Tuesday, March 18, 2008

All the Men You Don't Marry...

There was a day last summer when a young bachelor called my Dad and bluntly said, "I'm so-and-so, and I'm friends with so-and-so, and he suggested that you have three daughters that are nice young women. Do you think any of them would be interested in marrying me?"

We all laughed when Dad told us about the conversation. We all three looked at each other and said, "So, he just wants 'a wife'... any one of us who will marry him? He doesn't really care specifically who it is?" For a number of reasons, none of us were interested in pursuing a relationship, (our parents didn't think it was wise, either) but we wished him the best, and prayed that he would find a good wife.

My sisters and I frequently joke that all the guys we would marry never ask, and the guys we would never consider marrying ask too frequently for our peace of mind. Sometimes it's annoying to be pursued by a guy who just can't seem to "get it"... that you aren't going to marry him, and long patience isn't going to change things.

As a single person, "helpful" friends, relatives and acquaintances like to ask who there might be and why you would or wouldn't marry these "potentials".

It is easy to get in the habit of explaining to people why you don't want to marry him. Friends often say, "Really, I don't know why you wouldn't. He really seems to like you and your family. He seems like a decent guy to me... Why not? What if you loose this chance? Do you want to be single forever?"

It's easy to launch into a defense of your position (lest they think that you're just letting wonderful opportunities pass you by!), stating his serious character flaws, lack of moral purity or self-control in his life, his poor judgment with finances, his personality traits that drive you crazy... the things he's said that have made you absolutely certain that he must be put on the list of "would never marry" guys.

But is this really the right way to deal with all the men that you don't want to marry?

I was challenged in this area when I read Carolyn McCulley's excellent book,
"Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? Trusting God With a Hope Deferred."

I found a lot of thought-provoking passages about living single womanhood to the glory of God. I found a lot of practical wisdom about attitudes and actions. I found a lot of encouragement to trust God's sovereignty even if I find myself single at age forty (as Carolyn has).

One section titled, "All the Men You Don't Marry" was something I'd never before seen in a book on singleness, but it hit home. I hope that you will find it relevant, regardless of your marital status.


Joanna Renae said...

LOL Mary!!! I'm perpetually warding off attacks of "why not him?" And "woooo, did you notice so-and-so?" ... I think every girl gets it. the "helpfuls" you mentioned can get overwhelming, huh? hehehe. Oh well. Living for Christ doesn't depend on whether or not I've got a man... :-D

God bless!

jl said...

Hi, Mary! I just ran across your blog and am enjoying it! (Speaking as a married woman) It's interresting that arranged marriages (in which the bride and groom barely or never meet before the wedding) are just as successful and happy as marriages that begin with mutual attraction, a long courtship and falling in love. Love is a choice, not a feeling (although feelings are nice). A marriage based on God, compatibility and the determination to make it work (no matter what) stands a much greater chance than one based on feelings. No marriage is perfect, no courtship is perfect, no person is perfect. Especially as women, it is so easy to believe the "cinderella story" and idealisticly wait forever for a "prince" who doesn't exist and "happily ever after" that is unattainable here on earth. That being said, a single woman can do so much more in some repects for Christ than a married woman. One of the sweetest, most Godly women I've ever known was single all her life and the lives she touched and difference she made for Christ is unmeasurable. I'll be praying for confidence, contentment and trust in this season of your life.

Anonymous said...

Mary, I know that what that young bachelor did was unusual, but I hope you don't close the door on everyone who might do such a thing. I will trust your and your parents reasons in turning him away. I never spoke to him, so how would I know? But I sincerely think that this type of thing may be happening more often these days, especially among Christians with real convictions. I don't know what it is like where you live, but I can easily imagine my sons being forced to do the same thing under our circumstances. We cannot find a church that is as serious about faith as we are. We know of no other families near us that share our convictions (and we aren't THAT picky over doctrine either). Unless the Lord brings someone to us (yes literally calling on the phone or knocking on the door!) there won't be ANYONE to choose from. And I already know that there are many other Christians in our country facing the same problem.

Allow me to share something that was posted recently in a Christian digest. I won't post the author's name in order to keep it private.

"I will agree that God has a plan.
Our oldest daughter (in her mid 20's) will be getting married this fall.
God literally sent this young man to us asking us about a courtship
with our daughter before he had even met her.
He had heard about her from a friend of a friend who was
telling him what a great match our daughter might be for him.
He got our number from them and after a few weeks he got up enough courage and called my husband.
They had a long talk & got together and met
several times. He filled out a questionnaire and did everything the way my husband asked.
He had my husband & I over to his house and talked with us.
After getting to know him we agreed it seemed like a good match.
At this point we told our daughter and she said she would want to meet him and see how that went.

So at this point we let him meet our daughter
They got along well right from the start. Amazing how much our families have in common since
we are also odd by the world's standards.

He fits right in our family and his parents and siblings say she fits right in with his family.
We didn't have to worry or "go looking". God had a plan and he is working it out in our lives."

When I read this, I immediately thought of this post of yours, and wanted to share it. Our Lord can work in surprising ways!


Anonymous said...

To jl, I completely agree with your comment -except that single women can do more for Christ. They can do things that married women can't do, and married women can do things they can't. I think they are just different callings/roles/jobs, but both very important.

I want to second everything else you said. I have seen several marriages fall apart that began with high ideals, and a sureness that "this was the one" and this was "Mr. Right". No one is perfect. Not even close. I can honestly say that I have never gotten to know even one person in my life who didn't have -not just little - but BIG, serious and real faults of one kind or another. It isn't finding the right man that makes a marriage work; it's a commitment.

"A marriage based on God, compatibility and the determination to make it work (no matter what) stands a much greater chance than one based on feelings. "

I took "compatibility" to mean evenly yoked, and to all that, Amen!