Surrendering Your Desire for a Spouse

No, it’s not Wednesday, but today we are gonna talk about dating, marriage, and letting go. Today’s guest post is from the talented and insightful Darrell Vesterfelt. Darrell has appeared on Modern Reject before and I am so glad to have him back once again. Check out his blog This is Me Thinking, where he writes about blogging, the creative process, and its relationship to the church.

Being a single Christian might be one of the most confusing things I have ever had to do. There are so many voices speaking on the subject, telling me to ask more girls on dates or just wait until God shows me “The One.” In the midst of all the opinions I have a hard time figuring out which one is right.

The funny thing is a good portion of the opinions come from other single people. None of us have any idea what we’re doing.

One thing I have learned in the midst of this process in my own life is that I must surrender my desire for a wife to the Lord. But what does this even mean?

What does it mean to surrender my desire for a wife?

  • Does it mean I pretend I don’t have a desire for a future wife?
  • Does it mean I stop talking to girls?
  • Does it mean I date Jesus?

I don’t think it means any of those things.

Surrender means to cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority. The hardest part of surrendering, for me, is giving up control.

What if I surrender my desire for a wife, and stay single for the rest of my life??

Several times I have refused to surrender my desire for a wife because of the fear of permanent singleness. A verse that has haunted me is John 12:24: “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone.”

Surrendering my desire for a future wife looks a lot like that metaphor – giving up control, planting the seed, and trusting that something will grow.

If we are honest with ourselves about this process we have to realize that we can’t force things to grow, so surrendering can’t happen unless we’re willing to give up control. Unless the seed leaves our hands and is planted into the unknown and unseen it will only remain a seed.

I have surrendered my desire for a future wife, into the ground of faith trusting that the unexplainable process will take place, and patiently awaiting the harvest in a season to come.

The ironic part is that when I was asked to write this post I wasn’t dating anyone, so it was easy for me to identify this process in my life. Since then I’ve started a relationship and what I have realized is that surrendering in dating and relationships never ends.

Now that I am dating someone, my surrender looks different then it did before. Now I’m surrendering to the process of dating, even when I don’t know what the outcome will be.

This even applies to marriage. Think about it.

Marriage will require surrendering many of my personal desires for a time. But when I’m willing to surrender my own desires for the moment, my desires actually end up being met even more completely than I could have expected.

Do you think it’s important to surrender your desire for a spouse? What practical things are you doing to surrender this desire in your life?

About Darrell Vesterfelt: Darrell believes that a person’s story can change the world. He is passionate about helping people and organizations realize the potential of their online presence to promote positive messages, transform thinking, and shifting culture. His blog talks about communicating and living a better story. Read more from Darrell at This is Me thinking.

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33 thoughts on “Surrendering Your Desire for a Spouse”

  1. Going on the offensive certainly does feel like we’re going somewhere, but it really never seems to work out! I think every one of us has heard or even experienced horror stories of “forcing” it to happen- starting relationships that are less than godly, or with people who aren’t spouse material….

    Either way, one of the positives to being single is having my time and money at my discretion, right? (after direction from the Lord, but still… ha)
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. I am married and yes surrender is a integral and necessary part of that relationship. Being that marriage is used as a metaphor for our relationship with Christ there are some very valuable bits of insight to be gained in comparing what makes a good spouse and what makes a good Christ follower.

    My wife and I have talked about the practice of arranged marriages. It was commonplace in the U.S. years ago and still is in some cultures today. I think that what made those pairings work was the type of surrender you are speaking of. It was a surrender to the institution of marriage itself and a reliance on God to make the ties that bind.

    1. I sure am glad my marriage will not be arranged. I am trusting God for lead me to that spouse and for him to make the tie that will bind me.

      I love that you can look at that and glean such a strong insight.

    2. As an aside, I find arranged marriages fascinating. Why is it that two people who perhaps have never met before can marry and many go on to have happy fulfilled marriages?

      I think the answer, in in part, what you touched on Ken–a willingness to surrender to the marriage itself, a well as a deep trust in the Lord. So cool to contemplate. Thanks for the thoughts!

  3. My dating experience before marriage was mostly non-existent or haphazard at best. I was the nice guy who landed in the friend zone by default. I read the Joshua Harris and Eric Ludy books to appease my folks. What a joke.

