Am I Too Picky When It Comes to Finding a Husband?

by | Jul 12, 2019 | Preparing for Marriage | 38 comments

Are you too picky when it comes to choosing a husband? Here is what to look for and what isn't actually all that important!

I have a lot of single readers on the blog (and I’m so glad you’re here!), and recently a woman wrote in wondering if she was being too picky.

Her letter is long, but it’s an important one. She writes:


I’m nearly 26 and have never dated anyone. Sure I’ve had a lot of great male friends, and men who have been interested in me, but nothing ever amounted to much (I really want the man to take the initiative otherwise I know, because of my personality I’ll just end up leading the whole thing, and I just really don’t want that to happen). I would love to get married one day, but I by no means feel desperate or like I need to be in a relationship to be “complete”.

I am content with where God has me and following His lead into the ministry work that I am invested in, even if that means I’m single for longer than I would like. Recently I decided to write up a list of my standards and hopes for what I’m looking for in a spouse (so that my ideas were not just up in my head somewhere). Going through this list, these are the same things I hold myself to as well (at least the female version of it). It is divided into two sections… the things that I really want in a husband, and the things that would be a great bonus. Are my standards and hopes too high? Is it ridiculous to make up a list like this?

• A man who loves Jesus more than anything else
• A man who inspires me in my walk with God and other people
• A man who I can see myself growing old and dying with
• A man who is honorable in both word and deed
• A man who is a strong leader and able to lead his family well
• A man who is humble and teachable – able to submit to the leaders over him
• A man who takes the whole Bible seriously and seeks to walk like Jesus
• A man with a similar theological & political perspective to me
• A man who is selfless and desires to die to his “old self”
• A man who would just be a really great Dad
• A man who would love, honor, respect and cherish me ‘till death does us part
• A man with gifts & abilities that compliment mine – we bring out the best in each other
• A man who loves and gets along well with his family and my family
• A man with initiative & motivation who is a hard worker with a servant’s heart
• A man I can always learn and grow with
• A man who is faithful who I can trust
• A man who I can laugh and cry with

The Bonus Point Section

o A man who is “manly” and I’m attracted to
o A man who enjoys doing mission work
o A man who enjoys being outside: exploring, camping, hiking, road tripping, traveling etc
o A man who has a love for Israel
o A man who enjoys fixing, building and making things
o A man who enjoys living a country lifestyle
o A man who can keep things generally clean and in order
o A man who wants at least four kids/however many God gives us
o A man who has a great sense of humor

Great question! And my big thing is this: You want to marry a man who has good character and who has given Jesus lordship of his life.

That is really the most important thing, and the vast majority of things on her list are character issues. I think she’s done a really good job with this list! I don’t think we should ever compromise on character. When someone is of good character, they’re more likely to work hard at a job. They’ll take responsibility for kids. They’ll put family first and want to be involved in all aspects of the family life. When there’s a conflict, they’ll go to God first and in humility, try to solve it. Without character, you run a lot of risks of marrying someone who becomes stubborn about persistent sins, like using pornography, refusing to work, or ignoring thefamily.

However, I do see three threads in her criteria for a good husband that do concern me: two are minor, and one is rather major.

On the whole, her list is seriously good. But I do want to give a bit of feedback, so I’ll be nit-picking a little bit here.

Minor Issue: Don’t penalize potential husbands for their family of origin

In her first grouping of criteria for a husband I’d definitely exclude: “someone who gets along with his family and mine.” Whether or not someone gets along with their family of origin doesn’t necessarily correlate to good character. I didn’t get along with half of my family because my father left my mother due to an affair. This did not make me a bad marriage choice.

To blame a child for dysfunctional parents is not fair. Now, if that person has not dealt with their baggage, that’s a red flag. But if a person recognizes the dysfunction, handles it in the best way they can, but does not have an intimate relationship with their family because of the need for boundaries, that should not be a red flag for marriage. In fact, if he comes from a dysfunctional family, not being close with his family may actually show a level of emotional maturity that is desirable in a husband. Let’s not label children of divorce or dysfunctional families with a scarlet A on their chest!

Minor Issue: Don’t elevate personal preferences of what you want in a husband without recognizing how you will change each other

Then there are other preferences that she states in the bonus section: he wants someone who enjoys country living, who likes being outside, who fits her definition of “manly”, who wants to have at least four children. These are all preferences; they’re not character issues. And sometimes you don’t recognize how much you may change each other once you marry.

