Our Lack of Identity
Many of the difficulties we encounter in meeting the right partners and especially in marriage, stem from a lack of identity. As women, it's not uncommon for us to try and shape ourselves into what the world and others expect from us instead of learning about who we are for ourselves. This and other issues we encounter regarding our identity are what Reason #2 is all about. Learn more in this video post. For a free download, visit Smashwords.
Excerpt from, "God, Why Am I Not Married? 9 Reasons You Might Still Be Single," Reason #8.
Fantasies & Prayers Don't Mix
From my previous years of being single, I realize that it's very challenging to convince most unmarried women that being single isn't as bad as they think (Pro: 19:20). As a single woman, I spent so much of my time and mental energy imagining how my life would be different with a partner that sometimes it made me downright miserable. However, even when I began to appreciate my singleness and better recognize its value, I still longed for the kind of companionship that was only achievable through marriage.
In this frame of mind when I would hear wives complain about their husbands, I thought that they should be more appreciative that they even had one to begin with. Such thinking made me dismiss their unhappiness as ungratefulness and minimize the real work and struggles that go hand and hand with merging your life with another's. Even for those women whose husband's seemed legitimately horrible, I just knew my marriage would be different because God was going to send me a man straight from the gates of heaven. Although I knew he wouldn't be perfect, I felt that by being an excellent wife, I would smooth out any rough edges. And that as long as I kept my head on straight, our good days would outnumber the bad. However, as you can imagine, I couldn't have been more wrong.
After the euphoria of finally being a wife wore off as well as the honeymoon stage, I was faced with challenges that I never had and couldn't have ever conceived of. I realized that being married was like preparing your best room for a highly anticipated guest, as well as making other accommodating arrangements but, once the guest arrives, they want to stay everywhere else but in the room you made for them and are unimpressed by what turns out to be inadequate preparations.
For all the ways I thought I was ready, there were more ways that I simply fell terribly short. All those hurt and sad wives and their complaints revisited my mind and started to make sense. And all my lofty dreams of a marriage made in heaven fell from the sky and shattered. As I mentioned in previous books, it became apparent fairly quickly why I didn't get a husband years earlier when I had first prayed for one. I soon realized that all the while I was rushing God, He had actually been preparing and protecting me, even from myself. And if he had given me a husband when I first asked, that marriage probably wouldn't have even lasted the year. As all these things came into focus, I not only knew how wrong I had been in my thinking but also why many marriages, even Christian ones, often ended in divorce.
After realizing all this, I found myself wanting to shake some sense into the unmarried women who seemed to think as I did. I even began to wonder why married women never told me the truth about what it was really like to be married. Maybe they knew from their own experience, like mine, that single women wouldn't really listen (Pro. 19:20, 12:15) as they are so invested in their dreams becoming reality. However, let the truth be told to any single woman who is willing to listen, what most of us pray for in a husband and marriage when single is nothing more than a fantasy (Pro. 12:11).
In Reason #3, I talked about how broken and emotionally scarred women create their ideal husband around their brokenness, which I called the Superman Syndrome. This simply means that their ideal husband is molded into shape by their subconscious desire to be healed. However, even when a woman doesn't do this, her ideal husband comes about in a similar fashion. Instead of molding our husbands around a need for healing, we mold him around whatever we think is missing in our lives (Pro. 4:23).
So for example, if we like watching movies, we’ll imagine someone who’ll watch movies with us. If we like to travel, we’ll imagine a traveling companion. If we struggle with bills or other responsibilities, we’ll imagine someone who will lend a hand. And if we like sex, we will imagine someone who’ll like sex as much as and in the same ways that we do. If we want a prayer partner, we will imagine a partner who is as zealous for God as we are. In a nutshell, women, and likely men too, usually imagine someone who will come and fill up the empty spaces in their lives wherever they feel those spaces might be. These "spaces" will change from person to person, but I hope you get the general picture.
