by Anne Ross Kootz
There so is much accumulated wisdom, easily available now, to young women who want to live holy lives. How to prepare for roles as traditional wives and mothers; enjoy a chaste and successful courtship; and begin a happy, fruitful marriage with a God-fearing man.
Gratefully, I scan this and other sources of womanly interests, though I am the mother of sons, only. I have spent myself for more than 26 years trying to form ornery, grimy little boys into strong, virtuous, and devout future husbands (and priests.) You see how I might also have an interest in anything that will help other mothers form their daughters as future wives!
In all this wealth of information, however, there seems to be a neglected element worth a closer look.
Women Fascinate Men
God-fearing Catholic men are just like any others when it comes to our fairer sex. We fascinate them. Yes, absolutely. Fascinate. Most men manage to keep themselves under cool control, but within their minds and hearts lightning is flashing, bells are ringing, and storms are raging in the presence of the feminine. These men are to be commended for their self-mastery!
Because of this fascination, good men really want to please us. Even at tremendous effort!
Which Makes Men Vulnerable
Because we fascinate them, men are vulnerable to our attention, or lack of attention. A quick smile will send him, interiorly, into flights of happiness. One short but pleasant conversation will put a spring in his steps for days. Usually we are adept at genteel behavior toward men. Still, sometimes we are focused on our own interests, forgetting that hidden weakness in a man’s armor. A thoughtless word, or snub, can injure his heart without our ever intending it!
They Need Our Help
When someone simply wants to engage us in conversation, common courtesy suggests we give at least a few minutes of our time. If we like a man, and welcome his attention, conversation may come easily. As for a potential suitor, especially one we do not yet know well, a few friendly chats could lead to pleasant discoveries! Harmless opportunities abound – for instance, invite him to wash dishes with you after a party!
But what if we do know him, for many months or years now, and really aren’t interested? What can a lady do to deflect unwanted attention? Avoidance is the easy, automatic response. But is it the right response?
When we evade a man because of his unwanted attentions, we merely drag him along. He wonders if we are simply shy, and he should persevere gently until we are more comfortable with him. He may suspect we don’t like him, or there is simply no sparkle for us, and he should back away. He just doesn’t know. And he can’t read our minds. He is confused. Remember, he wants to please us. He is trying to figure out how to do this. How can we help him? Use words!
Practice courtesy at all times. In the case of the rejected suitor, this means you must be courageous enough to find words to tell him. Maybe you appreciate his kindness toward you, but would prefer to keep your friendship on a purely casual level. Or, you already have a mutual agreement with another man. He may not want to hear it, but he will prefer the truth to the uncertainty.
Collect your thoughts before speaking to him. Focus for a moment on his positive attributes. Then your remarks will give him hope to find a good woman who will better appreciate him. Is he an attractive man? Intelligent, warm, humorous, kind? Is he admirably devout? Does he sing or serve at Holy Mass? Observe these qualities, and acknowledge them. Does God have a better match for him? Take the time to write your ideas. When you have formulated your best response, please tell him at the next reasonable opportunity.
Tell him in person, to better support his human dignity. Ladies often look for a discreet place where we can be seen but not overheard. We might walk with him for a moment in a parking lot, or at the edge of a sports field. Out of doors is best, as fresh air and open spaces will help him manage his disappointment.
Once we make it very clear, verbally, kindly, that we are not the woman for him, he will be briefly stung. But he will probably recover quickly, and be free to notice another woman – perhaps one who has been hoping to get his attention. Thus we may be doing two acts-of-mercy in one!
“Love one another as I have loved you.” Our goal is first and foremost to live a holy life now and gain eternal life in heaven. The exciting time of young adulthood, with vocation discernment and courtships, is part of that process. We can leave a trail of wounded hearts or a legacy of graciousness. While we take gentle care of one man’s heart, we hope that another woman somewhere is taking gentle care of the young man who will someday find us. Let us aim to leave a treasury of warm memories in all who know us, including that rejected suitor.