    I really struggled with the whole surrender thing right about the time I graduated from college. I finally gave up on “the game” and told got “whatever, I give up”.

    Two weeks later I met my wife. No lie.

  4. I don’t think anyone should surrender their desire to marry. Marriage is a good thing. In fact, one which is encouraged in scripture.

    With that said, the single person should rejoice in their singleness and the married in their marriage. No need to make single people into martyrs or marriage people into glorified relationships. Marriage is a worldly practice (I mean it as in earthly. In heaven there will be no married or unmarried)

    Personally, I think we, humans complicate things too much. Just look at the implications and allowed practices of marriage in scripture:

    Paul said, “because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.”1 Cor. 7:2

    So, even if it is to flee sexual immorality it is an acceptable practice to marry.

    what do you say of “it is not good for man to be alone?” Genesis 2:18? Only applicable to Adam?

    What about “Whoever finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor of Jehovah” Prov. 18:22

    Or the best: “it is better to marry than to burn” 1 Cor. 7:9

    I don’t think anyone should surrender their desire for a wife (or a woman for a husband). Unless of course you do so willingly as a Eunuch which is also an acceptable practice.

    1. Moe, you said: “I don’t think anyone should surrender their desire to marry. Marriage is a good thing. In fact, one which is encouraged in scripture.” I agree.

      However, I also agree with DVest’s sentiments, put perhaps a slightly different way. I think it’s semantics. To communicate my point, let me share a story and, by doing so, hopefully also encourage DVest (and other singles) along the way.

      I grew up in a solid Christian family. One in which I saw marriage as a wonderful thing. As such, and like many Christian kids, I wanted to marry young. At 21, I thought I had found “the one.” While everything in my life to that point–an amazing career at a young age, a home of my own, ministry, my family, et al.–I viewed as from the Lord, *as a result* of those blessings, I falsely believed “I deserved” a wife. I wouldn’t have put it in those terms, perhaps.

      So, after having an engagement ring, but then breaking up with the girl who I thought I was going to marry, my Godly roommate spoke truth to me that very night: “Well, we don’t deserve a wife.” He was right! I had thought all that time that I did “deserve” because I was following after the Lord and being “faithful with little.”

      After I realized that even a wife would be a gift–the greatest gift other than Jesus Christ Himself–I started dating Nicole quickly thereafter. Yeah, that Modern Reject chick. We dated six weeks, and six years of marriage later, let me exclaim in no uncertain terms: she (God’s best for me) was worth the wait!

      So, while I agree with Moe in saying that we shouldn’t necessarily have to forfeit our desire, we should surrender any belief or hope that we can do something special or right to deserve that desire being fulfilled. God is good and knows exactly what and who–and when(!)–we need.

      1. I love how you put that Jonathan. You have a way with words. I agree I think Nicole is the best thing that ever happened to you. That and the cool glasses you wear :)

        I just want to be careful how people idolize marriage in such a way that it becomes unhealthy.

        Let’s be honest, emotional decisions are never the best decisions. Sometimes it takes a careful approach on who we choose and be willing to work it out. At the end of the day marriage is not something we do on that one day. It’s what we do for a lifetime. At least the way God designed it.

        Marriage is hard work, I hope people approach it that way.

      2. Ummm…. Someone who met his spouse by the age of 22 doesn’t get to say, “She was worth the wait.” It just rings false. Otherwise what you say seems to have a fair bit of wisdom, so I don’t mean to be too critical. Thanks for listening.

    2. Moe,

      I don’t think that Darrell is suggesting that anyone give up on marriage, or even stop desiring a spouse.

      At least, that’s not how I read it.

      It seems more like he is focusing on giving that desire over to God, and trusting that God has a greater plan for my relationship status. That I give up on worrying about whether or not I get married, because I hope I get married, and what’s wrong with me if I don’t get married??, and all those other lovely lies we start to believe about our worth and fulfillment. I think he’s suggesting that we allow that desire for marriage to either simmer or cool as God wills, and in the meantime find rest and contentment in our relationship with him.

      Because maybe the desire for a spouse that many of us feel is a tangible aspect of a larger for intimate relationship, and maybe there are other ways God wants us to experience that before or instead of in marriage.

