Waiting for Mr. Right can sure be a test of patience. I know… I’ve been waiting for more than 40 years. Yes, that’s four decades. But hey, who’s counting? I’m too busy living a rich, full life to worry about the timing on when Mr. Right will show up.
So let me take you on a little adventure in my singleness. We’ll share a few chuckles along the way. In the mid-1990s, my magazine editor boss asked me to review a product that promised to find me Mr. Right. Here is my account of what happened next.
Some days I’m torn between Craig and Frank. Other days Dave catches my eye. Craig is polished and successful, Frank is fun and outdoorsy, and Dave is strong and compassionate. What’s an eligible bachelorette to do? Thanks to Boyfriend-in-a-Box™, I can be in a relationship with all three with no one getting hurt. If I tire of Corporate Craig, Firefighter Frank or Doctor Dave, I can always rely on Athletic Al, Cowboy Clint or Musical Miles to be my kinda guy.
Boyfriend-in-a-Box is a single women’s survival kit against that age-old question: “Are you seeing anyone?” Found in card and gift stores, this humorous keepsake comes complete with a 5 x 7 and wallet-sized photo of Craig, Frank or one of the other four irresistible men. You also get three phone message slips saying, “he called” and a mushy greeting card signed by your man. For the overly inquisitive people at work, sometimes a picture of a guy on your desk is all they need to back off your social life.
The Menopausal Bride
“Social life?” you may ask. I can empathize if the highlight of your “social life” is an escort up the aisle by a much-shorter-than-you groomsman. Fortunately, in my only matron of honor appearance, I was paired with a 6-foot-4-inch friend of the groom. My friend, Kathy, got that part right, but she had already lost points when she made me try on nearly 50 floor-length dresses.
I don’t wiggle and scrunch into ill-fitting mermaid, sheath, poofy and strapless gowns for just anyone! But for 41-year-old Kathy, self-dubbed the “menopausal bride,” I opted to calm her hormones by modeling piles of polyester and organza in a stuffy 3 x 3 room. Talk about hot flashes!
While Kathy talked of bodices and A-lines, I wanted to make a beeline toward the door. But as one of her chosen few, I chose to support my friend in her prenuptial pursuits. Fortunately, dear Kathy was kind enough to choose styles that minimized Lunch Lady Arms—the condition named after the older women in school cafeterias who slop canned peas on your plate while their sagging triceps jiggle over your mashed potatoes and gravy. Off-the-shoulder dresses are risky for “mature” bridesmaids like me, who were old enough to see the original debut of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Actually, my torturous fashion day among a herd of 20ish brides-to-be turned into a hilarious event. Kathy and I joked of wedding pictures featuring age spots and crow’s feet, not acne. Ever since I’ve known Kathy, she’s kept me laughing even in my languid moments of singleness. Kathy is my hero in waiting for Mr. Right. She started dating at age 16 and dated 25 years (yes, a quarter of a century!), before meeting Rob and marrying at age 42. Despite hundreds of dates and even a couple broken engagements along the way, Kathy stood firm in letting God direct her journey toward matrimony.
The Future Mate List
Some days marriage seems light years away. In my early 20s, I jotted down the ideal qualities of my future mate: man of faith, handsome, athletic, strong yet sensitive…by my late 20s my list shortened to: must be able to spell J-E-S-U-S. Now I joke that he must know how to spell G-O-D (and no, G-A-U-D does not count.)
Sure, I’d like to meet and marry a man with hunky looks combined with the spiritual strength of someone like Mother Teresa, but I’m willing to wait for God’s realistic best and not Mr. Fantasy.
Keeping a light-hearted perspective on my singleness has carried me through many a lonely night, but it’s not easy saving yourself for a future mate when you must face the probing comments of relatives and friends: “So, you aren’t married yet?” “Still single?” “I don’t know how you do it.” “Tried a dating service?” “God has the right person for you, you just have to be patient.”