I once had on my list “someone who is very musical”, because I’m musical. Keith’s not musical really (although he was in band in high school!). My two daughters, however, really are. My great-grandfather married a woman who was six inches taller than he was–he was 5’6″, and she was 5’11”. But they loved each other!

When I got married, I assumed that I would work and put the kids in day care part-time. As soon as I had Rebecca my plans all changed. I couldn’t imagine not being home with her. What we want in our lives changes when we get together with the person we love, because we change each other. And what we want from a family often changes, too. It’s very important to agree on having children, and it’s important to agree on whether having a stay-at-home parent is important to you (although, as I said, in my case my opinion changed). But other than that, you don’t know how marriage will change you!

Major Issue: Don’t forget what it means to be an ezer kenegdo for your husband

Okay, this one is going to take a little bit of a theology romp, but bear with me for a moment. In Genesis 2, God sees that Adam is alone, and God is not pleased. So He created Eve. I’m going to let Marg Mowczko explain the significance of this ezer kenegdo creation:


Genesis 2 tells us that Adam, who was all alone, needed help, and that a woman, Eve, was created to provide this help. The Hebrew word for “help” used here is ezer, and it is mostly used in the Hebrew Bible for God’s help. (More on ezer and how it’s used in the Hebrew Bible, here.) 

Importantly, ezer is qualified by the word kenegdoKenegdo tells us that Eve was a person who was similar to Adam, who corresponded to him, who was his equal counterpart. (More on kenegdo here.) Eve was not an afterthought or an extra in God’s scheme. She was not a mere auxiliary or assistant for Adam. The narrative of Genesis 2:18ff, which states that it was “not good” for Adam to be alone, is designed to highlight and emphasise the vital necessity of Eve, while the naming-of-the-animals exercise  highlights her unique compatibility and equality with Adam (Gen. 2:20)…

There is no sense of subordination in the Hebrew Bible’s description of Eve as an ezer kenegdo. And there is no sense of subordination in Adam’s words about Eve in Genesis 2:23. Rather, he uses words that express affinity and similarity: “This one now is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man.”

The point? God created wives as helpers uniquely suited to aiding their husbands in a way that their husbands are lacking. And helper is not a subordinate word; parents HELP their children; God HELPS us. Help means that we make up for something that our husband needs. Now, why is this important in this woman’s case as she searches for a husband? I read in some of her criteria that she expects that her husband will always be ahead of her, always stronger than her. She wants:

• A man who is a strong leader and able to lead his family well

Many of us have a picture of the family where the man is the strong one, and the man is the one who is always leading. I can tell you from personal experience that in a good marriage, this flips. Sometimes Keith is the strong one; sometimes I am the strong one. The point is that we are two, together: When one is weak, the other is able to pull the other up. We need that.

You do not need a husband who is closer to God than you are or who knows more of the Scriptures than you do.

If you are looking for someone who is always able to lead you in the faith, you may be looking for something that is well nigh impossible to find, and not even biblically necessary.

My daughters were both involved in competitive Bible quizzing as teens. It sounds incredibly nerdy (and it was!), but it was also really fun. They would literally memorize a book or two of the New Testament every year (word for word), and then quiz on it in teams. My girls were so good that they represented the Eastern Canadian District at internationals. Rebecca started quizzing when she was older, so she didn’t memorize as much as Katie did, but by the time they finished high school they both had memorized huge chunks of the New Testament. In fact, Katie knew, by heart:

  • 1 & 2 Corinthians;
  • Romans;
  • James;
  • 1 & 2 Peter;
  • Hebrews;
  • Matthew;
  • Luke;
  • John and
  • Acts.

If my girls had said as their criteria for husbands that they had to marry someone who knew the Scriptures better, who would they have married?

Ironically: Joanna, who also works for me, quizzed for Western Pennsylvania at Internationals. There she met Josiah, who quizzed for Canada Midwest. They ended up marrying, and they each were on winning teams at Internationals. So they’re probably the one ones who could possibly say they married someone who knew as much Scripture!

Rebecca married a man who had only been a Christian for two years. His walk was very different than hers. Yet he had a real relationship with Jesus, and a fresh perspective on faith that helped her own to grow. Katie married a man who had done some wandering as a Christian, but had come back to Jesus, in a different way than most of her peers. But David, too, gave Katie a different perspective on Jesus. The point is not whether they are further ahead on the spiritual walk than you, but simply whether or not their walk is genuine.

You do not need a husband who is more motivated than you are or more of a go-getter than you are.

