Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Further Musings On Marrying

It's been a while since I've written a very personal post so I hope ya'll don't mind something completely different than my usual period drama posts.     

"Only the deepest love will persuade me into matrimony." 
- Lizzy Bennet, Pride & Prejudice (2005)

In April of 2009 I wrote a post with some Musings On Marrying - my 21-year-old self's thoughts on courting and marrying. Recently I received a comment (thanks Hamlette!) on that old post that got me thinking about what I have learned and believe now, especially how it differs (if at all) from what I wrote then.

That Was Me Then: "I was provoked to thought when responding to a Christian girlfriend's e-mail in which she mentioned her relationship with a young man. A proposal is expected and she intended to accept even though she knows her Christian parents have a "problem" with him. I don't know her young man (he is a Christian) but I do know that my friend has a pretty good head on her shoulders and has been really taking it slow and getting to know him before this point. I've been in prayer for her and am going to encourage her to really pray and talk to her parents before becoming engaged.

This scenario saddens me a bit because my first thought is "I could never marry someone my parents didn't like". It really started me thinking about honoring my parents and I know that one of my requirements in finding a mate is that my parents love the man I'm going to marry. I know part of my personality is a desire to please others but I also really trust and value my parent's opinion to the point where I'd trust them with picking a husband for me. Is this a really warped and old-fashioned view or am I at least sort of on the right path? I mean I wouldn't want to marry without love but is an "arranged" marriage such a bad idea?" - quoted from original Musings On Marrying post

"'re right it's very different when families face life decisions with prayer, unity and looking always for God's will. Moving cautiously is certainly one of those things the world looks at strangely. Probably one reason why so many marriages end in divorce today is because couples move fast relying on their feelings alone and don't take the time to really get to know each other building a strong friendship first. And certainly most couples don't take the time to work at their marriage or pray over it. 

Romance is something that our society holds on to, it's what gives them a sort of 'high' feeling. While romance is important it's not as important as knowing the person you're vowing to spend the rest of your life with. 

As far as arranged marriages I'm not sure I'd advocate marrying someone your parents chose and then getting to know him, but I think it is very important to have your parent's approval - that would help with the 'horrid in-laws' image too. 
For myself I guess I just feel confidant that my parents have taken these past 21 years to learn and mold who I am and know me so very well that they could be trusted with going out and finding a suitable match. For one, I know they love me very much and I'm close to their heart so they would look for someone who'd fit me perfectly. Secondly, we just don't have that many secrets from each other, they know what I like in a guy (I'm very opinionated, or should I say my standards are high). And thirdly I know they'd bathe their decision in prayer. My wish is sometimes that when the right man comes along my parents and friends will recognize him before I do. Wouldn't that be something!" - quoted from my response to comments, Musings On Marrying 

This Is Me Now: First of all that Christian girlfriend married her young man in April 2011 and I had the privilege of being a bridesmaid at her wedding (read my post with Wedding Photos). The Lord was in every detail of the special day and I feel so incredibly blessed that I got to share in it. There was still a bit of tension on that day and I was sorry to see that the couple's parents really didn't know each other very well. I was also quite surprised to see that her family had very little time allotted to offer help in decorating or even for the rehearsal.

What are my thoughts and prayers about dating / courtship and marriage today? Well, in most ways my thoughts are not much changed from what they were four years ago. I still am living at home and in many ways my parents are very much involved in my life - I see them every day and consult them often before making decisions and with spiritual matters. I still feel that if my parents weren't supportive of my relationship with a guy that would be a strong indicator that the guy wasn't right for me. It's also still very important to me that a relationship starts with a strong friendship before it turns to thoughts of romance. It still doesn't seem right to just run around dating new people every other thing - there's so much heartache and emotional baggage in those kinds of relationships that's just not worth it. Emotional as well as physical purity is so important to strive for. These are the things I want for myself and what I encourage younger ladies (like my own dear sister) to strive for - God's best.

Would I still feel comfortable letting my parents choose my future husband? Actually I would! Mom and dad still know me really well, better than my friends at this point. My father works for a ministry now and he's mentioned a few times about keeping an eye out for future spouses for me and my siblings (mostly joking now but there is always that possibility!). I've also let myself be surrounded by lots of other Christians that look out for my best interest in many areas and I wouldn't be adverse to meeting a young man they might suggest. (As a neat side note a guy friend at Bible study mentioned recently that his girlfriend's family has some concerns about him and he's already told her that if there's serious issues they should probably stop seeing each other. I just thought it was neat to see a guy saying "I love you but we shouldn't go against your parents.")

