The rest of Get Married can be summed up in three imperatives: “Live like you’re planning to marry”, “You need a network”, and “Pray boldly”.
It is easy to slide through our single years thinking there is all the time in the world. But, as Mrs. Watters points out, how you live now deeply effects your future: “To suggest that regardless of how you live, God will bring the right man along when the time is right if marriage is His will, is at best naïve, and at worst presumptuous….Women must do all they can to prepare. Then we can trust God for the rest, knowing we’ve been faithful to do our part.” (p. 71,77)
She lists four hindrances to good opportunities for marriage that women need to be aware of: procrastinating, aiming too high, hyperindependence, and avoiding risk.
God designed us with a prime time for marrying and having babies. That may be controversial but it is indisputable: Our biology, fertility, sexuality, energy, and beauty all reinforce that we have a window of opportunity to form a family well. This is not to say that if you are past a certain age, God can't bless you, but there is a season when some things--especially children--are more likely. Tragically, in our current culture, many women don't realize it until their window starts to close. (p. 134)
Aiming Too High
“We’ve lost our perspective of what a reasonable opportunity for marriage is….We may think what we want is a male version of us, but that’s not what God designed men to be. …I’m not saying you should lower your expectations; I am saying you should realign them.” (p. 136, 137)
This point has prompted me to take a fresh look about what God has to say in His word regarding the qualities a good man should exhibit. I realize that my expectations have been shaped more by the culture around me than by the Bible.
Even women who deeply desire marriage find themselves pouring themselves into their life as a single woman with little thought or planning for their future as a married one. They're hard at work on their careers and financial goals--their "Plan B" as many call it--just in case Plan A is delayed or never happens. It's understandable, and in our culture, praised, to make the most of your singleness. The problem is that Plan A requires moving toward oneness--interdependence--with another person in marriage. Plan B finds you becoming increasingly independent so you don't need another person. It's easy to see how actively investing in B could undermine A. (p.139)
This is something I’ve had to seriously consider as I choose how to spend my time.
"It's tempting to wait until there is no risk, until there is no chance you could be hurt. Or hurt again. Your fears are real, but you can't let them have the last word. To live like you are planning to marry is risky because love is risky." (p.141)
“Living like you’re planning to marry means intentionally resisting these cultural traps and instead cultivating community, stewardship, and purity—the elements of Christian discipleship that can best help you recognize and embrace opportunities.”(p.141)
I found much food for thought in chapter five, “You need a network”. I’d never considered the idea of formal mentoring. Yet it makes sense to ask for help from those who are older and wiser. “If what you’re after is a strong, healthy marriage relationship, strong healthy relationships within your Christian community are the best way to get there.” (p. 90) If I make any big changes in my life because of this book, most likely they will be in this area.
The book concludes with a chapter devoted to what I am learning is one of God’s greatest gifts: prayer. The simple act of prayer is a powerful reminder to me that I am not in control. It focuses my thoughts on Another’s power and Another’s purposes. God is the source of all that I have—even my faith. I was reminded in this chapter of my great need for faith in prayer. And as we ask in faith, Mrs. Watters gives a timely warning to remember what it is we’re asking for: “Asking God to help you find a mate is asking Him to take you from a place of single focus to one that will require selflessness. Far from being the answer to all your dreams and fantasies, marriage will be a crucible for making you more like Christ.” (p. 152)
It is exciting to look forward to God’s work: “Imagine in the midst of our postmarriage culture, small countercultures springing up where marriage is honored, men are respectfully motivated, women are cherished, mentors are working on your behalf, purity is esteemed; in short where everyone is striving for the set-apart life Paul described in Thessalonians 3:11-4:8.”(p.150)
If you wonder whether it’s right to desire marriage, read this book. If you’re a single woman, wondering if waiting is the only thing you can do, read this book. If you’re actively preparing for marriage, but losing hope as you see nothing on the horizon, read this book.
You’ll be encouraged.