Is He the Marrying Kind?
- 2009 11 Aug
As Christian women, it’s hard to take God out of the marriage equation, and we wouldn’t even want to.
At the same time, the cultural realities we live with force us to do more than simply drift with the tide—that is, if we’re serious about finding a mate. The good news is that, even in these marriage-unfriendly times, the fields are “white unto harvest” if you know what to look for. Once you sense the time is right, start being intentional about putting yourself in places, and with people, that will nudge you in the direction of marriage. The right approach—a combination of faith in God and strategic thinking and action—will likely turn the helm of your singlehood into new waters that contain the very real possibility of marriage.
Separating the Wheat from the Chaff
It turns out there are things you can do to find a prospective mate—or to move a budding relationship forward—and it all starts with looking for the right kind of man: the marrying kind.
In his book Why Men Marry Some Women and Not Others, author and professional market researcher John T. Molloy notes that when he completed the initial research for the manuscript, one of his better researchers, a woman named Beth, wanted to read the results. Her problem was that “men who are averse to commitment were drawn to her like bees to honey.” After reading the report, Beth dropped it back on Molloy’s desk angrily and called him a male chauvinist. After he recovered his shock, he asked her what made her think that.
“You reinforce the myth that the reason men don’t commit is that the women in their lives do something wrong,” she steamed. “That’s nonsense. In most cases, it’s the man in a relationship who decides he isn’t ready or doesn’t want to get married, and he makes this decision without any help from the woman. No matter what some women do, there are certain men who are never going to commit. Unless you recognize that, you’ve missed the whole point. If you want to do women a real service, help us identify those losers before we get involved with them.”1
After apologizing to Beth, Molloy admitted she had a point. His interviews with single men had shown that there were men who would not commit. He also realized the valuable service he could provide women by identifying those men who were worthy of their attention—and which ones to weed out as potential mates.
1. Look for a Man Who’s Ready to Commit
Molloy found in his research that there is an age when a man is ready to marry, or what he calls the Age of Commitment. The age varies from man to man, but discernible patterns emerge:
- Most male college graduates between ages twenty-eight and thirty-three “are in their high-commitment years and likely to propose.” This period of high commitment for well-educated men lasts just over five years.
- Once a man hits thirty-eight, the chances he will ever marry drop dramatically. Chances that a man will marry for the first time diminish even more after forty-two or forty-three. “At this point, many men become confirmed bachelors,” writes Molloy.
- Once a man reaches age forty-seven to fifty without marrying, the chances he will ever do so drop dramatically.
One of the most common mistakes women make, Molloy writes, is to assume that because they’re ready for marriage, the men they date are as well. But his research shows that is often not the case. Instead, if a woman is serious about finding a mate, she should date only men who have reached the age of commitment.
2. Look for a Man Who Is Tired of the Singles Scene
Molloy found that the men who were most likely to consider marriage seriously had not only reached the Age of Commitment, but they had tired of the singles scene—the endless round of singles events, group outings, casual dating, and parties filled with questing singles. Instead, he and his researchers found that about a third of newly married men said that for six months to two years before they met their brides-to-be, they were not dating or going to singles places as often as they had been just a few years earlier. In the men’s own words, they were ready for “something else” or the “next step.”
When the singles scene ceases to be as fun as it used to be, a man is ripe for the real commitment of marriage. As you meet men, listen for clues that they have reached this point in their life. Watch their actions, too—they are the best barometer of a person’s inner world. A man weary of the round of singles activities is much closer to desiring one woman for life than his still-party-hearty brethren.
3. Look for Men Whose Biological Clocks Are Ticking
This one may sound strange at first, but Molloy explains. In his research he discovered that men have a biological clock too, and they are keenly aware that it’s running down. His team of researchers spoke to 121 men in their forties who were marrying for the first time: “They’re not worried about physically being able to father a child, but about being a father to the child.”
A caveat to this point: One of the main complaints Christian single women lob against single men is that they put off marrying so long that when they do finally get ready, they shop in the much-younger “market” of available women. Why? It seems obvious to say not only “because they can” but because of this very point that Molloy makes: they want to become fathers, and a younger woman is the more likely candidate to provide them that.
