how a man…

Josh was going out of his way this potluck Sunday. As he offered time and again to get Dr. L. something more to drink, we were pretty sure Josh had something up his sleeve. I never did find out what Josh did to the next cup of water, but the conversation it all sparked took me for a long walk down memory lane.

As Josh waited on him hand and foot, Dr. L. took the opportunity to lecture the two young ladies sitting across from him: “When a young man comes courting, you watch how he treats his mother.”

Having eaten his dessert, Dr. L. had more wisdom to share: “Watch how his father treats his mother, too.”

I smiled at my husband seated next to me. I was thinking of how I fell in love with him. How I could add another piece of advice to the conversation which had ended while I was in the land of memories: “Watch how a man treats his sisters. Don’t marry him unless that’s the way you want to be treated.”

Not to say that how a young man treats his mother is unimportant. But I’ve seen good mothers command respect and affection from even the most wayward of sons.

And a girl should have her eyes wide open when meeting the parents of a potential suitor. Their marriage was his first and primary example of wedded life, for good or for bad.

But I fell in love with my husband for how he treated his sisters. Yes, he showed love and respect to his mother. Yes, his parents had a godly, committed marriage. But it seemed to me the brother-sister relationship would be most like what we’d someday experience as husband and wife, best friends–with the added element of romance, of course.

So I watched Merritt with his three sisters. And what I saw made me nearly swoon.

He rubbed his sisters’ sore shoulders. He never failed to get them to smile when they were having a bad day. He always had his arm around one of them for a picture.

No, he wasn’t waiting on their every need or opening every door for them all the time. There was plenty of brother-sister banter. But he helped with the dishes and thanked them for the food they cooked.

And I knew that I would be the happiest woman in the world only to be treated like that for the rest of my life.

Now I’m married to him. And it’s better than I could have imagined.

He is, of course, more romantic than Gilbert and better-looking than any other man on the face of the earth. But in the day-to-day interaction we share as husband and wife, I think his sisters would recognize their brother quite readily. Which is why I’m glad I didn’t just fall in love with his sense of humor and his dark brown eyes, because they are only the icing on the cake to the way he treats me: just like the way he always treated his sisters…


  1. I can agree with most all of what is said in this article, but one part raised a question in my mind. Neither of my parents came from good Christian homes. In fact, my mother came from a broken home and my father came from a home torn by fighting. If they had followed all of this criteria that you have layed out, they should never have considered each other for marriage. Neither of them had ever witnessed first hand what a good, godly marriage was. Did that make them a poor choice for the other? Surely there must be some grace given in that area. How else could they have had such a good marriage the past twenty-three years? Maybe it is possible for God to give a special kind of grace for those who have followed His leading into a marriage with someone who perhaps hasn’t witnessed the perfect marriage growing up, but has chosen from the Bible to build a godly marriage in their own life.
    But I do agree that the way a man treats his family, particularly his mother and sisters, is a good indication of whether or not he would make a good husband. Thank you very much for the thought-provoking post!

  2. I agree – the way men treat their sisters is important! I have an older brother who is such a blessing and gentleman to me, one of my very best friends. The girl that “gets” my brother will be a blessed woman indeed! =)

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