When I was single, I was terrified I would never marry. But I was equally terrified I might marry the wrong person.
If I married the wrong woman, I thought, I might end up with a wife who was subject to hormonal surges, occasional mood swings, weight fluctuations, bad habits, and bouts of irritability. She might not share all my interests or always get my humor. She might not like my music or always want to have sex. She might, you know – like, be human. And quite frankly, I wasn’t looking for a human; because so many of the humans I knew could barely stand to live together.
I figured if I was going to have a successful marriage, I needed a goddess – a woman who could keep me perpetually infatuated with her for the rest of my life. And just as importantly, I wanted a woman who saw me as a relatively flawless god. We would live our lives in mutual admiration and worshipful bliss until we passed away in our late 80s after a life of great sex and whatever else you did when you were married.
Reality to the Rescue
Shon and Beth Cunningham helped me grow into a more mature vision of marriage, and I’ll be eternally grateful for it. When I was single, they invited me into their home and let me see their happy marriage grow through conflict, two kids, and several stressful moves. I witnessed a couple of breakdowns by Beth and saw Shon lose his cool. I saw messy bedrooms, got stressed out by child discipline, and watched kids eat food off the floor (at the encouragement of their parents).
But in the midst of all that, I also saw romance, intense loyalty, and a family that loved being together. I faced the reality that I feared; and eventually, I realized it wasn’t so bad – in fact, Shon and Beth somehow made it look appealing.
How You Can Serve a Single Man
I think that if there were more couples like the Cunninghams, it would encourage more single men to marry with a realistic vision in mind. Young men have been raised on the airbrushed poison of Cosmo covers, action movie babes, and porn, all of which have warped their ability to see the beauty of a good, old-fashioned commitment to a real woman.
When a young man spends time with a relatively happy couple, it can reshape his vision for his own life and help him embrace the beauty of reality. So if you’re a couple who wants to make a lifelong difference by inviting a young man into your family, here are five tips to make it a success:
- Extend the invitation. Shon and Beth singled me out, told me they liked me, and said they wanted me to be a part of their lives. That generous invitation meant the world to me and gave me the courage to take them up on the offer.
- Food is Key. If you want a young man to spend time at your home, provide free food. Cook for him, pay for takeout, get the check at the restaurant. Nothing makes a young man want to hang out like free food.
- Make him feel safe. A lot of young men are carrying around emotional baggage, and they don’t know how to put words to it. Not only that – it’s probably going to take hours and hours of hanging out with a young man before he will even consider opening up. Throw a ball with him, watch movies with him, take him on vacation with you and your kids – listen, listen, and listen some more. And every once in a while, pry a little bit – you may end up getting the privilege of seeing him lay down his burdens and begin healing. That kind of healing will help him to be a healthier husband one day.
- Lovingly correct him. Shon and Beth are two of the most encouraging people who ever lived, but they called me out when it was needed. In the midst of many encouraging words and spiritual affirmations, they occasionally delivered the painful news that, in fact, I had some growing to do. Doing this helped begin the humbling process that was necessary before I could get married.
- See him as he is in Christ. As a single man, I exhibited a fair amount of insecurity, indiscretion, and arrogance. Shon and Beth did not primarily interact with those negative parts of me. They saw me with eyes of faith and embraced the real me that was hiding under all that stuff. They interacted with the man I would become, and in doing so, they called him out. That’s the man my wife is married to today; and that’s the man you’ll be drawing out if you invite a young man into your home, show him hospitality, listen to him, and speak the truth in love.