It is viewing our future spouse from this perspective that makes waiting on their arrival very difficult and feel like an eternity. And to believe that God is withholding something that's precisely what we need and want can make His timing appear as if it's the real obstacle (2 Pet. 3:9). However, while we are sitting back fantasizing about how puzzle-piece perfect our future partner will fit into our lives, what we fail to understand is that what or who we are envisioning isn't even a real person.
Blessings & Cursings
A "real" person may like watching movies, but they may not be the same kind of movies. They may like to travel, but maybe not as much or as little as their partner does. They may help out financially, but they may also hide and waste their money, and that's beside the fact that they may have difficulties working or decide they don't want to work at all. They may like sex, but for whatever reason, during weird times or in weird ways. They may start off zealous for God and praying more than their partner, but also one day decide that they don't want to be a Christian anymore and backslide. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to these make believe partners we dream of as they have no personality, preferences, quirks, struggles, or needs of their own except for those we imagine we will be able to fulfill or tolerate. Yet, these and even more significant differences, which eventually become sources of conflict and dissatisfaction, are more realistic ideas of partners than the ones we feed ourselves (Pro. 16:25).
On top of these personality and preferential differences, we don't imagine the headaches, heartbreak, tears, loneliness, and struggles. We don't imagine that our beautiful spouse will come on the scene and start talking and hanging out with the serpent and taking his advice over our own (Gen. 3:1–6). We don't imagine the number of months many couples go without even touching or talking and the blowouts that make us behave in ways we never thought we could. We don't imagine the debt, the bills, the health crisis, the miscommunication, or lack of communication altogether. And we surely don't imagine the moments of regret or our spouse's issues and skeletons that begin spilling out of their once invisible closet. We don't imagine the days where we will be ready to walk away or the times that God Himself will say to stay and stick it out. And we dare not imagine the day that we would blame God for sending us such a spouse in the first place (Gen. 3:12).
If we did imagine these things, if God himself showed us a glimpse of the low moments ahead, many women―if they are smart―would surely hold their horses and enjoy the life, peace, and space they have while they are single. There may even be some who will outright decline marriage altogether with a thanks-but-no-thanks reply as they quickly head for the nearest exit. Can you imagine what Adam would have said or done if he had known beforehand that the beautiful and newly formed Eve would be the gateway to his fall (Gen. 3:17)?
The supernatural reality is that while we are preparing ourselves for a perfectly crafted puzzle piece of a spouse, God is trying to prepare us for the battles. And while we are so focused on the good times, He is trying to equip us with what is needed to overcome the bad ones.
The natural reality is that no matter how great a woman thinks she is, or how great she thinks the man will be that God will send her, no one gets a perfect spouse (Hos. 1:2)―not even Adam who had never sinned. And our spouses imperfections as well as our own won't be tolerable things that fade into the background of an otherwise heavenly marriage, but they will challenge and break us in ways that we never saw coming. As hard as this might be for some to accept, this needs to happen which I will explain in a moment. However, my point is that we would do better to prepare ourselves to be disappointed, hurt, and lonely yet choose to remain committed to the marriage and trust God in such seasons than merely setting ourselves up for disappointment due to romanticized illusions of happiness and bliss.
"No matter how great a woman thinks she is, or how great she thinks the man will be that God will send her, no one gets a perfect spouse―not even Adam who had never sinned."
Just Be What I Need
So often we make marriage about what we want and think we need but I don’t recall God taking any customized orders from Adam or anyone else in the Bible about what kind of spouse they wanted (Matt. 6:8; Hos. 1:2). However today, we seem to think we can order a spouse off a made for you menu, picking and choosing what we want and don't want, and then expect God to fill our orders. But when our unexpected entrée doesn't fill our empty spaces, especially for years, we are ready to send it back which as you can imagine leads to miserable marriages or the natural and logical decision to divorce. Statements like, “we grew apart,” “I just wasn’t happy anymore,” or “I never expected him/her to be like or do this” are often on the lips of divorcées (Mat. 19:4–6). And that’s if such issues hadn’t opened the door to larger problems such as lying, abuse, or infidelity.
