I Arranged My Own Marriage, And Here’s Why You Should Too

bride and groom
Wu Jianxiong

We’re blessed to live in an age where society is starting to figure out that you don’t have to be married to be happy. You don’t need some man to “pick you” for you to be a valid member of society and you definitely don’t require a partner to be happy. But for those who are the marrying kind, sometimes it can feel discouraging. It’s hard to meet people once you’re out of school and internet dating can be frustrating, if not outright dangerous. But there are plenty of success stories, and I’m happy to say I’m one of them.

When I was 27, I decided I wanted to marry. I did not have a boyfriend and hadn’t in some time. My last pairing was a four-month boyfriend when I was 19. It ended amicably when the Marines stationed us on opposite coasts. In the intervening time, I got my college degree and moved to Las Vegas to take a job. I had an apartment, stable employment, and small savings. All I needed was a husband. But being a classic introvert, I rarely left my apartment except for work and groceries. That left the internet.

Wading into online dating and all its uncertainty was a big hurdle to overcome. In addition to being an introvert, I am also the no-nonsense type of person. I don’t ever want to hear the words “let’s wait and see,” from anyone, certainly not a romantic prospect. I also have no use for trite platitudes like, “when you stop looking, the right one will come along.” So I applied the same tactics I did that landed me my dream job right out of college. Keep your options open and be ultra-specific about what you want. That means fewer options, but they will be better options.

My ad read as follows:

“My name is Kristin and I’d like to be wife. If you’re looking to be a husband, please read on. I like Star Wars, a good book, and drinking watered down cocktails while watching UFC, from home of course. I’m low-key, motivated to maintain happy relationships, and have an easy smile. Be warned, I laugh at my own jokes. But I’ll probably laugh at yours too. I was raised Catholic but don’t practice anymore and I think Easter is a more important holiday than Christmas. I have love for kids who are over five years, so if you have some, I’d like to meet them when you’re ready. But I won’t be adding any to the brood. I don’t smoke and don’t do drugs of any kind, and I’d like it if you didn’t either.”

That’s it. One paragraph. No long list of “must haves” or a longer list of “deal breakers.” I didn’t specify race, religion, height, or weight. Why not? Because generalizations don’t serve you when you’re looking for something specific. Pictures are there for a reason, as are in-person meetings. So don’t limit your choices because of stereotypes of wrong-headed perceptions.

My short paragraph made the three most important things perfectly clear: I’m looking for marriage, not a boyfriend; I am a homebody, no clubbing for me; and I’m not having your babies, though I’ll happily care for yours as much as is needed.

I got precisely seven messages from interested men. That’s right, seven. For those of you with online dating profiles, I’m sure you know how women are deluged with dozens of messages a day. But I was happy with my seven. Two lived out of state, so that was a no-go. One was a fundamentalist Christian who wrote a thoughtful message praising my directness, but wanted to know immediately how I felt about “the gays.” So he was eliminated from the running. Two sent me a one-word message: “Hey.” So they were out.

That left two candidates. But only one sent his phone number and asked me to call. “I think people learn more about each other when they speak instead of when they type.” So I picked up the phone and I called him and it was clear from the outset that being direct had worked. Of course I didn’t know on the first date that this would be the one, but I knew we were of the same mind.

There were no BS questions about favorite foods. We got straight to the important stuff. How do you feel about opposite-sex friends? What does marriage mean to you? What was your upbringing like? How do you view faith and religion? This level of directness is uncomfortable for some people, off-putting even. We both shared awkward stories of previous dates where people squirmed under our questions and basked in the easy comfort of each other’s company. If you watch Gilmore Girls, I invite you to remember the episode where Paris met Doyle at the speed dating event. For me and hubs, it was kind of like that.

Eight years later, and we’re still together. We get raised eyebrows and confused looks when we tell people we married four months after meeting each other. But for us, that was all we needed. I think there’s a tendency to apologize for what we want. Maybe because it’s not popular, or maybe because you’re worried that what you want isn’t good enough, that you may miss out on something better. But if you want to get married (and you’re older than 25), you definitely know what you want in a life partner. So stop hedging your bets and just ask for it. You want no fewer than three children? Then say so. You want to live a zero carbon-footprint lifestyle? Then yell it from the mountain tops. Because not wanting to be single anymore isn’t enough. It will never be enough. Vague wishes to not be lonely anymore is a recipe for inviting the wrong people into your life.

Even if your dating profile only gets one response, if it’s from the right person, then one is all you need. TC mark

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