4. Look for Diamonds in the Rough
As the years go by and no serious suitors appear to claim you, it’s easy as a single woman to despair and start to think, “What’s wrong with me?” I heard this heart-cry numerous times in the responses to my survey. What women sometimes forget is that many men feel exactly the same way.
Molloy and his team of researchers talked to dozens of men in their late thirties and early forties who had given up on the idea of marrying. Most lacked one of three things, he reports: looks, height, or social skills.
Greenwald, author of Find a Husband After 35, concurs—and she expounds on the idea in her chapter titled “Market Expansion: Cast a Wider Net.” Simply put, casting a wider net means looking for a husband who may not be the type you’ve always imagined. Looking for a diamond in the rough means you start looking at the single Christian men in your sphere with a new eye—an eye open to possibilities. Averse to bald heads? Consider that in this day and age the shaved head look is in, so naturally bald men have a step up on the ladder. Insist on a skillful conversationalist? Try carrying the thread of the conversation the first few times until he’s warmed up to your presence. Sometimes the quiet, shy types hide a wonderful dry wit that only those closest to them get to know.
It’s not uncommon to hear happily married couples tell funny stories about how they met—she didn’t even notice him at first; he annoyed her with his boisterous sense of humor; she blended in with the other girls at the singles function until someone casually mentioned a topic she loved, and she lit up, taking him with her. These little nuances are the stuff of true love, and we limit ourselves by adhering to a strict list of “must have” qualities.
What About Good Friends?
Another way of restating this point about mining diamonds in the rough is to reassess your options, as one writer puts it. Instead of just palling around with men forever, take a serious look at the guys in your “just friends” category and consider who might be a good husband, a caring partner, and a potential dad (if that’s important to you).
I have to tell you there’s really something to this. In my own college-aged singles group (many moons ago) quite a few male/female fellowship group leaders wound up getting married. Of course, they never intended for anything to happen. But in the course of working side by side to build a lively Bible study or busy social calendar, they bonded as friends first—and then fell in love.
There’s a lot to be said for relationships that are grounded on friendship first. If you do make the leap to marriage, once the dry spells set in (as they always do) you’ll have your genuine liking for the other person—your friendship—to fall back on.
1. Steer Clear of Confirmed Bachelors and Players
Easier said than done, right? That’s the first cynical thought that sprang into my mind as I typed the heading above. But there are good men out there—the results of my singles survey reveal just how many Christian single men long to find a wife and labor under similar (if flipside-of-coin) frustrations. The crucial thing is to identify the men who truly want a wife from those who are confirmed bachelors or outright players.
The first category, the confirmed bachelor, is easy to spot, says Molloy: “He’s so used to living alone that he will list the pleasures of the solo life—coming and going as he pleases, not answering to anyone—as reasons for not marrying.” Still, he dangles a bit of hope. “Thousands of former ‘confirmed’ bachelors get married each year, usually to women they’ve known for less than a year or whom they’ve been going with for many years.”
The player, or what Molloy calls a “stringer,” is a more dangerous type of man. “If you’re dating a man who has had one or more long-term relationships with other women and didn’t marry them, there’s a real possibility he’s a stringer,” writes Molloy. “A stringer is a man who strings women along. He likes to have a woman. … He often tells women, up front, that he never intends to marry, so if and when he decides he wants to cut out, she has no reason to complain.”
If you think you may be dating a stringer, Molloy advises a strict protocol: “Establish a deadline. If he doesn’t commit to you within six months, get rid of him.” At the same time, any sane woman realizes there are some men a little pressure will work on and others with whom it has the opposite effect. Either way, you will have your answer.
1John T. Molloy, Why Men Marry Some Women and Not Others (New York: Warner Books, 2003)
Copyright © 2008 by A.J. Kiesling. Excerpted from Where Have All the Good Men Gone? Why So Many Christian Women Are Remaining Single. Harvest House, March 2008.
A.J. Kiesling is the author of Where Have All the Good Men Gone? (Harvest House) and the novel Skizzer (Revell). A former contributing religion writer for Publishers Weekly, she has written more than a dozen books.
You can reach her at www.ajkiesling.com or by e-mailing her at news://firstname.lastname@example.org.