Finance before Romance?

In Real Marriage, I write about Little-Boy Larry. Little-Boy Larry never grew up—like Peter Pan. 

Little-Boy Larry tends to be disorganized and has a hard time getting his life together for an extended time. Getting and keeping a job are always tough because he’s not very ambitious and finds that ongoing responsibilities tend to get in the way of his hobbies and friends.

Unable to pay his bills or look after himself, Little-Boy Larry tends to borrow money from other people who keep an eye on him in ways an adult looks after a child. Women are attracted to him in the way a mother is attracted to a helpless baby.

Little-Boy Larry makes for a horrible husband because he expects his wife to provide as much or more than he does for the family. In doing so, he abdicates his God-given responsibility to lead his house well and be the primary provider for his wife and kids.

A Man Provides

In our society, many men shrug off this responsibility and live as Little-Boy Larry. This has unfortunately led to many women writing off men and taking matters into their own hands. As a result, for the first time in the America’s history there are more single adults than married and statistically, women are more likely than the men to attend college, be working a career track job, and attend church. The Atlantic (here and here), The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal have all run major stories recently on the changing landscape of gender in our culture.

The Bible provides an alternative to what we are seeing in society today. In the Bible a man is called to grow up, move out of his parents’ home, get a job, pay his own bills, and take responsibility for himself (Genesis 2:24).

This is not to say that a wife can’t or shouldn’t work, but the primary responsibility resides on the husband to provide (1 Timothy 5:8), and unfortunately, many men have abdicated this role to women, placing undue burdens on their families.

Providing Isn’t Easy

That being said, I know that we’re facing some very hard economic times in the U.S. For many, employment isn’t exactly easy to find. There are many good, responsible men who are actively pursuing work but who may find it hard to land a good job.

This is not surprising as part of the curse for Adam and Eve sinning in the Garden of Eden is that work would be hard (Genesis 3:17–19). This includes the hard work of finding good work.

Given that, I thought I’d take write a few tips to single guys who wish to pursue a wife but who are also struggling financially and having a hard time getting a good job.

It’s Not about Where You Are, but Where You Are Going

First and foremost, the idea of a man leaving his parents’ home is one of maturation. It’s about leaving home, taking on adult responsibilities, and maturing as a man. So, if you find yourself in between opportunities, it’s not about what job you lost or don’t have—it’s about what you’re doing to change your circumstances.

God knows your needs and the Bible promises he will meet them, but this doesn’t mean you sit idly by and just pray (Matt. 6:7-8, 25-34; 25:14-30). Think about it this way: In the midst of a drought, two farmers prayed to God for it to rain. Afterwards, only one of the farmers went out to prepare his fields, whereas the other farmer didn’t. Which farmer do you think prayed in faith?

As you pray and seek Jesus, what are you doing about your circumstances? Are you sitting idly by at home or your parents’ house playing video games, tracking your fantasy football team, and surfing the web? Or are you busting your tail looking for another opportunity or making yourself more qualified by getting additional education or vocational training?

You May Just Have to Get a Joe Job

The key to understanding masculinity is Jesus Christ. Jesus was tough with religious blockheads, false teachers, the proud, and bullies. Jesus was tender with women, children, and those who were suffering or humble. Additionally, Jesus took responsibility for himself. He worked a Joe job for the first 30 years of his life swinging a hammer as a carpenter.

We don’t always get the job that we want, which means sometimes we have to simply get a Joe job to provide our family (or even future one). A Joe job is one that isn’t glamorous but that is honest and pays the bills. For instance, my dad was a union construction worker who hung sheetrock. He worked day and night to provide for his family and he literally broke his back doing so. Was it his dream job? No, but he worked hard to provide for his family.

While you’re in between opportunities, or striving to make yourself more qualified for other work, you need to find a job to provide for yourself—even if you don’t like the work.

Find the Right Woman

What kind of woman are you pursuing? Is she like the late Gwen Guthrie who sang, “Your silky words are sweet, but your pockets sure look empty. Ain’t nothin’ goin’ on but the rent. I’m lookin’ for a man to put some money in my hands?” If you meet a woman who will not be satisfied with the level of income and lifestyle that you can provide, then she’s probably not the woman for you. Since it’s your responsibility to provide for the material and financial needs of your family (1 Timothy 5:8), life is much easier when you’re married to a woman who is content with the lifestyle you are able to provide.

If you work hard, give generously, invest smartly, and save prudently, you shouldn’t feel guilty for not making the big bucks. You want a wife who appreciates how you can provide rather than one who is continually dissatisfied with what you provide.

Be Patient

Finally, understand that your timing isn’t always God’s timing. You may have a desire to get married, but if you don’t have the resources to provide for a family—even in tough times—it’s best to wait until you can provide.

Practically, this means doing everything in your power to find good work and trusting that the Lord will provide the opportunities to work and provide. Don’t waste your singleness. Rather use it well to serve the church, work hard at finding work, work hard at keeping work when you have it, and position yourself to be a husband and father who can provide.