Dear “Dear Future Husband”,
I think we should see other people. I know this may come as a shock to you, but I can’t do this anymore. It’s not you, it’s me. I simply can’t handle the expectations you’ve put on me. I guess I’m not godly, cute, rich, or Pinteresty enough. I tried to be all those things you not so subtly wanted. I got you the Tiffany ring, I cried as you came down the aisle, I put up with your constant cuddling even though I have trouble falling asleep with someone draped all over me and drooling on my neck, I got the dream house with the wrap around porch and walk in closet. I worked hard for those things, and yet it didn’t seem good enough. I go to bed when you go every night just like you asked, but my work has suffered because I can’t stay up when I need to. Our kids are dancers just like you requested, but they tell me how much they hate it. I feel you’re disappointed in me because I haven’t written you a letter every day of the year like Noah from the Notebook. I am only human. I can’t do this anymore because I realize now you don’t really love me. You love the idea of what you think I should be, but you don’t love me, and that is what hurts more than anything. I tried my hardest to be that man for you, to live up go your high standards and “requests”, but I think I’d spend my whole life failing to reach what you want in your head. I know you and many of your friends think it’s cute, but it really isn’t. It’s hard work living to please you, and I think that isn’t the real point of what our relationship is. I’m looking for someone who isn’t demanding, who isn’t expecting perfection, who realizes love is hard work and it’s done by two imperfect people, and who realizes that I’m not your savior or sole fulfillment in life. I’m just a guy. I’ve always been just a guy, and you make me feel less than adequate for being just a guy. So I’m leaving. I’m sorry it has to end this way. I’m looking for something less, and yet something more all at the same time. I’m looking for a girl, just a girl, someone who understands I’m not ever going to be perfect and doesn’t expect me to be. I’m looking for a girl who isn’t asking me to make her like whole, because she knows I can’t. I’m looking for a friend to share life with. I thought I was getting that with you, but you expected more, and I’m sorry I’m just a guy. Good luck with your future husband, whoever he is. I hope he makes all your dreams come true and makes your life complete.
This is something I see a lot of not just in the female community as a whole, but in the Christian female community as well. I don’t understand how this trend started, but I see it becoming a dangerous thing as long as young and impressionable young girls are fed these falsehoods. Relationships are not built on what you feel you deserve, but instead on what you are willing to give up for the benefit of the other person. And that picture up there, as good as the intent may be, isn’t giving anything up; it’s demanding a man that doesn’t exist in the real world.
Unrealistic expectations can kill a relationship, and the issue I have with this whole #DearFutureHusband trend is that it somehow makes it cute to be demanding. Women are gifts to be treasured, but we (men) do not exist purely to fulfill your Disney dreams. Marriage (and by an extension, all relationships leading to marriage) is meant to help the other person be more like Christ, and you do that by putting their needs before yours. Coming up with a series of demands isn’t cute, it’s selfish. I’m finding phrases like these being posted all over the web:
- “If you don’t cry when I come down the aisle, I’m turning around.”
- “I want you to hire a photographer for the engagement.”
- “If it doesn’t say Tiffany, I’m taking it back.”
- “Our kids are going to be _____, like it or not.”
- “I want my future monogram on my engagement ring.”
- “Our house better have a wrap around porch.”
- “I want this! (Insert picture of ridiculous house)
- “I’m not going to bed alone. When I go you go, no questions asked.”
- “I want to be your everything or nothing at all. No in-between.”
- “Make sure my nails are done before you propose so the ring looks good. Also make it a surprise.”
- “Buy me flowers every Monday like this old man on the subway (Insert picture from Pinterest)”
- “Promise me you’ll never make me cry.”
This is only a sample of what I’m seeing, and it honestly depresses me.
