The question was recently asked:

Where do I draw the line between holding out for God’s best [in a husband] and holding out for an ethereal dream that may be blinding me to reality? How detailed were you in your expectations for your husbands? And did God provide every detail of your dreams? Where did your dreams meet reality?

Let me begin by daring to be a little radical: I did not have detailed expectations, nor did I have a list for my future husband. I did not really care if he liked the same music I did, if he dressed casually or formally, or if he loved to read as much as I do. My only consistent desire and frequent prayer in those early days of waiting was “let him be a man after Your own heart, dear Lord, as David was.” And God delighted to answer that prayer.

Let me further this train of thought by adding that, before marriage, I did not believe in The One. Oh, yes, once you marry a man he does indeed become The One: but until the two are made one, he is only one of many possibilities. Yes, I grew up believing that God has a special someone out there for everyone (or almost everyone), but the more I study the Scriptures and the world around me, the more I realize that this fairy-tale view of life is not being played out in reality. Isn’t God sovereign? Yes, and no less so in giving His children choices and wisdom to make those choices. The fact is, we cannot truly comprehend His sovereignty or the mysteries that surround the circumstances of our lives: we only know that before us lie many options, from the mundane to the life changing, and by His grace we will choose wisely and consistently with His revealed will. And even our mistakes are somehow worked for our good and His glory in the end. What freedom there is in knowing such truths…

So, where do our dreams meet reality in choosing a real-life husband? As I think we all know, no man is perfect: but you must also know in your own heart and mind what you are willing to compromise on, and what you must absolutely remain firm in. For me, the most important thing in a man besides a real and growing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ was his heart: is he kind, is he gentle, is he humble, is he brave? My husband is all these things and more. He came in a package I was not quite expecting yet fell in love with all the same: quiet farm boy, long hair, faded clothes, lover of music. Not nearly the neat and trim person I had been imagining all those years. Thank God my imaginations had not become idols, and I was willing and able to see the man for what he is worth: someone any girl would be blessed to call husband.

I did not make lists and I did not pray detailed prayers for my husband to be—there is certainly nothing wrong in doing so, but my fear is that far too many girls have created idols in their minds, and therefore miss the real thing when he is staring them in the face. Neither should any be willing to compromise on the things we hold most dear: just be certain those things are consistent with Scripture and not merely your idea of what a godly man should be.

Some have said God gave them everything they asked for in a husband. God chose to give me far more than I ever could have asked. After eight months of marriage, I still stand amazed at this godly man, this gentle leader, this romantic husband of mine. He is not perfect, and neither am I—but together, I pray, we glorify our Lord in this state called holy matrimony.

22 Comments

  1. Elizabeth

    Thank you! I am fourteen and just began to make a list of expectations, because I thought that was the only way to go. I had been brainstorming what I wanted in a future husband, but there was as part of me that wondered if God would bring something that I could have never imagined (as he often does). I had written qualities in my journal, then crossed them out, then wrote them again, trying to piece it all together. The only quality I had set it stone was “a man who loves God with all of his heart”. You put it even better…”a man after God’s own heart”. After reading this I realize that a you don’t need to have a list, and that having a list may actually be less beneficial than normally made out to be.

    Sorry for rambling, just wanted to thank you for shinning some light on this subject.

    Running into His arms,
    Laura

  2. Im so blessed with your article, I remember 5 years ago I wrote 2 page lists before of my “ideal man” . Im so idealistic regarding whom to choose, but when God showed me different kinds of men who have this qualities we certainly didn’t “click” . Eventually, I met my fiance…I fell in love for the first time wd him (He is my first boyfriend and I am his first) though His qualities were not on the lists except for “a kind, gentle, God-fearing man who will lead me closer to God”,I realized that God have given me more than i have asked for. ..a love that reflects God’s love, God indeed have the “best lists” .God trully knows what I really wanted and needed more than I do. We’re not perfect but whats important is God is the center of our relationship and I can see Gods hands working in us ,sustaining us with His grace and making us Christ like, glorifying His name.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for pointing out that sometimes it is our “criteria” that must bend and change a little. That’s something a lot of girls forget when looking for Mr. Right.

  4. Elizabeth M says:

    What it boils down to is that the key to success is to “seek ye first His Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” As much as some of us wish, there is no set formula for courtship (of course there are a few basic guidelines, but you know what I mean). =) If our desire is to “know the will of God and do it wholeheartedly”, as Maria said in the Sound of Music, then God will has promised to bless that desire. Besides, He “knows the plans I have for… plans of welfare and not of calmity, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer. 29:11)

  5. Good thoughts, Elizabeth. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Wonderful post…I needed this advice from a married woman !Thank you !

  7. Elizabeth, I knew that’s what you meant… I didn’t mean to sound like I was saying anything contrary to what you said. ๐Ÿ™‚ I loved everything you said here… we’ve had some good “talks” on this before. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m so thankful for the wonderful husbands we’ve been given! Although it does seem pretty crazy to think that it’s already been eight months since your wedding…

  8. Elizabeth J says:

    Ashleigh, thank you for adding your wise words! Definitely there are non-negotiables, I did not mean to imply that there aren’t. Some people need lists to keep track of these, others don’t. Personally, I was never attracted to men with vastly different world-views than myself, so it wasn’t a problem for me. I fell in love with Jonathan because of who he is: that includes his personality, his beliefs, his character. If he had had vastly different doctrinal beliefs than me, for example, I don’t think our friendship would have gone very far.

