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We were coming to join you up here this morning.  It is as Justin said I’m the mother of 3 young children and the kids were all in the back.  I was going to come up on my own and my 4 year old she’s like, “I want to come to the Men’s Conference.”  And in the back of the car she goes, “That’s not fair.  When will I be old enough to come and hang out with the men?”  Jonathan and I were like: ” Not for a long time, darling.”  But anyway, that was very cute.  They wanted to come up.  So I think they’re going to join us at the end.  I’m going with my husband joined you for mass this morning in whack woe.  You saw that.  It’s a little bit scary.  If you know, two troubled tots is due first conference.  But, it’s a pleasure to be here.  Why don’t you turn to the person on your left and say, “Aren’t you ready…”  Turn to the person to your right and say, “To understand the heart of a woman?”  Yes, that’s a little bit off chart.  I don’t know if that is an indication that you don’t actually think it’s possible to understand the heart of a woman.  Things like that we’re all cut out for me this morning.

So, in that case, I think we’re going in to pray.  So, close your eyes for a moment and we just ask the Lord to be here with us: “Father in heaven, I thank you for this company of men, who are gathered here, who have responded to your invitation, Lord.  I pray that your Spirit will be truth in their hearts this weekend.  And that they would come away with the profound sense of your love and your plan and your purpose in their lives.  I pray for the young men who are called to come here this year and I ask You to bless and protect all of their families and their children whom they may have left behind.  And I ask You to give me truth and wisdom on my lips this morning.  We ask these in Your name.  Amen.”

Who’s here for the first time?  You’re probably already done this but put your hand up if this is your first conference.  That’s incredible!  Wow!  Oh my gosh!  Welcome to the young men.  Awesome!  As Justin said, I have been here for a lot of conferences over the past 10 years.  I have been invited to share insights into women and it’s been an enormous privilege and pleasure.  And we’ve looked at, we’ve had a lot of fun over the years looking at expectations that women have with men.  And after a particular talk I gave, I received a number of emails and feedback and I just wanted to share 2 of those with you because I feel like I’ve really framed this morning’s input.  One of them was from a gentleman and one of them from one of the wives.  The gentleman said, “I’m 45 years old and I have never had a relationship with a woman.  I’ve actually never had women explained to me like that.  My mother left us when I was young and I didn’t grow up with sisters.  And as is the case with men, we often don’t attend to that, which we feel we’ll fail at.  And so I’ve never even tried to have a relationship.”  He’s 45 years old.  The second feedback came from a woman – one of the wives.  She said, “My husband attended the “Young Men Go Conference” a month ago and he’s come back a changed man.”  She said, “Our marriage has been struggling for some time.  And recently, I resigned myself to the fact that I just had to endure this for the sake of our children.  But God works in mysterious ways.  My husband came home.  He walked through the door and he got down on both knees and he asked my forgiveness for the times in which he has not loved me as I needed to or I wanted to be loved.  He said that it’s not that I don’t love you.  It’s that I don’t know how.”  And I thought, how true for many of us that we don’t actually sometimes know how to love people.  I’m a mother of 3 young children and I thought I won’t seem to that and be all over it.  The most humbling experience in my entire life – being a mother: realising that I should have to learn to love my children because we often give love instinctually – we give love the way we like to receive it but we actually have to learn to love.

So, Jonathan Cross said that at the end to your day, you will not be judged on how much money you have in the bank, what job you have, what kind you drive, where you’ve traveled, what house you own, it would come down to one thing and that one thing would be how well you have loved.  I received a letter during the week and at the top of the letter from a friend was a quote and she said, “On the day of the great examination, love will be the entire syllabus.”  John Paul II is a saint now.  Funny getting your head around that.  I grew up being John Paul II as Pope.  Now, he’s a saint.  But he said, “You will never experience the fulfillment, the joy, the passion, the pleasure, the joy, the satisfaction, the fulfillment – you will never find the things that you’re searching for when you seek your own ends.”  He said, “You will only ever experience these things when you seek to make the gift of yourself in love to another.”  

