November 21, 2013

The Art of Making Yourself More Marriageable

Gary Thomas — 

When talking to a group of singles, one woman took offense when I said that part of our response to the Bible’s affirmation of pursuing marriage (Prov. 31:10) is to work on making ourselves more “marriageable.” That might mean getting in shape, getting out of debt, growing deeper in the Lord, improving relational skills, etc.

She took offense to the “getting in shape” comment. In a strongly worded retort she suggested, “Why not ask a man to change his shallow expectations, instead of making a woman change her shape?” Now, please notice I didn’t tell women to change their shape. I said, to both genders, maybe you need to get in shape. If someone has read my book Every Body Matters, they know I believe there is a distinct difference in having a certain shape and being in shape.

But we have to be careful about adopting any attitude that if someone doesn’t marry us for whatever reason, they’re simply “shallow.” That notion will not help you find someone to marry.

Nobody “owes” it to us to marry us.

The commitment of marriage is so extensive and so long lasting, that I should be in awe anyone would even consider it; what a gift that my wife has made that choice. But I neither deserved it, nor did she ever owe it to me. I couldn’t be resentful of anyone who said, “No, I think I’ll pass on Gary.” Instead of thinking “why won’t someone marry me,” my attitude is rather that I can think of a hundred reasons why somebody wouldn’t want to marry me, and am amazed that one woman found a reason to say yes.
My concern is that if you have a resentful attitude that any man or woman  should be interested in you just because you want them to be, because they somehow owe it to you, you might also become a spouse with equally high expectations: “Now that he’s my husband (or she’s my wife), he should do x and y and z…”

Marriage is about learning to love, learning to give. It is served by a shared humility. Wanting to grow into a more mature, godly, and attractive (in all ways) partner is a gift we can give to our future or current spouses.

You can rail at all men or all women for not choosing to marry you; or you can focus on growing in all areas of who you are: your love, your service, your friendship.

In order to love certain spouses, you might have to grow in your ability to love them according to their specific needs, and the same is true with kids. Some kids will require you to develop patience, some to take an interest in science or dancing or watch soccer games. If we have a disabled child and say, “We know nothing about how to care for that child; that child will have to love us just as we are, even if we don’t learn how to properly care for him,” well, that would be a rather sad statement, wouldn’t it? If you have a disabled child, you have to learn how to care for that child, regardless of where you are at now.

I guess what I’m saying is this: If you’re not willing to grow, if you don’t think you need to grow, if your attitude is that someone owes it to you to marry them because you want to be married, you’re setting yourself up for a very frustrating life—especially after you get married. It’s also, I believe, an unbiblical life. When Jesus tells me that I should be continually seeking righteousness (Matthew 6:33) and Peter tells me to make every effort to add godly qualities to my faith (2 Peter 1:5-6), I’m not offended, I’m inspired, because I know I’m not perfect, and these are words of love to remind me that God wants to keep taking me to newer and higher places.

The desire to marry should motivate you to become a more complete person, and that’s a good thing.

Even if you never do get married, the pursuit will have served a good purpose—hopefully, you’ll be more mature, more loving, less selfish, more like Christ. But if the pursuit simply makes you bitter and resentful, well, that doesn’t help anyone, and it certainly won’t draw anyone healthy toward you.

Fortunately, I don’t believe the woman who challenged my talk was either bitter or resentful—she just heard something I didn’t intend to say, and that likely faults me as a communicator more than it does her as a listener. But I know this attitude is out there, and I want to call it out, even at the risk of making even more people frustrated with me. Instead of asking, “why won’t somebody marry me?” I suggest asking, “how can I make myself more marriageable?”

[photo: Md saad andalib, Creative Commons]

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2 responses to The Art of Making Yourself More Marriageable

  1. I agree with this article, I think that anyone should take good care of themselves whenever they could especially since they will build their own self-esteem while doing so. And that self-esteem will make people more interested. I know someone who complains a lot about not having a boyfriend but she just doesn’t make the effort. On her days off work she stays at home enjoying her iPad instead of going out there to meet people. She doesn’t bother to get a hobby that allows her to meet with people either

  2. Wedding bellsTradition has generally ditectad that people get married in a church, by a representative of said church, in some form of religious ceremony. Recently, however, civil ceremonies have started to become more and more popular for those who would like to be married, but skip all the religious trappings a church wedding generally entails. Depending on state laws, this usually involves a justice of the peace, i.e., a judge or other person certified to perform a ceremony.Of course, a lot of folks getting married don’t want some random judge marrying them either so what to do if you want one of your friends to do it?OptionsEssentially, you have three choices:Become a judge. Since this (often) requires years of law school, work, and sometimes an election, this isn’t really a valid option unless your friend is already a judge or justice of the peace.Become a notary public. This seems like an easy one, since in many states all you need to do to become a notary is fill out a form and pay a fee. However, unless you’re planning to get married in , , or ) the three states that allow notaries to marry people you’re out of luck.Become a minister. Normally, this would bring up similar problems to the judge option years of study in the church and so forth. However, thanks to the internet, solver of problems large and small, this actually might turn out to be your best option.Drive-thru ordainmentWell, okay. It’s not that easy. It’s easier.There are several non-denominational churches and ministries that allow you to become ordained as a minister online. In the case of the , it’s free, takes about 60-90 seconds, depending on how fast you type, and just requires some basic information your name, address, and email address.I’m serious. I conducted my own original research, after a friend asked:They aren’t the only one out there. , and are just a few of several online ministries that allow people to become legally ordained ministers.The catchThere’s always something.While becoming a minister through groups like these is free, you will generally have to pay them to receive official documentation of your minister status necessary if you wish to perform marriage ceremonies, as most states require you to be registered as a wedding officiant and will require proof of your ability to do so. However, the fees are fairly reasonable, and a small price to pay for being able to marry your friends.Another downside is getting your particular state to recognize you as a legal minister. While some are pretty easy going about this sort of thing, others may require a letter of good standing from your church sometimes on a yearly basis. Again, the online ministries will provide this for a fee.Yet another pitfall to be aware of is that some counties and states are beginning to declare weddings performed by online ministers Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, and North Carolina among them. Along these lines, Alabama, Connecticut, Tennessee and Virginia performed by ministers who do not have active ministries, though generally the marriage will be accepted unless someone calls it into question.Laws regarding who may perform a marriage vary wildly by state, and sometimes even within states and have two different sets of requirements. It’s not really possible for me to cover all 50 states’ marriage laws, so your best bet is to do your research find a copy of your state’s marriage law, read it, and completely understand what you have to do to be able to legally marry someone.I now pronounce this question answeredWhat really seems like a simple question does turn out to be rather complicated, since individual states are allowed to say who can legally marry people within their borders. However, apart from having a friend who is a judge or a minister of a traditional church, in most cases online ordination offers the best opportunity for allowing you to be married by a friend as opposed to whomever drew the short straw at the courthouse that day.GD Star Ratingloading…