This post is about mathematical issues regarding finding a spouse, and why I believe people (and especially women) should have the courage to wait for truly excellent partners.
On one hand, no-one is or can be perfect, so I am not suggesting that anyone should have to be perfect before being considered eligible. On the other hand, I think that the “marriage maths mentality” encourages people (and women specifically) to accept the lowest acceptable standard; to settle in marriage. I don’t believe that God has called us to settle in life. I believe that by insisting on excellence, a woman might actually still end up getting married to the same man, but would put herself in a place of expecting better things from her marriage, and therefore her life.
What is the “marriage maths mentality”?
The “marriage maths mentality” is simply the understanding/belief that there are not enough good marital partners to go around. So when you come across someone who is maybe OK at best in terms of character, but maybe only OK, the temptation is to cling tightly onto them right unto marriage for fear that you will not find anyone else that is of a truly excellent standard.
I apologise, as I appreciate that the above paragraphs might seem offensive because they might seem to suggest that some people are “better” or “worse” than others. Let me clarify what I mean.
Christians believe that all human beings have the same inherent and extremely high worth in the sight of God. This is true wherever we come from in the world, whether we are young or old, male or female, rich or poor – or bad or good. (This is an idea to which many of us may pay lip service. However in practice, many of us, Christians included, will behave as if the lives of royalty, or otherwise rich and powerful people are worth more than the lives of street kids, for instance; some human lives are treated as if they were expendable).
However, even though we may acknowledge that we human beings all have the same very high value, it remains true that a potential spouse may be considered “better” or “worse” as a spouse depending on the character that they have cultivated. By cultivating excellent character it does not mean that they are actually worth more as a person than if they had not worked to cultivate that same character. (As long as you are a human being, nothing you can do can ever increase or decrease your intrinsic human worth in the sight of God.) However it does mean that marriage to them might be easier, smoother or more enjoyable than it might have been if they had not worked on their character to such an extent. This is the sense in which one potential spouse might be considered “better” or “worse” than another. Included in the notion of character are aspects such as discipline, maturity, reliability, responsibility, as well as explicitly Christian virtues such as pursuit of God, commitment to prayer, pursuit of the Bible and holiness.
Now to come back to the “marriage maths mentality”, if you do then meet someone and their character is less than outstanding or barely adequate, because you are aware of a shortage of potential partners, you might think:
“OK, they might be barely adequate, however, if I were to let go of them, I might not get anyone!”
This thinking might be more common among women, because it is widely recognised that there are more available women looking and eager to get married than men. This is especially true in the Church where single women typically outnumber single men.
The passage of time just heightens the temptation to think like this. The more time passes, the more tempting it is to think that all the great guys are “gone”, “so I may as well just settle for this less than amazing guy that is available here”.
Sincerely speaking, there do seem to be more girls than guys, especially in the Church, most especially in the Black Church. However, I would urge all my friends and especially all my sisters to throw out any reliance on the “marriage maths mentality” and the way it might encourage you to settle in marriage.
Other women did not necessarily insist on excellent guys
No matter how old you get, do not let yourself be worried that all the great guys are gone. You know how I can say this with so much certainty? Because the “marriage maths mentality” seems to be so prevalent among women, that even from an early age, many women seem to settle for guys that are simply adequate. Admittedly, many women fall passionately in love and go ahead to marry the men that they have fallen in love with. Most other women in my view seem to go ahead to pick men that pass the test of adequacy. I actually believe that neither of these approaches is the key to finding an excellent partner. So because of this, you don’t need to worry that all the best guys are gone, or that other women have had the pick of the best marital partners. So just because you know that many men have already been snapped up in marriage, that does not mean that you need to tell yourself that “all the best guys are gone anyway” and go ahead and marry some barely adequate guy. You would just be repeating the mistake that all the previous women made in accepting adequacy.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct[a] your paths.