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?