Have I met anyone yet? There's that age-old question that all singles hate! My answer? a big resounding "NO!" Not even any close calls yet. And you know what? that's okay.  My continued prayer is still that the Lord will one day bring the right guy into my life BUT if that's not God's will then that's okay.  Oh yes, it's hard to say "being single is okay", especially since I'm a hopeless romantic and probably always will be! But in the last couple years I've been realizing that the desire to be married is like any desire that we have in life, God always supplies our needs but the wishes aren't always necessary 

Here's some things God has been showing me:

Psalm 37:4
This verse was always one I clung to in my late teens when I was fervently hoping and praying that the "right guy" would come along. It is still very relevant now but in a different way for me as I realize that God does know the deepest desires of our heart if we dedicate ourselves to delighting in Him and His Word the Bible. But I've also realized that as we delight in the Lord and listen to His Word our desires somehow seem to change a bit and line up with what God wants for us. It's not Him just giving us whatever we think we want.

Jeremiah 29:11
I love this verse and the promise it brings that God always has our best interest in mind. He loves us so much and we can safely trust in His plans, whatever they may be.

'Let not those fear starving that are at God's finding and have him for their feeder. More is implied than is expressed, not only, I shall not want, but,"I shall be supplied with whatever I need; and, if I have not everything I desire, I may conclude it is either not fit for me, or I shall have it in due time." '

This is one of my all time favorites quotes because it sums up quite nicely what I've learned through reading on this subject of desires. God will supply what we need and He delights in blessing us by giving over and above what we ask and think, BUT He knows what is best for us and only gives us what is good for us when it is good for us.

So here I am at 25-years-old. I'm older than most of the literary heroines I read about. I'm not too far away from reaching the age of Anne Elliot from Persuasion or Charlotte Lucas from Pride and Prejudice and they were almost considered spinsters! *gasp*  Age 30 has begun to loom darkly ahead in the unknown future and I certainly don't have "all the answers" like I thought I would by this time in my life. (Ha! But then nobody has "all the answers"!)  Is God still good? Does He still know what is best? Absolutely!
It would be nice to marry some day and I'm still praying for that friendship that will one day turn into a romance. But right now I can only keep doing whatever work God brings to me - whether housework, writing/blogging, ministry work, helping friends, a "real job" or studying and learning more.

Paalm 19:14 (the whole chapter is really good!)
 Lately this verse has been my day to day prayer that the Lord has given me. I've been trying not to focus on the uncertainties of the future or the mistakes of the past and just focus moment by moment on how my words, thoughts and heart motives are lining up with what the Lord wants from me. It does seem a daunting task at times but He has redeemed me from my sinful life and continues to be my strength. God is so good!  

So now I want to hear from you! What is your story?

Are you waiting patiently for the "right guy" or depressed to spend another Valentine's Day alone?

If you are engaged or married how did God work in your life story?

What has God been teaching you lately?

Very Truly Yours,


Sharon Gilman said...

I'm actually in a sort of on-hold relationship, so technically single. But there IS someone.

The story about your friend getting married, even though her parents disapproved, was really inspiring. Not all parents are as good as yours seem to be. And the reason my relationship is on hold is because, I, like you, still live at home, and I have been unable to get out to see him more than once every few months, and that just doesn't work.

Anonymous said...

BEAUTIFUL POST!!! Just what I needed to read this morning :) Oh your story sounds much like mine.

I'm also a single twenty-something patiently waiting for God's best. I've been single all my life and share your desire for a great friendship to turn into a beautiful romance. No prospects yet, but I'm content :). I've never had the desire to date for the fun of it. If and when I enter into a relationship, it'll be because both of us are moving towards making it to the altar together. Until then, I'll go about whatever God puts in front of me and continue to grow and mature as a single woman :).

I don't hear many women say that they trust their parents to choose a guy for them! I didn't think I could when I was a teenager, but as I've gotten older, I've come to the conclusion that I wouldn't be opposed to it. My parents and I have a great relationship and they know me quite well!

It's always great to see someone else share the same sentiments when it comes to faith, romance, and waiting! Thank you for your lovely thoughts :).

I love your blog! Have a wonderful Valentines Day!


Rhoswen Faerie Wrose said...

You're opinions on dating are exactly my own. I always try to explain that, especially the emotional aspect, to people when they wonder why, at 29 and half a year to 30 next month, I'm still living at home, don't have a boyfriend, and never even been on a date. Though, I do think I came close to having a boyfriend once. And I still have hopes for the right guy someday. Thirty isn't as old as it used to be. ;-) And God knows who the best guy is, and when the best time will be.

