[This blog is the second in a series of four blogs on dating for single people and for parents raising children. The first blog can be read here.]
If you are single desiring marriage, you are not alone. You might feel lonely at times, but you are in the majority of American adults right now.
There are more adults who are single right now in America than there are adults who are married. This is a first in the history of America, where the adults who are single are the majority.
Now, the majority of people will eventually marry.
Nine out of ten people do.
When it comes time to get married, the man is on average 30 years old and the woman is on average in her late 20’s. 75 years ago, the average age to marry was ten years less than it is today. Young adults are prolonging their commitment to marriage, which has led to much sexual sin and cohabitation.
It’s also led to more time to think about marriage. Which means there is more time for single adults to put the prospect and hope of marriage on a throne it shouldn’t be on.
For single Christians hoping to be married in the future, and for dads and moms wanting to raise godly children, let me share the two big mistakes I see single people making:
Blunder #1: I desire marriage so strongly that I worship it.
Those who idolize the concept of marriage have a stress-free, worry-free, romantic, Disney-like picture of what marriage is like.
That’s not realistic.
The gap between the fantasy of marriage and the reality of marriage is quite the chasm for this person.
The more a single person worships the idea of marriage (meaning, it’s what their heart wants more than anything, it’s what they constantly think about, it’s what they’ve spent their life desiring), when marriage is worshipped, immediately that person becomes someone who is codependent.
Those who idolize marriage are the ones who always have to be in a relationship. They cannot stand the thought of being single. They feel less-than if they’re not dating someone. Their greatest fear is not marrying and instead of celebrating friends who do get married, they are jealous and bitter. With each boyfriend or girlfriend they have, they turn that person into a functional savior. Their heaven is the wedding altar.
When a single person worships the idea of marriage, when falling in love sits on the throne of their heart, here’s the danger with that: You will overlook the faults and flaws you and the person you are dating have.
When all you think about is marriage, you’ll be blind (or choose to ignore) glaring personality deficiencies and unhealthy habits just to get to the wedding day.
This mindset leads to long-term issues, because when the wedding day comes and goes, the faults and flaws remain, or, outside of Jesus, get worse.
Marriage is a starting line, not a finish line.
This blunder usually is tripped over by women.
Recently I was counseling a young woman in her late 20’s who is overwhelmed by her being single. She is full of anxiety over the fact that she isn’t married and doesn’t have any children. In our hour together, she said the words I’m single six times. Instead of Jesus’ love defining her, her identity is: not married.
Through some questions I asked, she relayed that she feels miserable while she doesn’t date and feels like she’s on Cloud 9 when she does. She said by the second or third date with someone, she’s picturing having kids with the guy and seeing how his last name fits with her first name.
This tells me she is rushing the process, controlling too much, not letting go of this idol to be married and probably smothering the men she gets to know.
I’ve said it before, and it’s true for those who idolize marriage: Chase after happiness and you’ll never find it. Chase after God and happiness will find you.
Blunder #2: I detest marriage so strongly that I condemn it.
The other mistake single people make isn’t idolizing marriage, it’s demonizing it.
In this extreme, the single person doesn’t have a euphoric picture of marriage, they have a very dismal, miserable view of it. The chasm for this person is the horror stories of marriage they’ve seen and have heard verses the hope for a wonderful relationship they could hope toward.
While the worship of marriage leads to an unhealthy codependence (save me, fix me, always love me), the condemning of marriage leads to an unhealthy independence (I don’t need anyone, look what I can do).
This perspective of detesting marriage leads to a more self-centered lifestyle. The single person thinks they will get the most joy out of being by themselves, when, Christ-followers know we find ourselves by serving God and others.
Not to saying people who have a bad taste in their mouth toward marriage don’t date. Sure they do. They reflect the desire that God has made us for companionship. It’s just, while they date, they severely focus on the person’s flaws and faults (most of the time exaggerating them). They inherit the role of being a bad prophet predicting that this is the reason it wouldn’t work out long-term.
While the person who worships marriage ignores the flaws in a dating partner (no truth), the person who detests marriage focuses too much on the flaws in a dating partner (no grace).
Rather than pushing a good relationship along, they push it away. Deep down inside they want to meet Mr./Mrs. Right, but their fears and unrealistic standards of a marriage partner keep them from pursuing Mr./Mrs. Right In Front of Them.
This blunder is usually tripped over by men.
While counseling a single young male in his early 30’s, he confessed a daily involvement with pornography and a periodic involvement with pre-marital sex. I asked him who he was having sex with and he told me it was typically girls in their early 20’s.
I asked why he thought there was typically a ten year difference between him and the girls he chose to pursue and his response was, They’re not thinking about settling down. They’re more fun.
While he wasn’t worshipping marriage, he was worshipping pleasure. He was worshipping temporary acceptance.
He went on to talk about how awful his parents marriage was, how ugly their divorce was when he was 15 years old and how stale his friends marriages are today. He condemned any idea of tying the knot.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
For single adults, and parents raising children, we don’t place dating or marriage or sex or friendship on the throne, and we don’t place those things under our feet and stomp on them. If desired, marriage is a beautiful gift, and if done in a godly fashion, it’s such an amazing adventure with your best friend. But it can’t be worshipped and it can’t be spit on.
I firmly believe that when you are focused on God above all, placing Jesus on the throne of your thoughts, words, actions and dreams, He does, in His timing, give you the desires of your heart.
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).
Thanks for reading. You are loved.