I cannot tell you how many times I was given the idea to write letters to my future husband when I was growing up. From a young age it seemed that women all around me were telling me about this mysterious man I would marry. I was told to write letters promising purity, letters when I was lonely and letters just because. I was told to write a list of qualities I wanted in a husband at the young age of 12. Now, are any of these things wrong or inherently damaging? Absolutely not! But at what point is writing these letters and obsessing over our future husbands doing us more harm than good?
My relationship with Jared is not a perfect one. He does not possess every quality that 12-year-old Lily wanted him to have. Jared doesn’t like to dance and he isn’t as good of a singer as Josh Groban (thanks mom for planting that seed in my head) and guess what? that’s okay! Not having the qualities that 12-year-old me dreamed of is not an end-all-be-all. How about instead of telling young women to dream of the qualities she wants in a husband, we tell them to dream of their values. I treasure Jared’s kind heart and how he is so slow to anger but did little Lily think to add those things to her list? Nope! Here’s something even better…how about instead of teaching young women to dream of their husbands values, we teach them to dream of their own? How about we raise strong women who dream of becoming good humans? Crazy, I know.
Writing the classic “dear future husband” letters did more damage to me than it did good. It created an image of this perfect man in my head. A man who wasn’t flawed, a man who didn’t exist. This underlying expectation of what it would be like when I met “the one” has given me anxiety. It’s made me question the validity of my relationship once the honeymoon sparks subsided, it’s made way for my insecurity to tell me that my relationship isn’t good enough. All of this because of this imaginary person and the imaginary relationship I created for myself.
So, If I could go back and sit with my younger self to write my “dear future husband” letter, here’s what it would look like.
Dear future husband,
Hello from 12-year-old me. Does it seem odd to be reading something written by a twilight-obsessed, awkward tween that grows up to be your wife? Yeah, I think so too. Here’s the thing, I am not going to write to you when I am lonely because I am going to learn how to be strong and independent. It’s this strength that you’ll admire someday. I am not going to make promises that will leave me feeling guilt ridden if I don’t meet them, because I am redeemed by a God filled with grace and I know you take after him. I will pray for you. I’ll pray that you are kind and genuine and that we will laugh together often. I’ll pray that you respect all women you interact with and that you’ll respect me, my opinions and values when we meet someday. I’m not going to spend my life chasing after the attention of men hoping that one of them will be you. I’ll just learn to be a good person and trust that we will meet when we have both grown into people who can respect and love each other well. I promise not to be disappointed if you don’t exist at all because I am worth more than a Mrs. tagged onto the beginning of my name. I am not defined by the idea of being your wife but, if you do happen to exist, I look forward to meeting you.
All my love,
You see, these letters made me dream of a man who didn’t exist but even that man in all his “perfection” doesn’t compare to the real man I am going to marry. Let’s set young women up to become strong women who know their worth and do away with the husband-crazed culture that I remember so well.