She says that she is a natural leader, but she is looking for someone who can lead her. Now, God may have given you a real go-getting personality for a reason. Perhaps you are highly motivated, and highly ambitious. That’s totally okay! But if you’re a Type A personality, trying to find someone who is even more of a Type-A personality so that you can marry someone “stronger” than you, you may fail. Not just that, but it may be a disastrous relationship. I’m going to let Rebecca chime in here, because this is a large part of her story:

I am Type-A to the bone. I want to be the best in everything, I’m intensely competitive, and I’m always thinking of the next thing that needs to get done before I’m finished with what I’m working on now. 

I’m organized, my inbox never has more than 25 emails in it or I start having panic attacks, and I always pictured myself marrying someone who was career-oriented, as competitive as I am, and who was even more focused on achievement than me. Every guy I had ever liked I had been attracted to because of their achievements–brilliant musician, intense academic focus, haughty career goals. That’s what I found attractive and that’s what I knew I wanted in a husband.

Then I met Connor. 

Connor is as Type-B as I am Type-A. He is relaxed, laid-back, and don’t get me wrong–he’s a really hard worker, is incredibly intelligent, and loves mastering new tasks, but those things aren’t what drive him. What drives Connor is, simply put, enjoying life. He works hard because it makes him proud of himself. He studies because he enjoys learning, not so he can beat everyone else. 

And he is exactly what I needed. 

I’ve said to him multiple times that if I had married someone who was as achievement-oriented and competitive as I am, I don’t think I would be as happy. Connor has taught me something that I had never been able to grasp in 20 years before I met him: my value is not in my accomplishments but in who I am as a person. He’s taught me how to sit still and just enjoy life and let go of the anxiety that someone else may be doing something better than I am. Sometimes we spend so long looking for someone who can match us that we forget to look for the person who can compliment us. I’m forever grateful that I married my compliment, not my carbon copy. 

What would I add to her list of criteria for finding a good Christian husband?

She said that she wanted:

• A man who is humble and teachable – able to submit to the leaders over him (my emphasis)

I would add:

  • A man who is humble and able to be taught by me when the need arises
  • A man who is able to ask me for help, just as I am able to ask him for help
  • A man who recognizes my gifts and strengths, and is thankful for them, and relies on them just as I rely on his

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Especially if you are a strong-willed woman, who is very close to God, highly ambitious, and a natural leader, don’t limit your chances of getting married because you’re looking for someone who is even MORE LIKE YOU. Instead, find someone who truly does complement you, and who is ready and able to do life together with you, balancing you.

Are you too picky when it comes to choosing a husband? Here is what to look for and what isn't actually all that important!

What do you think? Anything else she should add in her criteria for finding a husband? Anything else she should take out? Let’s talk in the comments!

Are you engaged and want to start your marriage right?

Want to talk through the tough issues before you get married, but you don’t know where to start? 

Our Honeymoon Course is here to help you have those conversations and make sure that you’re ready to start off your marriage–and your sex life–on the right foot!

Don’t make the same mistakes other couples have–get it right from the beginning! 

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Becky

    I definitely agree with Sheila about not penalizing someone for family of origin. I grew up in a functional Christian family, involved steadily at church and in our private Christian school, with an extended family that generally gets along well. My husband, whom I did not meet until I was nearly 31, came from a marginally religious family that regularly church hopped over minor quibbles, and most of the stories he’s told me about his childhood involve family feuds. He has had to draw boundaries within his own family, particularly with his sister’s husband, who bullied him in high school and has attempted more than once to extend that to me and our children. So he has told his parents that we will no longer attend family functions where his brother-in-law is present, to protect our kids. If I had judged him based on family drama, and particularly how his parents mishandled allowing their teenage daughter to date a kid that bullied their son, I would have missed a wonderful guy. As for the church hopping, he has learned from this and had demonstrated that he wants better for our kids in how we raise them to learn about Jesus.

    Side note- my husband also had what’s often considered a major strike against him, in that he was divorced due to infidelity on his first wife’s part. He was very up front with me about this from the beginning. I’d never had being a second wife on my list, but again, I would have missed a great guy if I’d judged him by his past!

    As for the nice to have list, that’s where you can help each other grow. My part-time career is in music, he’s never played an instrument in his life until I taught him a simple piano tune. I was ok with 2 kids, he wanted 3. (I’m currently pregnant with the third.) I’m more into nature and he’s more into historical things, so we both learn and see things when we travel that we might not have done otherwise. He’s an organized minimalist, I struggle with both. As long as you’re both growing to be more like Jesus, those minor differences often keep it interesting!

