I used to hate when men would ask me why I was single, as though I had the option of getting married whenever I wanted to. If that were the case the majority of the single women I know, especially the ones approaching 40, who have never been married and never had children would be married! Then I got quiet and really thought about it. That's when I realized I was single by choice...an unconscious choice on my part.
For the last ten years or more, especially on New Years Eve as I prayed the New Year in, I asked God to send me the man of my dreams. "Let him find me this year Lord." Every woman who knows anything about the Bible has heard Proverbs 18:22: He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord. Not unlike other singles, men and women who heard this scripture for years, I was inclined to focus on the "he who finds a wife" part of that scripture. Once I meditated on that Word, it dawned on me that I should be looking to the part that pertained to me- the woman, the good thing. That scripture is applicable to you if you are wife material that is a good thing. You do not automatically or magically become a good thing just because you have been found. You can be found by a different man every day of the week, but if you are not that wife type, that good thing- he will throw you back in the pack and keep right on looking. Are you a good thing?
Men and women seeking a mate are often told to make a wish list of all the characteristics they want in a mate. What should he look like, smell like, how tall, how much money, what music does he like how does he treat you on so on. I have nothing against making a list and checking it twice, if it is good for Santa it cannot be all bad. However I offer you the most important advice I can give to anyone male or female who is interested in finding a mate (or being found); concentrate on you. Work on you. Become the good thing that "he who finds a wife" cannot mistake for anything but a good thing. If you are male, then be the he that a good thing would want to be found by! A good thing will not consent to being found by something reprehensible. Therefore my friends, draw unto yourself that which you are.
Women and men who shared their lists with me usually start out with things like he needs to be honest, kind, treat me well and look good. I have more than one girlfriend who wants that tall, dark, muscular man who can sweep her off her feet and make her the envy of every woman on the planet. Only problem is if he sweeps some of these women off their feet he may break that gorgeous muscular back, as those same women are 50 pounds or more overweight. Women who have not seen a muscle in their own stomachs in so long they have to look at a picture of LL Cool J to remember what stomach muscles look like-- want Adonis to be attracted to them. It seems a tad unfair to expect a man to be in perfect form while you can be any weight you want. Women with anger issues, Mommy issues, Daddy issues, ex-husband issues baby daddy drama, filthy homes and rotten kids wonder where all the good men are. Hint, they are in the laundrymat washing clothes, cleaning their own kitchens after they cook a decent meal, cleaning and washing up after their kids go to bed. Yes, men, even single men know how to take care of children and keep house too.
Many of the men I have spoken to and counseled have complained over and over about the lack of quality women. They are looking for a good thing. They run off their lists too- she needs to be beautiful, have a nice body a wonderful spirit, not contrary or controversial and I want her to appreciate me. I do not want a woman who wants to change me. I am who I am they say. At this point I am hoping they are willing to at least change the halitosis that is causing me to step back from them while I search my purse for a tic tac or piece of gum to offer so we can continue our conversation without burning my nose. Out of shape, alcohol abusive behaviors, commitment phobic, marriage phobic, separated not divorced, divorced not separated, kids all over, not supporting any of them but wanting more...some of the men who want Halle Berry or Michelle Obama have major issues too! And I would be remiss if I left out my Christian brothers who believe what the Bible says about fornication, except as it pertains to them. Issues.
My tip to you today, Concentrate on becoming the person you want to date. What does that take? A heck of a lot of work, and I do mean work. Check out these 8 critical ways to make sure you are not unconsciously single by choice:
1. Be willing to be uncomfortable. In order to address your issues you have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone. It is never easy to deal with your stuff, after all, if it was easy you would have already done it. Deal with the things that people will not say to your face, but that everyone is saying behind your back. And you cannot do it alone. You need a life coach, someone trained in behavior, social science or spiritual things - to help you see what you don't see. Barbara DeAngelis says comfort is for babies. Let go of that security blanket and get to working on your stuff.
2. Admit that you don't know it all. But be willing to listen and learn. It is not easy for adults who have been in relationships for years to suddenly say: I do not know what I'm doing. However, that is exactly what needs to happen. Just like an athlete, no matter how good he or she is, if she is not winning titles she will seek out a different coach, change her strategy and if necessary go back to the drawing board to develop new techniques. Do nothing less in your love life. Evaluate where you are and the results you are getting. If they are not what you want, it is time to make some changes.
3. Get coaching from someone who is willing to go the distance with you. Find a great life coach, a person you trust and feel comfortable with. Your coach should have great insight and be able to see what you cannot see. She or he should help you evaluate where you are, how you got there and how to change. It takes courage, time and sweat equity on your part to look deeply at yourself and your issues. It's hard work. If you are preparing for a mate, allot time to get yourself through the process first. Keep in mind that the person you might have chosen before you do the work is not likely to be the person you would choose after. You will change so your choices should too.
4. Assess your Love Readiness Quotient (LRQ) . When my son was younger, I was raising him as a single mother, working a full time job as an attorney, going to law school at night for a graduate law degree, taking care of my mother who was housebound and needed 24 hour care and I was launching a speaking career and television show. I never stopped to smell the roses and there was absolutely no time for anyone to be a part of my life. I realize now that I routinely packed my plate as high as Mount Everest. Part of that is because I am Jamaican and we all have 15 jobs. It is also because working day and night made it okay for me to be emotionally and physically unavailable. I was never around. I was always working. A woman who is emotionally unavailable will attract the same in a man. I would leave the unavailable guy and go right back to work- being busy, my security blanket. The truth was I was afraid of being vulnerable, hurt and rejected. Work never left me alone, it was always there to keep me company and I began to love it. My LRQ was 0 on a scale of 1-5. What is yours- see quiz below?
