I am not a man-hater. I was raised by a wonderful and loving dad with whom I still have a fabulous relationship. I love men. That being said, I also am a recently retired man-sitter. In a loving relationship, each partner should be treated with love, respect, kindness, and each partner should serve one another in little and on occasion, big ways. That is how a healthy relationship should work. Sometimes we all need understanding and love, and perhaps even a little pampering. I may have exceeded the "little" pampering in my former relationship. I served completely, heart and soul, and I did that for 13 years. When my twins arrived I asked for just one year where I could focus on my twin babies. There wasn't much else I could do aside from an occasional Facebook post of my babies as they slept in my arms. Nursing twins is not exactly a breeze. I knew it would require a lot of time and energy. I thought that the investment I had made would pay off, but it didn't turn out quite like I expected. In a nutshell, I learned three things:
1. Those instinctual promptings I'd had over the years were real, not imagined.
2. You can love, forgive, and do everything within your power, but you can't pray away another person's agency.
3. My fairy tale marriage was a fairy tale.
Today in church we discussed the responsibility we have to the world when we get married. I agree with this statement. Second only to the impact on my children, I considered very seriously the weight of impact on friends, loved ones, youth we had been leaders to, single friends who told me frequently that they wanted a marriage just like mine. I knew it would devastate others because it devastated me. I knew they would want to know why or how this could happen because those were the questions I asked myself. I knew they would think it was just a hiccup because I wanted to believe that. I knew they hoped we would get back together because I did. I wanted to take all of the blame. I wanted to fix me so that I could have my marriage back. I didn't want to be divorced. I just wanted to fix things and move on.
When I did, after countless prayers (and answers that led me to understand that this problem was a. not my fault, and b. not going to change), I received the witness that I needed from God to let me know that I could release him to God and move on. I needed a few witnesses of that confirmation, because I take eternal marriage so seriously, but again, you can't pray away someone's agency, and I needed to look my children in the eyes someday and say that this was a decision that was the right decision. I needed to face myself after all of the pain and tears. I would have to look myself in the eye and know I had done the right thing.
Does that mean I get offended when correct principles are taught about marriage? No. I didn't get offended during church lessons about children when I was childless, so why would I get offended about teaching the importance of eternal families and how we should support them? Does my single motherhood mean those principles should be avoided? Well that's just silly talk.
Back to man-sitting, I am grateful for my recent challenges, but they have certainly influenced my dating. I haven't actually created a shopping list for a husband anywhere, but after dating for 6 months and reflecting back on my wasband, here are a few things I have learned about myself: I don't want a project-husband. I am not looking for someone I have to second-guess, but someone who is honest to a fault. I am not looking for someone I have to change. I am looking for someone I can accept as-is. I don't want them to try to change for me. I want to look at the whole package and say, yep. I can take it all. I don't want a husband I have to man-sit. I am done having someone's success in a career and church ride heavily on me. I need a self-sustaining individual. I can be supportive, a listening board, a cheerleader, but if he has a big project for work, I am not the one who is going to stay up late to finish it for him. He's going to have to wear his big-boy pants and act like a grown-up. I have three very small babies, a house to maintain, and I need someone who can hold his own and be an adult, not another child. Some men just want a woman because she is going to take care of them. I don't need someone else to clean up after, babysit, do laundry for... I'm pretty sure that statement just eliminated me from being eligible altogether. It doesn't mean I won't when time allows, but I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a man to clean up after himself. Dude, your mom doesn't live here (I hope).
Speaking of family, I want someone who isn't antisocial. I love hanging out with my friends and family and am not interested in isolation. I have a lot on my plate with maintaining my home and little ones, but I get out at the very least a couple of times a week. I talk to friends, I hang out with others. I need someone who can communicate verbally as well as in writing. I can't stand it when people mix up their cases. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect that someone whose mother language is English should be able to communicate in that language. I need someone who isn't trying to re-write the gospel to fit his lifestyle. I don't need someone who sees the world exactly like me, because that's just boring, but I do need someone who is intellectually and mentally stimulating. Physical chemistry is, well, a given, but you can't go diving in shallow waters, if you know what I mean. I think I also need someone easy-going, so that they can temper me when I am up-tight.
I need someone who is willing to adventure, risk, try new things, explore the world and learn new things! I have a wanderlust that brings out some lovely aspects of my personality. I hope I can find someone who is willing to zipline over the jungle, hike Kilimanjaro, try new foods, travel the world, get off of the beaten path and live life to the fullest.
So you take all of this and I say, hmmm. Maybe I just need to stay single for a while. I am not in a rush to get into another relationship, but I am learning a few things along the way about me. Someone without these qualities is undoubtedly a spectacular person, just not a great fit for me.