4 Minutes B4 Marriage – Purity

I was all set to write about questions to ask each other this week, topics to consider before you decide you are ready to marry. A good safe subject, and a valuable one that will probably come next week. But then I started to think about what else single people should think about, and had to face one of the most difficult subjects to write well.


It’s a minefield of a topic. I could come across as preachy. An Old Fogey. Pollyana. Or out of touch. I might say too much or more likely, not enough. I run a serious risk of alienating my readers, something writers avoid at all cost.

Please honor the courage this will take and continue to read. I’ll speak first to those of you who want to wait until marriage before sharing yourselves sexually and then to those who haven’t waited, as God holds blessings for all.

To be completely open: I believe sexual love is a beautiful and Godly gift when it expresses a life-long covenant. Conversely, I believe sexual expressions of unity, when no lifelong unity is intended, wound the hearts and souls of both parties, and often, innocent others. These wounds make future relationships more difficult to develop in a healthy, holy manner.

That said, I’m going to turn to some points made by Shaunti Feldhahn and Lisa A. Rice in For Young Women Only: What you need to know about how guys think, a book they wrote after interviewing and surveying hundreds of young men. Though everything below is a generalization, I urge you not to assume your relationship is the exception. Talk seriously and honestly, respecting the vulnerability that honesty brings.

The authors offer several statistically supported insights, first about appearance:

  • A guy is automatically tempted to sexually fantasize about an attractive female figure he’s seen. This is completely normal, and a temptation men struggle with throughout their lives. Yes, Christian men, as well.
  • Guys think girls know they are enticing men to fantasize about them when they dress provocatively. The way girls dress sends messages they might not intend. Girls might think their outfit says “Cute” when guys receive the signal “Easy.” Yet, it is possible to dress both modestly and attractively.
  • Guys fall for girls who don’t have supermodel bodies, but physical attraction is necessary for a dating relationship. Guys want their girlfriends to be healthy, not unrealistically thin, not suffering from eating disorders. But also, they see significantly overweight girls as having low self esteem, which is not attractive to them. The key here is that working toward health is appealing. If you know your eating habits are unhealthy, please, seek professional help.
  • Your appearance sends a signal of how you feel about yourself. “As the guys see it, they want girls that think enough of themselves to put effort into their appearance. That showed the guys that the girl was confident in who she was as a person.”


Now, insights about sex:


  • Many guys feel neither the ability nor the responsibility to stop the sexual progression. And those who do feel the responsibility don’t want to have to stop it alone.
  • Having sex doesn’t mean he loves her or is committed to her. This is a difficult attitude for girls to believe. To women, the physical element is an outpouring of love, but men may “use love to get sex”. In general, guys have premarital sex for physical pleasure; girls have premarital sex to fill an emotional need for connection. Many hearts are broken over this misunderstanding.
  • As soon as a girl has sex with a guy, he’ll likely doubt whether he can trust her. Even if he pushed for the sex, the introduction of this doubt will undermine the relationship. “The line gets blurred between love and hormones. From then on, you’re always wondering which factor is in play.”
  • Guys want to marry a virgin. As unfair as that seems, the double standard still exists.


When young men were asked to imagine themselves giving anonymous advice to girls, including their sisters, they rose to the occasion. They want to be protective of their sisters and friends. They want to be heroes. I think their advice applies to men and women. They wrote:


  • Set boundaries. It helps to have talked ahead of time about expectations. Having predetermined boundaries makes limits easier than when judgment is clouded by hormones.
  • Don’t assume anyone is immune to temptation. Don’t rely completely on the person you are with, no matter how honorable he is. He’s tempted, too!
  • Do a Joseph!” When Joseph of the Old Testament was tempted by Potiphar’s wife, he ran! Flee from sexual temptation.
  • Be yourself. If they don’t like you for you, they aren’t worth your time. Never compromise your principles. Be confident. After all, you are a child of the King of Kings!


You are a child of the King of Kings, no matter what relationship mistakes you’ve made! Even if you are reading this wounded from the past, or in a relationship where you are dissatisfied with the decisions you’ve made, you are a treasure! God helps us to grow from every experience we’ve had and can turn all mistakes into good. He heals our wounds and creates in us new, healthy hearts. Turn to Him!

I hope everyone who is reading this has experienced the joy of a loving, forgiving parent who thinks you are a gift to the world. But even if you have not, know that God is the perfect parent who loves unconditionally and delights in you, His creation. He wants to see you healthy and whole and is always ready to help you grow. His commands show His loving desire to protect us from harm.

You can reclaim a purity of heart. You can realize your worth as a beloved child of God and decide to only express your physical love when it is the symbol or outpouring of lifelong commitment before God. Not as giving in to temptation and not out of emotional need, but as a gift between two strong people, willing to sacrifice for each other and pledged to one another for life.

