Chivalry is a romantic idea, and often misunderstood. So first off, let’s be clear as to what the word really means. At FreeDictionary.com, chivalry is defined this way:
1. The medieval system, principles and customs of knighthood.
A. The qualities idealized by knighthood, such as bravery, courtesy, honor and gallantry toward women.
B. A manifestation of any of these qualities.
2. A group of knights or gallant gentlemen. Fortunately for all of us—men, women and children—we have come a long way from medieval Europe, and a system of social protocols that made productive relationships based in equality virtually impossible.
However, there are deeper principles based on the values of self-giving love that still afford 21st-century men the opportunity to honor and respect their wives without the patronizing baggage of chauvinism.
So feel free to be your wife’s knight, ride up on your noble steed and demonstrate your dutiful affection via the following “10 Acts a Chivalrous Husband Does for His Wife”:
1. He always thinks of her first. This may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s also true that many of us play out our role as husbands while bypassing the brain as a matter of routine! Make this a personal discipline until it becomes second nature.
2. He opens the door (not just the car door, but every door, every time). Yes, the car door thing is cliché. But it—and every door—is such a good opportunity to let both our wife and the entire world know how you honor her.
3. He holds her hand. A lot. For no good reason. Just holding your wife’s hand with no ulterior motive lets her know she’s deeply connected to you and that you prize her affection. It signals warmth and protection. And that she’s the only gal for you.
4. He walks on the street side of the sidewalk. Remember walking? Remember sidewalks? This action has its roots in shielding women from the mud and the splash. However, splash or no splash, it’s a posture that says, “I will protect you; I place myself between you and danger.” Simply moving around to that side is a huge statement of respect.
5. He gets soaked fetching an umbrella. Again, it’s the principle of the action. You get the car, you run around in the rain and open the door, you shield her with the umbrella. This kind of initiative is a way of life, not a novelty action.
6. He coaches his children in self-giving love. Don’t let it stop with you, All Pro Dad. Teach your children, especially your sons, to look out for their mother and to put her first. Kindness, when they see it in you and practice it in their own lives, will heal your family.
7. He serves her coffee or tea in bed in the morning. Don’t ride in on the horse, but do serve her in this way as much as possible. And it’s also a good idea when the whole family eats together, that no one takes a bite until mom lifts her spoon. It’s a way to honor her sacrifice of preparing the meal.
8. He is always courteous. Many men are un-chivalrous in the way they put themselves first and fail to think of the needs of their wives. Say “please” and “thank you.” Do not raise your voice. Turn off the distractions when you eat together (she’s more important than answering the phone). Make it obvious that the relationship is primary. Believe us, courtesy sets the tone and is always reciprocated.
9. He washes her car before he washes his. It’s the little things. Did you offer her the last cookie? When you poured yourself a glass of water, did you offer her one too? Did it occur to you to wash her car when you spent all afternoon spiffing up yours?
10. He stands up and takes the heat. Does she know you have her back? Was the repair guy surly when she talked with him on the phone? Is she getting the run-around trying to sort out the insurance claim? Was the waiter at the restaurant or the clerk at the store out of line? We’re not suggesting you go Rambo on these people, but consider stepping up and saying, “Excuse me, but it’s unacceptable for you to talk to my wife that way.” But leave the shield, the lance and the sword in the car.
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