone else not see why I have picked the path I have because they see philosophy as impractical and I won’t be able to support a family with such an aspiration, but the path itself is difficult as I do not have many other fellow Christians in my classes and so I am being practically scorned in all directions. I often ask myself if it is worth it and if I should find some other path that would be more conducive to married life and family life that her and I hope to start in the foreseen future.
It’s very clear here, Wesley’s problem is not his wife. His problem is he doesn’t have virtuous friendships with male friends and is trying to use his wife to fill this hole in his life. But his is his wife, not his friend and she can’t fill this hole, and he shouldn’t be expecting her to.
So, Wesley, if by happenstance you come across this, your wife is not your friend, she is your wife. Don’t discuss philosophy her, take her dancing instead and lead her in Bible readings. Instead of trying to force her into a role in which she does not belong, find a good male friend or two who share your Christian values and discuss philosophy with them over a pint at the pub.
I should make one last note, there’s a difference between a wife not sharing your interests and a wife deriding your interests. A wife not sharing your interests is fine; a wife who disdains your interests (and not in the harmless ‘men will be men‘ way), and by extension you, is not. Do not marry a women who contempt for those things you really like and enjoy.
I get the impression that Wesley’s problem was the first, but if it was the latter, then that is a something to be concerned about.
Also, values are not interests. Sharing values is important. Don’t marry a woman who doesn’t share your core values.