EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER 8 OF
"GOD, WHY AM I NOT MARRIED? 9 REASONS YOU MIGHT STILL BE SINGLE."
I realize from my previous years of being single that it’s very difficult to convince most unmarried women that being single isn’t as bad as they think it is (Proverbs 19:20). Even when I did begin to enjoy my singleness and recognize its value, I still desired the kind of companionship that could only be achieved through marriage. When I would hear wives complain about their husbands, I thought they should be more appreciative that they even have one. Such thinking made me dismiss their unhappiness as ungratefulness and overlook the serious work and struggles that go hand and hand with marriage.
Even for those women whose husband seemed legitimately horrible, I felt my marriage wouldn’t be like that because I would marry a man straight from the gates of heaven. I just knew I was going to be the best wife ever, and as a result my husband would be the best husband to me in return. Of course, I knew there would be problems, but for the most part, I felt that as long as I kept my head on straight, the good days would outweigh the bad. However, that turned out not to be the case at all.
After the euphoria of finally being a wife wore off as well as the honey moon stage, I was faced with challenges that I had never and could never have conceived of. I realized that being married was like having children; you can fantasize all day about what it will be like to hold, feed, take care of, and play with your baby and even be a pretty good babysitter, but having your own child is drastically different. For all the ways I thought I was ready and God had prepared me, there were other ways―big and small―that I just wasn’t. As I mentioned before, it became clear fairly quickly why I didn’t get a husband years earlier when I had first prayed for one. It also made me understand why divorce rates are continuously on the rise.
I knew I wasn’t alone in my misconceptions about what marriage was like because of the many wives I’d talked to who felt the same. And I often wanted to shake some sense into the unmarried women who seemed to think like I did. I wondered why married women didn’t tell me the truth about what it was really like to be married. Maybe they knew from their own experience, like mine, that single women won’t really listen (Proverbs 19:20, 12:15). But truth be told to any woman who is willing to listen, what most single women are praying for in a husband and marriage is nothing more than a fantasy (Proverbs 12:11).
Mr. Right Isn’t Real
In chapter 3, I talked about how broken and emotionally scarred women create their ideal husband around their brokenness, which I called the superman syndrome. Although their ideal husband is molded around their desire to be healed, the creation of most women’s ideal husbands is similar. Most women, and probably even men, usually create their ideal spouse around whatever they feel like is missing in their lives (Proverbs 4:23). If they like watching movies, they’ll imagine someone who’ll watch movies with them. If they like to travel, they’ll imagine a traveling companion. If they struggle with bills or other responsibilities, they’ll imagine someone who will lend a hand. And if they like sex, they will imagine someone who’ll like sex as much as and in the same ways that they do. In a nutshell, women usually imagine someone who will come and fill up the empty spaces in their lives wherever they feel those voids might be. From person to person these empty spaces will change, but I hope you get the general picture.
When viewing our future spouse from this perspective, it can make waiting seem very difficult, if not like an eternity. And to believe that God is withholding something from us that is exactly what we need and want can make His timing look as if it’s the real obstacle (2 Peter 3:9). While women are sitting back fantasizing about how puzzle-piece perfect their future husband is going to fit into their lives, they fail to understand that what they are envisioning isn’t even a real person.
A real person may like watching movies, but they may not be the same kind that you like. He may like to travel, but he may not like to travel as much or as little as you do. He may help out a little, but he may also hide and waste his money. He may like sex, but for whatever reason, it may be at the times when you are simply not in the mood, not to mention liking to do things that you may not like. Our fantasized ideal spouse has no personality, preferences, or needs of his own except for those we imagine we will be able to fulfill. Yet, this and even bigger differences, and therefore sources of conflict and dissatisfaction, are more realistic ideas of marriage than the ones many women feed themselves (Proverbs 16:25).
