Friday, November 14, 2008

Humbled

Wow! I am so blown away by the response to my Guest Post over at Rocks In My Dryer yesterday.

I feel so humbled that so many women said that I had provided words for their thoughts.
That to me is an amazing thing - because when I have come across writings that speak what I have been unable to put into words - I feel a kindred spirit and recognize the blessing. I am overwhelmed.

I want to stress that of course I am not speaking for ALL single adults - but I do know there are plenty who feel the same pains and struggles.

In fact, there were about 100 comments between Shannon's blog and mine - and only one dissenting comment. I addressed her on Rocks - but I wanted to share it here.
Happy Woman said:


I think I could have married just about anyone!

Now maybe I am saying this from the position of having lucked into a really great guy. Or maybe I settled. Personally I think everyone "settles". To me "settling" for someone means giving up some fairy tale images and working with the real person I am and the real person my partner is.

Looking back on how miserable I was being single and looking back on all the boyfriends that for one reason or another didn't work out....I think any one of those boyfriends would have been better than missing out on partnership. I think whatever the problems, working through those problems with somebody would be way better, for me, than staying alone.

If I were still single I would say to myself: You have tried being single. Now, go out and get married. To just about anyone. Work it out. And if it doesn't work out, then you will be divorced which is better than never having been married.

from, a now very very happy 41 year old woman who was married at 38 and became mother to twins at 39

I understand her point of view. I really do. In my entire life of dating, I have been frustrated by the fact that I've dated some really great guys. Nary a loser in the bunch!
How is that frustrating?

Because when every guy you date is a really wonderful person, but not 'The One' - you feel terrible rejecting them.... because after all there was nothing really bad or wrong with the person. It's just not 100% right. And that's when you second guess whether you are being 'picky' or if settling is 'settling'.

On the upside I have always felt, if God is providing me good men who are not my husband - imagine how wonderful the man He does have for me must be!

Here is my response to Happy Woman:

While I appreciate your point of view - I think we come from very different places. I (and many women like me) don't view marriage as casual as furniture placement. ie. you've had the sofa against the wall for years, try it someplace else.

Marriage is a lifelong commitment and to say that one would be better off divorced than never married is exactly the attitude that I wrote this article to dissuade.

There is a difference between settling and 'settling down'. Settling down is giving up the fairytale - and accepting life in it's real and imperfect form. Settling - would be marrying someone who doesn't love you as you need to be loved, someone who doesn't take joy in seeing your face when you arrive.

That would not be a marriage - that would be a roommate with legal ties!

I just let go of a man who I loved very much. I was willing to accept that he didn't love me fully - we would still have a satisfactory marriage - but God showed me that He has more for me. God wants me to be with someone who delights in me --- and if that is not a husband -- that is why I have a great circle of friends who do light up when I enter a room or their home.

It's okay to expect the same reaction from a man. In fact - it's worth waiting for - God has assured me of that.


That's why I was convinced that Mr. Burns was the one for me for so long. For once, there was a man who shared my faith, expressed his faith. Got my sense of humor. Understood the sort of patience I need. Shared my commitment to abstinence. And had so many other great qualities.

But looking back, he didn't love me completely. And that is no place to start a marriage.

Now Mr. Burns and I are both jokers and occasionally he would tease me (I wish I could remember an exact example) that if we were going to do something, he might expect me to do this or that. That's a lousy description, I know, but basically he expected me to disappoint him.
On those occasions, I would laugh and say, "You think so little of me."
Finally, one day he said, "I don't know what you mean when you say that."

I explained, that I felt he was saying he didn't think very highly of me, because he expected me to disappoint him. Basically, he was just waiting for me to be a pain in the tush.

When he understood what I meant, he laughed and admitted in his joking way that yes, he was sort of expecting me to be a pain in the tush.

But that's when I realized that he didn't appreciate me. A man who truly loved me would have said, "Is that how I make you feel? I am so sorry."

From the beginning of our relationship I told him that I would not be the stereotypical woman that men complain about. I do not nag. I don't expect you to read my mind. I communicate what I want and expect you to do the same.

A few months into our relationship he asked, "Are you real? I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. You're so cool. I'm waiting for you to be like all the other women."
Fill in the blank with "all the other women who disappointed me."

In the end... he was so expecting to be disappointed that he couldn't relax and realize that I wasn't like the other women. It's as if he wanted to be proven right so badly that he couldn't appreciate the gold standard right there in his arms.