The pattern I’ve noticed about most of these tweets, besides their completely unrealistic naivety? They contain the phrases, “I want”, “If you don’t” or command statements like “make”, “promise”, or “buy”. In English grammar, most command statements have an understood and unstated “You” proceeding the actual command. That “You” that is understood? It’s us men, which gives the impression that we are at your whim. Does this not seem a little selfish? (This isn’t just #DearFutureHusband, it’s a lot of girls attitudes in general. I see high school girls flooding social media with things like “I can’t believe my boyfriend doesn’t bring me flowers at work.” Seriously? That would only make me NOT want to bring you flowers. Back to our original topic). Marriage isn’t a fulfillment relationship; it’s commitment, and commitments take work. I feel like a lot of girls are into this trend without realizing what exactly they’re doing. As Lauren DeMoss wrote brilliantly in a post called The Idol of “I Do”, there seems to be this infatuation in the Christian female community with love and marriage that isn’t accurate. It’s the romantic equivalent of the “Montage Effect”. The Montage Effect is a result of the overabundance of 80’s movie montages and the effect it’s had on our psyches. We’ve bought into this idea that difficult things should be easier than they are. Training for the Olympics, advancing through the business world, renovating a beach house, or mastering dancing with Kevin Bacon can all be accomplished in a four minute montage, and the world simply doesn’t work that way. Romance in the movies is no different. 95% of all romance movies show the honeymoon phase of a relationship, but the credits roll before we get to see the every day grind of sacrificing your wants to care for another. Why is that? Because we like to see the illusion, and I feel these #DearFutureHusband tweets are an offshoot of that. I hate to break it to you, but most guys do not look like Ryan Gosling, risk death to get a date, run away in the middle a football game to get a girl, or rent out Tiffany & Co. and tell you to take your pick. This just isn’t how the real world works, and for some reason it’s becoming fashionable for women to expect or even demand these grand romantic gestures. Even CNN and our dear Mr. Gosling have said The Notebook puts unfair expectations on men. More often than not, #DearFutureHusband does the same thing. It’s gotten to the point that guys in HIGH SCHOOL are starting to feel pressured to go to lengths like this just to ask a girl to prom, or a “Promposal” as it is now being called. Does no one else see an issue with this?
We’re putting too much emphasis on being cute or grand without examining the underlining issue here, and that issue is that it is becoming a cultural thing for men to be expected to outdo every other man before him. This isn’t loving; it’s a gross form of entitlement. Real love isn’t what you see on The Bachelor, The Notebook, or Disney movies, and if we grow up thinking it is then we are setting ourselves up for a rude awakening. We think stuff and gestures are the hallmarks of love, and that sets everyone up for disappointment from the beginning. I would love to give my future wife a nice house, a beautiful ring, or anything else you gals put on your Pinterest wedding boards, but what if I can’t? What if I can only afford a small home and single diamond engagement ring? What if the best I could give isn’t the same that your friend’s husband lavishes on her? Would that change how you look at me? Will that be a deal breaker? If it is, then maybe you need to take a step back and evaluate what you think a relationship really is. If you’re thinking it’s all about you, then you’re missing the point entirely.
The sad thing is, I’ve heard women defend this. “It says in scripture a man should provide for his wife,” is something someone has actually said to me. News flash: “provide” does not mean “consume” on your end. “Providing” means giving you what you need to help you fulfill your ministry, not pander to you and what you think your lifestyle should be. If you think a relationship is all about what you can get out of it, maybe you should look for a sugar daddy instead of a husband. Just a thought.
Men are not innocent either. We also often put unrealistic expectations on what we think marriage will be. Go to talk to someone who’s been married for thirty years or more and ask them what marriage is like, and you’ll come away with your expectations grossly overestimated.
The point I’m trying to get at here is maybe we need to take a step back and look at love differently. Look at it in scripture, talk to older married Christians. Seek counsel from those who have lived it and don’t let trash like The Bachelor mold your romantic worldview. What Nicholas Sparks says about love strengthens book sales, not real world relationships. Love is a conscious decision to put your wants, needs, and desires second to someone else’s every day. And if you require a man meet a list of non-vital demands before you’re willing to do that, maybe you have love confused with something else.
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