Some of you who are here for the first time say, “That can’t be, young lady. This is the bloke’s conference and you’re a chick and you’re at the front and now you’re starting to mell that mushy love stuff and you’re like, “Am I in the right place?”  You are exactly in the right place.  Because this conference and the Young Men of Globe movement is about understanding the essence about what it means to be men.  When we run a Catholic Women’s Conference in February next year and at that conference we look at the essence of what it means to be a woman.  And we can’t look at the essence of what it means to be a man, what it means to be a woman without having reference to the other gender – that you will never hear me say opposite sex because we are not opposites.  Opposite comes from the word “opposition”, which means we’re in competition with each other.  And that’s not what we were made for.  We are made for complimentarity with one another.  And men, woman are called to come alongside each other as friend, helpmate, and complimentary partnering.  

We run into problems when we don’t understand how to do this coming alongside each other.  This morning, what I’d like to do is to unpack 3 core desires of a woman’s heart and I guess to give you some practical insights and ideas on how you can respond to these desires.  I’d like to sit these 3 desires in front of a much bigger backdrop.  And that backdrop is the backdrop of love.  At specifically, love as a virtue.  

What is a virtue?  Put very simply, a virtue is a habit.  A virtue is a habit.  The richer definition of virtue is: a habitual disposition to do the good.  By disposition it means that you desire it.  So, it’s not enough just to do a good act.  You need to have a disposition and a desire and the joy and wanting to do that good act.  And so this morning, we’re going to look at understanding women in this line of growing in virtue – in growing in a habit of love.  Love is the greatest.  Faith, hope and love – the greatest of these is ‘love’.  So, that’s what we’re going to take a look at this morning.

Virtue takes a lot of work, a lot of effort.  It’s like exercising.  Years ago, when I was younger, I had 2 lots of major spine surgery.  I turned 40 last year, so now, I’m entering the next phase of my life.  And I’ve realised that if I want to go into this next phase of my life strong for my children, for myself, I have to do some work.  And so years ago, I had to join a gym and start doing the weights program to strengthen my back for the years ahead.  I’d be perfectly honest with you, I don’t particularly like exercise and I really don’t like gyms but I’ve had to do it.  I had to apply myself, I had to develop the habit for my good down the track.  And growing in the virtue of love is the same thing.  It’s going to be very difficult but it’s worth it.  The payoff is definitely worth it.  

So, if you’re taking notes this morning, this is where we begin.  Looking at these 3 desires of a woman’s heart and I’ve taken these from the work of John Eldredge.  John Eldredge wrote a book a number of years ago called, “Wild at Heart”.  And in it he said, “In a man’s heart there are 3 core desires and a woman has a complimentary of corresponding 3 desires.”  He said, “The 3 desires of a man’s heart is that every man loves to live an adventure, wants a beauty to rescue and a battle to fight.”  He said, “The corresponding desires of a woman’s heart are – that she longs to be caught up in an adventure, she wants to be the beauty who he’s chosen and she longs to be fought for.”  So, we’re going to unpack each one of those now.

So, if you’re taking notes, this is number 1: she longs to be caught up in an adventure.  Women have longed to be caught up in something greater than themselves.  They want to be invited into something bigger than themselves.  And here’s an important distinction: the woman does not want to be your adventure.  Because deep down she knows that once you’ve conquered her, you’ll move on to the next challenge or the next adventure.  She wants to be caught up in something greater than herself.  A recent survey was done looking at what women initially find attractive in men and good looks, surprisingly, don’t come number 1.  All of you look that great in that department.  But anyway, the number one thing that women are looking for is the man with the sense of vision, purpose and mission.  And one who knows where he’s going – who has a sense of himself and that he can invite her into something and take her with him.  Years ago, Jonathan and I, my husband, are already married for 14 years and prior to this, he chased me for 3 years and I won’t go out with him.  Some people think that’s annoying, could be harsh.  But anyway, I have my reasons.  Jonathan had left home when he was 15 years of age and he kind of traveled the world round and back and he come back to his faith and the church in his early 20’s.  And he had a crush on me and I thought he was pretty attractive and so we developed this incredible friendship.  And he asked one priest one day, he said, “You know, I just don’t understand why she won’t go out with me?  Why won’t she want to?”  And the priest said to him: “Because she’s waiting to see which way you’re going.”  And although I could not have articulated it at that time, I had a very strong sense of my dignity as a woman.  I have a beautiful father and he had sowed that into me as a young girl.  And so, I wasn’t going to give myself to someone and I was in my 20’s, so, I was sort of looking at marriage at this point.  I wasn’t going to give myself to someone who I wasn’t sure would make a good goal of him.  And Jonathan tells the story one day he asked me and I wrote him a letter back and he chose the story perfectly at Cumbria University – he’s writing 15-18 jobs where he tipped off things like a woman tells me what to do… he said, “Hang on a minute… I really like to be with her.”  And you know what he did?  He went away and he did his work.  You see, as men, you have to do the work on your soul before you can enter relationship with women.  And the work that you have to do on your soul, takes you away from the company of women.  You want a disclaimer?  If you know and you haven’t done your work, doesn’t mean you need to leave your wife..  

