What kind of man are you looking for?

You might answer, “I’m not looking for a man!” But let’s be honest about this. Of course you are looking for a man, and there is not one thing wrong with that. The wrong would be for you to flat out deny it. Now I don’t think it is godly or healthy or wise to be obsessed with watching out for the right man to show up. But it is only natural for a woman who wants to be married to have her eyes open. The important thing is to know what kind of man you are looking for and to keep from being tricked into thinking you have found him when you haven’t.

Because of loneliness women are tempted to respond to the wrong kind of man. And as I have said before, there is one thing worse than being unmarried (actually there are lots of things), and that is being married to the wrong man. I have talked with many miserable married women over the years, and I sometimes ask them, “Why did you marry him?” Sometimes they saw him as a ticket out of their hard circumstances, but in reality he was a ticket to newer and harder circumstances. Marrying someone for the wrong reason will never lead to long-term happiness.

We have all heard funny descriptions of the ideal Christian man. One of my favorites is “tall, dark, rich, and reformed. Ah, you think, if only there were enough of that kind to go around! But the truth is, most women are not really that fussy. I have heard a woman complain about some of the Christian men in the community, but then when one of those same men showed an interest in her, she suddenly did not care about those things she had so freely criticized before. Still, though height or hair line may not be important, spiritual qualities are not to be overlooked for the sake of a relationship.

For starters, a Christian woman should marry a Christian man. That seems simple enough, but sometimes a woman can rationalize on this point. “Well, he goes to church sometimes.” That is not enough to determine if he is a man of faith. “He was brought up Roman Catholic, but I’m not sure if he still is a practicing Catholic.” A Protestant woman should not consider marrying a Catholic. “He is really nice, so I think he must be a Christian.” That is certainly not enough evidence. “He was baptized as an infant, so he must be a Christian.” Yes, but what kind of Christian? The kind who goes to hell? Marriage is much too important a connection to make with someone who has a different or nonexistent faith. Do not be swayed by a fun personality to overlook a man’s spiritual state. God has made it clear in His Word that we are not to be unequally yoked.

So once you have determined that he is of the same faith, you have to consider what kind of a Christian he is. Does he read his Bible? Does he do what it says? Is he a faithful church member? Does he tithe? Is he growing? Do you see him sharing his faith? Is he involved in the life of the congregation? Some men will play the part to get themselves a Christian wife, so you want to know that his faith is genuine. Not every man is called to be a leader in the church; but every husband is called to be a leader in his home. Can you see yourself being led by him? The Bible requires wives to submit to their own husbands, so a woman ought to marry a man that she respects enough to freely submit to. If he is the kind of man who is eager to please and obey God, she should not have trouble following him.

The Bible also requires wives to respect and honor their husbands. So it follows that a woman should marry a man that she can easily look up to. Respect and honor are far more easily rendered to a respectable, honorable man. This is something a woman should know about a man before she allows herself to fall in love with him. If she is emotionally attached, she is in real danger of rationalizing these things away. But once she is married to him, there will be no excuses for disrespect.

Because of the wonderful way God made the world, what one woman respects in a man, another may not. In other words, some women can be led by men who in no way could lead someone else. A woman with a strong personality will need a man with a lot of horsepower to lead her. She doesn’t want to marry a man whom she will always have to be leading herself. Though she may not mind at first, it will get old really quickly. If she is a hard charger, she needs to marry someone who is more of one. A woman is called to follow, support, and help a man, and that is difficult to do if a wife is miles ahead hollering, “Come on, you can catch up!” This applies to strength of personality, spiritual zeal, intellectual gifts, and initiative. Though a man may wish his wife had more of these things so she could keep up with him, it is far worse to have a wife who is way ahead of her husband.

Dating services have questionnaires that deal with all kinds of aspects of personality and gifts. Though much of this is valuable, we have to be careful not to view the way a man and woman come together as some sort of formula. Obviously they should share similar tastes, likes, and dislikes when it comes to cultural preferences. But complementing someone is not necessarily being identical in every way. A woman should know which things are non-negotiable and which things are indifferent to her. For example, if she is not a camper, but she wouldn’t mind becoming a camper, then that falls in the indifferent category. But if she must live by the ocean, and he is planning to live in the Mid West, then that is non-negotiable. But sometimes a woman thinks he is so wonderful that she will gladly give up living by the ocean. What was nonnegotiable becomes indifferent. These things will vary from person to person, and a woman should have these things sorted out in her mind before she agrees to marry someone. Other important things should be considered. How does he treat his mother? How does he treat his other family members? Does he like children? How does he handle money? Is he a hard worker? Is he self-disciplined? Does he live for others? Does he have a temper? What about personal habits? Is he a slob? What about his sexual history? Does he use pornography? Does he have high (meaning godly) standards for entertainment? Is he quick to seek forgiveness ? Is he a scoff law? Has he served jail time? Is he divorced? What were the circumstances? I have seen women overlook serious faults in a men because they are too eager for a relationship. Though it may work out for a short time, in the long-term there is misery and remorse.