I’ll be praying for you,

Betty Arrigotti

TO READ MORE (Note: Also available on CD which makes it easy to listen to during a commute.):

Feldhahn, Shaunti & Rice, Lisa A. (2006). For Young Women Only: What you need to know about how guys think, Multnomah Books.

I also recommend:

Feldhahn, Shaunti (2004). For Women Only: What you need to know about the inner lives of men, Multnomah Books.

Feldhahn, Shaunti & Jeff (2006). For Men Only: A straightforward guide to the inner lives of women. Multnomah Books.

4 Minutes 4 Marriage – Windows & Pop Ups

Welcome back to 4 Minutes 4 Marriage. Did last week’s post about women’s desire for emotional security and men’s double burden of financial responsibility and secret sense of inadequacy spark any good discussions? I hope so.

This week we return to the Feldhahn s’ books to talk about windows and pop ups. Remind you of your computer? We’ll use the computer analogy to better understand our partners.

First, the windows:

Men surveyed by Shaunti Feldhahn were surprised to learn that, unlike their own linear thinking, women tend to balance many thoughts and emotions at the same time. Like having many windows open on your computer and “alt-tabbing” back and forth between them.

Generally women are more adept at multi-tasking than men. In a typical minute a woman may be primarily focusing on her work, but also assessing whether her children are safe, calculating whether she’ll be able to finish the tasks of the day, considering what to have for dinner tonight, conscious that her coworker is in a bad mood, all the while feeling uneasy because she is worried about whether her husband left without a kiss this morning because something is bothering him. About half of all women might add to this list a vulnerability to “pop ups” of emotion from past experiences that seem to come out of nowhere. Women find it very difficult to compartmentalize thoughts or turn off emotions until a later time. And if their primary relationship is troubled, everything else is affected.

An awareness of how emotions pervade a woman’s thoughts can help men be better listeners. Men tend to want to fix things—much to a woman’s dismay—when what she wants is to be listened to. You see, for women the problem IS the emotion involved, more so than the situation that led to it. Men make tremendous strides in a relationship when they learn to listen to the feeling that is expressed, even more than the words. Then acknowledge the emotion. Words like, “That must have been frustrating,” or “That would have made me mad, too” are much more satisfying than, “Why didn’t you…” or “You should have….”

Of course, if she’s saying, “The sink is plugged,” she’s probably looking for you to fix it, not empathize. Or if you see that she can’t settle into a conversation because she’s distracted by worrying about the noise the kids are making in the next room, fix it by going to check on them yourself. But when she is talking to you and her voice is tight with emotion, her feelings are the message you should be tracking. If you aren’t sure how to respond, ask her. “Do you want advice, or just to be heard?”

Men also have pop up thoughts to deal with, but of a completely different kind. Women have accepted that men tend to be visual beings. To us that might simply mean we dress attractively to hold their attention. To men, though, it goes far beyond that. When a man sees an appealing woman, her unbidden image replays in his mind, possibly for years afterwards. Throw in movie love scenes, bra ads, jeans commercials, provocatively dressed teens walking past, a coworker’s fitted skirt, the Playboy cover he glimpsed at the grocery store, cheerleaders at the game, or a waitress’s cleavage. Our culture assails him with a barrage of enticing images that pop up more often than he cares to admit.

Notice I said unbidden. These visual replays have nothing to do with a roving eye, nor a dissatisfaction or lack of love for his wife. Many men would choose to turn off this temptation if they could. They are simply part of his gender’s makeup. He’s been struggling with these images since he was a teen. He can’t avoid wanting to look at a beautiful woman, though with effort he can choose not to. Still, he will be intensely aware of the woman he avoids watching. Of course, some men are more or less visual than others and will be more or less distracted by provocative scenes, but the sensual mental images seem to be a rather universal male experience.

Even Job of the Bible, whom God called, “the finest man in all the earth” (Job 1:8) knew temptation. He says, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman.” (Job 31: 1)

Shaunti Feldhahn points out to men that they have choices:

  • For every man, sensual images and thoughts arrive involuntarily.
  • Every man’s involuntary physical impulse is to enjoy the feelings associated with these thoughts.
  • But every man can make a choice—to dwell on the images and thoughts, or to dismiss them. Men honor their wives when they resist their desire to visually consume an attractive woman.


Ladies, how do we help our husband once we realize how temptations surround and bombard him? First, set aside our natural tendency to feel resentful or insecure when we notice him noticing another woman. We can show him we appreciate the effort he makes to redirect his attention to us, with a simple smile or a thank you. Remember, our husbands need our encouragement and support, not our judgment. Shaunti quotes one man, “The more I can reveal my weaknesses without being judged or accused, or without a major crisis in our relationship resulting from my transparency, the more I know I am loved for who I am, not for who she wants me to be.”

Second, make a point of examining what inadvertent temptation we might cause by how we dress, as well as what we teach out daughters about modesty. (Shaunti has written a book called, For Young Women Only.)