      1. Caitlin, I understand. I’m just trying to bring forth the other side of the coin. Human responsibility. I think we get too “spiritual” in our desire to marry. I think it’s one of the more important decisions that we make, and one that needs to be made very carefully. But I want people to understand that just because it’s a Christian marriage it is exempt from the hard work that it requires. The Bible is very clear that The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. The ball is ultimately in our court. Do we want to marry understanding our responsibility? God is asking us to make that choice. But to do so under wise counsel.

    3. I am just going to quote my own article:

      What does it mean to surrender my desire for a wife?

      Does it mean I pretend I don’t have a desire for a future wife?

      Does it mean I stop talking to girls?

      Does it mean I date Jesus?

      I don’t think it means any of those things.

      You aren’t arguing against me brother. I agree with you.

  5. You said in regard to this issue, “None of us have any idea what we’re doing.” That is so true – at least in my experience. Thank you for your refreshing honesty, and for making me laugh.

  6. Darrell, this is so beautifully written. And as a married person, you are absolutely right. I feel like some people think that landing a spouse is the end goal… but meeting the person and getting married is one part of a lifelong learning process. I’ve heard it said that “marriage is to make you holy, not to make you happy” and it’s so true – you’ll never have it figured out completely. It’s a daily choice to surrender your own desires so that God can work through both of you.

  7. I think to many Christians use a mixture of faith and flirtation and wonder why they never land a spouse. I tell folks all the time that if you are waiting on God, then wait on God. If not, then go out and find someone nice and date them with the hopes of marriage. It’s the mixture that causes frustration.

    I pray for folks to get married all the time. Marriage is a good thing. I pray for the single folks I know to get married all the time.

    Marriage is a gift from God but it is not a lottery.

    1. Carl,
      You hit on something so key–the balance between doing something and waiting. It kills Christians, especially when it comes to marriage. Being content in all things and yet striving forward. The apostle Paul had it figured out. We would be wise to follow his example.

      1. I agree that sometimes I feel that if I am trusting God then maybe I shouldn’t do anything and let things happen. Then, on other days, I feel like I will never forgive myself if I just sit there and wait for life to happen. I struggle with trusting God in this aspect of my life, so am I showing distrust if I take dating into my own hands? Same goes for giving it to God…how far do you give it to him? I’m 38 years old and I’ve had times when I haven’t done anything and it might or might not resulting in dating, but it has never resulted in marriage. In fact, in one instance I was getting recurring dreams from God to not marry a man I could have married (if I had said I was ready, he would have said “Let’s go ring shopping!”).

        So, for me, I feel jaded and frustrated. I think in some instances it is the right thing to wait but other times life goes on and you need to live it.

        As I get older and my biological clock is ticking away, I see that even if I do find someone to marry I may never have kids, which is very disheartening. I’ve even looked into adoption. I know that everyone has a struggle of their own, and maybe singleness is mine. But why would God put this desire in my heart if he may not give me that desire (even if scripturally it says he will give us the desires of our heart). I have a hard time trusting the word in that case because so far I haven’t been given the desires of my heart. It’s frustrating to be this jaded and exhausted with this issue!

  8. Been reading your blog, been interesting and pretty good. I feel I have insight in this topic not being single and studing relationships on a worldly level.

    I think you are wrong, no offence. Its a swell idea to let go. But, God helps those that help themselves.

    Love is an action a verb not a noun.

    Many people think love is like finding a shooting star and feeling in the moment like “aha this is ‘the one'” then wonder how they ended up with someone incompatible. It just happened or why God why me. Well, maybe you didnt do your work. I am practical not romantic…I wonder if that is what has helped me in my love life. God will reward faith but you need to put in the effort. You need to choose to find someone, choose to love them. Find out compatibility and such or you will end up in a world of hurt later, lost.

    Or, you can take the easy way have your parents find you someone. Because even christian dating is a minefield and people need experience in life to understand such things and who is good for you and such.

    This is not a personal insult, just as a person with experience with a lot of people’s stories and my own and from older role models just had to express this.

    Thank you for your time. And awesome blog.

    1. A,
      I completely agree with you! I just wrote a post last week called the God of Now, where I talk about the balance between being content now and striving for the future.

      God does not want us to sit on our butts as often as we do. I think, however, in regards to finding a spouse, He often wants us to surrender and stop trying to “make it happen.” We so often force the issue, instead of trusting His timing and purpose.

      I think we are saying much of the same thing. I too am practical and I think God allows room for practical wisdom, as well as steadfast waiting on the Lord.

