A commenter writes in by e-mail:
I would like to preface this by saying I am quite young. Young enough that it will neither be possible or rational to get married in the immediate future.
I have heard from many of the men in my life, whom I respect, that the best way to get married is to finish high school, finish college, get your career started, and then finally begin looking for a wife in your late 20s early 30s. Basically to spend 10+ adult years living alone and completely celibate. I think you can see the disadvantages to this, such as women of quality being sparse at that age.
I have also heard some say that you should get married as young as possible. However, the problem with this is that marriage is a lifelong commitment, and people between the ages of 18-22 simply are not ready to make that decision.
Before I start in with any advice, it is important to recognize that this is the most common general life script that you will see out there. This life script comes from many difference places such as family, friends, relatives, church members, or others. I noted this in my 5 step process to maturity in relationships.
Based on my experience, I would not recommend operating by this life script. I went to graduate school and finished roughly around age 27 which is approximately the same time I found the manosphere and also started my search for a wife. It took me about 2-2.5 years, a large amount of godly and masculine development, and a very proactive search to find my current girlfriend and hopefully soon to be fiance. I would consider myself somewhat blessed in this area as I know many Christian men especially in the ‘sphere are still searching for a godly woman.
Now, that’s not to say I couldn’t find any godly women. However, meeting stringent standards for godliness while also other criteria selectively eliminates a large portion of the women that you would find in most Churches due to the prevalence of Churchianity.
On the flipside, women that are 18-22 like the commenter states are simply not ready for marriage either given the current state of parenting on relationships which is little to none for most people. However, one cannot deny that there is a higher likelihood of finding attractive young women on a university campus as opposed to out in the workforce simply due to proximity, higher metabolisms, higher percentages that workout, and hopefully less gluttony.
If I had to do it all over again this is what I would recommend if you are going the university route:
Ages 18-20 — focus on school, godly growth, working out, and joining your local Church and Christian clubs on campus. It’s possible that you will find a godly woman to grow together with at this point, but probably unlikely. Due to being “new” on campus it’s unlikely that you will have any sort of status or experience to which women are typically attracted. Thus, spend your time wisely focusing on the things that are important.
Ages 20-22 — continue focusing on school, internships, and graduation. Also, it is important to learn how to start to become a leader if you have not already. Due to your godly growth taking a leadership position, Bible study/small group leader, musical, or other type of position will help you learn how to apply your talents and become a godly leader, and it will be attractive to godly women if you’re looking for a wife.
Additionally, it’s at this time where you have a higher status due to being older and hopefully more experienced that it’s much easier to ask women out on dates and have them say yes. This is not to say that you shouldn’t in the earlier years, but the success rate should increase.
Ages 22-25 — Depending on the career path you chose you may be taking a job or going to graduate school. It doesn’t really matter which one.
Graduate school is the perfect time to find a wife if you haven’t already started cultivating a relationship in the age 20-22 range. Most programs are not super intensive so you still should have a decent amount of time free. Not as much as undergraduate but definitely more than if you were working a real job. This is where it is important to stay connected to a local Church with singles as well as leadership position(s) within Christian groups at the university.
If you are pursuing a career right out then I would look into if you can still volunteer as a leader in the undergraduate or graduate Christian groups on campus or in local Churches. Having been around several universities many of the former leaders tend to stick around for a few years helping to mentor and guide the new leaders as well as interact and help out with the groups. This obviously can double with being the graduated older and wise man to the women undergraduates inexperience which many women find attractive.
In my opinion, this is the key time find and develop a relationship at which to get married especially if you want a lot of children. I know men who married right after undergraduate at ages 21-23 whose marriages are still going strong, and I know some who have married in the 24-27 range who are doing well too. Ideally, this is what you want to aim for in my opinion as you will be able to have children younger and grow together into old age as a family.
You still have some pretty good options in regard to attractive, young women if you are looking strongly in the 20-25 year old range especially around a university. It’s likely that you will be able to find a woman who meets your criteria within 5 years.
Ages 26-29 — If you somehow don’t find a godly woman within the prior age time frames all is not lost. Women who are younger still go for men, but generally once you hit the 30 women in their younger twenties are a bit more wary of you looking at them for marriage. You may have to start adjusting the age of women you’re looking for up.
In the 28-29 range you’ll probably be looking for a woman who is 23-26ish years old. I’ve found that women around the same age at you at this point tend to be more on the desperate side of things or what the manosphere obviously terms as the approach of the impending wall coupled with baby rabies. In my search I was looking for a woman who was younger who was family and marriage focused. This is important because it is of her own free will and not because her looks may start to decline or she is having biological urges to have children. Those aren’t necessarily bad things, but it adds in complicating factors behind motives which are harder to suss out when you haven’t had much experience with them yet.
Generally speaking, if you started your search when 18 and strongly started searching when 20 years old if you make it to 29 without finding a godly woman who is interested in marriage and your other selection criteria then you may have been too strict. 10 years of solid searching should be more than enough to find what you’re looking for even if there were very few attractive, Christian virgins like I tried to calculate a while back.
Remember that the key is not finding someone who is perfect. The key is to find someone who meets your main criteria but is also willing to be your follow. Relationships require growth and growth is mediated through strong leadership. If a woman is willing to follow your lead you can help her grow together with you and God.
Ages 30-39+ — I’m not exactly single and at this point, so I cannot offer any specific advice on what I would do. Based on what I’ve observed, if you are in this age group then it’s probably unlikely that you’re going to find a woman in her low 20s who wants to marry. If you do then it’s likely you’ll encounter heavy resistance from her family and friends due to a significant age gap. Thus, you may have to start adjusting the age of women you’re looking for up. It’s likely that early 30s you may be looking for women from 25-30 and late 30s you may be looking for women who are late 20s to early 30s.
The difficulty at this point is that most people are relatively set in their ways. Thus, finding someone who wants to learn and growth together is going to be much more difficult. However, there are some Christian women who make it to this point who are continually willing to be stay at home moms and sacrifice for a family.
It’s important to look for the selfless ones as opposed to those who are desperate for a family and children but still want to selfishly pursue career, extracurricular activities, or involvement with many different things. God, family, and community should be top priorities that you’re looking for.
If you marry in your 40s you’ll probably want to aim for an early 30s woman still so you have chances for a decent amount of children still. However, that’s still far away from me, and I have no experience with that other than observing a few marriages that are like this. The men tend to be early 40s and the women are early 30s.
This would be my advice to young men who are in their teens and early 20s. If you are older find out where you fit in and adjust accordingly.
Based on what I’ve said before I would aim for about 6-12 months to vet and get to known each other and families well, and then a 3-6 month engagement before marriage. This may vary due to life circumstances such as school, family, friends, and whatnot. However, this would be my general recommendation in order to facilitate preparation for marriage.
I find that people who have been in a relationship for 2-5+ years before they get married tend to be complacent and more often these relationship tend to end up in separation or divorce than more reasonable periods of dating/courtship and engagement. I don’t know if anyone else has noticed this, but I think it’s similar to cohabitation where you’re in this somewhat pseudo-commitment for a long while. Then you end up getting married just-because rather than pursuing oneness and family.
For my readers if they have additional advice or their own take on what young men should start to do for preparation and searching for godly women in marriage feel free to comment.