The worst part was that he didn't know if loved me. I waited a year and a half for him to figure it out and all he had was doubt. I finally had enough. I realized that this man did not delight in me. Instead he was guarded. Expecting me to be a disappointment.

I still believe that if we had gotten married, we might have been okay. But I would always know deep in my heart that he didn't love me as Christ loves His bride, the Church. There would always be an emptiness.

And that would be settling.

God wants so much for us as His brides. God doesn't want us to settle for less than full unbridled love.
I know He doesn't.

18 comments:

Monica said...

Thanks for your post at Rocks in My Dryer. It was like you took what was in my head and put it out there. Thanks for finding the words I needed to make it real.

auntie said...

This is fabulous! I really liked your response to that comment...my mouth dropped open when I read "if it doesn't work out, then you will be divorced which is better than never having been married."

um...WHAT?? i don't even know where to begin on that one, so...i won't. just know that your response to her was much more calm and understanding and loving than mine would have been!

Karen said...

I just read your post on Rocks in My Dryer and linked back to your blog. I have many single friends and my heart aches for them to find their mate. I found a quote from a leader in my church that has brought me great strength and I wanted to share it with you.

"The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude." (Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin)

I am particularly impressed by the statement that says "...EVERY TEAR will eventually be returned a hundredfold..."

May the Lord bless you in His very own way with all you stand in need of.

Anonymous said...

For me it felt that staying single was settling. Not being touched, not having a partner, not having somebody who is on my side, not having somebody to work things through with, not having somebody to share my life with....that was settling.

I was short changing myself. I was requiring a certain kind of love -- I wanted to love me the way I wanted to be loved, but that way is so informed by tv, movies, books, fairy tales!!!!

For me, settling down did include taking a hard look at what I had been calling "not loving me as I needed to be loved". There is no way that we delight in each other every day. There are certainly times we do delight in each other. But for me, that needing somebody to delight in me, did seem to me to be a fairy tale.

And for me, I would far far rather "settle" for somebody that may not love me in the way I thougth I needed, then settle for a life without a parnter, without love that sometimes delights and sometimes doesn't, for love that does sometimes look like roomates. That fairy tale delight in each other comes and goes even in the most fairy tale of relationships. But working it out together, having a family together, wow.

I asked myself if I would rather be alone, not being touched, not having children, not having a partner in my life....I would rather that than being married to somebody that doesn't "delight" in me?

I would far far rather try to have a lifelong commitment and fail than to never have been through the experience at all. For me it WOULD be better to be divorced than never married.

I think your friends and most of the posts on this topic are doing you a huge disservice. They want to be supportive of you but I wish people were supporting you in getting married to this man. I wish people would open up about their wonderful and flawed marriages, would open up about how sometimes it is "just roomates". I wish they would remember how before they married they were unsure, how they sometimes felt that they were not loved in the right way but how they got through that. I wish people would encourage you to work it out with this man, to look at this idea that you need to be delighted in. I am so thankful that my mother, when I was about to break up with my then boyfriend, said "I don't think that is a very good idea."

How many very wonderful and happy marriages there are where we would not describe ourselves as delighting in each other. I don't know you at all, but based on what you wrote, I think you would be so happy, even if not delighted in, if you worked it out with this man, married and had kids. Far happier than if you stay single with a room full of friends that light up when you come in. That is just not the same.

By staying single you are settling....for far, far, far less than full unbridled love.

TRS said...

Thank you for that explanation.

I do understand what you are saying. Thanks for making the effort to write it all. I know that took time and effort.

In many ways, you may be right. Someday, maybe I'll have something to compare it to - to know for sure myself.

But I also know that I was IN LOVE WITH HIM - two months into the relationship I was biting my tongue because I wanted him to say it first.
He could only say it under duress seven months later.
Personally, I know that I would feel wounded, daily, to know that his love for me was reluctant.
Maybe I'm wrong.

But I know that I delighted in him - and didn't feel it in return. He kept me at arms' length, waiting for disappointment while I embraced him hard, and waited for my expectations to be met.

It's only been a month. If he comes running back I'll have to reconsider - but if he can do so easily without me - well then - it is done.

Thanks!

T

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

Hi Tammy,

I am popping over from Rocks. And although I don't know your blog and commenting on the blogs of folks you don't know can sometimes bite you in the butt, I am gonna take a chance and comment and say you are exactly right.