Years later, when he was away at the tour, when he did come back to me, he was able to approach me from a position of strength and he invite me into an incredible adventure.  Sometimes, it’s nasty but for the most part, incredible.  He’s got a lot of energy – my husband – he did 10 sets of that silly mountain down to Stargell Park this morning, before work, 6:30 in the morning.  Anyway, part of our adventure is going down to know that in studying known to family studies at the John Paul II Institute.  Model it down and we do a unit on Moral Theology and this theologian came from Rome.  He said there are 3 questions that every human person has to ask and answer in this order.  He said, “You need to know who you are.  Number 2: you need to know where you’re going.  And number 3: who will travel with you.”  Number 1: Who am I?  Number 2: Where am I going?  And number 3: Who will travel with me?  And we had big problems in our relationships between young men and women today because we have a lot of men and girls going to the other gender to find that answer to that first question of who am I.  But, you know what?  A girl can’t tell you who you are.  Just as you can’t tell her who she is.  You need to discover your identity and your truest identity will be felt in a relationship with Jesus Christ.  

St Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you, our Lord.”  And you will look for God in any number of places.  I say, “Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God.”  He’s not looking for a prostitute, he’s looking for comfort, security, reassurance.  We are looking for God.  And you will look for him in any number of places throughout your life.  Until perhaps one day you’re so broken and so lost that you’ll remember this conference and you’ll be, “That’s right.  Jesus Christ is where I find my truest identity.”  So, who am I, where am I going and who will travel with me?  You need to know, ask and answer these questions in this order.  Because if you don’t know the answer to those first 2 questions, you can do women a lot of damage.  And we see that played out many times in people’s lives.  In some tribes in Africa, the men can’t date a woman until they’ve killed a wild.  You get the idea that a man has to go away from a woman.  He has to face his weakness, his vulnerability, his fears, his insecurity – he has to face those things to discover his strength.  And only when he’s discovered his strength can he then approach a woman.  And when he’s done that, he approaches her from a position of strength.  

One thing I was saying to friends of men in this area… because I never want you to hear me criticising you or anything like that in these conferences because as women, we fail you in many ways as well.  But, these things of adventure is hardwired into your DNA as men.  You live in a culture that says marriage and family are incompatible with these sets of adventure.  But I just want to tell you this morning – they’re not at all.  A wife and children, indeed the greatest adventure of your life if you’ve answered these questions properly.  One challenge that men have, I believe, and I’m saying the word is ‘coming into relationships with women’, is that they lose the sense of adventure. 

I was talking to Dan about this conference and we’re just talking that some of these ideas and points and he said that there’s a saying that the Italian monarchs say to the boys when they fall for a girl.  Now, I can’t prepare it because if we talk, it would be inappropriate for me to tell you that up here.  But translated, essentially it means that mama says to her boy, “Don’t let the woman take the goodness out of you.”  A lot of men get married and they want to, well-meaning but they try to control and domesticate and handpick – but, there are some that are.  And I just want to encourage you if you’re newly married or going to be married to gently educate your wife.  John Paul II said, “Life is co-educating.  Men and women educating one another.”  And we need to do this gently.  We need to express our needs gently to one another.  