    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      This is such a great example of why we need to not hold people’s circumstances against them, Becky! Thank you so much for sharing that and showing how beautiful stories can come from tragic circumstances.

  2. Jane Eyre

    Don’t compromise on character; compromise on personality (so long as it fits with yours).

    Give a man of good character a few dates to see if there is a spark. If not, be kind when you end it.

    Maturity is important, but don’t penalise a guy for being 26.

    My family is dysfunctional in the extreme, and it affects my personality. It is a lot easier to be married to someone who is a kind person from a functional family – believe me, I’m a tough person to be married to – but the key is bearing through the slog of helping the person work through the dysfunction.

    It’s important to have the same values regarding children, and it’s important to not wreck your marriage if you have fertility problems. People wind up with gestational diabetes, c-sections on their first baby that limit future childbearing (you can’t have 10 c-sections). They meet late in life and can’t have as many kids as they would like. Life gets *hard* and it makes sense to not have another baby for a while. One of you can get cancer young and have it impact your fertility.

    (I’m in my late 30s and every single thing here is something that happened to me, family, or close friends.)

    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      That’s so important to remember, too, Jane–we just don’t really have control over our lives, as much as we’d like to think we do. That’s why character is most important. And as someone who got married at 20 to a 21 year old, I can also say that maturity and character are not always the same thing 😉 We both had areas where we were still immature, but we knew we were good people willing and trying to change, so it wasn’t too much of an issue.

    • Jane Eyre

      We do have a fair amount of control over our lives, but I was driving at the idea that people beat themselves up over not getting the dream end result, instead of accepting the process and making good decisions along the way.

      You may plan on having a lot of kids, but that’s because you love kids and want a big family. Why do you want a big family? More happy, loving people.

      But what happens when your youngest is one, pregnancies have always left you struggling to care for yourself and with PPD after, your husband’s job makes him physically ill, your mother in law moves in because her husband died and her health is precarious, and your finances are stretched to the breaking point? Do you ask for another baby because you want a big happy family, or do you say, “husband, let’s figure out how to get some of the stress out of our lives, and we’ll look into another baby when our lives are on an even keel”?

      People go broke doing cycle after cycle of ivf. They break their marriages pushing for an ideal vision instead of assessing where things are and acting accordingly. The bedroom becomes a war zone of scheduled sex for exactly one day before ovulation.

  3. sarah

    just a thought–maybe God’s will for your life is to marry someone who is of a milder personality than you and for you to learn to willingly give that person priority, not just have it forced on your existence because you marry an even stronger personality…

  4. Ina

    I think it’s important to remember as well that different personalities lead differently. We had some struggles in my marriage early on because I had based my expectations of leadership on my dad- a man a good 40 years older than my husband! When I relaxed my idea of what leadership looked like, I saw my husband’s quiet way of leading (serving, really) was equally valid and beautiful. And I have no shame in asking him to read a passage with me or pray with me if it’s been a few days. I honestly believe that one of satan’s tactics is to so convince women they need to wait for their husbands to “lead” in order to keep both parties out of the word!

    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      This is SO important, Ina! And such an important reminder that we need to look at our spouse’s strengths as an individual, not just ask ourselves how he measures up to the stereotype of “husband” we have in our heads.

      • Carrie

        I definitely think the character part is more important than the personality part. As a teenager I had a really long list of what kind of guy I wanted to marry. I listed everything from Blue eyed to taller than 6’2″ an extrovert, to active in the church.
        When I turned 23 I adjusted my list to- Someone who loves Christ and works hard to emulate him and a hard worker who treats me well.
        A week later I met a great guy who I wouldn’t have looked at before. He doesn’t have much from my teenage list, but definitely had my new criteria.
        16 years later and we’re happily married with 4 boys. He is a better match for me than I thought I could ever find.
        The important thing is to keep in communication with God and ask for his help in leading you.

  5. Arwen

    Yaaay! I love when Sheila once in a while writes to us single readers. This might be my favorite article on singles you have written. Like Rebecca, i’m also a very Type-A personality and i know for a fact i’ll marry a Type-B man because i can’t stand Type-A men. I don’t need two of myself. Men have told me i’m a hard-headed woman, to which i reply and you’re a weak man, to which they reply, see that’s what i mean. I have the mind of a man in a woman’s body. I’m also very organized got schedules for everything, my personality type is ISFJ.