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment and kind words. I hope to see more of you around here.

  9. I’m so glad you pointed out what it is not because I’ve fallen into each of those before and they don’t work. I know you said it means giving up control, but can you elaborate more? Does it mean trying not to think about it? Not complaining about it? Blocking your engaged friends on social media (lol). Can you give some practical tips on how you surrendered? Thanks for the article!

    1. Great questions. I won’t speak for Darrell, but I think from a woman’s perspective, much of giving up control involves not trying to make it happen or force it. For example, many woman will be the aggressor or pursuer in an attempt to make a man take notice. When perhaps she should pray and see how God would have her interact with a man.

      Woman too, often have laundry lists of things they desire in a spouse. While having ideals isn’t bad in and of itself, it can prevent us from looking at other people with fresh eyes or through God’s eyes. Sometimes we get hung up on our list that we fail to see a person right in front of us. That requires us giving up control because we are saying to God “I believe you know what is best for me and that You care about bringing me the perfect spouse.”

      Certainly the things you mentioned are great too (even blocking your engaged friends). Not complaining is huge! Having praise on your lips is not only glorifying to God, but attractive to the opposite sex, as well.

  10. I’ve heard an awesome friend say that once she surrendered her desire for a spouse and decided to fully allow God to manage her life in that area she met her husband. But it’s been over 10 years of waiting.
    I am a little afraid of waiting so long. What if by then, standards are set lower, or I get old? :)
    I read that part of scripture recently and I know it was in reference to Christ dying for us. Should we surrender our desire for a spouse?

  11. My Question is, what if you can’t get a date period. I have never been on a date and I am 20 years old. I surrendered this to God almost five years ago, and now I’m losing my patients and I’m tired of spending Valentines day, after Valentines day with nothing but a Bible to keep me company. It’s the same thing over and over again. I am tired of waiting for her to come along. I go swing dancing on Fridays, I go to church with a singles group, I’m in collage, it’s not like I’m waiting at home for her to come knock on the door in a white gown and hand me a wedding band. I’m socializing. And in the midst of all this I never ask anyone out because I want God to bring her to me. I don’t want to mess up and make any more mistakes, I want the God choice. But at the same time I don’t want to pass up an opportunity because then I might miss her, and God might give her to someone more qualified. I have let God have it for so long that I don’t even know what I’m supposed to do. I feel trapped. I don’t want to seek God just for the Girl either, but I can’t help but wonder whats going on. Valentines Day is going to be a crusher if I have to spend it alone again. I’m panicking because there is going to be loneliness and misery. What should I do?

    1. We’ll there is someone out there for you. Don’t settle for quantity instead wait for quality. I know about waiting I am a 27 year old virgin

  12. i feel very much that God is punishing me for having a love life that i want, and can’t seem to find the right woman to connect with. why in the world would God punish many of us straight men when it comes to having a life with a woman that is very normal today, and then makes so many very fortunate straight men and women that have met one another and have a family that i certainly would have wanted myself? i am certainly no different than the ones that have their life all together, and i just don’t understand that God could bless certain people and not us. i really hate being alone as it is, but with so many Gay women that are out there these days that certainly does add to my problem since these type of women hate us men anyway. with so many Gay women now, of course they are to blame. and why would i ever blame myself since i never did anything wrong to begin with, and since many women like to curse at us men for trying to start a conversation with the one that we would really like to meet which certainly makes it even worse for us. i know other men that have the same problem that i have too, so you can certainly see what i mean when i say that much women nowadays are so very nasty.

    1. I know this is a very old post and probably no one will see this but I just felt I should reply to your post @TheTruth.

      I totally understand what you mean about seeing people in the world such as gay couples find happiness and wonder why have they found someone and not me, Ive lived my life right yet I’m still alone. I totally get where you are coming from but you must see, your faith, your loyalty to God here and now isn’t for a beautiful wife it’s for heaven, that is where you reward is, that doesn’t mean you go without here but if your just living your life with God so you can have the best of everything in this life that is not Christianity. God is amazing and extremely generous to us in this life but that is not the reason behind our faith. Trust me there is nothing to envy about seeing people of the world, they may be blessed to have a happy relationship on earth but it is where they are spending their eternity that makes me 100% sure I would rather live my life single than trade it for that.

      Lastly, I kind of feel as a women it is my duty to just say we are not all nasty I promise lol 😊

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