So, she longs to be caught up in adventure, number 1.  Number 2: she longs to be the beauty who he’s chosen and who he’s desired.  Everyone of us, male and female carry a deep existential question – the question of being.  And our questions are slightly different.  For men, your question revolves around this idea of strength: Am I strong?  Do I have what it takes?  A woman’s question is slightly different but it revolves around this idea of beauty.  She wants to know: Am I beautiful?  A woman needs to know: Am I beautiful?  Do I captivate not as a body or body parts but as a human person?  Does my soul captivate you?  

We have 3 children.  We have a daughter, a son and another daughter and often Jonathan would travel – he speaks regularly.  We’ll pick him up from the airport.  And my son is just as happy to jump on his pajamas and go – he’s dressing up to meet his dad.  But the girls are very different.  The girls spend the whole morning getting dressed up.  It drives me crazy.  They want their hair done and they put their clips in and the criteria for what dress they wear is how pretty the dress is.  Why?  Because they want to captivate the heart of their father with their feminine beauty.  When Jonathan sees them, he gets physical twinkling in his eye and the girls will notice it because it answers part of that question: Am I beautiful?  Will he choose me?  

You see, a woman is the most captivating thing in all of creation.  We joke.  We say, “You know, God perfected his workmanship in a woman, leaving it to create anything else after her.  He stopped.  She’s the pinnacle.”  We joke about that but it is true – that a woman is the most captivating thing in all of creation.  But she’s also the most exploited.  And we can’t talk about a woman’s deep desire to be chosen, to be desired, to be found beautiful without talking about the impact that pornography has on a heart of a woman.  

Jonathan and I have the enormous privilege of speaking on these topics here and overseas.  But I tell you, the greater privilege is when people share their lives with you and we get the chance to walk alongside them for a period of time.  And over the years, we have heard countless stories of the utter devastation that pornography causes in the lives of men and women – Men and women, marriages growing apart – absolutely growing apart.  Men who have lost their businesses because they spent all their time downloading and their businesses went under.  Men who have lost their marriages, they’ve lost the right to father their own children.  Men who – it was no longer enough to seek pornography but they took that extra step into acting it out.  Some men became sexual predators – started visiting prostitutes.  25 years of marriage gone like that.  Pornography is highly addictive.  For those of you who haven’t heard me speak on this topic or Jonathan before, don’t let it get a hold of you.  It is highly addictive.  This is a big fat “BS” idea out there that what you’re doing private, the fantasy world has no impact in the public domain and it’s a lot of rubbish.  I pick up the pieces at the Women’s Conference most years of wives and girlfriends and daughters whose husbands, boyfriends, fathers have been looking at pornography.  And it’s utterly devastating. 

Those stories I told you about those men – they’re not some randoms on the street.  Those men are good men.  They were being husbands and fathers and they sit in church every single week.  Don’t think that because you’re in church that’s going to immune you from the impact of the addictive nature of pornography.  It won’t.  There are some things I can’t guarantee you in life, but this one I can: If you choose to look up pornography on a regular basis – and by regular, I even mean once every 2 months, I consider that regular – if you choose to look at pornography regularly, you will not be able to have a healthy and an intimate relationship with a woman.  It will rob you of your capacity for true intimacy.  Now none of you will go on to become sexual predators but if you look up pornography, if you’ve been exposed to pornography, you will come away with very toxic ideas about the value of sex, what sex is all about, the value of women and women’s bodies.  And what is really devastating and what we’re seeing in school’s at the moment is young men just read in pornography.  It’s become a sex curriculum for young boys.  And I want to tell you today, that is not how women want to be treated.  They don’t want to be treated like that.  It’s not normal.  And women don’t want to be treated like that.  What will happen if you look at this stuff is that over time, it will normalise some of those practices for you.  

