To all the single ladies:
You read that in Beyonce’s voice, didn’t you?
Advice from a woman who almost missed out on the love of her life. This year marks twenty years since I first laid eyes on the fair-complexioned, light hair, green eye, red-bearded, rugged man I love. Although when I first saw him, he was not on my radar as my future husband. I certainly had a type—black hair, brown eyes, a tanned complexion, no facial hair, clean cut. This man sitting one row across from me during my senior year of college did not match my ideal of “good looks.” I mean, facial hair…gross. Twenty years ago, having a big bushy beard was not trendy. He was not my type. He did not meet my expectations of how I saw my future husband in my mind. He wore flip-flops and jeans with holes. He wore faded old rock t-shirts and his hair in a disheveled bun…once again, ladies, we are talking about twenty years ago; the man-bun was not yet a thing. So, physically, he was not who I pictured standing across from me saying, I do when I fantasized about my wedding day.
This brings me to lesson one, relax your expectations on what you think your “type” is. The first time I saw my husband from across the room, I would never have thought, wow, this is my guy. However, it wasn’t long after I watched him in class did my viewpoint begin to change. He was smart; he was enthusiastic; he had passion when he spoke about every topic. He was respectful and kind in class debates. He genuinely listened to other commenters during discussions and was considerate when opposing viewpoints were tossed about. He always stood up and stepped aside for other students as they tried to maneuver through the tight rowed seats, unlike many others who crossed their feet or did nothing to make it easier to scoot through the row to our assigned seating. He was usually the last to leave class because he would stand at the door and hold it for everyone who came behind him. He stood out, not for his looks, but for who he was in his heart. Lessen your expectations of how your husband will look on the outside and focus on what his heart looks like and what are the reflections of his character. I guarantee your eyes will see someone differently when you start seeing their heart.
It wasn’t long into the semester before we were paired for an assignment. That assignment resulted in a relationship that has lasted twenty years, added two children, and will last until this life ends.
My husband still has a bushy red beard, but he has traded his messy bun for a clean cut. He now wears button-downs and nice jeans, and the flip-flops were retired long ago. But he is still, at his core, the same man who sat across from me in class twenty years ago. He still leaves his clothes on the floor, feet from the hamper, he lets the trash overflow before he takes it out, and he has a streak of impatience when it comes to not arriving early everywhere we go. He rarely rolls chip bags back up—umm, doesn’t he know that is why they always go stale? He wears his jeans sometimes for a whole week before washing them and wears his shoes in the house…Doesn’t he know the germs he is stomping into the rug in those shoes?
These are all things I noticed while we were dating. These are all things that tend to annoy me on a bad day. People do grow and learn, but lesson two for you single ladies is if there is something you think he needs to change when you are dating, you need to either accept it or understand he may not be for you if you can’t overlook it because people are not as malleable as we think. Marriage doesn’t make someone magically change; we shouldn’t expect it to. Look for the things that bother you and ask yourself can you deal with that for the rest of your life?
Lesson three while dating, listen carefully to how he talks to people. All people, because this will be how he talks to you and your future children during your life together. How does he speak to his parents, siblings, and friends? How does he speak to servers and retail workers? What are his words when traffic is a nightmare and someone cuts you off on the highway? When he talks about his ex-relationships, does he have acceptance and accountability? Does he show forgiveness to those who hurt him in his past? How he talks to people and about people will be the way he talks to you for the rest of this life; make sure you like what you hear.
Lesson four, pay attention if he stops pursuing God while pursuing you. Does he want to skip church to go out for breakfast instead? Is he bringing up scripture, is he praying? Is he comfortable talking about his faith, your faith? Is his relationship with God strong and growing as his relationship with you moves forward? Be wary of a man you meet in the church who is not pursuing God while he is pursuing you.
Lastly, lesson five is to look for his idols. We all have idols—things we obsess over in life. What is it he seeks most outside of God? Is it health, success, recognition, or money? Is he obsessed with sports or music? Knowing what he makes an idol, what he agonizes over, what he obsesses over, and what he pursues will point you toward what he holds in esteem. Ensure the things he holds tightly to are things that you want to pursue with him for a lifetime.
Even if you learn all the lessons and take all the advice from Christian women on the right man to commit your life to, there will be troubles, disagreements, and hurt feelings.
Still, if you choose a man who is at his core humble and kind, pursuing God and always pursuing you, there is no trouble you can’t overcome together.