Chivalry may not quite be dead, but it’s certainly on life support. What used to be common courtesies are now all-too-rare actions, often viewed as weaknesses in the men who offer them and the women who accept them. But I believe that being a gentleman—a gentle-man—can strengthen your marriage.
That is why it is so important for fathers to model chivalry in their everyday lives, showing their sons how to treat a woman and their daughters what to look for in a man. I’ve also previously written about 10 acts a chivalrous husband does for his wife.
These kinds of little acts of gallantry are more than just simple gestures, though. Each time a husband performs one of these small actions, it can be a reminder of other ways he can strengthen his marriage.
Consider the following:
You hold the door so she can walk through unobstructed. It’s a gesture of honor. But how are you opening other kinds of doors in her life, helping her gain access to things? Does she dream about going back to school or retraining to find new work? What’s on her wish or bucket list? How are you going to make those things happen? What changes might you need to make so she can walk into a new situation?
Holding her seat.
Making sure she is comfortable before you sit down says that her needs come before yours. In what ways do you do this apart from at the table? Do you put her put her wishes and preferences for how you both spend your free time ahead of your own or is your hobby the priority? When did you last forgo a weekend round of golf so you could watch the kids and give her a day on her own or with her friends?
Walking on the outside.
Like a personal bodyguard, you are there to protect her from assault and act as a barrier between her and traffic. In what other ways are you protecting her? Do you have an eye out for threats she may not be aware of and a willingness to be her shield? Will you take the hits if you can?
Taking the stairs first.
Going up, you lead in case there is danger ahead. Going down, you also lead so that if she should stumble, you can break her fall. Leading means you expose yourself to the danger, you go into the unknown. Are you willing to take the first risky steps, maybe in broaching an issue that is difficult between you? And what about if she should stumble; are you prepared to cushion the blow, to be a buffer?
Helping her with her coat.
Another token of care and concern: You’re helping her avoid undignified wrestling into her coat and also ensuring she is warm and safe from the elements. Do you guard her sense of poise, ensuring that your children treat their mother with respect or watch for her honor with how she is treated in public? Does she feel that you are keeping her safe from the storms of life, that you are providing “cover” financially and emotionally? Does she know that you have got her back?
The next time you are acting like a gentleman toward your wife, take a moment to reflect on what other ways you are demonstrating that same kind of care in your marriage, or maybe where you are missing it. Courtesy and chivalry do not make women inferior; if anything, they elevate women. They don’t say that women are incapable, they say that men are supposed to love selflessly. Being a chivalrous man will strengthen your marriage.