The Boundless blog is once again considering the difficulties of singles who are unable to find spouses. This time, they discuss whether men are scared of women who have careers, secure finances, homes, and whatnot–too scared, in fact, to date and ultimately marry such women.
I’m not sure why women so often perceive fear in this disinterest. Being independent generally means that you can meet your own needs. When someone claims to be “an ‘independent woman’ who desires ‘to get married and have babies,'” it places husband and children in the category of wants instead of needs–they become mere consumer goods. Most men need to be a more significant part of a marriage. This need puts men in an impossible dilemma if they want to marry an independent woman: to either be a mere accessory she’d like to have around or to put her in a position where she makes herself less than she is–to make her put on a show of needing him even though she really doesn’t. Neither of these options are good, and a man is wise to avoid the dilemma.
The problem is one of categorization. For those who are not called to singleness, marriage is a need–not just a want. More common is the error of elevating a want to a need and pursuing it to the detriment of other, more-important things. However, there is an opposite error of demoting a need to a want. Sometimes we do this in order to spare ourselves suffering–to make our lack less cutting than it is. We can certainly survive without marriage more than we can survive without other needs like water or food. However, human living is not just about physical survival; those called to marriage really need it. That’s why it hurts so badly when we don’t have it. That is why we are so deeply tempted to seek out counterfeits like illicit sexual relationships. That is why we are tempted to minimize its importance. Unfortunately, this minimization only masks the need rather than solving it, and it makes us less than we were called to be.
Where does that leave the independent woman? Her alternative is become more than independent–to expand her horizons and set her sights on accomplishing higher things that she’s incapable of doing on her own. Most people can sit in a cubicle and make Power-point presentations on their own without much trouble. Freely sharing a life and raising the next generation of humanity is a little tougher.
Of course that would mean that she’s no longer independent–her needs render her dependent on a man (or on God if she’s called to celibacy). She might have money and shelter in her single years, but her deepest needs would be unfulfilled until she finds him. That would, of course, lead to intense suffering. The longer those single years are, the more suffering there would be. That would cause a lot of people to shy away from it, but I’m not sure when suffering in pursuit of doing good became something Christians avoided instead of embraced.
It’s risky, sure, but what’s romance unless you’re helpless against your partner? Love & marriage is no place for self-achieved safety. After all, it wasn’t exactly safe for God to love us.