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Man Enough to Love a Real Woman

Cory, one of my happily married friends, was annoyed with some of his single, male buddies.

“Joshua, it’s so irritating,” he said. “I suggest a woman to them, but they say ‘she’s not attractive enough,’ or she’s lacking in some other area. And here’s the crazy part: In every case — without exception — the woman is way out of their league.”

I shook my head. “I know. I used to be like those guys, always finding a problem with every woman I dated. I didn’t realize I was the one with the problem.”

And my problem was pride. I measured women against a vague standard of perfection that eliminated each woman almost as soon as I met her. It was a pageant of sorts, where women were scored in a number of categories. And somehow I had gotten it into my head that I was worthy to be their judge.

The Perfect Christian Girl

I was like a lot of single, Christian guys. I just wanted to follow God’s will in finding a wife — that’s all — oh yeah, and I also wanted a modest version of the Cosmo girl. And, well, I didn’t want her to be too needy. Oh, and she also needed to be smart — really smart — but not, like, so smart that she made me feel stupid. And, of course, she needed to be spiritually mature (you know, like me). And one more thing: I wanted her to have a cool and fun personality (whatever that meant).

In other words, I wanted to date the perfect Christian girl — not a real woman.

Of course, I knew what a real woman was like. I grew up in a Christian home with lots of real women around, each of them imperfect in one way or another, yet fully feminine. These women had opinions, unshakable faith, curves, feelings, hormonal surges, weight fluctuations, talents, wrinkles and a regular need for affirmation. It didn’t bother me: It was part of who they were, and I loved them for it.

But when it came to prospective mates, I wasn’t so gracious. I figured I deserved to have the best qualities of every woman wrapped into a nice package, waiting at the end of a rainbow. And yet, despite meeting dozens of women in my quest, I could never find that perfect, Christian girl. But that didn’t stop me from looking for her — until I discovered that, in fact, I wasn’t the perfect Christian guy.

Dealing With Reality

Just before meeting my lovely bride, a series of unfortunate circumstances and poor decisions collided, bringing out my worst (seriously, trust me, it was ugly). When the train wreck was over, I felt I would be lucky if any Christian woman would take me. Though it may sound like it, I wasn’t suffering from low self-esteem. I was finally dealing with reality.

Before, I assumed my future wife should have the perfect intellect, teeth, personality, body type, people skills and past. But in the face of my brokenness, it occurred to me: An imperfect guy can’t demand something from a woman that he can’t give.

Learning Humility

Around the time of that revelation, I met my wife at a party on Capitol Hill. Unlike before, I didn’t think, I’ll consider taking that girl out. I thought, I wonder if she would go out with me. I cautiously introduced myself, and as we talked, I found myself focusing on her qualities, rather than mentally trying to ferret out her deficiencies.

We eventually began dating, and I continued humbling myself — indeed,enjoying myself — leaving her feeling comfortable, honored and beautiful. As our relationship progressed, I found myself looking up at her, seeing her as a daughter of the King rather than looking down on her as another prospective contestant.

Essentially, I was loving her for who she was, leaving behind my job as a self-appointed judge in an impossible-to-win pageant. I pursued her all the way to the altar, and I’m still pursuing her today.

Are You Man Enough?

To those single guys out there who are trying to find the ideal woman, do the world a favor and give up. You’re not the ideal man — not anywhere close. And you would never get married if women held you to the same standard you apply to them.

But maybe you insist that you’re not going to settle for a woman who’s not everything you’re hoping for in a wife. Settle? Whatever the circumstances, believe me, she will be the one who settles for you and all your deficits. And until you realize this — through humbling circumstances or otherwise — maybe you should take a break from dating for a while and spend some time asking God to make you man enough to love a real woman.

15 Comments
  1. Oh my. Guilty… and I'm a girl.I, similiarly to you, went through this – and I'm am still in my early 20's (I started young… what can I say).I wanted him {the future Mr.} to be tall, dark, handsome, humorous, musically-inclined, history-buff, the nice, non-green version of the Hulk, and a passionate Christian.I found said man… but Cinderella got to him first. Bummer…I dated around and even became what some people would call a "player" – all in the name of husband-hunting the perfect man. I hurt alot of people, and gave alot of pieces of my heart away in the process.I finally came to the place of brokeness (both emotionally and mentally). I was spent. I gave updating around for a couple years (keep in mind, I'm only in my early-20's).I realized that until I was completely satisfied with being single and what God had for me during this time in my life, I could never be fully satisfied in a relationship (whether dating or married).God has been so good to me through this time – I am truly thankful for it.One of my favorite quotes: "If I ever expected a match made in Heaven, I knew I had to give God the pen to write my love story." ~ E.LudyGreat post – thank you.~ Heather Joy

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    November 16, 2010
  2. "To those single guys out there who are trying to find the ideal woman, do the world a favor and give up." – loves it.- Rose

