THREE LEVELS OF CHIVALRY
Like ice cream, respect comes in many flavors, including forms of etiquette, politeness, or chivalry. — Jim Sharon
The term chivalry, in its modern day usage, usually refers to men extending courtesy and honor to women. Unfortunately, in recent years an ever-decreasing number of guys are practicing chivalrous behaviors, such as opening car or building doors for ladies, walking by their sides, or allowing them to place their order first at a restaurant or bar.
Admittedly, I am often guilty of walking ahead of my wife when going places together. While women in general are proud of the autonomy they’ve attained, most of the conscious women I know still appreciate men’s chivalrous actions. Conversely, many ladies are put off by men’s lack of attention to common courtesies or politeness.
A deeper level of chivalry involves guys’ willingness to frequently attend to the needs of primary women in their lives, such as their partners and daughters, and to speak and listen respectfully to them. Many women rightfully complain that their husbands or fathers are often self-centered and that they discount a lot of their needs and feelings.
Furthermore, women feel demeaned when they are patronized and when guys offer them unsolicited advice in lieu of simply reflecting or validating their concerns.
Perhaps the highest honor that men can pay to women, especially their loved ones, is to consistently recognize and affirm their personal virtues or best qualities.
Women tend to feel greatly valued when the significant men in their lives place a premium on their essential nature or top attributes, while relegating their imperfections to the background. No surprise, when men regard the women in their lives in this manner, their relationships with them are considerably enhanced.
My persistent acknowledgment of the inner beauty of my wife of 44 years and of my two adult daughters is a major factor in my vital bond with each of them.
Jim Sharon, Ed.D. is a licensed psychologist and relationship coach in private practice. Men’s and couple’s issues are among his areas of specialization. Dr. Sharon is the co-author (with his wife Ruth) of the book Secrets of a Soulful Marriage: Creating and Sustaining a Loving, Sacred Relationship, SkyLight Paths Publishing, 2014 and the editor of the anthology Ordinary Men, Extraordinary Lives: Defining Moments, 2011. Jim is also the founder and coordinator of Whole Man Expo and Whole Man Network, 2012 – 2014.
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