    I don’t understand women who want husbands to be spiritual leaders of the home. The only thing leading me is the Holy Spirit, i just want my husband to come along on the journey with me. If their husband died tomorrow does their spiritual walk die with him too? God made you a cable woman stop infantilizing yourself like the stupid fairy tales you read growing up. You can climb down the tower by yourself. Pinned this article!

  6. Elizabeth

    If you have good testimony to a man’s genuine Christian character from someone you trust- go for it and give a guy a chance. Go on a few dates because sometimes the first is awkward. If after 3 or 4 and you aren’t feeling it, end it gently and politely. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I’m sure most guys would rather you give him a chance instead of saying no without knowing for sure.
    So many women throw away amazing Christian men because they don’t live up to their list of impossible check-offs for stupid reasons.
    Don’t settle an inch on character. Don’t settle on your spiritual unity. Spiritual leadership does NOT mean he is in front with a microphone and always leading Bible study. It comes in different forms for different men. But height? Hair color? His clothes? Get over it! Interests? Opinions (dogs vs cats, mountains vs beach, political leanings, foods)? People change more than you think on those kinds of things. And they could stop you from meeting someone truly wonderful. Someone who is a carbon copy of you is boring and won’t help you grow.
    If I wasn’t more open, I would have “thrown” away a man I will soon be getting engaged to soon. He was a blonde and I alway was attracted to brunettes. He had some different interests and wasn’t fashionable. His character and devotion to Jesus- gold. His humor- gold.
    Stick to your core values but be open, trust God, listen to mentors! And remember- getting coffee with someone isn’t a marriage proposal.

  7. Nathan

    Excellent list, and Sheila’s comments are amazing, too. Like always, Sheila moves to the heart of marriage, which is a union of two people who are equal and who complement each other, but who are not necessarily identical.

    Some of the “bonus list” items seem to be personal interests, hobbies, etc. It’s important for a couple to share some interests, but it’s okay if you like some things and he likes others.

  8. Nathan

    And, as a side note for Becky, you and your husband are right to keep yourself and your kids away from that guy. Kids bully and push each other around, and while it’s wrong, it happens. But for a full grown man to bully other people’s children is very, very wrong on so many levels. If this was a different website, I’d have more to say, but for now, just keep away from him, and God bless all of you!

    • Becky

      Thanks for the encouragement, Nathan! We’re expecting that it will make for some awkwardness with his family around the holidays especially, but we agree that protecting our kids from the drama or worse is the most important thing here.

  9. Keith Schooley

    I think your caveats are good ones, Sheila.

    Having been happily married for 28 years, my main takeaway, looking back on it all, is that God knows far better than we do what we will need 10, 20, 30 years from now. God gave me someone who, on paper, would never have met any list I would have made at the time, but she’s been a wonderful friend and partner for life.

    What we tend to think we need is an opposite-gender (and idealized) version of ourselves. What we actually need is someone who is very different from ourselves (this is why opposites attract) but who challenges us in ways we don’t realize we need to be challenged. I absolutely love what Rebecca had to share. None of us is as whole or rounded as we think we are or think we need to be. God uses our personality differences to pull back on our extremes (even the ones we think are virtues) and help us get a more 3D perspective on life.

    I really picked up on the introductory comment, “I really want the man to take the initiative otherwise I know, because of my personality I’ll just end up leading the whole thing.” So she’s a natural leader, but she wants the man to be the leader. That’s a recipe for conflict right there. God has given her natural leadership abilities; if she tries to suppress or subordinate those things in order to “let the man lead,” she’s going to have a bunch of stuffed resentment.

    Personally, I would advise her to stop imagining a hypothetical man with the traits she thinks she wants at this stage of her life, and simply move forward toward the ministry she feels called to, and let God bring into her life a (probably very unexpected) man whom He knows will be the right one for her twenty years in the future. (Or not–God has called some of us to singleness, and that’s okay too.) As in many other things in the Christian life, trusting in God’s wisdom above our own is the hardest and most necessary thing we can do.

    • Sarah

      A lot of people seem to be focusing on how great “opposites attract/balance” couples are. And while I agree that they can be, it can also lead to a lot of conflict. Sometimes, opposites clash instead of balancing. Very similar can mean you have both the same strengths (which can be a good thing!) but also the same weaknesses. A personality/compatibility quiz I took once said something along the lines of ‘this just shows areas of strengths and weaknesses with each personality pairing, not that some are or aren’t compatible.’ And I think that’s important to remember.