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    November 16, 2010
  3. Joshua,I agree with some of what you said, but I still think it is important not to settle and marry a woman you are not crazy about (even if you are right that she is settling by marrying you). You shouldn't be overly critical of anyone. But you are not judging a woman by determining that you aren't attracted to her or that your personalities don't gel. Rather, you are judging (often quickly) whether you could see yourself spending the rest of your life with that person. Women do the same thing too. It's normal. You've got to click with people, and sometimes when you meet the right or wrong person you just know.I know this isn't your intent, but I think you've got to be careful not to tell Christian singles they should just date or marry anyone who is a Christian member of the opposite sex. I started to go down that road once and am glad I got off of it. Sweet christian girl, but no real chemistry or connection. If we had continued down that road and gotten married (with each of us settling), we would both be miserable. Instead, we ended it, and both eventually met spouses who were better fits for us.In my dating years, I was often accused of being too criticial. But I believe that I was critical for a reason. I didn't fit with those women. When I met my wife the flaw finding missions ended. We just fit, and I never felt the need to go hunting for flaws.I bet this was true with you too to a large extent. I don't discount that you met your wife at a low point, which humbled you and positively affected how you treated her. But I also think that you two just fit. . . Your pal,JohnP.S. I have enjoyed your blog!

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    November 17, 2010
  4. To John and Heather Joy, these are two of the most thoughtful comments I've ever seen on this blog. Thank you for sharing your insights.

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    November 17, 2010
  5. @John,I disagree – "I think you've got to be careful not to tell Christian singles they should just date or marry anyone who is a Christian member of the opposite sex."I think dating and marriage can be pulled apart a bit and discussed on different levels (as they actually exist). Sure, one shouldn't just marry anyone off the street who happens to share their faith. But, dating…well, I think that needs a big piece of funfetti cake or maybe just the fun. Yep, I'm saying date away!Dating/asking out someone that you're not crazy about isn't settling (as it would be in marriage), it's part of the dating process. But, when one approaches dating from the 'can I live with this person for the rest of my life?' position, it's about – 'what do I get from this equation?' Instead of, 'what can I bring to the table?' What if Christian men asked women out on dates just because they knew it'd bless them? Yes, a guy spending time and money simply because it would be fun and because in our society men have to initiate that fun. I believe it would help shake off some of the anxiety that often surrounds dating in christian circles.If you don't agree that dating can be discussed apart from marriage, then, I wish some Christian men would "settle" and ask me and my single girlfriends out. Rose

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    November 23, 2010
  6. Many of the things mentioned seem to apply to me quite well, but more in a passive way.Thankfully, people in my church and my friends haven't been interfering enough to try matchmaking with me, so I have been saved the embarrassment of having to give a reason why I am or am not interested in a lady in question. Last Sunday, a lady saw me cradling a small baby and asked me when I would get married, my reply being that I didn't know, prompting her to ask why, prompting me to say that I was a very lazy man. However, this is the only example of someone interfering so overtly.I am certain I am somebody God has intended for marriage, but this is unlikely to happen imminently.A little while ago, I endured severe loss of face on account of something to do with a woman, the end result being that I have become even more withdrawn in my conduct with the available women at my church.Previously, I might have been willing to approach an 8, but these days, a 9 has great difficulty attracting my attention. Some women at my church behave towards me in a way that suggests an interest and are sometimes flirtatious and I just don't have the heart to tell them openly that there is no likelihood of me making a move. I suppose the only chivalrous thing for me to do in the circumstances is to quietly keep my distance (though, the truth be told, being standoffish is something that comes naturally to people with Asperger's syndrome).I would never make a decision about whether or not to make a proposal of marriage based on my physical attraction to a woman. I don't know if the low-point described in your article was similar to mine, but the consequence of my loss of face is that a woman has to be even more attractive than before, before I will look closely at her to see if she has a godly character that would make her a viable prospect as a wife.There aren't many women at my church who are hideously ugly and I probably wouldn't outrightly reject the vast majority of them. It's possible that there are plenty of reasonably attractive women (with godly characters to boot) available there, but they just seem to escape my attention and there doesn't seem to be any woman at my church who motivates me enough to make an approach to her.I definitely think I ought to seek marriage to a godly woman, as a matter of obligation if nothing else: – after all, Paul said every man should have his wife if he is not one of the few ordained for celibacy. Maybe I ought to be praying for the motivation to actively seek a wife.

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    August 11, 2011
  7. Da Big G, it sounds like you've got a complicated situation, and I hope you've got some brothers in Christ who are able to lock arms with you and provide some guidance. Isolation is something you definitely want to avoid. Thanks for your comment.

