There is an old saying, one probably as old as the quote in the title of this post, which goes something like this: Time is Money. This isn’t true, of course. Time isn’t money; it is far more precious than mere coin. Money you can earn or recover, but time, once spent, is gone forever. With finding a right spouse one of the most important decisions, if not the most important decision, a young Christian can make, it is essential that the time be well spent. If you are going to look for a wife or husband, you need to make that time count. This is where the quote in the title comes into play: time well spent looking for a spouse is time spent looking in the right place. Just as finding the right property is about Location, Location, Location, so too is finding the right spouse all about Location, Location, Location.
A Brief Story
To explain what I mean by this, let’s examine the situation of Michael over at Dalrock‘s. Here is a small blurb of Michael’s story:
I’m a self employed attorney and businessmen. I live alone directly on the beach in Los Angeles. I’ve never been married. My adjusted net income was over $170,000.00 last year. My first fiscal quarter of 2013 is consistent with 2012.
I’ve wanted marriage more than anything in the world. However I was passed over / rejected by women in college, law school, then throughout most of my twenties. Currently my business takes up all my time. I exist in my office chair. I am writing these comments from the office (7:00pm PST). I work long stressful hours. 60-80+ hour weeks. One day weekends (sometimes less).
When I’m not working I’m physically active, playing video games, doing chores, or drinking. I lead a pretty dull life outside of the office. Whenever I think about not being married I crack open a beer or ten. Or perhaps an expensive glass of wine from my Vino, or make a mixed drink from my home bar. In any case it’s all n an effort to forget I’m alone. That I never found my soul mate. That I never duplicated the kind of conservative intact loving family I was raised in.
The rest of his comment can be found here. It is worth reading through the comments that follow in response to Michael, because there is some helpful and not so helpful advice given to him. But to summarize the situation: Michael is a successful lawyer living in LA who has thus far failed to find a wife. So how did someone so successful otherwise fail to find a good woman to marry? Well, his reference to a “soul mate” is a problem, and so too is his devotion to long hours (what is the point if he has no family to support?). But the real problem here is where he lives: Los Angeles.
Michael makes big of the fact that he is a successful lawyer making $170k a year in LA. What he fails to keep in mind is that he is a successful lawyer making $170k a year in LA. Making that much money in LA is no big deal; there are a lot of people in Los Angeles making that much, and a lot (though not as many) making a whole lot more. You have executives, movie and TV stars and others who make far more money than Michael is in the same city. Sure he might be in the top 10% or so, but in a region with millions of people, that doesn’t mean a whole lot. Nor does being a successful lawyer, as compared to a Hollywood big shot or a corporate executive.
Money and Status are both LAMPS attributes, but in LA making $170k a year isn’t much different than making $17k a year when you compare it someone making $ 1.7 million a year. Money is the weakest of the LAMPS factors, you need to have a lot, or make a lot, for it to mean much. That means be a millionaire or better in a place like LA. Likewise, the Status of being a successful lawyer with his own practice in LA is nothing compared to what else is available. Michael may be a big fish, but there are bigger fish out there, and LA is a very big pond.
The sad thing is that if he turned his eyes north he would find a very different situation. While a successful lawyer making $170k a year isn’t a big deal in LA, it is a much bigger deal along California’s Central Coast area, especially when you get north of Santa Barbara (which is actually a fairly wealthy area, see here). Starting in northern Santa Barbara county and moving up to Monterey county Michael would find an area where the median income is roughly $59k or so on average. While the pond would be smaller, he would have been a much bigger fish in comparison to the others around him. Simply put, Michael has been looking in the wrong place for a wife.
Lets recap what Michael was doing wrong:
1) Counting on his salary to attract a good woman. The problem is that money is the weakest of the LAMPS attributes, you need an awful lot in the current environment for it to get you anywhere.
2) Counting on his status/occupation to attract a good woman. Status is a fairly powerful LAMPS attribute, but successful lawyer is UMC level, not rock star level when it comes to status.
