One of the many hurdles facing young Christians today who are looking for a spouse is the lack of a “support network” to aid them in this quest. Commentator Kate over at Stingray‘s blog explained the situation rather succinctly:
People used to look for marriage partners through family and community connections so you had some assurance of their “quality.” People have moved away from that in rebellion of marrying people their parents pick out for them, but I think it’ll start making a return after the disaster people choosing for themselves has been.
Now, I do have a slight quibble with her last sentence. Not all of this is rebellion by children, as most parents nowadays wouldn’t think to “guide” their children like generations past. But overall the point holds that parents do not play the role that they used to in selecting mates for their children. While changes in divorce laws, sexual mores and the perception of marriage likely predominate as reasons why marriage is in so much trouble in the West, I cannot help but suspect that the limited role parents play in the marriage of their children also contributes to the problem.
Why you should network
As I mentioned in the last post in this series, a chaste young Christian looking to marry faces the task of finding a needle in a haystack. With so few people fit to marry, you must meet as many single Christians of the opposite sex as you can in order to have a decent chance of finding a match. However, your time is limited, and physical constraints also limit how many potential spouses you can come into contact with. You need every edge you can get, and that means networking.
If you are looking for a wife or husband, don’t be shy about it. Let your family know, let your friends know, maybe even your co-workers. Use them as another tool to help you find The One. Create a network of people around you who will funnel you potential spouses. Most of them will almost certainly not pan out. But the same is true of those you find yourself. Remember, its all about Numbers. And if your family and friends can add to those numbers, then why not do so? If you get ten people to help you find a spouse, and they each direct you to ten different men or women… well, that is possibly as many as a hundred more potential spouses you can meet.
Enlisting the Herd
While “Team Woman” is a popular name for the group mentality that all women seem to share to some degree, another term which I am rather fond of is “the Herd.” More often than not the Herd is a thorn in the sides of men and those women who want to live a righteous life. This largely owes to the tendency of the Herd to follow the lead of the most overbearing and controlling women, who are almost always the least feminine and righteous amongst them. On the face of it, it would appear that the Herd is an obstacle which must be overcome by a serious Christian looking to marry. However, I believe that it is possible to co-opt the Herd, and use it to your advantage.
What do I mean by this? I mean that you should try and enlist that overall body of women known as the Herd wherever you may find it. That might mean at Church, or at work, or your gym, or whatever organization you belong to or have some connection to. One thing that makes the Herd very powerful is the fact that information disseminates quickly throughout the group; women are by their natural socially conversant and don’t need prompting to exchange information with others members of the Herd. As long as a few women know something, before long all of them will know. By making the effort to find you a spouse a “group project”, you can draw upon the time and even more important, the connections of potentially all of the women in the group, not simply the ones you are close to.
For women, this is likely to be a much easier task. After all, as a young woman looking to marry, you are technically already part of the Herd. Ingratiating yourself with the Herd shouldn’t be too terribly difficult as long as you don’t seek to rock the boat (and I would advocate that you don’t try to do so at this time). The biggest problem you are likely to find is from those women who think you are marrying too young (assuming that you are looking to marry young, that is). Otherwise, the tendency of women to look out for their own should work in your favor. You will also benefit from the fact that women tend to find relatively fewer men attractive than men do women, so those men whom the Herd directs your attention to are more likely to be attractive men (as they are more likely to be noticed by the Herd in the first place).
For men this is a more difficult task. You are an outsider, after all. What I recommend (and what I intend to do myself) is to ingratiate yourself with some of the older and more pleasant women in the group. While it may seem silly, you may want consider gaming them to some degree, at least enough to show some measure of value in their eyes. This I think is critical. You don’t want to be “the nice guy” to them. You want to be the high-value, attractive man who is now looking to get married. At that point some measure of self-interest might come into play, and the women of the Herd will hopefully compete with themselves to set you up with a wife. Each of them will want the satisfaction and prestige that comes with being the one who helped you find a wife.
One more thing: you want to be very careful how you reject the potential spouses forwarded to you by the Herd. You don’t want to incur its wrath. Never use a nuclear rejection, as it will almost certainly come back to haunt you. Instead work on finding different ways to let people down slowly and softly. When you are asked later about why someone didn’t work out, I recommend the following line: He/She seemed nice enough, but there just wasn’t any chemistry between us, so I don’t think it is going to work out, unfortunately. Thank you for introducing me though.”
This is far from a perfect plan I am advocating. You can expect a lot of chaff to be thrown your way. But even a little wheat is more than you would have come across otherwise. When you are trying to find The One, every little bit counts. Every new name, every new connections presents another opportunity for you to find your future husband or wife. Your time is limited, so it is in your best interest to use other people’s time. Networking can help you find the right job, and it can help you find the right spouse. So start connecting.