Marriage worship

How many of you have watched romantic comedies where all the problems are solved when the man and woman finally become a couple? It’s the plot of a few of my favorite movies (Hitch, The Notebook, Serendipity) and EVERY Hallmark movie. There’s the main character who is dating someone who is clearly the opposite of a good match, then a love interest pops on screen who initially has conflicts with the main character but is clearly the perfect match for them romantically. An hour and a half later bells are ringing and everyone’s cry-laughing and hugging.

Gosh, I love The Notebook. I just watched this boat/swan scene again and I’m not crying, YOU’RE crying. But anyway, what I’ve noticed as a single man in my 30s and 40s about marriage specifically are a few things. One, it’s a wonderful thing most of the time. I’m not here to bash the institution of marriage at all. I hope to one day experience it. There are many great things about it (so I’ve heard), but there’s something else…

Marriage worship.

The idea that a relationship (and marriage, specifically) is the highest of life goals one can pursue and achieve. As a single person, this idea can be so hurtful. Imagine going up to a woman who hasn’t had children yet and talking to her all about how great being a parent is. Try approaching a blind person to tell them how beautiful the sunset was last night. Do either of those examples sound like a good time for the childless woman or the blind person?

We’ve put marriage on a pedestal and that’s not at all where it belongs. Yes, it should be sacred and cherished, guarded and nurtured, but I fear that in America it’s become a thing we worship. The lesson is that a person is not reaching their full potential until they have a love in their life. We’ve been conditioned to think this way and it’s so unhealthy.

I need to stop watching these clips before I include them. You’re crying again. But to get back to the point… it bothers me how marriage is worshipped in this country.

You complete me.

That’s a classic line and it sounds good, but sorry, no. You can be a complete person with or without a wife or husband. I’m a Christian so my slant on the solution is this: I would rather worship God and if I ever get married, yay. If I don’t, yay. I hope and pray that at the end of my life if I’ve never been married, I don’t feel as though I didn’t reach some sort of man-made goal and have despair about it.

Let’s take marriage and love OFF the pedestal and treat it as a great thing, but not the ultimate goal of life. There is so much more out there than finding someone to grow old with. At least that’s my take as a happy man looking in from the outside.

-Out of the Wilderness

 

She’s going to get engaged and I have to be OK with that

There’s a woman I dated a long time ago and I know one day she’s going to get engaged. It’s something I think about, wondering how I’ll react when I hear the news. Some days I I’ll be OK with it, and other days I think it’ll be devastating. It’s not like I’m competing or anything… hoping to to get a mark in the W column if I get married before she does. I mean, at this point, any “marriage” competition I’ve had with anyone has ended up as a loss for me. I’m 41 and single!!!

There were semi-valid reasons she and I broke up and I know part of what’s happening with me since then is sort of what’s in the song “Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen)” by Baz Luhrmann… specifically what’s in bold here:

Be careful whose advice you buy but be patient with those who supply it.
Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past
from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts
and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

In other words, I may  be looking at the relationship through rose-colored glasses. I know for a fact it wasn’t all peachy all the time. I can’t explain why I still have dreams about her or if it means anything at all. In my low points, I think I missed my chance at love and marriage because she’s going to get engaged and it should’ve been me. That thought alone makes my heart sink.

I’m this close to accepting that, because I’ve sort of screwed up my love life, I’ll be paying for it the rest of my days on earth. I didn’t mean to make this post such a downer (sorry!), but then I figured, why not reveal a little more about what goes on in my mind and heart concerning relationships.

-Out of the Wilderness

 

40 years in the dating wilderness

I’ve never felt like Moses more than I do at this very moment. He wandered in the wilderness for 40 years and I’ve been wandering in the dating wilderness for my entire life- 40 years!

Of course, the wanderings were and are for different reasons, and the promised land isn’t the same either… but I am so grateful the Lord opened my eyes to this comparison. It’s lighthearted, sure, but I do think of my journey to the dating “promised land”– marriage– paralleling the Israelites journey.

The thing is… their journey had a (mostly) happy ending as they finally made it to the land flowing with milk and honey. Will mine? I’d love to find a woman as wholesome as milk and sweet as honey 🙂

-Out of the Wilderness

She’s a question mark

As you’ll find when you look up the 5 W’s on Wikipedia, they’re defined as “questions whose answers are considered basic in information gathering or problem solving.” Well, some people would definitely consider my love life basic. Clearly I just roasted my own self and I’m OK with that, though, because I like laughing. I laughed a lot yesterday while I was driving behind a car that had a dog sticking it’s head out barking wildly at cars passing in the other direction. I also think yesterday was a good day for information gathering. It started when I opened up Spotify.