3) Looking in LA for a wife. If your goal is to find a good Christian wife, LA is not the place to look. While the City of Angels is not Sin City, it is a very superficial place which is infused with pop culture, and thus not likely to be the home of many wholesome unmarried Christian women. And those who do call LA their home are looking for movie stars, not successful lawyers.
So what should he have been doing? Three lessons to be learned:
1) Money is the weakest of the LAMPS factors, and you need an awful lot of it to really stand out, especially in a big city. However, once you shrink the size of the pond a decent salary counts for more and more. Michael’s $170k a year doesn’t stand out in LA, but it would a few hundred miles north.
2) Status is relative to those around you. Being a successful lawyer means little in a city full of stars. But in the counties north of LA it would have counted for a lot more.
3) Big cities are an awful place to look for a Christian wife. They aren’t friendly to living a righteous life, and that applies to men and women alike. Also, its difficult to sift through the chaff to find the wholesome grains in a big city.
Strategies to employ concerning location
1) Avoid big cities. There are a number of problems with finding a good Christian spouse in a big city. First, for men there will be a larger number of “big fish” you will have to contend with who can garner most of the female attention. You need to attract a woman in order to woo her, and that is more difficult for men in a big city. Second, big cities tend to contain more vice, and also tend to attract those who are drawn to the “big city life.” Those same individuals are not likely to be the kind of young Christian men or women you are looking for. Third is the sifting problem. Simply put, in a big city, where you are going to encounter more people daily, you are more likely to suffer from information overload as you try and asses the qualities of potential spouses.
2) Avoid overwhelmingly rural areas. The out of wedlock birth rate in rural areas is potentially worse than in the big cities according to this. Given the relatively low population to begin with, spending time there is wasteful, as the likelihood of gain compared to the cost is too small. The exception would be rural areas with a concentration of very conservative believers. Otherwise, rural areas are mostly not worth your time.
3) Focus on small to mid-size towns. Small towns provide a balance between larger urban areas and the rural countryside. The population is high enough so that there will be sufficient churches and other places to search for a spouse, while at the same time avoiding the pitfalls of a big city. I think that a range in city size between 10,000 and 100,000 is ideal.
4) Avoid state capitols (in blue states). DC of course is right out. State capitols are going to draw more UMC types, young professionals and young activists than other cities their size. In a blue or even purple state that means a huge percentage of the young unmarried types (more than normal) are not going to match up with your beliefs. In a red state the opposite might be the case, depending on the state. [I will look into this.]
5) Avoid public university towns. Most universities are essentially indoctrination/propaganda centers these days, so a young Christian is unlikely to find a potential mate there (even the “Christian” clubs tend to be very Churchian in nature). For men, you are going to find women that will probably care more about their education and career than their family. For women things are a big brighter, and it might be worthwhile to consider these places as an option.
6) Consider Christian university towns. This only applies to universities that are actually Christian in their nature, otherwise they are no better (maybe even worse) than public university towns. For Christian women a town with a Christian university may actually be a great place to find a husband. Graduate schools are especially good places to look for a Christian man with potential. The engineering, business, law or medical school at a Christian university is more likely to attract a serious minded young Christian man, the kind of man a Christian woman would want as a husband. For men the picture isn’t as rosy, but programs like nursing and library science might not be bad places to look either.
7) Concentrate in areas where the LMC and MC predominate. Lower class areas are less likely to be religious, and the pool of available spouses will be small. Unless you are a very attractive man or woman, an upper class local also provides limited options. The UMC tends to be very career/education focused, so for a Christian woman it may not be a bad place to look. But for men you are likely to find women who care more about their careers and education than about raising a family. But the LMC and MC tends to be very family oriented, and so your best bet to locate other young Christians intent to start their own family.
[Note: I will update this post as time goes on. If anyone has anything ideas of their own to add, please feel free to include them in the comments below. I will add anything which I feel contributes to the overall purpose of the post.]