Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Is It Okay to Look for a Spouse?

This is a topic I’ve been thinking about recently, and even more so since discussing it with my family last weekend. You’ll soon see that it’s definitely still in the thinking stages. First, two disclaimers are necessary. 1. This will probably seem very disjointed, with way too many questions. But, it’s not an article. You are merely eavesdropping on a conversation I’ve been having with myself. 2. You are welcome to let me know if you think I’m nuts because it is quite possible that I am, indeed, nuts.

So, what about it then? Expect for when I dabbled with online matchmaking, I’ve generally thought that I should just contentedly wait for God to bring me a spouse: the right person at the right time. I’ve thought that if the man hasn’t shown up yet, either I’m not ready or he’s not ready, and if God wants me married he’ll bring The One along with no help from me.

But now, I’m having a fairly radical thought: what if there isn’t just one? Does God really have just one person out there somewhere who would be my ideal match? If that’s true, what if he died at birth? What if someone else married him by mistake? How does that fit with widows who remarry?

I believe that God cares about every aspect of our lives, but is it over-spiritualizing to think that God has just one person who will miraculously come across my path? Maybe it’s not true that if the man hasn’t shown up one of us isn’t ready. Maybe if everyone around me thinks I am ready, I should go find someone else who’s ready.

I also believe that it’s important to have standards and not lower them out of frustration. Better to be married to a godly man for forty years than a jerk for fifty. But what if there’s more than one person who qualifies? Or what if there’s almost nobody who qualifies and just happening across such a person is an extremely remote possibility?

Honestly, I think very few people are truly “called to singleness” and the rising numbers of single adults make me think something must be amiss. Are we holding out for perfection? Is it possible that the idea of waiting for a “soulmate” is based in selfishness? Are we looking for someone who will make us completely happy rather than looking for someone with whom we can raise a family? Why don’t we just pick somebody, make a commitment, and then stick it out, for better or for worse?

Some have said to me that if you go looking for a spouse you might be jumping ahead of God’s timing and missing something better he had for you. But isn’t there a danger with that kind of thinking that you’ll be holding out forever for something even better? As long as we don’t abandon our values and standards, I don’t think we should be that concerned with missing out on perfection, especially since perfection doesn’t exist in this world. For example, how can we expect to find someone who’s never crabby but will happily put up with us when we’re crabby?

And what about couples in the Bible? Didn't Abraham take a look at his son, decide Isaac needed a wife, and promptly send a servant out to find one? Hmmm, I wonder how other Biblical couples got together?

  • Adam and Eve--this was definitely a miraculous, divine intervention, but it cost Adam a rib.
  • Jacob and Leah--why I'm not advocating arranged marriage
  • Jacob and Rachel--Jacob: a man obsessed with beauty; Rachel: the beautiful cousin. Ok, nevermind about that one.
  • Boaz and Ruth--She asked him because he was rich. Wow.
  • David and Abigail--Hot-headed future king meets intelligent beauty in a moment of drama. God conveniently kills her pathetic husband.
  • David and Bathsheba--no, falling in lust with a woman and murdering her husband is not a good idea.
  • Job--this might be a good case for staying single, actually.
  • Hosea--God told him to marry an unfaithful woman. She was probably easy to find.
  • Joseph and Mary--probably another arranged marriage. I guess it works sometimes.
  • Aquila and Priscilla--an excellent example of a couple who are truly partners in every aspect of life. I wish the Bible told how they met.

Well I'm not sure what to think about all that, except that there doesn't seem to any sort of magical formula, that's for sure.

Ok, that’s all. If you made it to the end of all these disorganized thoughts, congratulations! You are now free to tell me I’m losing my mind. But you might want to do it quickly, because if this train of thought continues, I might have to recant all that stuff I said about online matchmaking.

17 comments:

Lindsay said...

It's really amazing how much all you just said fits what I've been thinking lately. I voiced many of those same thoughts to my mom the other night.

I've been coming to believe that we really don't need to be so hung up on having to be sure we find(or wait for) "the one" who's out there somewhere in the world, but rather that there is a handful of people that could be compatible. I've been coming to see how much this mentality of "the one" has really made things much harder for me. It's like I was just so afraid of somehow messing things up: what if I thought someone was "the one", when really "the one" was somewhere else out there and I hadn't met him yet? How will I know if he's "the one" or if someone else just as good is actually "the one"? What if I mess things up by becoming interested in one guy, when he's not "the one" and "the one" is still out there and I haven't met him? What then? Would I be completely messing things up for us both?

