this post suggested, I recently became engaged to a wonderful daughter of God. I had spent the months leading up to the proposal questioning whether or not she was the perfect woman for me, and if I would truly be happy spending the rest of my life with her. Were we a good match? Did we share similar interests? Could I depend on her to be my lifelong support? Would we be able to support one another? This also got me thinking about the mentality of those who seek a loved one, and all that pertains.
The apostle Paul once wrote: "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways" (1 Cor 13:11). Of course, he was speaking in this verse of spiritual maturity, but in many ways this is true of our attitude and maturity in other areas. In regards to romance and a lifelong partner, there is often a difference between what a man may want, and what he truly needs. In my job as a graphic designer for a news station, I often recognize that there can be a world of difference between what a news producer wants for a graphic, and what they actually need for a graphic. In a similar fashion, a man may have an idea of what he wants in a woman, and yet fail to grasp what he needs in a woman.
When I was younger, the woman I wanted was different than the woman I wanted now. I was seeking empty satisfaction in both the physical and emotional departments. I was desperate to fill in the void that had been there in my life, and didn't care what it was I used to fill that void. It was like someone who was hungry, and desired to fill it with readily available junk food rather waiting for more nutritious food. This led me down some very dangerous paths, and, even in the youthful days of my faith, introduced me to some very dangerous women. I came to know all too well the words of Solomon when he writes: "The mouth of forbidden women is a deep pit; he with whom the LORD is angry will fall into it" (Prov 22:14).
As I matured in my faith, God grew me from a child of God into a man of God, and made me realize my need for a woman of God. First and foremost, I realized I needed a believing, God-fearing woman - I could not engage in a relationship with a non-believer, insomuch as I would engage in "missionary dating." I needed a woman with whom I could go through scripture and not worry about controversies. I wasn't looking for a walking theological catechism, nor did I desire a woman who saw eye-to-eye with me 100%, but wanted as close a theological match as possible.
Physical appeal and attraction became somewhat secondary - not that they were thrown out entirely, but rather they were removed from the pedestal I had placed them. Not every woman has the elegance of Audrey Hepburn nor the appeal of Christina Hendricks, only because Hepburn's elegance was matched by Hepburn, and Hendricks' appeal is matched by Hendricks. The vast majority of woman have elegance and attraction that belongs to them and them alone. It is unjust to hold one woman up to another woman's standards and ignore how her elegance and attraction belong to her alone. Likewise it is unjust to ignore her other traits. I had realized, by the sanctification of God, that such "other traits" do exist. I realized - again, by the sanctification of God - that those "other traits" far outweighed what I had previously believed to be important. As scripture states: "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised" (Prov 31:30).
I should pause here a moment to alert the reader that they should not confuse this for "settling." That is, I am not saying a person should enter the mindset, "Well, I found a person who likes me, I guess that's good enough," nor even, "Hey, she's a believer - good enough for me." There's a difference between seeking what you need and just settling for what you have. I might compare this to a boy who desires to own a car as he grows up: at a youthful age, he wants a cool looking sports car like the ones on his favorite action movie or cartoon show; at his more mature age, he realizes there is more to a car than looks, and gradually he begins to want a car with good gas mileage, a good warranty, a good engine lifespan, and the like. Eventually the boy, now a man, chooses a car that has the latter options rather than the former. This does not mean the boy has "settled" - it means the boy's understanding of the car he needs is now more mature, and he is basing his decisions off this more mature understanding.
What a man truly needs in a woman is someone to be "bone of his bone" and "flesh of his flesh," with whom he can become "one flesh" (Gen 2:23-24). The man needs a woman with whom he can be physically comfortable (cf. 1 Cor 7:1-5). The man needs a woman with whom he can educate his children (cf. Prov 1:8). The man needs a woman that he can love, care for, and edify, just as Christ loves for, cares for, and edifies the church (Eph 5:25-30). The man needs a woman with whom he can enjoy the rest of his life (cf. Ecc 9:9). All this is important, hence why the word of God says: "An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels" (Prov 31:10).
The above image is an edited version of Dante and Beatrice by Henry Holiday.