Family, marriage, womanhood, a simple life at home
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Is he a potential husband?
"A man has been pursuing me for the past few weeks but I am so uncertain about him. We have very similar values, particularly about keeping God at the center of everything in our lives (as such, I am firstly continuing to pray about this, but I know that God also desires that we seek to develop wisdom). He is wonderfully communicative about his feelings of respect and admiration toward me, his plans to be able to provide for a family within two or three years (we are in college, I am 21 and he is 26), and the mistakes he has made in his past - major financial mistakes, the "partying" scene, cigarette smoking addiction - that he left totally behind him several years ago when he reconnected strongly with his faith.
I think the sources of my uncertainty are partly due to his reservedness and seriousness in social groups, unproven financial capabilities, and worries about potential consequences of his past. I am, by nature and personality, slow to develop strong feelings about any man. However, I wonder that because I desire marriage and motherhood, I might accept a proposal and make a poor match. Adding to that is the problem that men with such values are terribly scarce where I live. While I'm not strongly attracted to him, I am certainly not repulsed either. I may be letting feelings of being "entitled" to a "perfect" man with a "perfect" past prevent me from taking him or a future suitor seriously. Of course, genuine love grows beyond whatever initial "good chemistry" a couple has, but I wonder how I can be wise about whether I am laying a good foundation for that long-term marital love."
First, very few people have a perfect past these days. Many of us (including myself) made mistakes in our youth, and while I understand some things might sound like a strong put-off (such as a history of addiction, gambling, disastrous relationships), it's entirely possible to make a fresh start, provided that the past was really left behind. Second, even if you meet someone with an unblemished history, it does not make any guarantees for the future. Each man should be viewed as an individual, and each situation should be addressed separately.
You wrote, "the sources of my uncertainty are partly due to his reservedness and seriousness in social groups"; however, keep in mind that most of your life together with your future husband will be not in a social group, but in your family circle. Your one-on-one interaction is far more important than how he behaves when there's company around. Perhaps he is reserved and shy when there are people around, but are the two of you able to have open communication? I think that is the key question here.
As to financial capabilities, I think a man in his twenties simply might not have had time to make his way financially just yet. He might not have much to offer right now in terms of a steady income and possibility to provide for a family, yet it doesn't mean he won't be a good provider in the future. If you haven't already, I suggest you read an old post of mine titled Marriage and Money, where I addressed the issue of being courted by someone who doesn't have a lot of money:
Instead of asking yourself, "how much does this man earn and will it be enough for both of us and the children too?", ask the following questions: is he hardworking and reliable? Is he steady, trustworthy, responsible, and careful in his financial decisions? Does he tend to spend a lot of money on nothings? And most importantly, does he see himself as the provider for his future wife and children, or does he expect his wife to pull an equal share of the financial burden, if not more?
You said you are slow to develop strong feelings, and I think this actually gives you an advantage, because it means you are not driven by the "chemistry", which can be misleading and plays a big part in the ridiculously high divorce rates today. I think it's normal not have a very high level of physical attraction towards a man who has been courting you for only a few weeks (as you describe). If, as you say, he is not repulsive to you, the level of attraction might grow as the courtship develops.
When I went on a first date with my husband, I did not feel terribly attracted to him, though I definitely thought he was good-looking. In fact I felt pretty neutral about him for our first few dates, and I knew it's normal, because we refrained from any physical contact (which plays a big part in starting or stopping the so-called "chemistry"). I didn't really fall in love with him until after we were married, and when it happened, it was based on things like mutual commitment, support, trust and respect.
Of course, I would never presume to tell you whether you should or should not marry this man - you obviously need to pray about it, and perhaps seek advice from more experienced people who know you (and ideally, him) better. But in my opinion, the potential is there, and the courtship can be given a chance.