Posts Tagged With: list

What Are You Looking For?

About 10 years ago, the concept of listing out what I wanted in a future spouse was introduced to me and like an obedient girl, I started my list.

A few years later when sifting through my life in therapy, I was told that I didn’t know what I was looking for in a spouse. Au contraire! I had my list! I showed it to my mentor/friend Katharine.

“Laura, you wrote the Proverbs 31 for men! This is completely unrealistic. And it says nothing about real things you want in a husband.”**

Me: “I did?”Gold pen with signature

Yet, not to leave me hanging, Katharine helped me pare down my page-long list to 3 columns. She guided me through selecting traits (physical, character, spiritual, personality, even how he spends his leisure time) into three categories:

  • Non-negotiable
  • Really want
  • Bonus!

One thing that has contributed to “success” is that my list is short; I think I have less than 15 items between all three categories. I’m also guided in my conversation on first dates by having “The List” in the back of my head. For example, I hate doing taxes due to a traumatic experience with them in college. Thus, I want my husband to be financially sound. On dates, I’m not shy to ask questions related to money and saving – while I don’t ask about his debt, savings, or salary, I am able to guide the conversation in order to ascertain his attitude towards retirement savings, budgeting, and financial management which let me know if I even want to keep considering spending time with him.

Depending on how long you’re in dating land, the list might need tweaking as years pass.  A small part of me dies when I look at “4 kids” in one column. It’s good to think about the number of kids you want (even if the number is zero), but being 30 with few prospects makes me less optimistic towards that original number as I’ve lost those years of childbearing/child-rearing. Also, “ministry group” had a specific meaning in my Protestant days; not so much in Ortho-world.

Here’s my suggestion, Ladies and Gents: write down what you want in a spouse. Be specific, even painfully and stupidly specific. Hair color. Ethnicity. Quirks. Height. Interests. This is your list. It might be longer than my 12-15 items, but if that’s what you need, do it. Then go through the list and pick out the “Absolutely, 100% MUST HAVE” for column A. Go through and pick the “I would REALLY WANT” items. Everything else is in “BONUS” – column C. You must have at least one criterion in each column, and it’s best to do this when you don’t have a specific object-of-your-affection in mind.

It’s frustrating to be in The Land of Few Prospects or The Land of Not-Right-Now and even The Land of Everyone-Else-Is-Married. The last 6 to 7 years of my dating adventures have been a little easier thanks to my list – if something doesn’t feel right on a date or in a relationship, generally one of the criterion in my first column isn’t present. And knowing what you’re looking for helps you not be distracted with Mr. Not-for-you-but-definitely-single no matter how great his personality.

**It has come to my attention that cradles or non-Protestant converts in the Ortho-world have not heard of the Proverbs 31 standard for choosing a wife. Proverbs 31:10-31 is an Old Testament passage describing a virtuous woman/wife. Some women, especially Protestants, feel it an unattainable standard held over their heads while wife-seeking men can never find their “P-31 woman”. It was only recently that it was brought to my attention that Proverbs 31 is an allegory for the Church and Christ. Yay, Protestant literalism!

Categories: Articles, Words of wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Battle of the Marital Status

Lists on the interwebs, I’ve observed, are ways that new bloggers can make it look as though they are being productive and wise. It’s like the people that start off their day writing at the top of the paper “1 – Make To Do List”.

This in mind, I read a list earlier in the year: 23 Things to Do Instead of Getting Engaged. I get part of it. Around senior year of college, enough engagement rings start appearing that those who are single can wonder if they are missing something. But I was still not impressed with her suggestions. Was this a list saying that getting engaged is another task in life? Some of her items served others and promoted personal growth. Others not so much.

Well, someone read the first list and wrote her response. But she wasn’t helpful. Rather, she was rude and impudent. She states in her rebuttal that “Well, if this is her bucket list, then maybe she shouldn’t publish it and suggest that I do it, too.” But what does she say later?

“Oh, and that if you’re going to share a list of fun things to do, make sure they’re actually fun. And worthwhile. So, here goes. 23 Things You Can Do With Your Husband Regardless of Age.”

And later on:

“…maybe that’s why some people don’t marry young, or ever! Because sucky people like her suggest doing awful things like that.”

Wait, wha—??

And the married vs single wars continue.