I got married later than many (32) and I will never forget a couple of months after our wedding, my husband looking at me with tears and saying, "I would rather you die than us ever get divorced. I could eventually move on in my life if you died. But I don't think I would ever get over losing you in divorce." And I totally knew what he was saying.

THAT is how the Christ would feel to lose his Bride. Death would be preferable and more bearable.

And, having been on both sides of the fence, I have often thought that I would rather be single than be in a miserable marriage. Being single is bearable, even frequently happy. But a miserable marriage is full time pain, and would utterly destroy my soul.

And oh, the man who gets that, is so. worth. waiting for.

a Tonggu Momma said...

In regard to your recent comment on my blog -- YES! That's it exactly. Although somehow I don't believe you because, in reading your last couple of posts, you seem to have all of the right words at the right time.

TRS said...

Bwaaahhhaaa haa haaa... Tonggu momma! You should meet me sometime! Your view would change.

I am blunt and inappropriate 90% and 75% of the time, respectively.

Now and then, the Holy Spirit intervenes and saves my sorry butt!

Farrah said...

I have this absurd notion that God doesn't intend for everyone to marry, and we need to cut singles some slack. Crazy, I know. It's only biblical. Remember Paul? He was trying to talk people out of marrying! He felt like married people missed out on some spiritual blessings because their attention would be divided between God and a spouse.

I have a beautiful cousin who has never even DATED, around 27, very petite and feminine, and loves kids so much she went into child development. She's one of my best friends, a really quality person who loves the Lord. Her job is working in daycare. She's awesome with children. I feel so sorry for all the pressure she gets. I feel like saying, "Leave her alone! It's between her and God! It's not the end of the world to never marry!"

Jesus said in heaven, marriage won't even exist. It will be meaningless. We'll be like the angels, who do not marry. With God there is no male or female, Greek or Jew, single or married. Only ones that love Him with all their hearts! :-)

Lest you think I'm saying all this to defend myself, I am about to celebrate 10 wonderful years with the best man in the universe. All I ever wanted to be was a wife and mother. God granted my desires. But I have no call to judge single people. I appreciate your story over at The Dryer. Keep you chin up! I'm pray for you. :-)

Anth said...

Erm. I can open up about my flawed marriage, but it will still not be a story about feeling like my husband's roommate. How awful. Your boyfriend only said he loved you after seven months, under duress? No, I don't think you were wrong to call it quits. To be married to him, and also know that he was/is so conflicted, that would be deeply unsettling to me, as I assume it would be for you. I could never say I would rather be divorced than never married. Getting divorced is something I literally have nightmares about. Hang in there, trs. God knows you and loves you.

TRS said...

Thanks Anth...

and no it wasn't 7 months.... it was 7 months AFTER I told him at 6 months! So like... 13 months!!!

And the duress was that he knew he had strong feelings for me but hesitated still to call it love.
He felt he should/could only tell me he loved me if he could back it up with a proposal. Otherwise it would be lie.

Yeah, we had a difference of opinion.
Looking back... he's all kinds of messed up.

TRS said...

I should clarify that I knew I loved him 2-3 months in LIKE A NORMAL PERSON!!!! but waited to tell him because I believed he should say it first.

And you know what... I was right. He should have.

To paraphrase Steve Perry.... "I shoulda been gone..."

Anonymous said...

You are so much better off without Mr. Burns. I must repeat: You are so much better off without Mr. Burns! After reading this post, I realized that my first husband started off a little like Mr. Burns. In that, he always expected me to disappoint him (and anyone else). I remember him saying to me after I had an important job interview, that it probably went downhill as soon as I opened my mouth. I'll spare you all the details, because there were MANY, but after much counseling I was told by the therapist that he was misogynistic, meaning that he really didn't like women. Not that he was gay, but he had a bit of disdain and distrust for women. He had gotten much meaner after we were married and seemed to only be happy after he had put me down some how. (I think Mr. Burns is a misogynist.)

In any event, fast forward many years later, and I am now happily married (11 yrs) to a wonderful man who is proud of me, expects me to do better than I expect myself, continualy compliments me alone and in front of others, treats me as his equal, etc. He is my best friend, and I am a better person with him. I thank God constantly for providing this wonderful man. I think my "broken road" to him helped me be able to properly appreciate him. Oh, how lucky a man will be one day to have you as his wife!

