This is something I see a lot of not just in the female community as a whole, but in the Christian female community as well. I don’t understand how this trend started, but I see it becoming a dangerous thing as long as young and impressionable young girls are fed these falsehoods. Relationships are not built on what you feel you deserve, but instead on what you are willing to give up for the benefit of the other person. And that picture up there, as good as the intent may be, isn’t giving anything up; it’s demanding a man that doesn’t exist in the real world.
Unrealistic expectations can kill a relationship, and the issue I have with this whole #DearFutureHusband trend is that it somehow makes it cute to be demanding. Women are gifts to be treasured, but we (men) do not exist purely to fulfill your Disney dreams. Marriage (and by an extension, all relationships leading to marriage) is meant to help the other person be more like Christ, and you do that by putting their needs before yours. Coming up with a series of demands isn’t cute, it’s selfish. I’m finding phrases like these being posted all over the web:
- “If you don’t cry when I come down the isle, I’m turning around.”
- “I want you to hire a photographer for the engagement.”
- “If it doesn’t say Tiffany, I’m taking it back.”
- “Our kids are going to be _____, like it or not.”
- “I want my future monogram on my engagement ring.”
- “Our house better have a wrap around porch.”
- “I want this! (Insert picture of ridiculous house)
- “I’m not going to bed alone. When I go you go, no questions asked.”
- “I want to be your everything or nothing at all. No in-between.”
- “Make sure my nails are done before you propose so the ring looks good. Also make it a surprise.”
- “Buy me flowers every Monday like this old man on the subway (Insert picture from Pinterest)”
- “Promise me you’ll never make me cry.”
The pattern I’ve noticed about most of these tweets, besides their completely unrealistic naivety? They contain the phrases, “I want”, “If you don’t” or command statements like “make”, “promise”, or “buy”. In English grammar, most command statements have an understood and unstated “You” proceeding the actual command. That “You” that is understood? It’s us men, which gives the impression that we are at your whim. Does this not seem a little selfish? (This isn’t just #DearFutureHusband, it’s a lot of girls attitudes in general. I see high school girls flooding social media with things like “I can’t believe my boyfriend doesn’t bring me flowers at work.” Seriously? That would only make me NOT want to bring you flowers. Back to our original topic). Marriage isn’t a fulfillment relationship; it’s commitment, and commitments take work. I feel like a lot of girls are into this trend without realizing what exactly they’re doing. As Lauren DeMoss wrote brilliantly in a post called The Idol of “I Do”, there seems to be this infatuation in the Christian female community with love and marriage that isn’t accurate. It’s the romantic equivalent of the “Montage Effect”. The Montage Effect is a result of the overabundance of 80’s movie montages and the effect it’s had on our psyches. We’ve bought into this idea that difficult things should be easier than they are. Training for the Olympics, advancing through the business world, renovating a beach house, or mastering dancing with Kevin Bacon can all be accomplished in a four minute montage, and the world simply doesn’t work that way. Romance in the movies is no different. 95% of all romance movies show the honeymoon phase of a relationship, but the credits roll before we get to see the every day grind of sacrificing your wants to care for another. Why is that? Because we like to see the illusion, and I feel these #DearFutureHusband tweets are an offshoot of that. I hate to break it to you, but most guys do not look like Ryan Gosling, risk death to get a date, run away in the middle a football game to get a girl, or rent out Tiffany & Co. and tell you to take your pick. This just isn’t how the real world works, and for some reason it’s becoming fashionable for women to expect or even demand these grand romantic gestures. Even CNN and our dear Mr. Gosling have said The Notebook puts unfair expectations on men. More often than not, #DearFutureHusband does the same thing. It’s gotten to the point that guys in HIGH SCHOOL are starting to feel pressured to go to lengths like this just to ask a girl to prom, or a “Promposal” as it is now being called. Does no one else see an issue with this?
We’re putting too much emphasis on being cute or grand without examining the underlining issue here, and that issue is that it is becoming a cultural thing for men to be expected to outdo every other man before him. This isn’t loving; it’s a gross form of entitlement. Real love isn’t what you see on The Bachelor, The Notebook, or Disney movies, and if we grow up thinking it is then we are setting ourselves up for a rude awakening. We think stuff and gestures are the hallmarks of love, and that sets everyone up for disappointment from the beginning. I would love to give my future wife a nice house, a beautiful ring, or anything else you gals put on your Pinterest wedding boards, but what if I can’t? What if I can only afford a small home and single diamond engagement ring? What if the best I could give isn’t the same that your friend’s husband lavishes on her? Would that change how you look at me? Will that be a deal breaker? If it is, then maybe you need to take a step back and evaluate what you think a relationship really is. If you’re thinking it’s all about you, then you’re missing the point entirely.
