I am getting to know a young man I go to school with. He is a believer, and we have several mutual friends, whom I really respect, for what I know of their character and intentionality. At this point in our friendship, he has expressed interest in me through his actions, and I think that discussing our relationship will be in the near future. Right now we are in the "getting to know you" stage, and I am content with things moving slowly.
The other night, the two of us were talking, and he asked me pointedly what I want to do with my life. I talked about it mostly from the career perspective, but realized later that I hadn't said anything about wanting to get married and raise a family. It wasn't really intentional that I didn't mention it, and I have no qualms talking about my heart's desire with my girlfriends. I guess it is harder to talk about it with someone it could actually happen with. What is your opinion on sharing that desire with a person you are dating?
I think that I am glad that I didn't talk about it with him quite yet, and I certainly didn't say anything that is in opposition to having a family — my career goals have to do with work with children, and they are certainly not lofty. I guess I am just wondering how guarded I should be in sharing that. In one sense, it is no different than sharing anything else I would want to do in life, but in another sense, it is something very precious to me, and one of my deepest desires.
Thanks for any insight you have on this subject.
This is an excellent question; one I pray is increasingly on the minds of single women: How soon should a woman discuss her hope for marriage and family, and how much should she say?
It's certainly true that at this "get-to-know-you" stage it would be premature to talk about marriage to him. Even more unwise would be mentioning anything about having his babies! That's the stuff of pre- and post-engagement conversations.
But the need to avoid intimately connecting your deepest desires to him in particular does not negate the need to mention them in principle. I believe the sooner he knows this about you, the better. Why?
Because dating is supposed to be for the purpose of finding a mate. Godly men should be pursuing women whom they perceive will make good wives and mothers. It follows, then, that if a man who is looking for a godly wife (Proverbs 18:22) perceives that your primary goals for the future revolve around your career, then he may decide you're not a good candidate and may even decide not to move the relationship forward to courtship/dating. Given how you answered his question, what else is he to think?
I'm encouraged to learn that you desire marriage and motherhood so deeply that you want to guard your desires. That's noble. But guarding them and keeping them secret are not the same things. Part of the role we play as women on the way to marrying well for God's glory, is to nurture our desire for godly marriage. By keeping it off the table, you unintentionally neglected, rather than nurtured, your desire. And often, to our shock and dismay, neglected desires are less likely to be fulfilled.
I say this not to worry you about saying too little, but to embolden you to say more when you talk with him next time.
The fact that he "asked [you] pointedly what [you] want to do with [your] life," leads me to think that he wants to know. Certainly you wouldn't want to force this information on a man who wasn't asking for it. But when given the opportunity to lay out your vision for your life — especially as it relates to biblical womanhood — and even more so when the man doing the asking is a man you'd consider marrying, I say take the opportunity.
If next time you answer wholeheartedly, unashamedly owning your desire for marriage and motherhood, you'll both benefit. It may be the clarity he's looking for to feel confident moving forward. Conversely, how he reacts to what you share: either confirming the goodness of your desires or deriding them as outdated, will tell you a lot about his fitness for being a potential husband.
It's right to be clear about your desires and not succumb to the pressure our culture heaps on. There's nothing to be embarrassed about and no reason to feel you're dishonoring your desires or risking harm to them simply by making them known. This doesn't mean it will be easy to share them. But I pray that knowing it's good will help you overcome any anxiety you feel. I also pray that he is the sort of man who would need to know this about a woman before pursuing her for marriage.
May it all be for God's glory,
Copyright 2011 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.