When I was in college I wrote an op-ed for my local newspaper about the kind of woman I wanted to marry. It embarrasses me to this day. I had three criteria for my future wife: First, she needed to have the body of Nikki Taylor, a “child bearing supermodel.” Second, she had to measure up to the perfection of my mother. And third, she had to be the kind of woman who Mary, the mother of Jesus, would approve of.
One time I was at the bus stop and I saw a woman take her daughter by the ponytail, pull up, and force her to move down the sidewalk. As the girl walked forward, she tried to reach up and pull her mother’s hand away, to no avail. As the little girl cried and begged her mother to stop, a man standing nearby laughed about it, and the mother began laughing, too.
My wife and I live in Washington, D.C., a city that’s full of single men who aren’t ready to get married. If they’re anything like I was in my single days, their unwillingness to tie the knot has a lot to do with their unrealistic expectations. Now that I’m seven years into a happy marriage, if I could give some tips to all the single men about adjusting their hopes for life after the wedding, here’s what I would say:
When I first started dating my wife, we were eating dinner one night and she asked a question that I didn’t think was very controversial: “What do you want to do with the rest of your life?” In my response, I mentioned that I wanted to return to my home state of Mississippi and run for Attorney General, and I also said I wanted four or five children. She looked at me like she was waiting for me to announce that I was joking. I wasn’t.
Whenever I write about the struggles of single adults, there’s one sure-fire way to enrage the men: Hint that they carry any blame for the growing number of unmarried women. I can’t tell you how many single men have earnestly looked at me in frustration and explained that they simply haven’t felt the “spark” with anyone. But none of these guys can seem to articulate what the “spark” is. They just know it isn’t there, and they can’t imagine moving forward without it.
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…
According to a recent study by the Barna group, at least 70 percent of single, self-identified Christian men view pornography on a monthly basis. Many Christian women probably look at this statistic and fear being stuck with a husband who’s more aroused by his smartphone than her. But I’m more worried many of these men will never get married at all.
If there’s one thing that married folks quickly forget after they tie the knot, it’s this: Singleness often hurts. The most frustrating part for a lot of single people who desire marriage is the mounting pressure to get on with it, to find (or be found by) someone now. The unspoken judgment seems to be that the single man or woman would be married if there weren’t something wrong with them.
It was my first year of law school, and I was single. I wanted to be married, but it didn’t matter. I was spending 12 hours a day in class or in the library, so there wasn’t any real chance of my getting to know anyone.
I’m the kind of guy who likes to chat with taxi drivers en route to my destination, and recently, I had two drivers who provided a little bit of perspective on marriage.