Being patient for a date let alone marriage is no laughing matter especially in a world that thinks any never-married woman over 45 must be gay, emotionally unbalanced, sleeping with her boyfriend or struggling with intimacy issues. Please, cut us a break and not just another piece of wedding cake! I know several attractive, well-balanced women of faith in their late 50s and beyond, who in the choice of a husband, are listening more to God’s voice than to their biological clock.
Jesus, The Well-Adjusted Single
Who says you must be married with 2.5 children by age 25 or 30? Who says you must be married at all? I wonder if Jesus as a well-adjusted single in his early 30s ever struggled with wanting someone to keep his feet warm in bed. Did his heart twinge a bit when he saw young lovers hand in hand smooch near the synagogue?
I don’t know if Jesus ever dated, but if he didn’t, in some ways he can count his blessings. After all, on some of my dates I wished I’d stayed home to floss my dog’s teeth. An upside to dating is you get to know yourself and what is important to you in a spouse. And you save on your food budget (unless you go out with one of my dates who insisted we go Dutch and I still had to cover the whole tip!)
But, you know, there are advantages to both sides of the marriage bond. As a single, I can eat a full course meal of frozen yogurt and chocolate anytime I want. There’s no confusion on how to hang the toilet paper rolls in my house, and I can keep the room temperature to my liking. When lost, I can freely ask directions at a gas station. Plus, I never fear those chilling toilet seat-up plunges in the middle of the night.
Yet singleness has its woes. I have no one else to take out the trash or give me a back massage. There’s no man to mow the lawn or lift the 50-pound manure bag into my garden. I can’t snuggle next to my partner in front a romantic fire and share the details of my day. And, there’s no one to buffer me from telemarketers. Oh, if only those boyfriends in a box could answer the phone.
My married friend, Angie, kids that since I live in Colorado I should put on a cute top with matching earrings, lipstick and nail polish and sit in a ski lodge all day waiting to attract Mr. TallDark N. Handsome. That sounds somewhat reasonable, but at my age sitting for long periods bothers my back.
A Fun, Creative Blonde SWCF
So, what’s an outgoing, fun, creative, blonde/blue-eyed SWCF like me doing about finding an athletic, tall, fun SWCM? I’m holding on to the Bible verse that God led me to in my mid-20s. During my teary-eyed moments as a wife wanna-be, I’ve often clung to the psalmist words: “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:5).
After decades of dating and waiting, I still find that delighting in my relationship with God and with family and friends is an antidote to despair in flying solo. I’m also learning to be grateful for what I do have—my well-tested faith, loving relationships, an enjoyable career, a beautiful home, two gorgeous collie girls and a dozen kids that call me Aunt Beth.
I honestly believe that the man handpicked for me is out there, we just haven’t connected yet. When I get a bit anxious or down about the reality of marriage, I stop and pray for my man. I may not know his name or what he looks like, but I thank God that he knows. He also knows what I need in a husband and how to use my singleness now to make me a more complete wife later.
How much longer is later? I don’t know, but life is too short to sit around pondering if I’ll have cold feet on my wedding day or need a warm blanket as a bridal shawl.
Even if I must wait for a wheelchair wedding at age 75, I promise my friends we’ll offer gelatins, applesauce and chocolate shakes at the reception. And for my friend, Kathy, I promise to make her try on only 25 bridesmaid dresses— that of course, minimize Lunch Lady Arms.
But wait. How can I make wedding plans when I can’t even decide between Craig, Frank or Dave?
Beth, this is a really clever and funny post! Thank you! Your use of Psalm 37:5 is most appropriate. As I have come to delight myself in the Lord, I have found Him to be more and more my only delight. My greatest delight. Being single has ceased to be an issue as His fullness becomes sufficient.
I sense you are finding the same. May our God bless you with the fullness of Himself as you come into what Paul prayed for the Ephesians – “that you might come to all the fullness of God.”