Jonathan was called into a boys’ school once, where a boy had raped his girlfriend and the father was called in with the boy at the principal’s office and the father said, “Well, isn’t that just what boys do?”  These practices have become so normalised that they don’t even see that as a crime anymore.  Pornography will rub you of your capacity for relationship.  It’s highly addictive.  And I just want to encourage you that if that is an issue in your life this weekend, you couldn’t have a better place to deal with it than here at this conference.  I’m not here to speak about the impact of pornography on you.  I’m here to speak about the impact it has on the heart of a woman.  If a woman’s greatest question is: Am I beautiful?  Will you choose me?  Do you desire me?  What conclusion do you think she draws when she finds out that her dad, the husband, the boyfriend is looking at pornography.  The only conclusion a woman draws is that she isn’t good enough.  And I’ve had women say to me if only I’d perform on those acts or if I look this way, then, he would’ve stayed.  And I have to tell them: “No.”  It’s not about her.  This is an issue in the heart.  The impact on the woman’s life is the same as if you were to actually commit a physical affair.  Jesus in scripture says, “Any man that looks at a woman lustfully has committed adultery with her.”  Where?  In his heart.  The impact is utter devastation. John Paul II said, “The problem with pornography is not that it shows too much but actually it shows too little.”  It shows too little of what a human person really is.  Grandfather said to his grandson one day, “Son, don’t look up pornography.”  He’s like, “How come grandpa?”  He said, “It will ruin your imagination.”  If this is an issue for you, please deal with it this weekend.  Don’t sit there and feel ashamed because pornography thrives on shame and keeping you in a prison of shame and self-loathing.  Please deal with it.  You have the sacrament of reconciliation this afternoon.  There is no better place than to bring that into the light and choosing the support of your brothers in the Lord.

So, number 1: she longs to be caught up in an adventure.  Number 2: she longs to be the beauty who is chosen.  And number 3: She longs to be fought for.  I’ll tell you a little story about an entrepreneur in London.  He was watching men and women really stuff up their relationships and he thought maybe this was a compatibility issue.  And so he decided to open a store in London down the sea and he called it “The Husband Shop”.  And he wanted to help wives make good choices when it came to husbands.  His shop had very strict rules – You could enter on Level 1.  It had 6 levels.  You could go up a level but you couldn’t go back down.  You could only go back down to the exit the building.  So, women obviously, are lining up for days.  And the line’s right down the road and they opened the store and women were running in and on Level 1 it says: “All these husbands are hardworking and a group of artists.”  And the women were like: “bonus!”  They got to Level 2.  Like, all the husbands on this level are good providers and they’re really good {26:43} .  So, she goes up to Level 3 and on Level 3 all these husbands are good providers, they’re good communicators and they’re incredibly romantic.  And so, she’s like: “This doesn’t get much better.”  She goes up to Level 4.  And on Level 4, all these men are good providers, they’re good communicators, they’re incredibly romantic and they help with domestic chores.  She’s like, “Oh my g!  This doesn’t get any better.”  So, she goes up to the 5th level.  And on the 5th Level, all these men are hardworking, they’re good communicators, they’re incredibly romantic, they help with domestic chores and they’re really good looking.  And she’s like, “Oh my goodness!  I just have to go to floor 6.”  So she goes up to floor 6 and it’s empty.  She walks over the sign written on the floor and it reads: “This floor solely exists for the purpose to prove the point that women are impossible to please.”  

Interestingly, what he did after the failure of the husband’s store, he opened the wive’s store across the road.  This was a raving success.  Floor 1, all these women, same rules.  Floor 1: all these women are really good cooks.  Floor 2: all these women are good cooks and they like sex.  And then Floor 3 through to 6, they were never actually visited.  You all heard this little story rotate to prove the point that women are impossible to please.  But, you know what?  I’d beg to differ.  I think there are 3 elements that if you want to pay attention to these in your relationship, it can really transform your relationship, your marriages.  

Now I’d give them to you in just a moment.  Many men want the maiden without the fight.  This is where pornography is so easy.  The men can do pornography and can take this feeling of being strong, it can take for the woman but he gives nothing in return.  You, as men, what are your desires as if you need a battle to fight?  She… wants to be fought for.  And these 3 elements that I’m going to give you any minute – are 3 ways in which you can fight for the heart of the women in your life.  Many men think that the greatest battle is asking a woman out on a first date.  If you haven’t done that yet, that is not your biggest battle.  I actually support you.  The biggest battle that you will face will be maintaining and growing and nurturing an atmosphere of love if you choose to go and get married.  Many men get married, they think marriage is the culmination, not the beginning.  Marriage is the beginning and the fight for a woman’s heart begins the day after you say, “I do.”  