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    August 12, 2011
  8. Regarding locking arms, I tell my pastor as little as I can get away with these days, due to his bungling with the matter that caused my loss of face and I think a need-to-know policy regarding details of one's private life is a sound one.However, in spite of that, I've definitely got brothers (and sisters) in Christ to lock arms with in my church and I'm extremely thankful that I am not isolated. My church is a large one and there is consequently a wide variety of people to choose to lock arms with.Maybe in time, things will subside and the bar will be lowered in terms of how attractive a woman needs to be to cause me to look more closely to see if she possesses a godly character. Until then, I'm enjoying just going through life.

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    August 12, 2011
  9. I must confess that as a young Christian woman, I have found it very comforting to read this article.We often wonder whether we are good enough, pretty enough, spiritual enough (or too spiritual), or even thin enough.The other day I heard a guy in church declare that he had not seen any wife potential in our congregation.

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    August 16, 2011
  10. Anonymous, I remember a Costa Rican/Guatemalan lady I knew when I was in Malaysia told me about how her son decried the lack of spouse material in his church back in Costa Rica in terms of spiritual fruitfulness. I replied by asking her why he continued to attend the church. Ok, it is hypothetically possible that the single women of marriageable age in his church are unfruitful and the other demographics are fine, but I think this is unlikely. A man who is genuinely determined to get married will look around rather than complaining, even switching churches if it is necessary to do so to surround himself with spiritually fruitful people.I unreservedly admit that I am no closer to getting married simply because I am not motivated. It is not the fault of the women in my church.If I were in your position, I would probably stroll up to the guy in question and discreetly inform him that if he made overtures, you and many other women you know would not think twice about rejecting him.

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    August 17, 2011
  11. Anonymous, you have no idea how much statements like that annoy me – it's like the guy is saying, "There's nothing on the menu I like here." With that kind of approach, even if a guy like that gets married, it's going to be a tough row for him to hoe. I'm sorry to hear you're struggling with this. I wish it weren't so common in the church.

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    August 17, 2011
  12. I think it is entirely right for a man to be discerning, but many men are not discerning about the right things. Our aim when choosing a spouse should be ascertaining who is going to be most useful to us in our walk with Christ.If this means the woman in question is hideously ugly, then we need to concentrate on her spiritual beauty. On the other hand, if the woman in question has supermodel-like beauty, then the man should be willing to actively pursue her in competition with however many suitors there are.It is correct that I am not fit to be the judge of all the women I see, but we all know the dangers of marrying a woman whose first priority is not God (e.g. Samson, Solomon etc).

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    October 7, 2011
  13. Frankly, my dear. That guy in church sounds like a total moron. If he were standing in front of me, I would have hit him over the head with a hymnal. I feel sorry for his future wife.

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    February 23, 2012
  14. I hate to sound like the jerk in the bunch, but I think that single folks need to look at themselves in the mirror (inside and outside) and really assess the kind of person they can realistically attract. I know that I am not going to end up attracting some hot shot Christian David Beckham look alike, but I also know that I don't need to just say "yes" to any man who asks me out on a date just because he is Christian. In my last relationship, I really stayed with a person and tried to make it work out of some type of desperate attempt to cobble together a "Christian relationship". It became more and more apparent that my "longsuffering" and staying loyal to a person with more issues than Vogue Magazine really did us both in. If there is chemistry, there is chemistry. If there isn't, then you can't fight it. My point is, God is God. I am single and in my 30s and while I like being single, I have struggled with experiencing painful breakups, abusive relationships and outright rejection from Christian men I really liked. If you ask Him for a fish, will He give you a snake? But also, if things don't come in the way you want them, does that mean he is not good anymore? Think about it. And remember that above all, you are accepted by God and that is all that matters. Don't worry about what people think about you or guilt yourself into thinking that you ought to ask someone out or reciprocate affection to someone if you are not attracted to the person. I have a strong personality, which is not highly favored among the men folk in my church's culture, but I have learned that faking a persona doesn't honor God and that eventually the true self comes out. Christ has made me stronger in weathering the trials that come along with being single, but I know that even if they don't end, this is not the end of my story.

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    February 23, 2012
  15. Interesting Read,Reminds me that there are a lot of poeple out there with hurts, habits and hangups that need help – mainly becuase we don't really talk about these things in a Church setting.I'd like to share with you all about Celebrate Recovery. This program has been a huge help in my life. It's helped me identify the areas in my life where I have failed God's expectations and allowed me to make changes. I love the fact that there is a group of guys with whom I can share my life that do not judge me or try and fix me, but that accept me in all my brokeness. and there are groups for women too.Today I find it much easier to be the man that God has called me to be and that my wife has been looking for all these years. Every day I get better!Mr. Klutz has hit the nail on the head on several points. I'd like to add to it by saying that God never wastes a hurt. If you are seeking marriage, look up a CR program close to you and consider taking a long hard look at your own life before stepping out on that path – it will be easier for you and kinder on your spouse to be.Blessings.

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    June 21, 2012

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