February 3, 2015, Published in the Appleton Post Crescent

Long shadows from a bright winter moon stretch across a snow-blanketed bridge aglow with lights. Lost in each other, a young couple strolls through the magical scene. He places his hand on her lower back, gently guiding her to the river’s edge. Embracing her tenderly, he then drops to one knee in the snow. Producing a tiny box with shaking hands, he offers it up to her. We can only imagine the intimate words he spoke. They share a smile, wipe each other’s tears, and make a life-long promise.

Not a scene from a carefully crafted chick flick, but my daughter’s engagement. Chivalry is beautiful when lived out with sincerity, purpose, and action in modern-day relationships.

Most women who witness true chivalry sigh with longing but settle for less. Many women today exude self-sufficiency, but deep down desire to be cherished.

Many men respond with, “Dude, you’re making the rest of us look bad.” Men are confused by mixed messages. By demanding ’equality’, women communicate fierce independence insisting they don’t need a man. Men recognize the obvious longing women have to be treated with honor and regard. They watch romantic movies longing themselves to be ‘that guy’.

This may be unpopular if you believe no preferential treatment should be given according to gender. I

agree women and men should be treated equally, but also differently. Men and women have very different needs. The yearning sighs from women speak to a deep desire to feel valued; men, an innate need to be heroic.

In medieval days, knights followed a code of honor. Chivalry was about honoring, serving, and protecting women while acknowledging their special worth.

Chivalry is noticeably rare in our culture. Actor Chris Evans was recently given the urgently created People’s Choice Best Act of Chivalry Award for merely extending his arm to assist Betty White at an awards ceremony.

The chivalry my daughter’s fiancé displayed was not an isolated incident, but a daily choice. I saw it first in one simple act of putting his hand in front of her when a speeding car passed and again when he pulled her chair out. He often puts on her coat and kisses her forehead in a tender expression of adoration.

Chivalry is a choice. Moderndayknight.org explains it this way, “A modern knight has the sense that God has something better for our world and he has been called to make a difference…”

My daughter found her way into the loving arms of a modern-day knight.

Ladies, do you long deeply for a chivalrous man? Gentlemen, do you want to be that guy? As we approach Valentine’s Day, share these ideas based on the Medieval Knights Code to embrace modern-day chivalry in your relationship:

  • Protect: Refuse to degrade women and challenge others who do. Rescue her from awkward situations, defend her reputation, make sure she gets home safely, walk her to the door, get the car in bad weather, and help with heavy lifting. Not that she couldn’t do it herself, but doing it for her shows you care.
  • Honor: Hold doors open, help with her coat, offer a jacket if she’s cold. Pull out her chair, stand up when she approaches you, allow her to go ahead of you, and offer small gestures of affection. Show a watching world you hold her in high esteem.
  • Value: Keep promises, be honest even when it’s hard, and follow through on commitments. Pursue her, tell her she is the only woman for you, and mean it. Resist engaging in activities that demean her.
  • Respect: Listen when she speaks; respect her opinion, meet her friends and family, and show interest. Swallow your pride when you are wrong, allow her to help, and praise her often.
  • Courage: Put her needs first, understand how your words and actions affect her, be quick to apologize, and quicker to forgive. Conduct yourself with humility, kindness, and compassion.