Setting a high bar when single or dating 

Written by Bonnie Pue

Fourteen-year-old me sure knew her mind about what kind of guy she wanted to be with. I think I still have that list of marriage material qualities tucked away in a notebook somewhere, written with those pastel-coloured gel pens I loved so much. 

I didn’t have a lineup of guys flexing to get my attention. Yet, something in me was inspired to set the bar high. My adolescent mind included some very important qualities, such as: “doesn’t stink, doesn’t smoke, and doesn’t swear.”

I was also hoping that whoever my future spouse was would be super attractive. And I added something about how I’d like him to share my faith, and that I wanted him to be respectful to women and kind to children and animals. 

Over the years, whenever a young man caught my attention, I’d sneak back to that scrawled list and calculate if he had a passing grade. Sometimes I’d lie to myself for a while, or I’d pray desperately that he’d experience a radical, personal revival. Other times I’d take it upon myself to inspire him to change. That never worked. And so, I stayed single throughout high school.

Why do I tell you all this? Truthfully, I feel a lot of compassion for the Millennials and Get Z singles who are hoping to get married one day. If you are single, wanting to get married, and trying to hold out for someone who shares your faith and values, you get an honourable mention in my mind. I know you’re facing pressure and potentially fear.

You may hear the ticking of your internal clock, reminding you that you won’t be young forever. You may hear a “devil on your shoulder” whispering to you about how outdated your standards for sexual purity are and how unrealistic your heart’s desire for a godly spouse are.

You’re swimming upstream, and I hope you won’t grow weary. 

My hope is that I can encourage you in the waiting, in holding to your convictions, and in trusting God with your desires for the future. As a woman who has been married now for nearly 15 years, can I share a couple things I’ve learned?

There’s a lot of life outside the bedroom

When you are married, there are a lot of hours in the day when you’re not having sex or staring into each other’s eyes over candlelight dinners. To be able to escape to the bedroom for pleasure and reconnection is a gift from God. But, while I’m a big fan of the chemistry between a husband and wife, you’re also going to want to be with someone who knows how to pull weight and work hard inside and outside of the home. 

In 2 Corinthians 6 the Bible talks about finding someone to be “equally yoked” with. In the time it was written most of the readers would have understood the metaphor. Landowners connected animals of similar strength who could pull together in the same direction. Their combined strength was more effective than if each beast pulled alone. 

Sexual attraction is great, but it’s not all you need. One of the greatest joys of married life comes from finding a teammate who is heading the same direction as you. 

Humility is amazing to be around

As alluring as popularity, charisma, wealth, and success are, the type of person you’re going to want to communicate with, share a home with, and potentially raise children with day after day, year after year, is going to be the humble type. This doesn’t mean they can’t have the aforementioned characteristics going for them, but the real questions are: Are they willing to learn? Are they willing to apologize? Are they willing to show vulnerability with the people around them?

Be with someone you can trust

If you aren’t able to wholeheartedly trust who you are with, you’ll feel lost in your own home. It’s better to be single and lonely than married and lonely. Of course, no one is perfect, and we need to have grace to forgive mistakes. Sometimes we can also inadvertently make the people we love pay for the infractions of those who have hurt us in the past. That’s not what this is about. Rather, take the time to find out if the person you are interested in is honest. 

So yes, feel free to dream about if they’ll be adventurous or musical or hilarious, but don’t forget to keep your eye out for someone who is hardworking, humble, and honest too. That’s the kind of marriage material worth holding out for.

Bonnie Pue is a mother of six and co-founder of The Union Movement along with her husband, Bryan. The Union Movement exists to help people find wholeness in the areas of identity, sexuality, and relationships with a gospel-centred approach. You can find more from her on Instagram at @theunionmovement and @bonniepue.

Read more from the “Making love matter(s)” column.