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Revisiting “When to Settle”

When it comes to the important things such as faith, character, personality and holding similar convictions, you don’t have to compromise.

So, Christian single, you want to be married. Maybe you’re inching toward 30 (or even 40) and you just don’t seem to have any viable marriage prospects. Will it be impossible to find what you’re looking for in a spouse? Should you just “settle” for the next eligible person who comes along?

Scott Croft provides this definition of “settling:”

Let’s use the following as our working definition of “settling”: a willingness to date or marry someone who clearly fails to meet all the major criteria on your “list” to the extent you dreamed about when picturing your spouse, and/or doesn’t appear to be your “soul mate” in the Friends/Sex in the City/fill in vacuous worldly movie/show here sense of the word.

He goes on to argue that he’s seen too many “good” Christian relationships “go down the tubes” because one or both individuals didn’t have stars in their eyes. The basic material for a godly marriage was there, he says, but the expectations of the individuals were not met. In other words, the people involved were worried about “settling” and not getting the best deal they could in a mate.

A different take

When I was single, I worried about having to settle. I didn’t date much throughout my 20s and soon found myself nearing 30. Although a few quality Christian men did come my way, something always felt off. On paper, those relationships should have worked. We both loved the Lord. We wanted similar things out of life. But the feelings and momentum were lacking. When those relationships “went down the tubes,” I felt sadness but also relief.

Now that I’m married to someone I’m attracted to and genuinely enjoy, I see that trusting God and waiting for His plan was worth every year of singleness. I’ve seen too many friends’ marriages fail — sometimes because they entered into a relationship that wasn’t the best.

Don’t get me wrong: I fully believe that once you do get married, that person is “the one.” God hates divorce and He can sustain and provide for marriages that are difficult or face challenges. But if you are single, you are still in a position to be selective and make a wise choice in a spouse. If you’re tempted to “settle,” here are three things to consider.

God is sovereign.

This statement sounds cliché, but it is absolutely true. I love how Psalm 50:10 proclaims that our God owns “the cattle on a thousand hills.” If you’re in a waiting season, do not buy into the lie that God doesn’t have the resources to provide for you.

From my perspective, I couldn’t have “settled” if I wanted to. As I prayed about relationships and men I was attracted to, God led me. One break-up was fueled by unanswered prayers for the relationship. Another potential relationship dissolved before it really began. When God brought Kevin into my life, our friendship and partnership came together quickly in miraculous ways. The difference was like day and night. Love and camaraderie can be formed in many different ways on different timelines, but it does not form apart from God’s watchful eye and mighty hand.

Focus on what matters.

In her article “When to Settle,” Candice Watters recalls a time when a friend warned her against “settling” for her now-husband, Steve. The well-meaning friend felt Steve’s ambition to be a small-town principal was beneath Candice, who was earning a master’s degree. Thankfully, Candice saw this for the folly it was.

Be careful if your “major criteria” for a future spouse includes semi-superficial factors, such as job, paycheck, future prospects, and even physical appearance. You may be focusing on the wrong things. I have witnessed friends marrying incredible men whose career prospects appeared to be “beneath them.” But these men love God, serve in their churches and are wonderful dads.

When I met my now-husband, Kevin, he was a barista. I was a homeowner with an established career of eight years. I’m thankful I didn’t let Kevin’s humble beginnings deter my feelings for Him. I soon realized that he had a deep and sweet relationship with Christ, desired to live out the gospel, loved his family and was an incredibly hard worker. Even though we were at different places in life (partly because of our age difference), I knew Kevin would make an excellent husband. And as I got to know him, I discovered that I truly loved him.

Trust the Lord fully.

One of the biggest lessons I learned as a single woman was how to trust the Lord and depend on Him. I didn’t understand why I had to be single for so long. (I don’t understand why my single friends don’t already have amazing spouses, either.) But I did come to understand that God is good and faithful regardless of my circumstances. He did a deep work in me during those single years, teaching me to depend on Him and those in the family of God.

I love the words of Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” During my single years, I found this verse to be applicable to my love life. When you trust in the Lord and live in His ways, you don’t have to fret about “settling.” Some relationships work out; some don’t. But when you’re abiding in Christ, you’ll experience peace on the path He has for you.

Don’t settle

You don’t have to settle. I mean, you do — in a way. All of us “settle” on some factors we didn’t see coming. I never thought I’d end up with someone with facial hair, but Kevin is a beard man. I also didn’t imagine he’d be eight years younger than I. But when it comes to the important things such as faith, character, personality and holding similar convictions, you don’t have to compromise.

Trust instead. Trust the One who made you and knows you — the One who loves you deeply and has unlimited resources. As you align your desires with His, you can trust Him to orchestrate the details of your life, including the romantic ones.

Do you want to be married? Pray for a spouse. Have others pray for you. Walk in God’s ways so you can easily identify someone going the same direction. Keep the “major criteria” on your potential-spouse list modest and God-honoring. Then trust Him to do the rest.

Copyright 2021 Suzanne Hadley Gosselin. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

Suzanne Gosselin
Suzanne Hadley Gosselin

Suzanne Hadley Gosselin is a freelance writer and editor. She graduated from Multnomah University with a degree in journalism and biblical theology. She lives in California with her husband, Kevin, and her four young children: Josiah, Sadie, Amelia and Jackson. When she’s not hanging out with her kids, Suzanne loves a good cup of coffee, conversation with friends, musical theater and a trip to the beautiful California coast.

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