5. Prepare yourself and your environment for a mate. Examine your patterns, habits and actions. If you have experienced hurts and battle-scars from past relationships, leave them there-in your past. Now to really ruffle some feathers, is your home neat and clean so that you can entertain someone at a moment's notice? If a date is coming to pick you up, can you easily find everything you need to go out, or are you usually searching for keys, shoes, wallet etc. when it is time to go out? Is your bathroom presentable? When was the last time you scrubbed the toilet and the bathtub( please not with the same sponge). Men, please know that a woman will make a determination about how clean you are when she uses your bathroom. I don't know many women who will not sneak a peak at your bathtub when she uses the facilities. If there is a ring around it that looks like you have been washing oil rigs in there, if she is afraid to sit on your toilet seat, or if you have three months worth of hair shavings in your bathroom sink you may never see her again. A word to the marriage hopefuls, men and women: Clean it up!
6. Get your health in order. Your spiritual, mental and physical health is essential to being marriage ready.
a. Being spiritually grounded is important so you will know what to look for in a mate. Many spiritual people will want someone with whom they are equally yoked, do you? If you do not know what your spiritual beliefs are how can you determine if you are equally yoked with your mate?
b. Mental health is one of the most overlooked areas in many people's lives. Most people men in particular will not discuss their mental stability or lack thereof. Anger management, addictions, obsessive- compulsive behaviors, bi-polar, post traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, sexual disorders are not to be taken lightly, and should be addressed by a professional who can help you overcome and or recognize these health problems in you or your mate.
c. Your physical health will affect or be affected by your spiritual and mental health. Your being is interconnected! Paying attention to one area of your health is not enough. It really is all or nothing.
7. Get moving, eat well and get some sleep. Exercise! You feel better when you look better, you look better when you feel better. And there are so many more benefits to maintaining a physical regimen that is designed for you, your lifestyle and any condition you may have or be at risk of developing. Many physical illnesses can be eliminated or reduced by maintaining a consistent and persistent exercise and nutritional regimen. Hypertension, diabetes, bone disorders, stress and more are related to obesity. Get moving, and make a commitment to eating right and getting the rest you need to stay beautiful, happy and focused on your wedding!
8. Listen, love then listen some more. Probably the most important part of relating to people is the ability to listen and unconditionally love your partner. People rarely listen 100% to what anyone is saying. While your partner is talking are you figuring out what your response is going to be? I always know when someone listens to me because it takes them a moment to respond to what I said. They have to take it in and then think about their own response- even if for a moment. If they cut me off, especially repeatedly, or if their answer is immediate and does not completely address what I said, the little voice in their head was chattering away while I was talking. That said, there is no way they really heard or received the fullness of my comments. Communication is more than just language- only 7% is words, 38% tone and 55% body language. Not paying attention to all of these elements means you could have a lifetime of misunderstanding your mate. Unconditional love is what you pledge before God and a bunch of witnesses on your wedding day. It might be a good idea to get to know what that could mean before you say I do- so take your time getting to know your partner and letting her get to know you- AND the two of you need to know yourselves.
These points are not all inclusive and they are not a one time fix. I suggest striving to make them a lifestyle. As Arthur Ashe said "Start where you are, use what you have and do what you can"---and then do some more!
I wish you all the best in your love preparation and marriage plans. Take the LRQ quiz below to see where you are starting from!
Love Readiness Quotient
1. Are you still married to your spouse ( separated/divorced/living apart in the same home) but are actively seeking a new relationship?
Yes ________ No _________
2. Are you so busy that you have to schedule telephone calls with your partner via text message? Is your communication primarily via text and email?
Yes _________ No __________
3. Do you often think of marriage and can you see yourself married in the next 1-3 years?
Yes _________ No __________
4. Do you talk to your children about how their lives might change if you get married? Does your mate talk to his/her children about you?
Yes _________ No _________
5. Is your home life so perfectly set up for one that you cannot imagine sharing space with another individual?
1. Yes 0 No 1
2. Yes 0 No 1
3. Yes 1 No 0
4. Yes 1 No 0
5. Yes 0 No 1
Score 5 Highest LRQ Congratulations send me an invitation to your wedding!
Score 4 Good, you have a little work to do but you are on your way to the altar.
Score 3 Hmmm, you need work, get counseling and personal development classes under your belt before you head down the aisle.
Score 2 Uh Oh Spaghetti-O's See #3 and double-up on your personal growth and development classes
Score 1 Single by Choice no doubt about it. If that is your choice, woo hoo! If not, back to the drawing board. Re-read this article and write to me at cathleenwilliams.com or on Facebook at cathleenwilliamsesq and I will send you some advice.
Live your most powerful and positive life!
Cathleen E. Williams, RN, Esq. author of Single Mother the New Father is the host of her own talk show "I'm Just Saying" which airs in New York City on Time Warner Cable and on line at www.imjustsayingtv.com. She is a seminar and workshop leader in the area of men's issues, fatherhood and raising young men. She leads workshops for parents, single and married, and corporations in the area of health, wellness, legal issues in health care and more. Cathleen is the New York State Regional Co-Chair of International Men's Day (11/19/2010) and co-chair of the Father's Forum to be held on August 28, 2010 at the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral in Jamaica N.Y.