      Secondly, and I know Sheila’s written about this before, but the concept of just passively waiting around for “God to bring into [one’s] life” and “trusting in God’s wisdom” isn’t all that wise or biblical, though it’s wrapped up in spiritual language. A great book on the topic is The Sacred Search. Waiting around for God to drop “the one” into your lap is about as stupid as not applying for any jobs and expecting God to send you the perfect position. Sure, it might happen in rare instances, but it’s not the general rule, and most people would find that pretty idiotic logic for employment, so why are we still perpetuating that “wait for God to send me the perfect one” delusion with regards to relationships?

  10. Anon

    I have a slightly different perspective because I had a broken engagement before I met my husband. The first guy loved the Lord and had good character, and it was one of those “the Lord brought us together” situations. I didn’t know him well enough when we got engaged and as time went on I started seeing things that bugged me. Super hairy chest, we didn’t like the same music, sometimes he was a little socially awkward, not great financial sense. Not character flaws, but they bugged me. I swept it all under the rug because “this is who God has for me” and I am a very flexible, go-with-the-flow person. I even said to myself, “Good thing God picked me for this guy, because I’m so patient and can handle his quirks!” I can’t even describe the relief I felt when we broke up over some theological differences.

    I made a super detailed list of what I wanted after that. It was a very big boundary step for me to CHOOSE who I wanted to be with, rather than just letting a relationship happen to me. I met my husband shortly after and I couldn’t believe he met almost everything on the list. I think that was just God’s kindness to me…I didn’t feel quite the same romantic thrill at first with my now husband, and I was so scared of commitment after the previous relationship. But being able to see objectively that he was everything I wanted and needed helped me push past my fear. And I now get to enjoy doing life with someone truly compatible. It is so much fun!

    As for spiritual leadership. Even though my husband is strong and decisive, which is a great fit for my more passive personality, he had a harder time initiating the spiritual side of things. I wasted a whole lot of time waiting for him to pray with me, and getting resentful when he didn’t. Now I go ahead and initiate it because it’s more comfortable to me, and we actually pray together so much more now. So I agree with the advice to be careful how you define spiritual leadership! Even though he isn’t one to lead devotions, he does make sure we always prioritize going to church, and he has our kids’ character development always at the front of his mind.

    • Natalie

      Your first paragraph especially really spoke to me. I experienced the same with my husband (the second man I ever dated), except I actually did marry him. There were a couple times during our dating experience (after having been together for 3-4 years) where I prayed, “Lord, if you want me to stay with him and if this is the man you’ve chosen for me, show me ______ sign” and I’d get my sign that following week. My husband has pretty good character (lying about his food consumption and porn use are his biggest downfalls), but I must say, the issues I foresaw while dating (primarily his eating issues) have blown up exponentially and are seriously effecting our marriage. I have to wonder what it would’ve been like had I been more pro-active in pursuing guys (cuz that’s apparently what good Christian girls do… they don’t pursue guys) instead of waiting for the guy to pursue me. While I love my husband and would agree that “we do life well together”, I do think it would’ve been possible for me to find a better match out there for a husband. But then, would that have been me not trusting God and taking matters into my own hands? Honestly, I still have no idea. 🤷🏻‍♀️

      • Jo

        In my experience, any case when you are waiting for a ‘sign’ that will guide your way means that you are not certain and perhaps deep within the subsounciousness you have spotted major issues that are telling you to back out. But at the same time it’s either convenient or there is pressure from the outside to continue what you were doing and backing out would require a major effort.
        Asking for signs from God sounds like waiting for some magic to decide for ourselves – while I assume that God has given us means to take the decisions on our own. Usually, if we are uncertain it means we need to make ourselves aware of why it is so (Sheila’s written about the 5 WHYs which can be a good technique for a start), and then once we know, we are in a far better place to assess the issue. We either find out it is something we can work on or we can see it as a red flag.
        I doubt that just waiting patiently and changing nothing about our lives is a good way of ‘looking’ for anything is life. Finding a partner is something that is going to change our live and therefore it’s well worth an effort of looking. If we are just waiting we only see the same people every day and close ourselves off to new opportunities.

  11. Donna

    Such a great blog! I immediately sent the link to my spiritual daughters who are still waiting to find a mate. At 55 years old and widowed, I am also in the same boat. It has been almost five years since my husband has passed and I find myself to be pickier than ever! This article helped to balance my thought process out a bit. Thanks Sheila.

