There’s something to be said for being a single woman in her 30’s in 2020. Unlike some little girls, I didn’t spend too much time fantasizing about a dream wedding or fairytale life with a husband, house, and picket fence. In my younger years, I just assumed marriage would find its way to me during college or immediately after. I watched the romcoms about how two random strangers met in the most unexpected way, fell in love, then walked down the aisle shortly after their chance encounter. It happened in the movies; I knew that was the kind of story I wanted.
“It wasn’t until marriage took away one of us that we picked our heads up out our books to see the world had continued spinning.”
It was easy to continue living while waiting for the man of my dreams to magically appear. After all, I wasn’t the only single person in my social circle in those days. In fact, my single female friends and I felt empowered to continue pursuing our individual dreams because we had each other to count on for motivation and encouragement. It wasn’t until marriage took away one of us that we picked our heads up out our books to see the world had continued spinning. I don’t intend to make marriage sound like a grim ending to an otherwise happy life. No. Instead, I use those words because, as we later learned, that particular friend’s marriage ended up robbing her of years she can never get back.
My dear friend said “I do” to a man, who cheated on her even before they were married, out of a sense of duty to family members. The entire trajectory of her life changed the day she married a man who never cared about her dreams, goals, or aspirations. I wish I could go back and scream even louder in my friend’s ear about the visible red flags of her then boyfriend. I wish I would have been strong enough to tell her that her family got it wrong, even at the risk of losing our friendship. Sadly, I didn’t.
My friend’s marriage ended not too long after it started, and she is now a single mom struggling to make ends meet. The young, vibrant college grad with a world of possibilities in front of her now has a new reality filled with studying late at night, taking care of her child, and working several jobs to put food on the table and keep the lights on. If this is your reality, dear navigator, I don’t mean to condemn. Life’s circumstances often place us in positions where we are helpless or feel as though we are. I commend my friend for doing what she needs to do for her family. I applaud her for continuing down her path to obtaining higher education in the face of adversity.
When I think about settling for the next man who rolls up in a Jaguar wearing a three-piece suit and uttering sweet nothings, I think of my friend. The unraveling of her marriage was inevitable. Those of us in her social circle knew he didn’t appreciate or deserve her. She valued education. He cared about looking like he was a million bucks. She enjoyed going out to social gatherings filled with art and culture. His idea of a good time was going to the club or drinking. She dreamed of traveling to foreign lands and speaking other languages. He was perfectly fine staying in his little corner of the world until the day he died (with occasional trips to the land of his ancestors). I didn’t realize it then, but I see now that my friend settled big time for this man. She cast her plans aside to be with him, and it ended up being a terrible decision.
“Those of us in her social circle knew he didn’t appreciate or deserve her.”
What does “settling” look like? It can take on different forms for each of us. For me, it’s choosing to be with someone who doesn’t love children. It’s saying “I do” to a man who would rather sit in front of a TV all day than spend quality time with his wife and children. For me, “settling” is picking a man who has no interest in other languages, cultures, or people.
Think about the things that matter the most to you. Now, think about the complete opposite of those things. When you entertain a potential partner who is the absolute opposite of all that matters most to you in the world, you’re settling. Don’t get me wrong, there is such a thing as compromise. That’s when you and your partner meet halfway or intentionally makes sacrifices for the other. I don’t care for American football. However, if the man I wanted to marry was a diehard football fan who wanted to share his passion with me, I’d suck it up and sit with him to watch a few games. This is true compromise.
If truth be told, I’ve thought about throwing in the towel and dating just any man. However, I just can’t get myself to do it. Fellow navigator, if there are attributes and things you truly desire in your spouse, don’t give up on meeting someone with them. I am a firm believer that God really does give us the desires of our hearts. He’s done it for so many before us, so we must trust that He can do it for us.
If you’ve considered settling, what prevented you from going through with it? If you did settle, what did you learn about yourself from the experience? Share your thoughts with our community!