Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Chivalry... Significant or Just Awkward?

I do love when my husband opens doors for me or carries things for me or pays for things or speaks up for me. But to tell you the truth, neither of us really knew how to "do" chivalry when we hooked up. We are still learning it together. Many practices of chivalry have been lost over the generations. So we are learning.

In our five years together thus far, I have slowly become more comfortable letting Shane "take care of things." It's strange to go from driving your own car all the time all over the place, long trips included, to letting someone else have the wheel. (Especially when they aren't as cautious as you...) It's awkward to have someone ask you if he can get you something to drink, when you have two legs and are perfectly capable of getting it yourself. It's not that I didn't learn chivalry from my dad. He was pretty good at it. It's just that I grew up in a culture where I wasn't taught the value of it. I adapted the mindset of "I can do anything you can do. So I will." Even my high school job as a grocery bagger/carry-out/stockboy reveals that. Looking back, I guess there was a reason most of the other carry-outs were guys.

Marriage has taught Shane a lot about chivalry, too. He is learning to simply notice. He's really good about being chivalrous when he knows he's supposed to be, but he is learning the heart behind the actions. Take opening doors. He used to always walk ahead of me, never behind or beside me, even if I was carrying loads of stuff through a big parking lot. He didn't care where I was or how I was managing. Same thing with bike rides together. We couldn't talk or interact at all because Shane felt a need to stay far ahead of me. He would happily fly along while I just felt lonely! His goal was to get where he was going as fast as he could. However, if he ever would come upon a door, a light bulb would turn on and he knew he was supposed to open it for me. Smiling from ear to ear and bursting with pride, he opened that door wide... and then wondered why I was taking so long to get there!

The more we get used to the attitude of chivalry, the more we like love it. The acts are great, but the heart of chivalry is a special kind of care that only a man can show and only a woman can receive. Just because I like to receive chivalry does not mean I'm weak. Just because Shane likes to offer his strength does not mean he thinks I'm weak. Male and female we were created, the collective image of God Almighty, chivalry being one way of reflecting such magnificence. When I am allowed to be a woman, I feel valued and respected for who I really am. So I am willing to face the awkward moments and allow chivalry to happen to me.

Marriage has been a good teacher of chivalry to us. Parents have taught us a few things. But some things only time can teach. I have learned chivalry from the UPS guy, the Mormons, and also some of our male friends. Over time, I have noticed that most of these men most of the time do not cross the threshold of our house unless my husband is home. Hear me right... it wouldn't be a huge deal to me if they did come in for a minute. I have just noticed that they usually don't. This is a courtesy that I have come to appreciate. For whatever reason -- maybe the simple human intuition that most men are physically stronger than me -- I really appreciate, respect, and trust these men more when they go the extra mile of standing out in the cold to deliver something or leave a message for Shane or whathaveyou. Showing the appropriate care for someone, in this case chivalric care, can sometimes mean intentionally maintaining a boundary -- however unnecessary!

And sometimes chivalry is necessary, even heroic. I thought this article was brilliant: "If we can all agree that the kind of culture we should aspire to live in is one in which men and women protect and honor each other in the ways that they can—and not one in which men are pushing past women and children to save their own lives—then that is progress that women everywhere should support."

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