If you’re single, you may be looking out at all the prospects that are around you, and wondering, “Am I going to have to settle in marriage?”
Are your dreams for the kind of guy you want going to have to go out the window if you do actually want to get married?
I know a lot of single women read this blog, and I wanted to dedicate a week to talking about some issues that many single women have. And I thought this was a good one to address: Is settling in marriage inevitable? And is it a bad thing?
I guess I’d say: It depends what your definition of “settling” is.
So let’s take a look!
It’s not settling in marriage to realize that some of the things you hoped for really weren’t that important anyway.
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Before I unpack that, let me tell you a story about a woman who was afraid she was settling.
I have a great friend who is like honey to bees–everyone flocks around her. So she knows a TON of people. A while ago she thought to herself, “Hmmm…..Jane is 28 and unmarried, and she’s an AMAZING woman. And Tom is 29 and unmarried, and he’s an AMAZING man. They would go together so well!” So she set them up on a blind date.
The date went swimmingly. Jane texted my friend afterwards raving about Tom. Tom texted her raving about Jane. They both were so impressed by each other’s love for God and amazing character and sense of humour, and there was immediate attraction on both sides. My friend was very happy.
But then the second date happened, and Jane, heartbroken, said that she could no longer see Tom since marriage couldn’t be in their future.
You see, Tom loved hockey (we’re Canadian, after all). And Tom played hockey even today, and Tom was looking forward to any sons he had playing hockey.
Jane felt hockey was violent and contributed to violence in society, and was dangerous anyway, and couldn’t let her sons play hockey.
And so it was over before it really began.
I’m sorry, but that is so, so very shortsighted.
Jane missed several key things: first, they may not even have sons. Second, those sons, if they had them, may not even like hockey. Third, and most importantly, by being married, we change each other. Because I’m married to Keith I have found myself interested in things I never would have done before, and he has become a different person, too. Who’s to say that Jane wouldn’t find herself liking hockey? Or that Tom wouldn’t find himself finding other things were more important?
The key thing is that if they’re both in touch with God and following God, then God can change their hearts to whatever God wants for any sons they might have.
And this is where settling comes in.
It is not settling to let go of some of the things that you dreamed about for a husband, as long as you hold on to the ones that are truly important.
I have met a lot of Janes in my life. They have these big lists of what they need in a husband, and they’re determined to wait, because that would be trust, wouldn’t it? God has already planned out this perfect person for them–a person that God planned for them before the foundation of the world. And if they compromise on any of these things that would make him perfect, then wouldn’t that mean they’re missing out on God’s real plan for them?
Or perhaps they don’t spiritualize it that much. Maybe they just say, “I have dreams and I’m not going to settle, because then I’ll miss out on the best. I’ll wait until I find him!”
But the problem with this line of thinking is that we’re not static beings. When we get married, we will change. We will like different things, different TV programs, different hobbies. Our appearance over the years will change. And just by being married our goals often change! The things that were vitally important to me at 23 aren’t even on my radar now.
Here’s what a list of what you want in a mate does:
It looks at me, as I am right now, and it says, “what kind of person would be perfect for who I am?”
But a marriage is bigger than just you.
My youngest daughter, for instance, is seriously into music and Broadway musicals. She can’t imagine marrying someone who doesn’t share her admiration for soundtracks, because it’s so much a part of who she is. But in her heart, she knows that’s silly, because ultimately that is not the important question.
A while ago I wrote a post on the four things you need in a husband–you should never settle in marriage for a guy who doesn’t have these four things.
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I strongly urge you to read it, but I’ll summarize here, too:
- He must love God and be totally committed to Him–because then God can talk to him and change him if necessary!
- You must be able to talk about God with him and pray with him (at least a little). Otherwise your spiritual life may not really be true. Seriously, if you both have God and are open to God’s correction and guidance, then you can get through anything!
- You must bring out the best in each other–no putting someone up on a pedestal so much so that you don’t really show them what you’re thinking or feeling. No idolizing anyone. And totally having the ability to share your heart without any danger of criticism and put down. And no feeling that one person is more important than the other.
- He must have motivation/initiative–He must be willing to work hard and have a job and have goals.
If you have those four things, you’re not settling.
But what if I’m not really attracted to him? Is that settling?
I think getting married when there’s no chemistry is really dangerous. I’ve written before about what to do if you’re not attracted to your boyfriend.
But I’ve also known girls who have gone on dates with really good guys, and they just don’t feel that spark, and I think they cut off the relationship a little bit too soon.
I think when you’re in a solid relationship that’s headed towards marriage, you won’t feel like you’re settling.
Once you know the guy well, and once you have that comfortable relationship, you’ll feel blessed (if you’ve been listening to God’s voice).
On the other hand, I know women who won’t even begin a possible relationship if they fear that they’ll end up settling in marriage, and thus they deny themselves the chance to get to know someone who may have been awesome for them.
If you’re getting close to marriage, and you DO feel like you’re settling, though, then don’t get married.
I have known women who have gotten married to guys they know they don’t totally love just because time was running out and they really wanted kids.
And those marriages have not been happy. They’ve always resented their husband a bit and always looked down on him.
What if you’re 35 and your biological clock is ticking? I don’t know. But I will say this: If you marry, it is not fair to resent him for not being the person you wanted him to be. If you get married, you have to jump in with both feet and decide, “this is the person that I will actively and fully love for the rest of my life!” You can’t marry him hoping against all hope that he’ll change those annoying habits, or feel like he owes you because he got the better end of the deal in this marriage.
You have to just love him.
And if you honestly can’t do that, then please don’t marry him.
I know it can be scary being single and wanting to desperately to get married, and starting to worry that you will have to settle.
All I can say is make the most of these years. Live them fully! Embrace who you are. You’re at a unique time in your life: your time is honestly your own, and you can do whatever you want. So use it! Do some exciting things. Get out and meet people. Discover who you were meant to be. Run after God wholeheartedly. When you live a full life, then you won’t be living as if you’re in a holding period, waiting for your real life to begin. And I think that will put you in a better place to choose wisely anyway!
Other Posts That Can Help You as You Think About Marriage:
How to prepare for marriage–and not just the wedding (along with red flags that he really isn’t the right guy for you!)