After reading the first list, other than rolling my eyes at some of the suggestions, all I could see was a 23 year-old needing validity for not getting married. It seemed to be a plea for purpose. “Help! I’m caught between desire for relationship and feminism!”

And the married girl? First, don’t mention making out or having make-up sex with your husband – multiple times in one post. Second, why are you so offended that someone was trying to encourage, albeit badly, that people not focus their personhood on marriage? Third, you didn’t represent the marrieds very well. You were snarky to the single girl. You didn’t say anything positive about your single experience. Also, getting married at 25 is not that big of a difference to 23.

In fact here’s what both articles screamed to me:

VALIDATE ME! VAAAAALIDAAAAATE MEEEEEEEE!

VALIDATE ME! VAAAAALIDAAAAATE MEEEEEEEE!

But some lists, or lists disguised as prose can be good. This came to my attention a few weeks after I read the first two lists.

“Start living the life that you do have instead of wishing for things that you don’t have. There will come a time you’ll meet a boy and you’ll have to give up some of this single freedom you currently have. Start being more thankful. Start doing that now.”

It was refreshing as secular reasoning for singleness can be. It reminded me of a book I read at the beginning of my post-college life that gave a list of 100 things to do in your 20s. But unlike the first two lists – it doesn’t depend on or make value judgments about marital status.

We can have all the lists we want and never have the life we need.

The heart of the first two lists is basic discontent and lack of approval. As Christians, this is crucial to understand. All we need as the source of our validity, personhood, approval, and life’s contentment is Christ. He gave us other good things – family, the Church, talents, abilities – but they are not to be the foundation of our acceptance and knowing we are loved.

I needed three years of counseling and multiple reminders since that Christ is my contentment. Christ is my source of acceptance. The very God that says He knit you in your mother’s womb, and looked on his creation and called it good (Psalms and Genesis, respectively). This same God calls us to lay aside everything that hinders and look to Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12).

Get away from lists and go towards Christ. The list looks easier at first, but in reality it is heavy and constricting, regardless of your marital status.

Categories: Articles, Singlehood | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Best Movies for a Broken Heart

One of our favorite Orthogals went through a breakup today, so we’ve written a list of our favorite films for when your heart takes a beating.
Brigid goes for classics where the main characters don’t end up together. Laura favors what fairy tales really end up like. Anna’s on vacation and will get back to you on that.

The characters don’t end up together at the end:

Casablanca – The quintessential loved-and-lost film. Of all the gin joints in all the world…

Roman Holiday – Audrey Hepburn. Gregory Peck. Rome. It’s the perfect combination of funny and bittersweet.

Parapluies de Cherbourg – It’s in French and entirely sung.

Chinatown – Fair warning, this is noir. Politics, murder, incest, corruption. There is no happiness in this ending, but Brigid finds the final line oddly comforting.

The Way We Were – Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand love each other but in the end realize they can’t go on.

My Best Friend’s Wedding – Julia Roberts realizes she’s in love with her best friend…as he announces his engagement.

Life is Beautiful – Mostly about a father and his son surviving a Nazi concentration camp. Watch when you need to cry.

There’s hope for romance in the future:

500 Days of Summer – Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love. Girl doesn’t. Very indie and twee, but oddly touching.

Sliding Doors – Follows two timelines in Gwyneth Paltrow’s life, depending on whether or not she catches the train–and catches her boyfriend cheating.

Under the Tuscan Sun – A woman buys a house in Tuscany with high hopes. Her dreams come true, but not in the way she was thinking it would be.

Gone With the Wind  – You just never know with Scarlett O’Hara.

There is romance in the end:

P.S. I Love You – If you need a good cry. Her husband dies and leaves her notes. There is a happy ending. Also Irish accents.

Definitely Maybe – A man tells his daughter the stories of his 3 great loves.

Sleepless in Seattle – The sleepless widower’s descriptions of love will have you sobbing. In a good way.

He’s Just Not That Into You – Follows the relationships and breakups of an entire social circle.

The First Wives Club – Three divorcées help each other through tough times.

Love Actually – There’s a subplot for everyone in this one, not all of them with happy endings. A solid Christmassy choice.

Sense and Sensibility – Sisterhood, love, honor. They go through a lot to get to those happy endings.

And then when you’re ready, go watch the Princess Bride. It’s going to be okay.

Categories: Articles | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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