My last point is about "settling." I think people have slightly different internal definitions of that. There is the unrealistic "fairy tale" type of romance, and that high school type of "falling in love" feeling that some people expect to be present forever in a marriage. If they surrender that, they may feel like they're "settling." But I would say that they need to look at love in a more mature and Christian way. I would define "settling" as marrying someone who either does not love you as he should, or whom you do not love as you should, simply because you want to be married. That is unfair to both parties.

Anyway, I love your blog (I just found it). I think your maturity has enabled you to avoid "settling" with the wrong man. You are on the right path. Your wisdom you write may be helping other women avoid some of the same pitfalls.

Anonymous said...

I agree with farrah in that I believe that God doesn't intend for everyone to marry in this life, but we have a difference of opinion in that I believe in a heaven where families are together for eternity and that those who do not have the opportunity to marry in this life will be able to have that opportunity in heaven. What is heaven without family? How boring would it be if we just sit around all the time with harps? (not that that is what farrah was saying). www.mormon.org may clarify some of what I've said (not that you're looking for a change in religion; it just has some good points). Thinking of a heaven without family doesn't seem much like heaven to me. God has a family, he wants us to be like him, so it stands to reason that he will give everyone that opportunity

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

Unfortunately, anonymous, the Mormon belief that we will be married in Heaven is completely contrary to what the bible teaches us in Matthew 22:29-30.

For more information, you can look here
http://www.godandscience.org/doctrine/marriageinheaven.html

or here
http://books.google.com/books?id=yq4elsLxKpEC&pg=PA29&lpg=PA29&dq=married+in+heaven+macarthur&source=web&ots=DXcZCMC4As&sig=cZmWyCPx8DU6TUTb2gvT9BACdtg&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=8&ct=result#PPA30,M1

Farrah said...

Though I knew the Word said we wouldn't marry in heaven, I always found that hard to fathom. Our lives on earth are so focused on our families. However, I was given a gift of "feeling" heaven over a year ago. I was lying in bed quite miserable. My health had been steadily declining for years due to illness. I was so very sad at the state I was in. Unable to do much, unable to care for my family, often in pain. Illness actually brought me much closer to Jesus, but it was still discouraging at times. Anyway, all of a sudden I felt the most incredible peace I have ever experienced, a peace so complete it is indescribable. All of the things I worried about, all my responsibilities, everything fell completely away. I thought that I was dying and didn't mind at all. Nothing, nothing on this earth, no pleasure has ever compared to that feeling of peace. I don't know how long it lasted, but it slowly faded and I was still alive! The experience was a true gift. I feel it was a glimpse not of what heaven looks like, but what it feels like. When things are rough, I look back on that memory, and it helps me look forward to heaven. Also, for the first time in my life, I understood why there is no marriage there, no male or female. Our earthly attachments pale in comparison to that kind of peace. :-) The Bible may not always make sense to us, but this is only because we aren't all-knowing. Some things will not be revealed until after we die, and some things our human brain simply cannot comprehend. But we can have faith that His Word is true and that He has good for us.

Daiquiri said...

Amen, girl! I think you're dead on when you say that God wants more for his precious children. I'm so happy you believe so too!

I remember breaking up with a guy when I was in college. I was filled with doubt and fear, "What if I just let the best guy I'll ever know walk right out the door?!" He wanted to marry, I just felt that there had to be more. But WHAT?! If I could have put my finger on specifics, I would have felt so much better.

But God sent me an angel in the form of a Bible study leader. She said, "If you felt so strongly toward a man that was clearly NOT who God intends for you, just imagine how it will feel to be with the one who God DOES have planned for you!"

She was so right!

I've been lonely in and out of relationships...the loneliness while in a relationship with the wrong person is (in my opinion) much more painful. And if you were married to that wrong person? ACK!

I just read back through this comment and realized how many exclamation points I used...I guess you can tell how strongly I feel about this :) (it was so hard to not just use another)

Caribbean Shulamite said...

Ok, so I am commenting on really old posts but I found your blog today.

"But looking back, he didn't love me completely. And that is no place to start a marriage."

I had to accept the same thing about a man who still says differently today. He says he loves me still and that he did, but his actions showed differently. I had to make a hard decision, after trying to convince myself unsuccessfully for so long. What's weird is that he was the one who seemed to fall hard for me and brought up all the plans to get married and make me his wife. I'm still wondering what was real and what was not. That's probably the worst part.

Like you, I also came to believe that God wants me to have a husband who cherishes me entirely and wholeheartedly. Jesus feels the same way about His Church.

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