Finally, a woman should marry a man she finds attractive. That does not mean that she thinks he would be voted the world’s sexiest man and put on the cover of some magazine. But she should find him attractive. She does not have to think he is the most handsome man in the church. But she should not marry him unless she thinks he is, as it is put in the Song of Songs, an apple tree in the forest. He should be all she wants. On the other hand, if he repulses her physically, then no matter how godly he is, it is an unwise match. Though she might find him unattractive at first, if after she gets to know him, she finds that he is appealing to her, then she should go ahead. But it is a mistake to think that these things don’t matter, and that somehow it is more spiritual to just ignore the physical. God did not make us that way.

As a woman navigates through this, she must remember that in all of life we are to walk by faith. God has promised to never leave us or forsake us. If there is no man on the horizon, or the ones who “fit the bill” don’t seem to be interested, it is important to remember that God is overseeing it all. Trust Him and do not lower the standard because of loneliness. You will find it is much too high a price to pay.

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15 thoughts on “What kind of man are you looking for?

  1. Nancy,
    You’re tender care for your unmarried sisters truly comes out in this blog. I do pray that they heed your biblically sound and practical counsel. I am thankful for a similar exhortation I received almost 20 years ago which helped me to refuse an engagement that would have left me with the temptation to be the leader, be disrespectful and ultimately experience little peace and joy. I almost settled for second best, until someone shared similar thoughts with me that you have shared in your blog. Take heed, dear unmarried sisters so that maybe 20 years down the road you will know that you didn’t settle for second best, but instead, received God’s best that He intended for you all along. My dearest husband just walked passed me as I was commenting on this blog and laid a big ol’ wet smack right on the kisser! And he had no idea what I just commented. I think I’ll tell him later tonight! 🙂

  2. This is a great list of questions. Another one, or perhaps another way of asking “Can he lead me?” is “Can I help him?” If a wife is to be a helper to her husband, a single woman ought to consider a prospect’s needs and whether it is likely that she will be able to “do him good and not evil all the days of her life.” If he’s sure he wants to homeschool, is she sure she’s willing to take on that task? If he’s committed to overseas missionary work, does she have the gifts and strength to follow that path, as well? Of course there’s some leeway. If he can’t add 2+2 without a calculator, it’d be great if she could balance the checkbook and do the taxes, but if not, that’s why God created accountants. And of course she should be flexible and willing to go along if he steers the family in a different direction than she’d expected, doing her best and trusting God for grace and empowerment, but women are not infinitely malleable, and there’s no sense starting out on a path she’s already pretty sure she won’t be able to traverse.

  3. Thank you, Mrs. Wilson, for this post. I plan to save it and share it with several young ladies in our congregation who are working through these issues. I remember being told, as a young Christian woman, that choosing your spouse was one of the biggest decisions in life, but not having any sort of appreciation for what that meant. God was very gracious to me in the husband he gave me, and I am very grateful. I have seen the effects of poor choices for husbands, and it can be nothing short of heartbreaking. Thank you for loving your unmarried sisters through your writing.

  4. I must say that God, in his mercy, lead me to this conclusion while in highschool. I can not say that anyone spoke to me concerning this, but I distinctly remember ending a dating relationship for the simple reason that I was leading. Although, I couldn’t give a reason at the time, I just knew it wasn’t right. I think we all have a deep desire to be lead, to serve, to help…young ladies need more of this Godly instruction within their homes and churches. Nancy, I think that you could write a whole book on this subject and have a vast audience…or have you already?! 🙂

  5. By the way, Mrs. Wilson, your use of the word “horsepower” has been making me smile ever since I read this…perhaps because I recently watched the movie “Cars” with a gang of my favorite small fry.

  6. At our rehearsal dinner, my maid of honor read a list that she and I had made years before of traits we desired in a husband. She said that at the time, she had thought I was being a little picky, and maybe I should shorten my list. But the list sounded as if it had been written to describe my husband perfectly! If no one you know meets the standards you have set, then you haven’t met him yet. Only one will!

  7. Having grown up with these ideas and philosophies, I thank you for repeating them and encouraging me. Sometimes we need reminders of what is true and right just to keep us from questioning or being tempted to “lower the standard”.

  8. Yeah! At long last! A book for unmarried sisters! I’ve been looking forward to that one for a long time!

  9. Wow, sis, thank you for this. A lot of kind wisdom in this entry. As a single woman who desires marriage, it’s definitely been a blessing and encouragement to read, confirming some things and reminding me of some things.

    I will be reading this often.

    Grace and peace,

  10. I do have a question after rereading it. When saying that we should have questions about his sexual history, how does a young lady approach such a topic when in conversation with a man ? How can it be approached w/o being inappropriate and crossing lines ? To be honest, I would have no idea how to ask a man something like that in a manner that wouldn’t lead to stumbling blocks.

  11. Ideally, the father would ask all the sticky questions during the initial interview or during any ongoing meetings. I don’t think a father should ask such things unless his daughter is interested (in the young man). Otherwise, it is unnecessary and intrusive. If no dad is involved, sometimes another man is covering for him, an elder, an uncle, or a friend of the family.

  12. I dont understand why a Protestant woman should not consider marrying a catholic. Could you pls explain?

  13. You put it into simple terms without the legalism I’ve seen and been surrounded by. It is so important that the man is a Christian and willing to step up to be the leader and that his life bears fruit/he is growing. And get to know the people who know him best. 🙂 If I had one thing to say to girls, I’d say that keep praying for your (unknown) future spouse….God does work miracles and is powerful in their lives because of our prayers, in my case, this is so.

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