Ever so often I will stop in at Canes next to the Paradise Valley Mall, bring some magazines, a small note pad and grab a quick bite of chicken fingers and wait for inspiration for my next article. Recently, I noticed another couple, probably in their upper 50’s sitting in the booth next to me. When they got up to leave, the man was already at the exit (about 25 feet in front of her) as she picked up her purse to join him. I watched as they walked to their car. He went to the driver’s side, unlocked the door and was sitting – ready to go – as she opened her own door and got in the car.
My first thought: “Chivalry is DEAD!”
After that, my eyes focused on a younger couple in their low 20’s and wondered what they do that is chivalrous? As the young man went to empty their trash and as he passed where I was sitting, I said, “After you empty your trash, come back by, I would like to ask you and your friend a couple of questions.
They did and I asked them to sit for a while. I introduced myself and told them I was making notes for an article that would appear on my relationship blog sometime soon. They told me they had been together for about a year and he added, “We’re engaged!” I asked them if they had observed the older couple. They hadn’t noticed so I told them what I observed and asked them if chivalry was dead?
She, 20, spoke first and said, “I’m very independent and sometimes he rushes to beat me to the car door so he can open it for me. I love it when he does that.” He, 23, said that he liked that she was very organized and would make a good wife. He liked that she did a lot of the housework and then quickly added, “but I am quick to help out anytime.” She agreed. We talked for a while and I got a clear signal that they were both doing chivalrous things for each other.
Being polite and considerate is so rare these days that it’s often confused with flirting.
What is chivalry?
Chiv·al·ry: Chivalry was a code implemented to dictate the behaviors of feudal knights. The word chivalrous originally described gallantry, valor, honor, and courtesy, associated with the medieval code of knighthood. Medieval knights are no longer with us, but chivalrous has survived in modern usage to describe a man — or a behavior — showing courtesy or attentiveness toward women.
What ever happened to:
• a man giving her flowers,
• complementing her,
• opening the door for her,
• giving her flowers for no special reason,
• walks on the outside of a sidewalk (because she’s worth protecting),
• pulling out the chair,
• picking up the tab,
• making reservations, if needed,
• thinking and planning ahead for important occasions,
• public gestures of affection,
• leaving little notes around for her to find,
• offering her a jacket and helping her get into it,
• offering to carry heavy packages,
• giving up his seat for you,
• getting the car when it’s raining or snowing,
• sharing an umbrella,
• defending her honor when she is insulted
• being kind and respectful,
• calling when he said he would call,
• always thinks of you first,
• standing up for you,
• meaningful acts of selflessness (putting your partner’s needs before your own).
• taking off his hat when he enters a room,
• dropping her off first if you have to park far away,
• keeps his promises,
• when the waiter comes, letting her order first, and,
• walking you to your door at the end of the evening?
Calling instead of texting adds an extra personal touch but also sets you apart from other men who only want to communicate by texting or social media. Be a man who still opens the door for her even when you are angry with her. To me, most of the list above is just plain ole common sense.
“Many things that get tagged, chivalrous, are just common sense and/or descent manners. Being nice and helping others isn’t chivalrous, it doing what ought to be done.” ~ Sed Chapman
Some will say that women killed chivalry with the feminist movement. That may be part of it. Having said that, women do need to be more appreciative of men who take the time to be courteous to women. Men need appreciation. Some say being a gentleman is a rare breed and some independent women would prefer to open the door for themselves. These days, a strong, healthy woman doesn’t need such consideration and may resent it if it’s done in an ostentatious way that casts doubt on her physical ability. If opening the door herself is what she wants, respect her choice. I would say to her that being chivalrous isn’t about thinking a women can’t take care of herself. For us guys it’s about knowing she can, and then taking care of her anyway because we love her. I think it’s weird for her to tell me that “chivalry is dead” while not letting me hold the door open for her. 😉 But that’s just me.
However, I believe that it is the teachers (your parents) that may be partiality to blame. Is today’s lack of chivalry (or respect for women, or lack of manners) a reflection of parent’s behavior when raising today’s kids? Modern day Dads must be a glowing example for kids, especially your sons, if you want to see the rebirth of chivalry. Your home is a school. What are you teaching your children?
It’s all about knowing how to treat a woman. Being a respectful gentleman is a choice. It is NEVER cool to disrespect women. Every woman loves a gentlemen and being a gentlemen never goes out of style. Gentlemanly behavior has become a status symbol to show off one’s finer qualities. Today… men need to know how to treat a woman and not be embarrassed to share it with the boys.
I find chivalry to be a wonderful thing. It makes me feel good while I’m being chivalrous and it needs to make a comeback! Chivalrous acts helps define a real man. Chivalry is not old fashion… it’s fashionable. Doing things that make your partner feel good is something timeless. It is reasonable to understand that common courtesy and respect never go out of style. It helps make your life together much more pleasurable and interesting.
My father, Rev. O.E. “Jack” Jarvis, was a great example. He coached his children – my sister and I – in self-giving love. He’s say, don’t let it stop with you, be an All-Pro Dad. Teach your children, especially your sons, to look out for their mother and to always put her first. Kindness, when children see it in you and practice it in their own lives, will be the healing your family may need. Dad was an old-fashion romantic. After he retired he moved with Mom to a “life-care” retirement center. He could be seen offering his hand to assist as Mom got out of the car. They were often seen walking hand-in-hand through the hallways and became known as “Those two lovebirds.” I had a great teacher. He cared for my dear mother – who had Alzheimer’s in her later years – up until the day he died.
Timothy Hoehner once said, “I think the most chivalrous thing a guy can do for a girl is give 100% emotional freedom. It takes confidence on the man’s part (which is ultimately attractive), and is the utmost sign of respect and care.”
Instead of walking behind or ahead of your partner, make an effort to walk side by side. Holding hands and walking next to your partner really does make the two of you better connected and stronger with each step.
Perhaps chivalry isn’t really dead, it just dozes off at the most inopportune times. Please join with me in waking it up!
Copyright © 2015 – Larry James. This idea is adapted from Larry’s books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” Larry James is a professional speaker, author, relationship coach and an award winning nondenominational Wedding Officiant. He performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere. Something NEW about relationships is posted every 4th day on this Relationships BLOG.
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