The sad thing is, I’ve heard women defend this. “It says in scripture a man should provide for his wife,” is something someone has actually said to me. News flash: “provide” does not mean “consume” on your end. “Providing” means giving you what you need to help you fulfill your ministry, not pander to you and what you think your lifestyle should be. If you think a relationship is all about what you can get out of it, maybe you should look for a sugar daddy instead of a husband. Just a thought.
The point I’m trying to get at here is maybe we need to take a step back and look at love differently. Look at it in scripture, talk to older married Christians. Seek counsel from those who have lived it and don’t let trash like The Bachelor mold your romantic worldview. What Nicholas Sparks says about love strengthens book sales, not real world relationships. Love is a conscious decision to put your wants, needs, and desires second to someone else’s every day. And if you require a man meet a list of non-vital demands before you’re willing to do that, maybe you have love confused with something else.
First, i have been thinking about this too. Good post, yes.
The rest: I think that in general this cultural climate is MORE prevalent among Christians. This is I think because of several reasons. One of them is that the Church puts so much emphasis on Female=Wife. If girls are taught that God wants their main identity to be “Mrs. such and such” or “Godly Wife-woman” instead of “Child of God new creation”, they end up stuck in this loop of becoming increasingly obsessed with Marriage. All throughout childhood, we are fed images of handsome princes coming to save the day. (This in itself I don't mind, because like all marriage I think it points back to Christ and the Church). However, I personally think we need to give our girls more Meridas and Princess Leias than Snow Whites and Cinderellas. It isn't about being Feminist. It is about being a capable person who happens to be a woman, rather than a woman who happens to be a capable person. ( If that makes sense) Additionally, I think that the whole general purity promise mindset we feed teens can lead to this: ” If you are a good person and are modest and don't have sex, God will grant you a Prince Charming and Happily Ever After, and you just have to be good til he arrives, then all your wildest dreams will come true!” Purity is not about earning a perfect spouse. It is about taking God at his word that when he tells you not to do something, he means it, and that it is in your best interest. It is about obedience, not brownie points.
Also- those of us not obsessed with marriage also end up in a bit of a catch-22, because as soon as we do become focused on careers, having a life, doing things, becoming more educated, we become “intimidating”. Just a thought for the guys to chew on.
Last – MARRIAGE OBSESSION IS DIRECTLY *NOT* BIBLICAL PEOPLE!! (Ask Paul!)
This was awesome. Thanks for all of it. You're so right.
Love this comment.
I also love the article. There's nothing wrong with setting (realistic) goals for life, but it's unfair to expect others to achieve those goals FOR you rather than WITH you. For example, I do intend on having a wrap around porch one day, but I intend to provide at least part of the funds for it and wouldn't mind paying for the whole thing myself if necessary.
I also think open honesty is important in these things. If you want a photographer at your engagement, then simply ask for one or have a friend ask for it. It's not unrealistic to want a photographer, but it IS unrealistic to expect your future spouse to telepathically sense that they should set that up as some grand romantic gesture.
I was married at 19; I am 23 & have 2 kids now – our marriage is better than ever. It isn't about age, it's about maturity, emphasis on spiritual maturity. My husband gave me a ring that was in his college budget price range and our first home was a 500 square foot apartment – but we have done life together and that to me has been more valuable than anything. He is my treasure above anything but only because Christ is even more so.
Thank you for your thoughts! I complete agree with your assessment on how women's expectations of men can hinder relationships. I have sought to fight against having unrealistic expectations in my relationships most of my adult life. I believe it is essential to recognize that we as Christian women cannot even write a letter to our future spouse without making the assumption that God's plan for us is to be married. To me, this assumption sets us up for creating expectations for this future spouse and also does not give us an opportunity to be thankful for the relationships God puts in our lives.
Even though I know this post is directed toward women, I do want to point out a few things I have found frustrating in my relationships with men that i think relate to this topic of expectations. First, so many men in my life have told me they have an expectation of a 'spark' or an 'instant connection' with a women in order for them to pursue the relationship romantically. Secondly, my friends and I have gone out with men that tell us after the first or second date that they don't think it will go anywhere. There is a whole level of expectations involved in these interactions that I believe are unhealthy. The expectation that someone can get a sense for someone or create a romantic energy after one or two meetings is unrealistic. Honestly, it makes me believe that men are motivated mainly by lust in their pursuit of women. What do Christian women do with these expectations? It seems to me that this topic is not talk about often enough in the church because women so far out number men and men have their pick of women. I understand these are very sweeping statements. However, because I am not quick to trust people and want to remain pure, I find it frustrating when men are not willing to invest in me romantically even when it makes sense on every other level but the “spark” or “romantic connection” is not there. I believe that will come after I am in a committed relationship, not before.
I don't think I have fully developed these thoughts and beliefs even though I have been working on it for many years now… but food for thought anyway.