Melody said...

Hugs, my dear friend! I'm glad to know that you value your parents' opinions and knowledge so much, and that you all know each other so well and are close--it seems a rare thing in this day and age, and it's refreshing to see. :) I'm also very glad to see that you aren't desperate for a husband... the main goal of life is not to get married, nor is it a necessity of life. :)

As for me... haha, well we've talked in length about this sort of thing before, but that was over a year ago. Not that my opinions of changed any because that was right when they were really starting to shape themselves. ;) In general, I am not waiting for the right guy to come along at all, patiently or otherwise, because I think it much safer just to assume there won't be one. (And even if I am trying to convince myself of that, I know it is the most likely, in my case. :P) But if the Lord wants to surprise me, I won't be upset. ;) And because of my age it doesn't feel like "another Valentine's Day spent alone"... besides, it isn't alone. I have my friends and family whom I love and who love me, and that's what I intend to celebrate. :D

And remember that being almost the age of Anne Elliot isn't the same as it was then. Life expectancy is older as well as that the average person (unless they're significantly younger at the time) still think 27 is young. ;-) I mean, if you had gone to college with the goal of getting a masters or doctorate, you would likely still be part of the college crowd. Haha.

Hannah said...

When I was 21 years old, I felt a bit depressed, that time was running out, and that I may forever be alone. I had a twinge of doubt that maybe God just didn't have anyone for me.

I met someone shortly after I turned 23, and six months later was married. That was 15 years ago, and I'm now expecting baby #6. There have been ups and downs in my own personal fairy tale, but I wouldn't change a thing.

My husband was 36 years old when we married. He said that he felt discouraged from time to time, but one day he changed his prayers. Instead of praying for God to send him a girl, he began to pray that God would mold him and let him be a blessing to the right girl.

As that girl, I fully believe God answered his prayers beautifully. :)

Hang in there! Everything always works out better in God's timing.

Hamlette said...

I'm reminded of a passage from Anne of Avonlea: "Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one's life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one's side like an old friend through quiet ways..." Since my own love story often reminds me of Anne & Gilbert's (the first time I mentioned my husband in a journal entry, I called him "an opinionated idiot," a fact that amuses him greatly), I've always loved that description.

May God bless you all the days of your life, with or without a husband!

Miss Elizabeth Bennet said...

Thank you so much for this post! We share a lot of the same opinions on this subject. I think too many young people rush head-first into relationships and romance without getting to know each other better. Just look at Marianne Dashwood: she was so focused on her romance with Willoughby that she really didn't get to know him like she should have (and then it turned out that he wasn't the man that she thought he was). Luckily, she learned from her mistake, but too many young people today fall into that trap and sadly don't learn from it. I hope the world turns back to God and their God-given common sense on this subject.

And yes! Thank you for mentioning how important it is to have parents involved! It's not a question about parents choosing a husband, but rather their approval. Like you, I trust my parents' opinions and if they didn't like a guy that I was seeing, it would be a big tip-off for me that something isn't right.

Again, thank you so much for this post!

Elisa said...

To me, being asked "Are you single or seeing someone?" is the equivalent of being asked what's your salary or some other personal question.

Last year I bought a good book "Party of One" by Beth Knobbe, written for single Catholics like myself. There's another one--"Single Catholic Girl's Guide...", I forget the rest of the title.

Entering the Sacrament of Marriage is a life-long vocation, so it can take time to discern what God is calling you to do. I've read of Catholic couples who've walked the aisle in their 30s and 40s for the 1st time. In the Catholic Church, you must notify the priest 6 months prior to your wedding date and have marital prep sessions.

For me, St.Valentine's Day is a wonderful opportunity to send out wishes to family and friends! :)

Katelyn said...

Thank you for this post, especially since Valentines Day is tomorrow. It is such an encouragement to me.

Miss Elizabeth Bennet said...

Did you get my comment? Unless Blogger ate it (like it sometimes does, haha)

Miss Laurie of Old-Fashioned Charm said...

Sharon Gilman,
Not sure if you quite understood but my friend's parents are dedicated Christians and it was rather sad to me to see her marry without their wholehearted approval. I pray that the Lord continues to guide you as you pursue your relationship with your young man.