And I don't think looking for a spouse is a bad thing either. I can't find anything Biblical against it. If you knew you were going to be moving and you needed a house and you didn't know of any to buy, you would go out looking for one, not just wait until one fell in your lap. That would be silly. Likewise, if someone doesn't know of anyone they could marry, why not look?

I do find it amusing when people talk about the "Biblical standards" for courtship or betrothal, because of those couples you mentioned. The Biblical examples are certainly interesting.

Katie said...

That's interesting that you've been thinking about it too! Your comments remind of something I heard once that really had a profound effect on me: "Don't be paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake."

Lindsay said...

I actually started a whole thread about it at HSA. :)

Ruth is another example I've been thinking about. If the first husband was "the one" for her, why was she led to Boaz? And I don't think Boaz was "the one" for her, because she met and married him because of her first mother-in-law, so without the first marriage, that may never have happened. So which was "the one" for her?

And I sent the link to your blog to a friend of mine I've been talking all this over with. It's funny, because she was thinking along the exact same lines before I brought it up to her, then you posted the same thing!

Katie said...

Watch out world! Wannabe housewives are on the loose!

Lora K. said...

You're really worrying me here...did you plant a bug on our couch when you came over?? Are you listening in on all of our conversations?! :-O

Seriously, you aren't crazy. After all the many talks Lindsay and I have had, I understand your thought process completely.

There are several things here that I haven't seen many, if any people discuss. It's EASY for me to say, "We're going the courtship route, keep all your feelings and emotions in check until you're 50 and everything will work out just fine." That's easy to say because I've never done it. I certainly don't have all the answers, and I do trust that God will put the right man in our daughters paths (I have to go through this 4 times!!!). Maybe they will trip over them somewhere, or they may meet them while out evangelizing. I don't know how God will work it all out. There are only a few things I'm positive on.
1)We shouldn't change our convictions in the "hopes" that they might meet the "one".
2)God is in control of this.
3)There is no perfect plan or method.
4)As the parent of many daughters, I can only do my best to follow the path I think the Lord has laid out for our family, so I need to lean on Him constantly.
5)There is no perfect guy out there. They all have flaws, though you may not see them at first, they're there just waiting to pop out. The funny thing is, you usually start to see them about a week after you're married.

You are also right about just having to make it work. Making it work is a choice. Ya know...murder before divorce;-)Really, it's a decision you have to make and work to stick to it. ALL marriages are going to hit bumpy parts, that's part of life. But when you know there is no option but to work something out, that's what you do.

Another area there seems to be some problems with is young people not being allowed to be young people. With many "courtship" families, normal interaction is difficult at best. I feel that it's important for my girls to look at boys as people... yes, they really are people, not some strange sub-species from Mars. And the same is true of girls; they are not some Victorian, frilly, silly, swooning species(though, some would promote them acting as such). They should be approachable, friendly and outgoing, showing respect to young men, but also being able to talk and joke with them without the fear of what others would think. Sadly, this is not the case often when around others of the "courtship" thought. They see danger around every corner and even the slightest thing will cause them a great deal of concern.
As much as I'm for courtship, I'm also about stepping back and letting God work things out. If we are constantly putting our hands in it, by restraining our adults' actions, how will God be able to work? Maybe His timing is different from ours, and what we think is "perfect" isn't what He deems perfect. I have seen the lists of requirements that some people have for future son-in-laws, and honestly, if they ever find someone to fit that list, I'll be surprised! I have heard of how some men have to jump through hoops to get "approved" and I think it's sad.

I think that there needs to be parental involvement, but some take that too far. The young man should be allowed to act as such. Going to the girl's father alone and then talking to the girl alone. There shouldn't be a parents conference to work out all of the details; this isn't a business merger.

This is how I would like for it to work out in our cases:

1. Boys likes girl; girl likes boy.
2. Boy approaches dad and talks to him about Girl. (even though it will be tough to be on the outside of this, I think that's where I should be. I trust Gene's ability in this completely)
3)Boy approaches Girl(I think this should be a sweet, romantic thing between just the two of them)
4)Boy and Girl go to parents and family and share their "story".
5)Everyone meet to work out any details.

