Our Perfect Expectations Of Love
There is no such thing as a guy who is “ready for marriage”.
Well, this is the conclusion I have come to based on endless hours of reading up on relationships and marriage, and speaking to married folks that I respect and look up to.
For some reason, our generation has been convinced that before you marry a man, he has to have all his stuff together – this is a belief held by both females and males mind you. We believe that he needs to have a good job, a great house, big fat bank account, and a fabulous car to chauffer you in, plus an extra one for you of course!
For the super spiritual peeps, we also believe that he needs to be serving deeply within the church or his own personal ministry. He needs to be so deep in the word of God that you feel like you’re listening to Jesus when he is speaking. And and and. In a nutshell, we’re expecting the brother to pretty much be Jesus Christ Himself. These are honestly great and important things to seek in a partner but I do not believe they are deal breakers, especially because we ourselves are not this way as women.
The thing is, this is what I believed for quite a while. Because truth be told, what I desired was good and I wanted to be wise in my choice. I felt like unless you ticked all the boxes I had presented to God (not the ones God had revealed to me) about my ideal Christian man, I wasn’t even going to give you a second thought.
You were just going to waste my time and reverse all the “hard work” I had been putting in to become this amazing Christian girl. If I gave you a chance it would be a reflection on me that I don’t have worth – that I allow imperfection into my space (ouch!). It would suggest that I am not destined for a great and life-changing marriage. I couldn’t have that!
Then I purposefully engaged in some research on real-life relationships: from conversations with family and friends; to reading testimonies online. And I realized that the picture perfect pre-marriage state was actually not a thing – was not necessarily the experience of most married people.
I mean, I learnt that a man (even the most devoted and God-fearing) is not fully who he has been called to be by God when you meet him. He is not a finished product. He will make some really dumb choices. Lol. He will probably hurt you at several points. He will test you and the wonderful Christian qualities you’ve been racking up. And that is because no person is perfectly prepared for any stage of their life.
Rather, the stages of life perfect characteristics in a person as God leads them. We love to say that saying, “God does not call the qualified but qualifies the called”. But we love to say it in context of serving in ministry for God and we do not apply it in other areas of life including romantic relationships.
Today, I’m speaking to my fellow perfectionist sisters who literally fear giving a man a chance because he is not a walking Bible character. The truth is that God does not bring you a perfect person to marry and because of that we may keep passing on our potential partners (talking to myself here as well). I think what has caused us to believe this deception is mainly social media. Social media influences our perceptions of relationships in the following two ways:
- Perfect Expectations – we are a social media generation. Social media has given individuals the power to be who they want the world to believe that they are. We post up only the best pictures that we have edited several times so that they are appealing. We post up our successes and victories and seldom acknowledge our struggles or fears. We have this whole “Stepford Wives” vibe thing to a tee in terms of how we represent our life.
The problem comes when we start to believe that this perfection applies to every aspect of our lives: Our food should arrive the way we see it perfectly depicted in food magazines; our outfits should sit on us the same way that they are displayed on the mannequin; and likewise, our potential hubby should possess all these wonderful qualities that we read about on Christian blog sites or according to men in the Bible that we are told to look up to (à la Joseph/Abraham etc).
The reality of life, however, is that we all have defects in our characters (Romans 3:23). The reality of life is that our backgrounds and circumstances have shaped our thinking and informed the behaviours that we are trying to overcome through Christ (Romans 7:15). The reality of life is that we are still a work in progress and still being sanctified. We have not attained perfection yet – yes, even us “good Christian girls”!
So when we meet a guy and are considering a relationship, we act like we are shopping in a catalogue which should only possess the “air-brushed” man for our consideration. Should any defects pop up, we convince ourselves that these are warning bells from God that this is not the right man for us. Just as you have your own hectic flaws within your lovely qualities, the man God chooses for you will have some qualities (not foundational to his character) that will drive you UP THE WALL! Let go of the perfect expectations.
- Perfect Comparisons – I love to read up about fellow Christians who inspire me and have come through the other side of tests and trials in Christ. Not that they are now perfect, but they have gone through seasons with God and their faith is being proved. These people naturally like to celebrate their love and to inspire and encourage others by sharing images of themselves with their spouse doing life. It’s so beautiful to see but the problem comes when I begin to convince myself that it should always look that way from the beginning. We convince ourselves that a man should already be kind; loving; patient; hands on in the home; willing to rub your feet when you’re exhausted etc from day one of marriage.
The truth is that these people we look up to were not always like that. They have worked hard with God and with one another to grow into the people God calls them to be. They have prayed earnestly through some really rough seasons. They have almost called it quits because they couldn’t believe that this was the same person they fell in love with.
But we only see the end results and compare our potential partners to years of experience, moulding, prayer and testing. The devil encourages a lot of comparison in today’s world which leaves us feeling so discontented. One of God’s 10 commandments is to not covet what belongs to another (Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21) and that includes wishing you had someone who was like the husband of another woman.
God is so wise in this admonition. He knows that as humans we don’t get to see the full picture. We have not walked the exact journey that this couple has. We do not possess the same qualities that the wife had that He worked with to mould and build up the man to be the amazing husband that he is today. And so, when we are considering our own suitors we cannot compare them to finished products but to the standard Christ reveals to us personally.
God won’t give you a finished product because then what would be the point of marriage? Marriage is there to challenge us and expose our sinfulness and to change us to become more like Christ. It is there to ensure we fulfil our oath to God on this earth. That is the main aim of marriage. And so that means you need someone who needs challenging and exposing and who is sinful – just like you by the way. That may be the guy currently hollering at you that you’ve written off.
In a nutshell, my fellow single sisters, I am just encouraging us to not be unnecessarily hard on and demanding of our brothers. Let us be kind as they shall have to be kind to us and our shortcomings. I am not saying take someone who is an obvious liar or adulterer or just someone with no basic regard for God’s law (which by the way is summed up as loving God wholly and others as yourself).
I am saying let us look for a man who is willing above all else. That is a good man. A man who has a teachable spirit and is willing to work with God and with you to become all God has called you both to be. Let us let go of our fantasies of Mr Perfect, and let us embrace the Mr Imperfect with whom we will have the pleasure of walking through the journey of life to grow to be all God has called us to be. This, I believe, is the true definition of love.
Because, at the end of the day we will experience more joy and fulfilment when we can stand back, watch that man care for his children; treat us like a Queen; and honour God in all he does because we were willing to go through the rough patches with him. I mean think about it, you would cherish the Chanel bag that you had to work and save up for despite how hard it was much more than the one someone hands over to you for nothing.
What have been some of your expectations of a spouse? How do you think we can attain the right balance in accepting a godly but human man as a husband? Let’s chat!