On top of these personality and preferential differences, we also don’t imagine the headaches, the tears, the loneliness, and the 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 (Genesis 3:1–6). We don’t imagine the number of months many couples go without even touching or talking, let alone seeing each other naked. 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 own personal issues and skeletons. We don’t imagine the days where we will be ready to walk away and God Himself says to stick it out and stay. And we don’t imagine the day that we would blame God for sending us such a spouse in the first place (Genesis 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 regretfully 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 was going to be the gateway to his fall (Genesis 3:17)? The supernatural reality is that while women are preparing themselves for their perfectly crafted puzzle piece, God is preparing them by trying to smooth out the edges that are surely not going to fit. 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 is going to send her, no one gets a perfect spouse (Hosea 1:2)―not even Adam who had never sinned. We would do better to prepare ourselves to be disappointed, hurt, and lonely yet choose to remain committed to the marriage in such seasons than simply prepare for happiness and bliss.
We make marriage all about what we want and think we need when I don’t recall God taking a customized order from Adam or anyone else in the Bible about what kind of helpmeet or leader they wanted (Matthew 6:8; Hosea 1:2). Nevertheless, when we go into marriages expecting our empty spaces to be filled, when they aren’t especially over a period of years, it leads to the natural decision of divorce. If you go to a restaurant expecting to eat, but the food brought out is very different from what you ordered, you would be appalled at the insistence that you were responsible for a bill. 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 (Matthew 19:4–6). And that’s if such issues hadn’t opened the door to bigger problems.
I’m convinced that at least 80 percent of failed marriages come from people’s inability to reconcile their fantasy of marriage with the reality of what marriage turns out to be about (James 4:1–3). After their attempts at trying to mold their partner into what they had hoped for doesn’t prove to be working, or when they thought they had finally reached the finish line or relief from the loneliness and boredom of singlehood, they discover that they have, in fact, started a new and much more difficult race.
The truth about marriage is that it has absolutely nothing to do with getting our empty spaces filled especially, when most of those empty spaces are the results and consequences of our fallen existence and when marriage itself predates the perception and feeling of anyone’s empty spaces. Even for those who might think that God used Eve to fill Adam’s empty space of needing a helper (Genesis 2:18), remember Adam only realized he needed a helper after God suggested it (Genesis 2:20). This means that his need was a divine need and not simply the results of his sins and imaginations (2 Corinthians 10:5).
God is the creator and designer of marriage (Matthew 19:4–6). Anything created by God must be used for His purpose and glory, not our own (1 Corinthians 10:26; Colossians 1:16). Anyone going into a marriage looking for their empty spaces to be filled, dysfunctional or not, is going into marriage for the wrong reasons and will be undoubtedly disappointed. If they don’t change their expectation at some point in the marriage, the union itself will fail.
Simply wanting a spouse to fill our empty spaces not only reduces a human life and spirit down to another human being’s limited and self-serving wants, needs, and perspective, but also the supernatural and divine purpose of marriage itself. The only person we have a right to expect to fill our empty spaces is God (Romans 15:13; Matthew 11:28–29). As much as there is a reasonable expectation of companionship that should accompany marriage, God didn’t take a rib from Adam and made sure Adam was well aware of what he was doing just so we could have some company or another breathing living human being at our disposal (explained more thoroughly in chapter 2).
Marriage belongs to God and serves a specific purpose that most people overlook as we have reduced its divine wonder and task of making two people one again and reflecting God’s image on the earth (Genesis 1:26) down to simply making each other happy (Matthew 19:5–6). The fact is that without God’s purpose in place for marriage, all bets are off. The only way to achieve the happiness, companionship, or oneness that most of us desire is after doing the hard work of putting and keeping God’s design, purposes, and principles in place in our own marriages. The outcome of those marriages that are successful at doing this will reap a reward much bigger and better (Ephesians 3:20) than simply having someone to watch movies with. Not only will we achieve a level of companion much deeper than we could ever imagine, but we will also understand more genuinely the wondrous and loving nature of and even the eternal plans of God (Jeremiah 29:11).
Stephanie Kekeocha 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). Read more
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