This may or may not be how God works it out, and yes, many variables are missing. But it's the plan we have for now. Though being the parent of daughters I have less control over how the events play out.

These are just my thoughts; I know my plan isn't perfect, and it may work out completely different from this, but at least it's a place to start. And if this doesn't work out, I heard Tara H's parents were offered some camels for her by a sheik; maybe we could go that route. Though I don't know what I'd do with 50 camels.

Methuselah said...

Katie,

You made some really valid points. I've known people who say that one should sit on their hands and "wait for God's timing" for spouse to magically fall on their lap. It's hoopla. Matthew 6:31 says, "Do not worry then saying, what will we eat? or what will we drink or what will we wear for clothing?" Jesus' point was that He will provide for our needs, food and clothing, but that doesn't mean we sit on our butt and wait for our food and clothes to appear from no where. We have to work to earn money to buy our clothes and food, yet God always provides a way for us to procure them. The same logic should be applied to finding a spouse. Yes, God will provide one with a spouse if God has ordained it, but that doesn't mean we sit and wait for our spouse to cross our path. We should look for one, form relationships, and activily seek a spouse. Just as we have to "seek" our food and clothing, we should do the same in finding a spouse.

Katie said...

Lora, I promise I didn't bug your couch! :-) Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It was all great except for the camel part. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I AM NOT FOR SALE!

Methuselah, you're exactly right. So many areas of life require us to both trust God and work hard. It's sometimes a tricky balance.

Lindsay said...

I've objected against the camel issue as well.
Though I compared finding a spouse to buying a house,
when I'm sought, I won't be bought. I'll be an old maid before someone is paid
to then hand me over so we can cross over
to some distant land full of camels and sand...

I'll stop now. :) After the line about a spouse and a house, I just had to keep up the rhyme for a bit. :D All that to say, I'm not for sale either.

Katie said...

Lindsay, you're a nut! Warning: quote from Veggietales coming. "Stop being so silly!"

That's right, there will be no selling of daughters. I keeping teasing my parents, though, and telling them they might as well put a sign out on the mailbox that says, "Nice Girl Free to Good Home."

Lindsay said...

You just noticed? ;) "I don't suffer from insanity; I enjoy every minute of it!" That's one of my favorites. :)

Rachel suggested signs and billboards recently. One afternoon, she and Caroline were all over me about it. That's what I get for wanting to watch Seven Brides for Seven Brothers with them...

Lora K. said...

If Lindsay keeps coming up with rhymes like that, a billboard may be in her future!

As a point of clarification: when I spoke of them finding a mate while out evangelizing, I meant they would find the mate among the people they were witnessing with, not to. We're hoping to avoid the whole drunk son-in-law issue. My point was they might find them anywhere...even at Walmart. If there's a good sale on them, I'll let ya know.

P.S. Can't imagine where Lindsay gets her silliness!?!

Katie said...

Ok guys, I'm not sure my blog has ever suffered from this much nonsense, or this many comments on one post...but I'm loving every minute of it!

Lindsay said...

We're certainly getting our laughs as well! :D I'm having many problems with our websites today and can't figure out why they won't work, so the laughter is a welcome relief! :)

But on the more serious side of things, I like hearing other people's perspectives on this, and I find it interesting we've been coming to the same conclusions at the same time. :)

Melaney said...

Hey Katie,

I am the friend that Lindsay was talking about...My name is Melaney!

Anyways, it is nice to find that I am not the only one wondering about this. I agree with what has been said...I find it funny that you, Lindsay AND I were all wondering at the same time! But, I think it is nice that we can all discuss this thing together, and come up with some smart answers!

I think that the Lord already knows who I will marry, but I think there is also the choice factor in it for me. I don't believe that there is ONLY ONE man with whomm I could be happily married, and raise a family with. Spiritual qualities come first, and the fact that he MUST want to home school our kids, and after that, I think it is a matter of who I am most attracted to, and like the most.

Okay, I have to go get ready for work! Thanks for your thoughts...

In Him,
Melaney

Katie said...

Hi Melaney! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I think you boiled down the dilemma: finding someone who meets the qualifications but that you also like!

Lindsay said...

Hey Katie! I just wanted to let you know that I'm using a new blog for a while, due to many problems with my old one.

Melaney said...

Thanks Katie!

Lindsay has told me a lot about you, and I have seen you around on the home school forum, so maybe we can get to know each other on there some more!

God bless,
Melaney