These 3 elements, there’s 3 ways in which you can fight for a woman’s heart are romance, non-sexual affection and communication.  And if by no means limited to these 3.  But in my experience as a woman, but also, walking alongside men and women for many years now.  These 3 tend to be the standards: romance, non-sexual affection and communication.  Gottman is a man in the states and he has studied what makes a successful relationship.  And he has studied marriages and relationships over a period of 25/30 years.  He said, “It is the positive, the small positive things done often, the accumulative effect of small positive things done often that make all the difference.”  Grand gestures, tend to be short-lived.  But it’s the daily, positive actions.  We’re talking this morning, our backdrop is a backdrop of love as a virtue, love as a habit, learning to love – these are the ways that you can learn to practically love the women in your life.

So, let’s start with romance.  This is one of the number one emotional needs.  And her need for romance is as baffling to you as is your need for sex to her.  And our teacher said at the Women’s Conference that a man’s need for sex is actually an emotional need.  And a woman’s need for romance is her emotional need.  James Dobson – he wrote a book, “What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Women”.  And I encourage anyone getting married to read this book.  He said one of the number one causes for depression, not clinical depression, but this depressive feeling that women experience at different points in their life – one of the number one reasons for this is the lack of romantic love within marriage.  Women are shocked at how fleeting this is.  The great story for many women is a disappointing marriage – where a man no longer pursues her.  And what she wants is actually what you are meant to become.  It’s what you’re meant to become.  It’s crucial to her existence.  You see, for men, romance is nice but it’s not necessary.  But for her, she can’t live without it.  And the woman who is not cherished, who is not romanced, something inside her dies.  

I was reading an article by one of the archbishops in the states this week and he was speaking to the men in his congregation.  He said, “If she’s rude to you, it’s because you’re withholding.”  If she’s wilting it’s because you’re withholding.  You know the saying, “Happy wife, happy life.”  You can tell the successful men by the smile of his wife’s face.  There’s some truth in that.  Because when she’s cherished, she’s alive.  And I just want to say that these principles apply to the generally healthy relationship that are going a bit stale because of this bit of baggage.  There are situations where these won’t apply.  Where the wives struggle with clinical depression or mental illness or addictions or where there’s abuse involved.  If those were the case, well, that’s a different story.   And that needs another intervention – professional intervention.  

You see, love is not a feeling that you feel.  Our culture has taken what is true and what is beautiful and what is good and it distorts it and it twists it and it perverts it.  But love, while it has an element of emotion to it, love is actually a decision that you make.  Love is a decision that you make.  John Paul II said, “Love is to will the good of the other.”  The opposite of love is not hate.  The opposite of love is to use – to use in our life.  We’re talking about love as a virtue: a habit – learning the habit of loving.  Love is not a feeling.  In marriage, if you go on to get married, there will be times in your marriage where you don’t feel loving feelings with your wife.  But you still need to choose to act in loving ways.  

There’s a scientific, physiological basis to this feeling of love.  We enter a relationship, we have a crush on the other gender and stars are flying and it’s all very romantic and infatuated with each other but you know what?  That can’t last.  These hormones that are being released during that time – they call it the romance cupped out– where you think that person can do no wrong, you’d do anything for them.  But it will only last about 18 months to 2 years.  And you need to know these because if you get married based on a feeling, what happens when that marriage runs into difficulty or there are challenges and you don’t feel in love anymore?  It’s at that point we need to start building a love that will see you through a lifetime and acting in loving ways.  It’s the little foxes in life that ruin the vineyard.  It’s really a big fallout in the marriage.  It’s the accumulative effect of the little negative things – the little chick in your way that ruin the marriage.  

