The other day while driving I was listening to some Dave Ramsey. In case you’re not familiar, briefly, Dave wants people to live biblically with their money, meaning stay out of debt, control your money instead of letting it control you and be generous along the way.
He has a radio show and people call in with all kinds of scenarios asking his advice. Very rarely do I ever see Dave not have an answer. In fact, I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen it . . . until the other day.
A young never married guy called in and said, “Hey Dave, I’m following your plan. No debt, I have a budget etc. I’m not married but I want to be. Here’s my question, how much should I budget for that pursuit?”
One thing about Dave is that he’s always honest with people and he just laughed and said, “I have not been in that world for so long, I have no idea.” After both he and the caller laughed a little, he did toss out a couple of thoughts, but it made me think of a couple of important ideas and some practical ones if you find yourself in that position.
One of the things I used to hear all the time when I was a in my twenties and single was the idea that I needed to be “content” with my singleness.
Now there were at least two origins that this thought came from. Some were espousing this advice because, “it’s when you’re not looking that you find someone”. In other words if you were content and not striving to get married, you would be more likely to find someone to marry. Just typing that makes me laugh.
One of the amazing things about Jesus is that no matter where we are, what we are doing, what our story is, He loves us. In the famous hymn’s words he loves me Just As I Am. I can come to know Him just as I am, receive His grace as I am and start to follow Him right from where I am now. I don’t earn it. In fact I can’t earn it. God loves you and me right now, no matter what.
The truth is that we all long for that. We long to be fully known and fully loved. We look for it everywhere. As a believer we realize at least intellectually and theologically that God is really the only person who can fulfill that in our lives. But that doesn’t stop us from wanting to experience that with another person or people. It also doesn’t stop us from feeling hurt when we don’t experience it with other people even though again, we know intellectually that no one else can do that perfectly.
What’s really interesting is how this gets twisted up when we think about looking for a spouse and frankly later in marriage itself if we get married.
Over the last three posts we’ve been talking about Servant Leading, what serving has to do with attraction, and the fact that in marriage the man is the head which has many responsibilities including loving (serving and leading would be a part of doing that well). You may want to read those before you dive in here.
Today I want to talk about as a single man, knowing the previous thoughts, how should that affect how you go about things in terms of dating and looking for a wife. There are at least two parts here: How we prepare ourselves and who we seek to marry.
So recently I heard a song by Sean Mendes aptly titled “Treat You Better”. This song frankly encapsulates how guys (especially young guys) often see the dating scene completely wrong. Especially “nice” guys. Especially Christian “nice” guys. I know this, because for a long time, longer than I care to admit, I was this guy. In my teen years (Mendes is 18) I could have written this song. Heck, I wrote some songs like this.
When I was a teenager, I always liked the girl that dated the guy that was “bad” for her. Pretty much literally all of my high school crushes could be summed up in that. I was the good guy friend. Sometimes I actually was a real friend, but other times that was just the line they told me to be nice instead of telling me to get lost.
I was seen as the nice guy. The guy who would make some girl happy one day, just not that girl. She instead dated the guy who was crazy, dangerous (read exciting) and who they were typically sleeping with (read sexually attracted to). I was none of those things.
Most of my usual readers know that this blog is written mainly for men. Lots of ladies read this and probably 70% of what I write here is pretty applicable to both sexes. This is especially true of all that I’ve said theologically about celibacy, family and the Church. It’s mostly true of the things we discuss having to do with living in the context of being unmarried including things like dealing with sexual desire, community, touch, money, dealing with loss, etc.
However most of what I’ve offered here in terms of what to do with attraction, how to attract people, how to get a date and how to date, have been very guy centered. I’ve had several requests from female readers at different times for thoughts on what they can do in those areas. So I want to offer some thoughts today.