Towards the beginning of my freshman year in college, I sat in my dorm room and wrote a letter to my future wife:
Dear Hot Momma,
I’m writing to inform you that I’m counting down the days until we meet. I wonder what you’re doing right now. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re baking cookies or perfecting your sour cream enchilada recipe. I have this feeling that we will meet soon since I know that you’re somewhere on this campus. I thought I saw you today, but it turns out that Abercrombie model at the mall was engaged. (That was awkward.)
The good news is it will be easy to spot you! Your skin is a medium cinnamon brown, hair blonde (natural, not dyed), eyes blue, and if I were to measure, you are in the neighborhood of say 36x24x36, give or take an inch or two. You’re so beautiful, babe.
Now that I think about it…it is the second week of college. You could be experiencing home sickness and decided to drive home. I know if I had parents that owned a private plane and stable full of ponies, I would probably find comfort in visiting often. I really admire your dad. The man isn’t even 60 and he’s a self-made millionaire. As for your mother, she is such a blessing. Her spinach quiche is amazing, and I swear the woman doesn’t look a day over 30.
I have to wrap this up. My roommate just challenged me to eat five sticks of butter in five minutes for $5 and I could use the cash. I love you.
Your future husband,
Sometimes I wonder why I’m still single.
The truth is I didn’t really write this letter but I might as well have. With my youth brought unrealistic expectations of what requirements my future spouse would have to meet. Through my 20s that list changed dramatically–starting at a Christian version of Gisele and, at one point, dipping as low as the Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe and hopefully happened to be a Christian. Whether it was immaturity or damaged self-esteem, for years I had a hard time finding a healthy level of expectancy around the person that I would like to meet and share my life with.
With some time under my belt, I now have found a more productive way to approach that expectancy:
Create – Unlike Dr. Cloud, I think it is okay to create a list of characteristics that each of us would like to find in a spouse. However, once you run out of room on the fourteenth page, either be prepared to do some heavy editing or live a very lonely life.
Examine – How many of those characteristics are truly non-negotiables and how many are nice-to-haves? One thing I realized recently is that if I could sit and look at a list I created ten years ago, I would find several items that aren’t so important today. It doesn’t involve lowering expectations. It centers on targeting the type of heart and soul that you want to be tied to instead of simply the piece of flesh you want to have sex with or the inconsequential characteristics that you think you need to make you happy.
Look Inward – As fun as it is to stare at the starry skies and dream about our perfect lover, what are we doing to prepare ourselves to meet that person? That person you’re creating in your head, could you be a match for his/her list? Create a list of characteristics about yourself, and then ask the tough questions. Is your money where your heart is? What type of company do you keep? What happens when nobody is looking?
Forgive – Until we take our final breath, ideally each of us is still progressing towards a better identity. As you come into contact with people, be prepared to bend and forgive if they don’t meet every criterion and/or have fallen short of some expectations until recently. There is no changing the past, but examine to find what the person is doing right now to prepare for the future. Likewise, forgive yourself for the past.
Date – Again, keep in mind that your list of absolute non-negotiable items should be very short and concise. Men, when you enjoy a gal’s company but she doesn’t quite look like a super model, ask her out. Women, when he drives up in his teal ’91 Ford Taurus, take a second look at him and then your list before you default to “no.” It’s possible to give someone a chance for a date or two without getting emotionally involved and likewise missing out on unimaginable possibilities.
Rather than worrying about why I’m not with “The One,” I have begun to spend more time working on myself, valuing my identity as a whole, single man, placing the utmost importance on discovering the building blocks of a woman’s heart, and not just clinging to surface-based expectations.
*Photo credit: Hikkers