I want to give you a couple of suggestions because after one of the conferences, one of the men said to me, “You know, you’ve told us all these stuff but you haven’t really told us how – like what to actually do.”  So, here’s my suggestions on romance… just don’t tell the women that you heard this because they’ll think you’re pretty awesome.  They’ll think you’ve come up with them on your own.  Alright, one big thing, idea… and please make it your wedding anniversary… there’s so many men, so many women that I know whose husbands have forgotten their anniversary.  It’s my birthday this week and all I have to do is keep breathing to make it from one birthday to the next.  That’s all I have to do.  And everyone celebrates it.  But a wedding anniversary, that takes a lot of work and a lot of effort.  And you know what?  We should be getting alongside each other in our marriages and supporting each other and celebrating our anniversaries.  You know when your mate’s birthday is.  Find out when his anniversary is – support him, walk alongside him and be there for him.  So, celebrate your anniversary.  Don’t tell me that you don’t have any money because it’s on the same day every year and you can save for it.  And then the little gestures, the little things that mean something to women – the things like acts of thoughtfulness, dressing for an adventure.  So, don’t just say to her, “I want to go out for dinner.  Where do you want to go?”  Organise it.  Book a babysitter.  Send her a letter in the post inviting her on this date.  You guys laugh at that.  But you know what?  You’ll make her feel and she’ll be like, “Oh my gosh!  This thing must be big!”  She’ll love you!  Tea light candles… I know you’re looking at me going, “What the!”  Tea light candles – don’t just light 2, light a hundred.  Fill the room with them.  It’s amazing what a candle can have on a woman.  Send her flowers.  If she has little children, take her kids for a day.  Give her the house to herself and tell her she’s not allowed to do any house work while she’s there.  Jonathan did that for me a couple of weeks ago, had a lot on and he said, “I’m taking the kids from 10 ’til 4 and you’re not allowed to do any household.”  I was like, “Okay.”  Women will protest, “Ah you know, just an hour would be fine.”  He’s like, “Stop being a mother.  You’ve got from 10 ’til 4.”  Do that for her.  Buy her a voucher for a massage or get her nails done or something.  I’m not into that but some women are.  Find out what means something to her.  Little acts – these will make all the difference.  

Remember that little, regular investments go a long way to maintaining an atmosphere of love.  Fighting for her heart – that’s romance.  Now we’re on section affection.  This is the second element that I think if you really grow in this habit, will make a huge difference, if you’re married obviously.  And if you’re single and you’re still at school, don’t you nap.  Because this a season of preparation.  You can choose to use this year 16.  They call that the critical decade 16 through to 26 – is the critical decade of your life where you will make foundational decisions and choices that will frame your future and particularly, the relationships that you have with human.  Use your single years wisely.  Don’t you nap.  Learn now.  Put it into practice now.  Practice on your mom and your sisters.  John Paul II said, “Be schooled in authentic love.  Learn.”   If you’re a consecrated man, brother here today, please listen and learn.  The men that you’re getting to the marriage to the women that I’m walking alongside have not learned this stuff and their marriage isn’t running into problems.  This stuff is so simple… so simple and has the power to save a marriage.  John Gottman said, “One of the major reasons for divorce is men who don’t know how to show love.”  And if you are married here today, like that man at the email at the beginning, it’s never too late to begin.  

I have a bit of a news flash for you.  You can put all these effort into the tea light candles and the mails and the flowers and all that nice stuff, but I want to tell you – the emotions that she feels when romanced… this will come as a big blow – have nothing to do with sex.  They have everything to do with her feeling protected, secure and comforted.  John Paul II wrote a book before he became Pope called, “Love and Responsibility”.  And in it, he talks about the need for men before they get married to really learn about their sexuality when they’re man of their wives.  And I want to tell you, I’ve walked with a couple of women in the past 12 months – this wedding night was utterly devastating for them… utterly devastating.  Because the husband just didn’t know how to get it together in this area.  John Paul II said, “There’s no such thing as a frigid woman… only an inattentive husband.”  That’s a huge thing to say… huge thing.  And I really want to encourage you that if you are preparing for marriage, to get resourced in this area… it’s very important.  One of the common complaints from women is that when we were dating, he was so affectionate.  And now we’re married, all he wants is sex all the time.  Learn the importance of a hug without the intention for sexual intimacy.  I read another book that I really recommend in this area of understanding women is called, “For Women Only”.  You can get it.  It’s another really great resource.  