Elyssa (unscripted35),
I'm glad this post was encouraging to you! It is indeed great to see "someone else share the same sentiments when it comes to faith, romance, and waiting"! Thank you for sharing! :)

Huzzah for high standards! You're right about 30 not being as old as it used to seem, a lot of ladies are marrying closer to 30 and starting their families then. Associating with Christian groups a lot of my friends are already married with kids or at least engaged so that's a bit hard sometime. Keep up the faith sister!

Oooh hugs! :) Yes Marianne, we have talked at length on this subject but I always love hearing your thoughts. It's actually quite refreshing to know a young lady who isn't desperate for a husband (I was a bit when I was you age you know). And this Elinor will still tend to disagree with you, Marianne, when you say that it's most likely you will never marry - you just seem very much like the kind of young lady a gentleman will fall head over heels for in the not too distant future. And when that does happen I expect an invitation to the wedding! heehee ;)
You are right about the life expectancy thing it just seems a bit odd sometimes when I consider that I'm much closer to Anne Elliot's age now than I am to the other JA heroines. But many ladies nowadays are starting families at age 30 and up. Love you dearie!

Miss Laurie of Old-Fashioned Charm said...

Your comment was very encouraging to me! Your husband's prayer reminded me of my own change in prayers a year or so ago. I had been just praying that God would just send the "right guy" but then the Lord showed me that I should examine the why behind that prayer and in examining I found my prayer changing to "Lord, one day I would like to have a husband I could help and encourage and minister with." God's timing is always best and has been blessing my single years with busyness and opportunities to minister that I could have missed out on if I'd been busy with marriage and a family.

Thanks for that quote, it's very true! Haha, love that bit about you and your husband being like Anne and Gilbert! :)
Thank you for your earlier comment and for this very encouraging one!

Miss Elizabeth,
So glad this post was encouraging to you, it's good to hear from a kindred spirit! Hee, love that example of Marianne & Willoughby, just goes to prove again that Jane Austen books aren't just silly romance stories, there's always something to learn from them! It's true too many young people rush head-long into relationships, I grieve for my younger cousins and their constant heartaches and try to talk to them every now and then but once you start on that cycle it's hard to stop. We are truly blessed to have parents who love us and want the best for us. I think even if I was married say in my 40's I'd still want some sort of approval or blessing from my parents - family is just so important! Thanks for your comment dearie!

You're right, it is rather a personal question but it's usually family (aunts, uncle, grandparents, cousins) that ask it and then that doesn't make it so personal.
Valentine's Day is a great time to show friends and family that you love them and especially remind them that God loves them! My sister and I sent cards with verses in them to grandparents and dear friends who live far away from us. We're also making Valentines from a group of other single young ladies we'll be hanging out with this weekend.

I'm so glad this post was an encouragement to you! I hope you have a special Valentine's Day and that you take time to remember how much God loves you too! :)

I've been so blessed by all of these comments! Thanks everyone! :)

BatZion said...

What a wonderful post, Laurie! I love your maturity and trust of your parents. It takes a strong young lady to stay faithful to the Lord and her family.

My story is very similar to yours, except I'm a few years younger than you. :) I also would trust my parents with 'selecting' a spouse, not an arranged marriage per se, but I trust their judgement and I trust their knowledge of my personality to know they would make a wise decision.
I'm content to keep waiting. I'm happy here at home, amongst my family and the chickens. Why leave? And if I never meet Prince Charming, that's okay too... Life is so full! :)

Angela said...

I was single and depressed for a while before I met my husband. It was when I felt contentment in my singleness that I met my husband. I never dated before him and never had a boyfriend. At first, my parents did not like him and that was a BIG warning sign for me. (the phrase never judge a book by it's cover comes to mind) But he treated me nice and we continued to date. It was only a couple of weeks later that my parents realized that he was a good man...and good for me. Jump forward...we've been together for 25 years now and I feel more in love now than I did then. :) In all of this, I was not a Christian. I became a Christian many years later. I believe God was watching over me then. Even though I wasn't a Christian (nor were my parents), I knew dating just to date wasn't for me. My parents loved me and wanted the best for me. My husband and I made a commitment to each other during thick and thin.

Dear Laurie ~ I truly believe that God brings people into our lives just when we need them. And it will be when we least expect it too. :) My husband and I cannot have children and that can be hard sometimes in Christian circles. But we are RICHLY BLESSED with so many other people in our lives. Just as you are Blessed to have such wonderful parents, family, and friends. Looks as if your "Musing on Marriage" are on the right path and trusting God is the best we all can do.

I try to live for God today...and leave the rest up to Him.

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