There is a broad range of books available for men and a wide variety of materials that men read. From magazines about health, finance, politics, fashion, science, golf, hunting, to DIY manuals, video game catalogs, graphic novels, men consume a cornucopia of reading material. While the tide is changing, it is still true to say that most men typically don’t read books on relationship advice, unless it relates to romantic relationships. This important aspect of human life often gets relegated to the back burner and is treated as a secondary concern, if that.
Relationship Advice for Christian Men
Wired for relationships
People come in all shapes and sizes, but it’s true that we are wired for relationships. We are social, relational creatures and that bit of our operating system reflects our Creator, who is eternally in relationship as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them,” reads Genesis 1:27.
What sort of relationships are we wired for? We are chiefly wired for interpersonal relationships – that is, relationships with other people. This includes relationships with our parents, our siblings, friends, our next-door neighbor, our co-workers, the guys at the hardware store, a significant other, or our children.
We are also enmeshed in relationships that don’t directly involve people. More on that later. Whether we are talking about platonic relationships (that is, relationships that have a non-romantic love at their core), or romantic relationships in which you find yourself longing for more than friendship, you will find that the same principles apply and each will provide its own blessing.
Walk with God
The first and most important relationship that you need to consider is the one with your Creator. This is a relationship that should be eagerly pursued, and when it is a priority you will find that it overflows into your other relationships. “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness”, Jesus tells his followers who are often prone to anxiety about tomorrow (Matthew 6:33).
Instead of carrying their own burdens, He urges people to follow him. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Many men have been taught to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, that being a man means going it alone.
Jesus says that making a go at life in a way that will matter now and in eternity is something we cannot do in our own strength “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Make time to spend in the Word and in times of prayer. Join a Bible study group or find a mentor who will spend time reading the Bible with you and helping you grow in your faith.
Our relationship with God is not an isolated one. Our love for God is shown in how we relate to others around us, and our love for others shows that we understand what God is on about. “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar: for he who does not love his brother who he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4: 20-21).
Honor your parents
Peoples’ relationships with their parents aren’t always straightforward. For some, there is a deep and significant relationship there that they cherish. Others are carrying scars from absent parents, or parents who were present but abusive. Words such as “Honor your father and mother” (Ephesians 6:2 and Exodus 20:12) have a diverse impact and land differently for different people.
Giving dignity and respect (which is what is meant by “honor”) to your parents may be a hardship. They may not have earned it. The challenge is that whatever our circumstances, to trust God and take a step of obedience in faith. Let Him guide your relationship with your parents, whether it’s broken or healthy. Love does not enable, but neither does it hold resentment.
Only God can teach you how to properly love them, and only He can give you the desire to do so. God has said, “‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6).
Connect with your kids
If you have children, whether biological, adopted, or otherwise, this is a crucial relationship for both you and that child. How you relate to your children will shape their emotional lives and shape them for their lives. The word of advice given by Paul to dads is, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
There’s a negative and a positive aspect of our relationship – things to avoid and things to promote. The discipline and instruction of the Lord are about teaching kids who God is, and what he’s like. Fathers ought to model kindness, gentleness, love, and patience to their kids. Getting down on the kids’ level to play with them fosters emotional connections and develops their sense of value.
On the flip side, there are things fathers should try and avoid because they provoke their children. Being capricious, overbearing and unnecessarily harsh can bring about frustration in a child. Learn about your kids to know how they tick and what they can bear.
Learning to listen is a gift you can give to your kids and the people in your life. “…let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires” (James 1:19-20).
Self-care and work
It’s a well-worn cliché, but perhaps with good reason. Men sometimes get absorbed in their work and stake a sense of self-worth on how well they do that job and how much money it makes them. This often doesn’t bode well for family time, time with friends and personal health.
Taking time out to rest and connect with the people in your life will likely be more satisfying in the long run. Things can never replace people, and the race for accumulation is fraught with sorrow.
For example, Paul talks to his young protégé Timothy saying, “…there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:6-10). Don’t waste your life chasing what you can’t take with you when you die.
Love your wife
Last, but certainly not least, your relationship with your significant other. You may be considering dating, or you’re in a relationship heading toward marriage, or perhaps you’re already married, but these are questions worth considering – How should I relate to this woman? What sort of man ought I be towards her?
Paul advises believers in Ephesus this way: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… husbands should love their wives as their own bodies” (Ephesians 5: 25, 28). The call to men is to be willing to give themselves up for the sake of their wives. This is not a one-time thing, but a daily reality to live in.
The love that men are to have for their wives should be like a fountain that gets replenished and continues to flow throughout the marriage. Men aren’t to look somewhere other than their wives for romantic love. “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love” (Proverbs 5:18-19).
Christian Relationship Counseling
Relationships are a precious gift from God. Whether with our friends, parents, neighbors, children, or spouses, relationships help us flourish. If you’re looking for additional relationship advice to bring health and flourishing to some of your relationships, do not hesitate to contact me or another Christian counselor in our online counselor directory who can help you think through what the Bible says about relationships, navigate areas of past hurt in relationships as well as provide you with practical skills for building and maintaining meaningful relationships.
“Cuddling”, Courtesy of Văn Thắng, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Golden Hour”, Courtesy of Sebastian Voortman, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Stress Ball”, Courtesy of Matthias Zomer, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Holding Pinkies”, Courtesy of Jasmine Wallace Carter, Pexels.com, CC0 License