So, romance, non-sexual affection, communication.  Communication is really important.  Women like to talk.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed that.  If you haven’t, I need to feel your pulse.  Because women like to talk.  Men and women communicate very differently – women communicate to build relationship, men communicate to give report, to exchange facts.  What’s perceived sometimes as a woman nagging is not actually her nagging but her trying to fix a relationship – trying to fix the problem through communication.  Many men listen for the facts to solve the problem.  Here’s a little inside when you’re listening to women.  Don’t sift through the feelings to get to the facts.  Sift through the facts to get to the feelings.  Because it’s the feelings that hold the key.  Quite often she doesn’t want you to fix the problem for her, she just wants to be heard and listened to.  She wants to be listened to not just heard.  Because sometimes, I know when women are talking it’s like this wall of sound coming at you.  I hope you don’t feel that this morning.  But, I’m with Jonathan I came home one day and he’s like… he walked through the door like, “Everybody’s like… Make it stop.  It’s like a machine gun.  Stop talking.”  There’s like this wall of sound coming at him.  I know.  He’s horrible, isn’t it?  He’s actually pretty right? .  

So, the inside is listen for the feelings because that hold the key.  She wants you to share her life but she also wants you to share your life with her.  Care about the details of her life.  I just like to say, if you’re marriage is in a difficult season, shift the focus from resolving conflict – while that’s important and has its place to restoring love.  And if your marriage is in a difficult place, can I just leave you with this: get the movie “Fireproof”, watch the movie, “War Room” and just have a look at that take on marriage.  You see, in your relationships with women at one point or another will feel like she is your enemy.  You might feel like your wife is your enemy, you’re more divided than united, but your wife and the women in your life are not your enemy.  You have an enemy.  We definitely have an enemy and I’ll tell you what, he’s hellbent on destroying you.  He’s hellbent on destroying your marriage.  He’s hellbent on that 16/17 years ago to getting you hooked on pornography, so you can’t even have a decent relationship with a woman.  He’s hellbent on stirring you off course from your priestly vocation.  We have an enemy, make no mistake about it.  There is an enemy who wants to steal and kill and destroy in this area of relationship with women.  

I just want to invite the music team to come up because there’s this clause in the song this morning.  And in a moment, I’ll invite you to stand and I really want you to sing this as a prayer that more’s a declaration of the promises of God over your life. Years ago, Jonathan went into a boys’ school and he was talking about relationships and he said, “You know, boys, it’s not sex that you’re after in your life.”  And one boy actually put up his hand and he’s like, “I saw in picture it is.”  He’s like, “No!  Before you are sexual, you are relational and as men, you are born to have healthy, fulfilling, dignified, pure, passionate, beautiful relationships with the women in your life.  That is the plan of God for your life.  He wants that for you.”  And the theme of this conference is infinitely more.  And God wants to give you the infinitely more in your life.  He wants to give you that.  Not to be biased about this weekend .  He wants to give you his promises infinitely more. Isn’t it just a nice thing for a conference that something that looks good on a brochure.  Infinitely more is the promise and the word of God for your life this weekend.  He wants that for you.  But for that infinitely more to be released in your life you have to cooperate with Him.  St Catherine of Sienna said that “He that created you without your cooperation, He will not save you without your cooperation.”  For God’s grace, for the infinitely more to be fully released in your life, He needs your cooperation.  What will you say?  Well, you say, “Yes”.  Can I just encourage you to have adoration and a gift of reconciliation this afternoon – do not be afraid.  Do not be afraid to go there this afternoon and to take your stuff – take your addictions to porn, to alcohol, take your depression, take your struggle with anger and rage, take your marriage that is in ruins, take the devastation off your children who might have gone off course, take that there this afternoon and He will give you this infinitely more.  I invite you to stand this morning.  We’re just going to close with this song and I really invite you to sing this from your heart and I will stand alongside you as a woman in place of the women in your life today.  And let’s just pray the declaration and the promises of God over our life for His infinitely more this morning. Amen.