What…
I heard one of my favorite songs when it cycled up in my Spotify library. Every time I hear this cover of a Temptations hit, it sends my mind a’drifting, thinking to myself, “I can’t wait to put together a video with this song for the woman I marry.” Sure, it’s 90s reggae but it makes me think of a fun relationship I’ll have with my best friend.


Why…

I’m a hopeless romantic. My favorite movies are The Notebook, Elizabethtown, Hitch, and I’ll throw Serendipity in there too, as a great romantic comedy. So when I have the chance to make something personal for someone I love, of course I’m going to do it. That’s why!

Where…
An educated guess would say this story will unfold in Nashville, where I live. There are other possible backdrops to this love story; I have family in Florida so there could be a scenario where I cross paths with a beautifully-quirky woman there.

When…
Timing is everything and right now, your guess is as good as mine. Maybe she and I are already friends. Maybe she’ll be at the Post Office today when I go to drop off some mail. Either way, I’m looking forward to the day I can’t remember what my life was like before she entered it.

Who…
Now this is the question of the hour. I’ve had a handful of great relationships in my love life, but none that progressed to marriage and, it might be strange to hear this, I’m very thankful they didn’t. Had I married in my 20s or early 30s, the relationship would have gone one of two ways: a rough and rocky start that crippled us for a long time, or simply ending in divorce. Neither of which is something I wake up hoping for each morning.

So this mystery will go on unsolved for the time being. Heck, we only have information for 2 of the 5 W’s and that, my friends, is what I’d call… not even close! But when Spotify queues up Billboard’s #6 song from a reggae band of white guys in 1989, I can still anticipate the day when the question mark becomes an exclamation point!

-Out of the Wilderness

Being single at 38 years old

NOTE: This was originally written last spring but I recently decided to go ahead and share it. Life in and out of the dating world can be a roller coaster emotionally. Count the following as a moment of bare honesty on my roller coastery journey.


I’m not exactly sure where this post will go, but I wanted to write down thoughts I’ve been having as a single guy at my old age. Old! That’s how I feel some days. Usually that sensation comes over me the night of, or the morning after, playing basketball or volleyball. I move a little slower, I groan a little more, I tighten my bathrobe a little more snugly around me. I’m pretty happy with where my life is, with what I’m doing, and the friends I spend time with. Is this where I thought I’d be at 38? The truth is, I don’t ever remember thinking about where I’d be at 30 or 40. And even though I feel old sometimes, I feel really good other times.

I also think I’m past the question, “Why aren’t you married yet?” …because I haven’t been asked it in ages. The answer is always the same: haven’t found the right one yet. That’s partly true. I’ve dated on and off for the past few years and I’ve been in the company of greatness. But for whatever reason the relationships fizzled and died, or never even really started. There have been a handful of dates that would have never happened, if I knew how they’d go. I’m thinking of one at Buffalo Wild Wings, or another attending a Ben Rector concert.

Disasters!

But truthfully, those, and other less memorable one-hit wonders, as in “I wonder why we are here, now, together,” have helped me get to where I am. A little more mature. A little more focused. A little less hopeful. Yes, I said less hopeful. It’s hard to keep hope alive all day every day.

In fact, I’d say it’s impossible.

In fact, stay away from people who are positive all the time, they’re hiding something!

In fact, you don’t want to be there when they explode.

I’ve gone through periods of great hope, great excitement. I want to be there again but I’m in a season of doubt right now. Doubt about marriage, doubt about even wanting to date. Because dating might lead to marriage, and I’m not even sure I want that. We’re taught through many ways that finding a partner will make life worthwhile, that you can be on top of the world like Jack and Rose if you find the other half of you. I don’t really believe that’s true. Life is worthwhile even without marriage. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Do you want to know the thought on the forefront of my mind the past week or so? It’s this…

Who’s going to take care of me when I’m old?

My mind drifts to 50 years from now when one of my nieces is stuck with checking in on their cenile uncle. You know, the one who never got married and had all the goats? He keeps mumbling about wanting more tattoos but his whole body is covered.

OK, OK, sometimes I think I’ll get a few more tattoos, not all over my whole body, though! But that would be me: the crazy, single, never-married uncle who didn’t reach his potential as a husband or maybe even a dad.

People get married later in life. People get divorced later in life. People stay single their entire lives. So many different stories. I’m in the middle of mine, just wondering if a co-writer might come along who can help me, and let me help them, through the next few dozen chapters.