A couple weeks ago, I was talking with two of my friends about “the list”. You know, the list almost every teenage/young adult girl makes about things her future husband needs to be—tall, a solid Christian, loves kids, nice teeth, humorous, will take her out for ice cream.
My one unmarried friend asked me and my other somewhat-recently-married friend about our lists—what they were like, if we married someone with those qualities, and if we thought they were a good idea.
My answer was simple. “If I can be honest here, I think you should take your list and literally tear it up.”
Did I have a list? Yep. I made it when I was fifteen, and guess what? It was completely useless in my relationship and eventual marriage.
Are lists all bad? No, but they can have several not-so-great effects on future relationships, our future husbands, and on our own hearts.
Reason to ditch the list no. 1: You set unrealistic expectations for your future spouse.
Say you have the idea of the “perfect spouse” in your head, on your list, wherever. You have all these amazing qualities you would love to have in a guy, whether that’s “loves to cook”, “spiritually on fire”, or “has blue eyes”. You’ve now said to your future boyfriend or spouse, “This is what I expect of you, and if you can’t keep up, I see you as a failure.” Of course, you’d never actually say that, but you’re saying that he’s not good enough as he is; that you have a high standard he needs to reach in order to have your respect.
What if a guy had a list of criteria you had to meet in order for you to be marriage material? What if a guy turned you down based on the fact that you didn’t cook as good as his mom did? We’d probably call him a jerk and drop him like a hot potato. So why is it as girls we think it’s okay to do this to guys?
Even if he never finds out what you put on your list, or better yet, that you even had one, you’ve still set expectations in your own mind for what you think he should be, rather than respecting and loving him for the amazing, God-honouring guy he already is.
Reason no. 2: You limit yourself.
If you have a list, you run a very large risk of turning down a great guy because he doesn’t meet 3/17 items on your list. If you’re basing your decision on very physical attributes, you’re focusing on the wrong things. Just because a guy says that he’s not into kids now doesn’t mean that he’ll never want to start a family. And just because a guy doesn’t cook his family supper now doesn’t mean that he won’t learn and cook for you on occasion.
People grow and change. You shouldn’t drop a guy because of something he hasn’t accomplished yet or because of a skill he hasn’t become great at.
Reason no. 3: Your list actually represents your own insecurities.
If you’ve made a list, take a look at it. How many of those things are characteristics you wish you had, but don’t? I found that my list was actually a projection of what I saw lacking in my life. I had all these things I needed to fix in my own life and wanted them to be perfect in the guy I would marry.
While there isn’t anything wrong with wanting a guy to have strong character, we can come to a point where God is saying, “Hey, you need to deal with this,” and we instead turn it around and say “I need to find someone who has this figured out for the both of us.”
Go over your list and see if any of the things you’ve written down are things God is calling you to work out in your own life.
Reason no. 4: You limit God.
A little while after I wrote my first list, “What I Want in a Husband”, I wrote another list: “What God Wants for Me in a Husband.” They were a bit different. For one, God couldn’t care less if my husband had blonde hair, but He wanted to make sure he was forgiving. Another thing is that God didn’t care whether or not he was spiritually mature now, but He did want him to be growing. God’s and my opinions on my life differ from time to time…and I’ve learned that His are always right.
And to be truthful, there were so many things that God gave me in my husband that I didn’t even have a clue I needed. And, if you would have asked me, I probably would have said that I didn’t want some of those qualities—and yet, God knew I needed them, even if I didn’t want them. I am not a physically affectionate person by nature; in fact, no one in my family is. William’s love language is physical touch. Oh, boy. Turns out I’ve come to love that about him. Now, we’ll be walking to the car and it’s like, “Um, excuse me; why are you not holding my hand?” (Except I say it nicer.)
One last thing.
When I gave up my list, I was really giving my will over to God. He knows me better than I know myself; after all, He’s God. I got to a point where I didn’t want to pick my own husband—I’d probably really mess it up. When I stepped back and let God take the reins, He was able to work in my life and find a guy who’s not perfect, but who pushes me toward God and loving others.
When you trust God, He won’t fail you. He’s as interested in your love life as He is in your every-day life, work life, school life, home life. Will you trust Him in this area too?