Thank you so much, Timothy. You are spot on with delighting in the Lord above all else——whether single or married. I appreciate your wise words and your sharing Paul’s prayer on experiencing the fullness of God.
We truly do have an abundance of things each day to fill us with delight. God’s continued best to you!
Love your sense of humor, Beth! And I apologize for any insensitive suggestions I may have made over the years. Glad you included the positives of singleness, too. Hugs!
Oh, Nancy, I do not recall you ever making an insensitive suggestion on my singleness. You’re such a beacon of wisdom and laughter in my life and I thank God for you!
I truly appreciate how you help keep me centered in the Lord no matter what I’m facing.
Love how you combined the laughter with the longing! Glad you are trusting in God’s perfect timing for that 5×7 with you BOTH in the photo! Love you, friend!
And you, my friend, have helped me keep a lighter perspective on all of life. Love the image of a 5 x 7 of Mr. Right and me!
Oh so clever and I appreciate the tongue in cheek comments. Hahaha. Having been single til 36, I too endured the comments from well meaning people: “Keep waiting; God is bringing him. Etc. Etc.” This from my mother. It was difficult, since the Christian culture can make a single woman feel incomplete w/o marriage. Giving it to Jesus was the way to go…it just took me awhile to keep my hands off and not help Him out on that. Haha
Kathy, thank you for sharing your own journey with singleness. I love how God brought Cliff into your life and in His timing brought you three incredible sons! Giving the desire for marriage and the waiting to Jesus is the way to go. Not helping Him (i.e. badgering) is wise advice. 🙂
BETH!!!!!! You are precious and priceless!!! I wish I could help find Mr. Right for you! Love you friend!!!
Joli, I am always open to my friends’ vetted suggestions on guys. Love you, too. Miss you!
Well said, Beth. With chuckles as promised!
Thank you, Nancy. Life seems to be a blend of finding humor and perspective in the waiting delays. You’ve helped me with that for sure!
Loved this Beth- your so very creative and perfection in your writings. I enjoyed this very much and often wonder if there is any hope for me, in the remaining years‼️‼️‼️
Oh, Carol, absolutely there is hope. I’d say bypass Craig or Dave or Frank and go straight for God’s best for you. I’m praying for you right now in this!
Beth – I love your humor! I also appreciate you sharing the reality of waiting. I am praying with you for your man!
Thank you, Shelly! I appreciate your prayers and your encouragement over the years. God’s ways are higher than mine, so He knows how to send Mr. Right my way even if I’m 75. 🙂
Beth, you have me laughing my heart out with this one. You are so right in waiting for God’s choice for you. It will be fabulous. In the meantime, just know how many people love you and are honored to be called friend. I love you, friend.
Awww…thank you, my friend. It will be fabulous! In the meantime, I have such fabulous friends like you who keep me laughing and loving life to the fullest.
Double and triple AMENS to this paragraph!!!
“Being patient for a date let alone marriage is no laughing matter especially in a world that thinks any never-married woman over 45 must be gay, emotionally unbalanced, sleeping with her boyfriend or struggling with intimacy issues. Please, cut us a break and not just another piece of wedding cake! I know several attractive, well-balanced women of faith in their late 50s and beyond, who in the choice of a husband, are listening more to God’s voice than to their biological clock.”
Should I have lowered my expectations? Gone into the marriage that I knew would never last just so I could have children? Was I selfish in not adopting because I didn’t want to raise children as a solo parent….I’ve been told all of these things and taken them all before God. I do not have an answer to the question “why didn’t you marry” but I trust the God who remains with me every step of my single journey. Thanks for your funny, wonderful take on singleness!
Thank you, Candy, for your amens. You raise some excellent questions that I think many singles brush by just to get a ring on the finger. Thank you for taking all these questions and more to the Lord and letting Him direct your steps. No always easy, but so worth the reassurance that you are love and of immense worth no matter your marital status.