I’m convinced that at least 80% of failed marriages come from people’s inability to reconcile their fantasy of what they thought marriage would be like with the reality of what it turned out to be (Jam. 4:1–3). And after failing to mold their partner into what they were hoping for, the acceptance that it will never happen inevitably destroys the marriage. This crushing disappointment can be made all the worse by those who felt that they had finally reached the finish line or relief from the loneliness and boredom of singlehood, only to discover they have started a new and much more difficult race.
The truth about marriage is that it has absolutely nothing to do with filling our empty spaces, especially when, most times, these empty spaces are the results and consequences of our fallen existence and the creation of marriage predates this. Basically, marriage was created before empty spaces ever existed. Even those who might think that God used Eve to fill Adam’s empty space because he needed a helper (Gen. 2:18), remember Adam only realized he needed a helper after God suggested it (Gen. 2:20). This means that his need was a divine need and not merely the results of his sin or imaginations (2 Cor. 10:5).
God is the creator and designer of marriage (Matt. 19:4–6), and anything created by God must be used for His purpose and glory, not our own (1 Cor. 10:26; Col. 1:16). Anyone going into a marriage looking for their empty spaces to be filled, whether dysfunctional like the Superman Syndrome or not, is going into marriage for the wrong reasons and will undoubtedly be disappointed. And if they or their expectations don't grow or change, the union will certainly fail. As for me, I had to throw out all my preconceived ideas about marriage and to say it was hard would be an extreme understatement. However, by doing so not only did my marriage greatly improve but I grew into a person I didn't know I could become.
Believe it or not, this is the point of all the hurt, tears, struggles, and anything else that follows; it is for us to grow. As explained in Reason #2, Eve was created to help Adam grow into the likeness of God and vice versa. Unfortunately, it is in our fallen state that growth often comes with immense struggle and pain but even still, growth is a much larger objective than simply having some company or another living being at our disposal.
Merely wanting a spouse to fill our empty spaces not only reduces a human life and spirit down to another person's limited and self-serving wants, needs, and perspective, but also the supernatural and divine purpose of marriage itself. The only person we can ever expect to fill our empty spaces is God (Rom. 15:13; Matt. 11:28–29). And as much as there can be a reasonable expectation of companionship, marriage itself is much deeper than that.
Unfortunately, even with the best intentions, most people overlook this as we have reduced marriages' divine wonder and task of growing two people into one so they can reflect God's image on the earth (Gen. 1:26) down to merely making each other happy (Matt. 19:5–6). The reality is that the happiness and companionship we seek are the supernatural byproducts of embracing this growth and allowing ourselves to be remolded by our marital struggles. The outcome of the marriages that are successful at doing this will reap a reward much bigger and better (Eph. 3:20) than simply having someone to watch movies with. Not only will they achieve a level of companionship more profound than they were imagining, but they will also more clearly understand the wondrous and loving nature and even the mind of God (Jere. 29:11).
Where are your empty spaces?
With all of this said, it is not always easy to uncover the empty spaces we may be expecting our future or current spouse to fulfill. In fact, many times we do this unconsciously. If you could use some help in figuring this out or could just use a more personal understanding of God's plan for your current or future marriage, simply schedule your free session today.
For a limited time, get free downloads of Reason #1 & #2 of this series, by visiting Smashwords. If you are interested in reading the rest of the book that this excerpt was pulled from, sign-up to be notified once it's available. By doing so, you will automatically receive a free download.
Have you been praying for a spouse or better marriage, and God doesn't seem to be listening? Does your unmet desire for companionship feel like a plague on your life? Are you on the edge of losing or have lost your faith because of it?
Reason #1 in this in-depth series explores the source of our desires for companionship and why God gave us a need for something that He doesn't always fulfill. This book will open your eyes to our nature of desire and why when God says no, there is always a profound reason. And once we address these reasons, it not only positions us to receive the very thing we're asking for but further reveals that He genuinely looks out for our best interest—even when we push against it. A free download of this book is available at Smashwords.
Stephanie K. was born and raised in Chicago, IL. She has a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences from University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and various coaching certifications. (read more)
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