OMAHA, Neb. – Rebecca St. James married the love of her life, Jacob Fink, on April 23. But after being single for the first 33 years of her life, she has not forgotten the struggles she had as a single person.
“I dated a lot in my life,” St. James told The Pathway recently in a phone interview. “I was in a dating-single period for much longer than what I wanted to be and I think there were things I was confused about and things I wanted to learn.”
That prompted an idea for a book in which St. James interviewed some 15 single, Christian men, ranging in age from 20 to 35, as well as older mentors she respects, to find out what they were looking for in a potential spouse and what they wished women knew.
The finished product, called What is He Thinking?? What Guys Want Us to Know About Dating, Love, and Marriage was released Sept. 26 by FaithWords/Hachette Book Group.
In the book, she compiled and revealed the top ten turnoffs for guys, five date questions women have to ask (Do you have any hobbies? Who is your best friend?) and the do’s and don’ts for interacting with men.
One of the items on the top ten list of turnoffs is a critical spirit.
“It’s the girlfriend version of the nagging wife that the Bible warns about,” St. James said. “Don’t be somebody who is constantly picking.
“We create the foundation for our marriage in our single lives. We are constantly grooming ourselves for our spouse in the way we choose to live. So, as single people, if we choose to have a critical spirit – which the Bible is very much against, Jesus was all about grace and being sensitive to people’s needs – there is a lack of grace and a lack of compassion and I think it just shuts men down when women are critical and not encouraging.”
Another item on the list was a lack of femininity – a theme she touches on several times, advising women to “stay soft.” And in so doing, she is advocating a return to the idea of making a man win a woman’s heart.
“I think our culture hardens women very quickly,” St. James said. “And I think the attack on a woman’s softness is happening at 12 and 13. In schools, I can’t even believe what young girls are exposed to these days. It’s just devastating.
“Through TV, a lot of music and films – they are trying to almost take away that innocence and that beautiful softness that a woman has. I really want to encourage young women in dating relationships to protect their hearts, to not give it away until you know that a man is going to be worthy of your heart – that he’s going to step up and step into marriage with you.
“I’m thankful to say that I wasn’t in love with anyone before my husband. And so, what I’m talking about with the softness thing is multi-layered. I think it’s saying, ‘God protect my heart from being jaded by the values of this world. Guard my heart and protect it from being given away too early to somebody who is not my mate for life. Guard me in my decisions, that I would be honoring to you, Lord, and that you would keep my heart soft as I follow your way.’”
One of the consistent questions she asked the men she interviewed was, “Is modesty truly attractive?” The answers she heard encouraged her.
“Each time they were saying, ‘Yes it matters. Yes, it says a lot about the woman and who she is – her heart and her character. And it says a lot about purity, and if she’s passionate about pursuing that.’
“They also told me it says a lot about her security. If she’s looking for affirmation from showing cleavage or too much skin, then there’s something amiss here. She’s getting her value from somewhere negative.
“It was amazing to me, and very confirming and impressive to see how much these guys valued modesty.”
Lee Warren/contributing writer