In summary, women are distracted in their multi-tasking by emotions that intrude and hold on until they are resolved. Men are distracted by the countless sensual images that our society surrounds them with. It’s as difficult for a woman to turn off her emotions as it is for men to turn off their mental images. As hard for men to ignore sensuality as it is for women to forget an argument.

How will knowing this enhance our relationships? Might make a great conversation starter…

Let’s pray for all marriages this week.

I’ll be praying for yours,

Betty Arrigotti

TO READ MORE (Note: These are also available on CDs which make them easy to listen to during a commute.):

Feldhahn, Shaunti (2004). For Women Only: What you need to know about the inner lives of men, Multnomah Books.

Feldhahn, Shaunti & Rice, Lisa A. (2006). For Young Women Only: What you need to know about how guys think, Multnomah Books.

Feldhahn, Shaunti & Jeff (2006). For Men Only: A straightforward guide to the inner lives of women. Multnomah Books.

4 Minutes B4 Marriage – Deal Breakers

Last week I asked you to evaluate yourself in several areas to assess your readiness for marriage. Next, if you are in a relationship, you considered the same questions about your beloved. Now I’d like to focus more carefully on the deal breakers that would call you to refuse commitment, no matter how deeply you love. You owe a wise, though difficult decision to yourself and your future children.


  • ADDICTIONS – These include substance abuse, such as alcohol or drugs, as well as gambling. You may love the person deeply, but until they are in recovery and have been for a good long time, they cannot love you enough to give you a happy, healthy relationship. They do not have the free will required to commit fully to you. They may be a wonderful person apart from their addiction, but they can’t help being more committed to the addiction than to you.
  • DISHONESTY – A person who does not respect the truth will lie to you as easily as you observe him or her lie to someone else. A healthy relationship relies on trust and this person cannot be trusted.
  • UNFAITHFULNESS – As much as he or she declares love for you, if there is a history of cheating, you are naive to think you won’t be hurt the same way. Be grateful you learned about this character flaw before you married.
  • UNCONTROLLED ANGER – If this person cannot control his (or her) anger and strikes out in a way that hurts himself or someone else, run, don’t walk, to the nearest exit. Even though you have never seen the anger focused on you, you will. If people hurt others intentionally, even with words alone, they are not going to be part of a healthy relationship.
  • DISRESPECT FOR YOUR FAITH – Our spirituality is an integral part of us. If your faith is ridiculed, an important side of you is not respected. To be healthy, all relationships need mutual respect. Think ahead to how his or her opinion would influence your children and their faith life.
  • CONTROLLING BEHAVIOR – A person who wants to make all decisions and who doesn’t respect your independence and differences of opinion is not a partner. Their need to be in charge will intensify with time, possibly to the point of becoming abusive. This behavior may be difficult to recognize from within the relationship, but below are some warning flags taken from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/domestic_violence_abuse_types_signs_causes_effects.htm 


Do you:

  • feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
  • avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
  • feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner?
  • believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
  • wonder if you’re the one who is crazy?
  • feel emotionally numb or helpless?


Does your partner:

  • act excessively jealous and possessive?
  • control where you go or what you do?
  • keep you from seeing your friends or family?
  • limit your access to money, the phone, or the car?
  • constantly check up on you?
  • humiliate, criticize, or yell at you?
  • treat you so badly that you’re embarrassed for your friends or family to see?
  • ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments?
  • blame you for his own abusive behavior?
  • see you as property or a sex object, rather than as a person?


  • ABUSIVE BEHAVIOR – It should go without saying that you must not continue a relationship with someone who hurts you. Yet, abusers can seem very loving when they are not abusing and so people remain in a dangerous relationship. If you have ever been intentionally hurt by the other, no matter how sorry he or she was later, end the relationship. If you are afraid of ending it, seek help from friends, family, or professionals. If you’re afraid for your immediate safety, call 911. For help and advice on escaping an abusive relationship, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224.


If a person you love falls into one of the deal breaker categories, this may be the hardest, yet most important decision of your life. Break off the relationship. You deserve a healthy beloved and you cannot single-handedly (nor is it your responsibility to) overcome these dangerous behaviors.

In his book, Love Smart, Dr. Phil McGraw says, “Trust me, if you’re dealing with a guy who is broken in some major way, tell him to get help, give him the name of a good counselor but don’t take that on when you still have an option to choose wisely. That may sound harsh, but you are looking for a healthy, functional partner who is uniquely compatible with you. […] It’s the most obvious rule in the world: Don’t pick the one who is broken.”

(Note – we are all somewhat broken but we are talking here about serious incapacity to love well.) Know that God loves this broken person and He will work to help him or her. It is even possible that losing you will be the impetus this person needs to find help and choose to grow.

I hope you are all headed for healthy, happy relationships, but if you find yourself in any of the trouble listed above, please be brave and seek help.

This was a heavy subject this week, and a bit depressing. Here’s one of my favorite verses from the Bible to perk us back up:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11(NIV)

My prayers are with you,

Betty Arrigotti

WordPress Themes