  9. Jessica, you’re going to make a wonderful wife and mother someday. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Awww…thank you, LM! That was such a sweet thing to say…

  10. Owen Family says:

    “Let me begin by daring to be a little radical: I did not have detailed expectations, nor did I have a list for my future husband.” — Neither do I. Although the lists, letters and prayers are all well and good, I know for me, personally, they would not be beneficial. There’s too much of a chance for those things to help create an idol in my heart that would not only be a distraction but also a discouragement.

    “God chose to give me far more than I ever could have asked.” – I think that would be the case for every woman if we only contented ourselves in Jesus and HIS desires for our lives. What blessings can be ours when this is recognized and fully appreciated! And this is something that I’m continually learning/must learn in greater detail. “For to me to live is Christ…” Philippians 1:12 (Okay, sorry for such a rabbit trail!:o)

    “Let me further this train of thought by adding that, before marriage, I did not believe in The One. Oh, yes, once you marry a man he does indeed become The One: but until the two are made one, he is only one of many possibilities.” – Amen! Mom and I talked about this very subject not too long ago.

    Great post Elizabeth! Thank you.

    ~Chelsea

  11. Anonymous says:

    Elizabeth,

    I smiled when I saw my honest, heart-felt questions in italics at the top of your post. Thanks so much for addressing them and for your honest, heart-felt words. I appreciate immensely that you took the time to do so.

    Thank you also to Ashleigh and the other married ladies who agreed that there are non-negotiables, but outer characteristics and interests do not always fall under that category. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Jessica, you’re going to make a wonderful wife and mother someday. ๐Ÿ™‚

    God bless you all as you follow where He leads!

    LM

  12. Anonymous says:

    This is so true! Ideals can become idols – the Anne of Green Gables idea was a very good example. Also, first impressions can be deceiving. I am currently courting a godly young man who shares my standards and beliefs but not all my personal likes and dislikes, and I am very happy (thrilled!) about it – but when I first met him about two years ago I actually said I would never, ever, EVER marry a man like him. ๐Ÿ˜› Never say never.

    ~Ellen

  13. Ashleigh…

    Thank you so much for your answer…I wasn’t so much directing the question at Elizabeth as much as just any wise married women! And your answer was very good and full of wisdom…

    “If you have had to lower your standard of a godly man at all, then he is probably not the man for you.”

    Very true! And that very much helps me in determining what is and is not negotiable…

    Thank you again for answering…it does “help a little”! Have a glorious day!

  14. Chantel H. says:

    Amen, Elizabeth, Dear. You spoke what has been my heart. God convicted me on this subject at an early age- that it wasn’t right for me to make a box for him to work within- and I praise Him Iwas able to see outside of my own suppositions. ๐Ÿ™‚

    *hug*

  15. Jessica,

    I’m not Elizabeth, but I have been happilly married for two years to a wonderful, godly man. I agree with Elizabeth completely… we cannot make our “ideal man” an idol, nor can we know just how great the man God gives us will be. God is much bigger than anything we could even think to ask for!

    As for your question above, there are definitely some things that should be “non-negotiables.” Both of the characteristics you mentioned were non-negotiable for me, as I’m sure those or other things were for Elizabeth and Jonathan. When I was courting my husband, there were definite qualities and convictions that I knew he would have to have if I was to marry him. For example, if he had said he didn’t want children, I would have known that marrying him wouldn’t work. ๐Ÿ™‚ But certain things can be “negotiable.” What those negotiables might be are different for every family/person/couple. But you should never feel that the man you are marrying is someone you are having to “settle” for. If you have had to lower your standard of a godly man at all, then he is probably not the man for you. What is important is to remember that what you are looking for is a man who is Christ-centered, not perfect. Your non-negotiables should be only the very most important things, such as being a strong Christian who can lead you spiritually, has similar convictions, etc. Other things are simply preferences that can be worked through. If I had made a list of sorts of everything I wanted my husband to be, down to the very clothes he would wear or music he would listen to, I’m sure I would have missed out on the man who was truly God’s best for me. Hope this helps a little… ๐Ÿ™‚

    Ashleigh

  16. Thank you, Elizabeth, for your wonderful insight! It reminded me to make sure that I don’t cut out anyone who I don’t think is “my ideal”. My question is though…if you don’t have “a list”…what about the things that I want my husband to be “like-minded” in? For example, I definitely want to marry someone that wants to homeschool, will be the head of the household, etc. Those are very important things to me and I know that a marriage would be very difficult if my husband and I differed on those and similar issues. Do you see what I’m asking…?
    Thank you again for sharing!

  17. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us on this, Elizabeth! It was a blessing.

  18. Some have said God gave them everything they asked for in a husband. God chose to give me far more than I ever could have asked.

    Amen, Elizabeth…

  19. What a tremendous post! Thank you!

  20. Elizabeth M says:

    Sarah,

    Your post reminded me of Anne of Green Gables… Remember how she finally met a man that seemed to fit her dreams? They certainly didn’t click!

    Elizabeth M

  21. Anonymous says:

    Elizabeth,

    Thank you so much for your insight. =) The Lord seems to be trying to teach me all these things that you wrote. I have realized that I had practically made an idol of my ‘list’. I have fallen for one man, who is no-where near perfect, but is on fire for the Lord. Another man, whom is practically everything on my list, and I didn’t click.
    As I wait on and for the Lord and His perfect timing (I am not yet married), I am reminded of this: A Christian marriage is the union of two imperfect people striving to live inside God’s perfect will.

    Love in Christ,

    Sarah รœ

  22. Elizabeth M says:

    Thank you for encouraging us to keep our eyes on Christ… That seems to be the key to every relationship, especially “special” ones.

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