  12. Susanna Musser

    I think that a lot of potential marriage conflicts can be avoided if at the core, the relationship is a friendship. If you basically like and respect each other as human beings and gravitate toward each other as friends first, I have observed that these relationships don’t tend to turn into bitter marriages. My husband and I didn’t have this, and we struggled along on such different pages for so many years. It’s the grace of God that we’re not only still married after 26 years but finally learning how to just be friends.

    • Susanna Musser

      That didn’t really illustrate my point, did it? Lol

      We believe that at the core of why we struggled so terribly for so long is that we married each other for faulty reasons. We would not have gravitated toward each other and become friends if we were part of the same peer group. We put up with a lot from each other and didn’t really like each other or admire each other’s strong points, and we didn’t know how to be on the same side, each other’s side, until the past few years. So much conflict. We’re now all the more grateful for the transformation God has wrought.

  13. Emmy

    The reader with the question is not too picky and her list is not ridiculous. It needs some fine tuning, yes, and she has already got many good ideas and wise advice for how to do it.

    One thing I would like to add: perhaps it would not be a bad idea to try and see what happens if she takes some initiative instead of waiting for the guy to take it. But only if she really wants that, of course.

    • unmowngrass

      I recently heard Joyce Meyer say (I paraphrase) that the reason a lot of women’s ministries struggle is that they don’t realise that they need to be different things in different arenas. God’s given you gifts of leadership? Go ahead and lead. Lots of people need that from you. No need to be timid or step back because you’re female. God knows that, and he gave you that gift anyway! But that doesn’t mean that you apply it to your marriage either, thinking that you’re something that you’re not, lording it over your husband that you have this big ministry and he should listen to you.
      Then she said, “when I get off this stage, I’m Dave Meyer’s Wife”.

      I expect that Sheila may have a rational disagreement here, but the thing is, I’ve seen her do it too!! On a video chat amongst the more frequent commentors, a few years ago… Keith came home earlier than Sheila was expecting, and she interrupted the video chat to go and kiss him. As in, she DIDN’T make him wait, ask him to leave, berate him for interrupting her, or do anything else that put her ministry leading ahead of her marriage. It was beautiful to witness.

      • Natalie

        I’d love to see Sheila write more posts about this too. Spiritual headship and how to approach being the type A wife to a type B husband is something I mentally & spiritually struggle with so much! Like, when do I lead and when do I submit? How do I tell the difference between situations and know when to act accordingly while still being a godly wife? Ugh, so difficult!

  14. Lindsey

    On the comment she made about leading, it’s possible that she means in a spiritual headship kind of way, but I would like to offer a different perspective. She said that she really wanted the man to take the initiative, otherwise she’d just end up leading the whole thing. I took that to mean pursuing a relationship. I 100% agree with that. No one values what comes too easily, and when a guy is happy for the girl to do all the “wooing and pursuing” in the dating phase then he will not learn to stretch himself to make romantic overtures towards his wife when they’ve been married for a couple of decades and the spark went out a while ago for her but “he is who he’s always been” and “he is the man she married”. She should stick to her guns and make sure that whoever she dates likes her enough to actively pursue her when she doing all the work for him. Yes, people change in marriage – but very few really change for the better.

    • JenelleMissenden

      I too was not a great catch if you were going to compare my non-Christian family (I had been walking with Jesus since about age 3). My husband’s father was our pastor, beautiful family. I’m so blessed to have married him. I am A type personality and I guess he could be called B although he quietly co-led our youth group and gym and is an elder and has run our family business for 25 years. We are definitely complementary and grow from each other’s interests. For years I really wanted him to lead our family (daughter and son, now both so beautifully married and all four really close to Jesus), but it just is not him. I have only seen him read his Bible like about five times in thirty years but who am I to judge? He may read online which I can’t see. He prays the same prayer every meal which really irritates/embarrasses me but I have learned that we are all different. It’s not long ago that I relaxed and realised that it’s alright for our outward walk to look different. This gave me great peace. I know he walks with Jesus every day and loves God and everyone around home. It took me a long time to figure out he doesn’t have to be exactly like me and that my way is not always the right way. Praise God!
      Thank you for a great post, and I’m glad your reader has a great list and I also agreed with Shiela’s comments.

    • Emmy

      Perhaps you are right. It is also possible that some shy guy who really admires her would benefit from some encouragement and prove to be a great partner.

      Wanting to be pursued is not only for women.

