“Love was as marked a feature in the chivalric character as valour; and in the phrase of the time, he who understood how to break a lance, and did not understand how to win a lady, was but a half a man.” Charles Mills, The History of Chivalry, or Knighthood and its Times (1825)
Knights were the celebrities of the Middle Ages. Their war stories were told around the fire; their glories became legend. It was like tabloids today. However,the knight of good character wasn’t focused on fame, and didn’t find his identity in being a warrior. We can use this advice today: Don’t get caught up in yourself. If you don’t know how to treat a woman, you are “but half a man.”
After our amazing honeymoon, our pastor texted me and said, “I know she’s your wife, but she’s always going to be a girlfriend.” Complacency kills chivalry. Author Elie Wiesel said it best: “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” It doesn’t matter how many people like you or how much money you make, if you want to win a good girl, or if you want to keep your marriage from becoming stagnant, then you as a man must make her your priority. I’ve seen guys who had the very best to offer lose the girl because they put work before her. This isn’t about kissing the ground she walks on. It’s about two things that are becoming a rarity in our generation: focus and priority.
Last week I presented the 31 “Rules of Courtly Love” written circa 1184 A.D. You think historical writings are irrelevant? Some of them might make you think again.
- Rule #6: Boys do not love until they arrive at the age of maturity
This rule’s a good warning for girls. In the Middle Ages it was common for boys to marry around 14, but “the age of maturity” has steadily edged up a good ten to twenty years today. In a nutshell, don’t expect to have a ring on it until a boy has mentally become a man. It’s all about timing.
- Rule #10: Love is always a stranger in the home of the avarice
If a man is greedy, he’s going to place his work and everything else of wealth above his love. What are the top reasons marriages end in divorce? Money problems. If the focus in the relationship is on money, then love won’t live in that house.
- Rule #11: It is not proper to love any woman whom one should be ashamed to seek to marry
If neither of you care about marriage, then hey, all is good. But, if she thinks you’re the one, and you’re not interested in marriage at all, don’t waste her time. If you’re not proud to bring her home to your parents, let her go to someone else who will be. A girl wants to feel prized and protected. If you’re not willing to provide those for her, then don’t keep holding on to her. She deserves more. You’re not her knight in shining armor.
- Rule #30: A true love is constantly and without intermission possessed by the thought of his beloved.
Now, you might be thinking this rule is unhealthy and borders on obsession. I mean, this line of thinking could lead to dangerous stalking! But think about it for a moment. We’ve all seen people “constantly and without intermission possessed by ”…..their cellphone, Facebook, a job, or a football game on TV. Doesn’t your girlfriend or wife deserve this same type of attention? Start somewhere. Pretend if you have to at first. Look into her eyes and see Matt Holliday nail a grand slam. Just kidding. She will see through it in a heartbeat, but that’s the kind of awe she wants to see in your eyes when you look at her.
The tough truth of chivalry is it’s not about you. Easy now! It’s not. Hopefully a light bulb went off for the guy over 30, playing the field, and still living at home with mom and dad. Meg Ryan said, “I heard that chivalry was dead, but I think it’s just got a bad flu.” There’s a cure: give a damn, humility, courage, and a sense of justice. You’re not half a man, just in transition. Pay attention to the details, keep dating alive, and you’re golden.