  15. Ash

    My hubby and I have been married almost 18 years. We are so, so different, about as different as we could be.. he’s an ESTJ and I’m infp 😳 it’s very challenging to understand each other at times. we both love Jesus tho- in our own ways! He doesn’t like being forced or corny, which for awhile, I took as he didn’t want to lead. But, he is an amazing leader in actuality, in daily life -encouraging our kids to do what’s right, taking us to church, living a godly life, etc. He has shown me truth and I have shown him peace in countless ways. And that has been amazing as we go thru life together. God knew what we needed!

  16. Mary K

    Ultra side-note, but I have wondered if I had ever met your daughters because I quizzed in the south Atlantic district and went to internationals 5 years. Now I know I probably did! There’s a lot of overlap, I did several of those books too. So hi! I was 11th place for the John year.

    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Ha that’s too cool! We quizzed internationally from 2010 to 2015, so if our years overlapped than we likely did meet! 🙂

  17. kaitlyn

    I honestly am so confused at what “manly” and “feminine” even mean. The world has stereotypes (guys being strong/not weak, leading, liking fishing/hunting/sports/cars etc.) and I don’t quite know what people mean when they say they want a “manly” guy. Maybe a separate post one day? 🙂

  18. Steve

    This was on her “bonus” list: “A man who is “manly” and I’m attracted to”. For the sake of her future husband, and for her as well, physical attraction should be on the required list. No man wants to be married to someone who doesn’t really want them sexually, and just goes along because it’s expected. And frankly, she deserves to enjoy the physical relationship also. I think this requirement should be much higher on the list.

    • Anon

      Maybe she means she’d like the physical attraction to be there from the start?

      I wasn’t remotely physically attracted to my fiance when I first met him. I knew him for over a year before we started dating, and fell in love with his personality/character first. If I’d insisted on physical attraction being there before we started dating, I’m not sure we would ever have gone out, but now I think he is the most attractive man on the planet!

  19. KC

    I would like to add a little perspective that may help someone. Top of my list was “a man who loves God more than anything or anyone else” and I got what I prayed for! But I made the mistake of believing that strong faith and love for God would save us from marriage troubles. We weathered some incredibly rough years due to intense spiritual warfare (at one point he was convinced I had an affair because of the constant bombardment of demonic lies) and because of that divorce was mentioned. I just share that to say this: “loves God first” absolutely should be on your list but know that every marriage will go through storms and you need to keep your own relationship with God a priority as well.

  20. Leila Williams

    My question would be, is this young lady comparing young men to this list when they approach her? I’m just trying to focus on the practicalities, here. She sounds like she DOES want to marry someday so I hope she isn’t discouraging any would-be suitors when they don’t match the list. Because, like Sheila pointed out, sometimes we are surprised by what we actually NEED in a spouse. Also, a lot of the character qualities she has on her list, while important, can be invisible on a casual acquaintance or underdeveloped in a new believer.
    I guess I’m wondering too if none of the young she mentioned at least came close to meeting the criteria? If not she may want to broader her acquaintance or lowe her standards a little. (This is the matchmaker in me speaking. lol)

  21. Call me Marah

    No offense, but has anyone here tried dating recently? Most of you met your spouses before 20. The numbers game is horrible for Christian women over 25. Worse than secular.

    Online dating is a nightmare. Only used for hookups it seems. And single men don’t go to church in my rural community.

    I desperately tried online dating for a while. I would date ANYONE who said he was a Christian and had a pulse. Kind of tired of people assuming I’m picky.

    I missed out on a family due to poor flirtation skills as a teen/college student. My Christian college was 70% female and i was one of the ugliest girls on campus. No guy even thought of asking me out.

    In my late forties I have given up. I’m uglier than ever. Though plenty ask for hookups even now since they see me as low-hanging fruit.

    Still a virgin, but beauty and charm are way more important to men than integrity. As I learned in college.

    Kind of tired of being lectured on my “sin” of pickiness when there never were Christian men interested in me.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I hear you. I do. And I’m very sorry.

      I’m really interested to hear more about this: “I missed out on a family due to poor flirtation skills as a teen/college student.” Do you mean that you didn’t know how to interact easily with guys? What could have made this easier for you? Did your family upbringing make relationships with the opposite sex awkward?

      I’m trying to work on a series about this, and I’d love to hear more, so that I can help parents not leave kids unprepared for finding a mate.

      But again, I’m so sorry.

      (As for being ugly; I don’t think there really is such a thing as ugly. So much is a mixture of confidence and how you dress/do your hair. Could you ask a friend you know who dresses well to give you a makeover? She may love it!)


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