A Very Brief Note on How to Vet a Potential Wife

This post is sorely delinquent, and I apologize to the emailer; whom I long ago told I would respond. He writes:

I got together with my girlfriend less than a month ago[1]. I’m ashamed to say that at 39 years old, I’ve never had a girlfriend. She’s my first. I am inclined to steer our relationship slowly towards marriage — a Christian marriage — and I realised the importance of having fun with her. Having said that, I hope you can share with me some advice on how I should “vet” a girl on whether or not she can be a good (Christian) wife. In fact, I’ve been reading Dalrock’s post about how much a husband should share with his wife and I picked up your comments, which to some, is a dismissal of “Game”. However, I believe your perspective is — as men we should be astute in choosing our wives, so much so that any form of “Game” or “manipulation” will never be necessary in the marriage.
So, I will be grateful if you can share some thoughts about vetting for a potential mate.

The first thing to vet is your attraction. Do you find her attractive? Do you want to touch her, etc.? That part is easy.

The second thing to discover is whether or not she is a Daddy’s Girl. Does she listen to her father? Does she express love for him? Does she speak of him respectfully? Does she live at home? When she discusses a past moment of disrespect or disobedience of him, does she express regret?

No woman is perfect and all of them have been given bad advice (even by their fathers), but you must get a sense of this, and you must see it in action. You need to see them together. Is she affectionate towards him? A woman’s love of her father is the best indicator of whether she has

  • self-control
  • dedication
  • love of family
  • mental sobriety
  • piety
  •  (importantly!) whether she will submit your children to your headship.

You may respond that it’s hard to see her and her father’s relationship in action because she lives in a different city. Well, that’s an answer. It may be that her father encouraged her to move away. Take the fullness of that into consideration. While it demonstrates regard for her father, it also demonstrates that her father didn’t train her up to be a wife; that he encouraged independence and ultimately rebellion. Be wary!

Searching out a woman for Daddy’s Girl qualities is much easier than finding out her IQ, or her time orientation (if such a thing be real), or her theology, or any of that other stuff. In the end, these qualities are beside the point; nor do they address women’s imaginations and frailties. Every day smart, forward-thinking women with in-depth theologies decide they are too good to listen to their husbands. A future-time oriented wife who doesn’t put her husband first is a woman who won’t get on the stick when her husband needs present-time faithfulness. And when a woman decides to leave her husband with half his paycheck: She is thinking longterm.

Also: Be doubly wary of the father who married another man’s divorcee. If he is not repentant of that, he will shelter and foment a daugther’s rebellion.

[1] Email was sent to me on 3/9.

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32 thoughts on “A Very Brief Note on How to Vet a Potential Wife

  1. This is some excellent food for thought. It is only in recent years that I have even met any girls who live at home and submit to their fathers. The contrast with the world and churchianity is stark.

  2. @THP

    This era is deeply confused. I wish myself to be less confused, but I find that the instruction is both exhilarating and terrifying; more the latter when I think about what that means for me as a husband and father.

  3. @Empath

    I anticipated that this post would go over like a turd in a punchbowl. Everybody–everybody–thinks sexiness is ruined by the consideration of fathers.

  4. Dear Mr CC,

    Thank you.

    We’re attracted to each other. Touching isn’t an issue for her because physical touch has the highest score when she did the love language test and she did explicitly tell me that touch is an expression of love she desires the most. It’s a learning curve because touch is ranked fourth for me.

    As for her family, her late mother has always been the main breadwinner. Because her dad doesn’t earn as much, he’s not the wearing the pants in their house, from what I understand. Having said that, she does respect him as her father but it’s just that the family history and that the two of them have been living together for the past year (her younger sister is married and has moved out while her mother passed away last year) might have caused some friction due to their idiosyncrasies. From my conversations with her, I reckon that she’s trying to respect him more (she doesn’t like it a lot when her father nags). When she shares about the times her father irritates her, I don’t offer my views (guess it’s not my place to do so, since I’m her boyfriend only). But I’ve been waiting for a time when I tell her that I’ll respect her father, even if it is only for the fact that he’s an elder, an older man and therefore, deserves my respect.

    Of the items you’ve listed:
    self-control – I do discern that she has displayed a fair amount of self-control – She doesn’t splurge; she is prudent (perhaps this is because her family was poor when she was younger). She is slim and watches what she eats.

    dedication / love of family – She does love her family. She still takes care of her father (who is retired) and ensure that she provides for him.
    mental sobriety – To be honest, I’m not sure what this means.
    piety – She is interested in the things of God. Although she was saved about four – five years ago, she does not have an in-depth understanding of God’s Word. She’s being mentored by an older woman from her church.

    We’ve talked about marriage recently. She shared about her non-negotiable conditions recently:

    (a) When we’re looking for a place to live, we must live near her father. She wants our home to be near enough so that she can still visit him and take care of him. Also, where they live now is near the college where she teaches. [This is fair enough for me because I understand that her father will be living alone when we marry.]

    (b) I must serve God in church. [Which I plan to in the near future.]

    There was supposed to be a third condition; she didn’t want to have kids. But because she knows that it’s something I want very much, she has backed down on this.

    Apologies for this huge chunk of comment. Just sharing and will appreciate any comment/thought from Mr CC or others.

  5. “There was supposed to be a third condition; she didn’t want to have kids.”

    That’s at least a yellow flag, if not red.

  6. chokingonredpills says:
    May 4, 2015 at 10:39 am

    “There was supposed to be a third condition; she didn’t want to have kids. But because she knows that it’s something I want very much, she has backed down on this.”

    Others may disagree with me, but if it was one of my sons, I’d advise him to move on.

    I know of one couple where the wife initially said she wanted to be a childless career woman and wanted the husband to leave the service after his initial commitment. For some reason, she changed her mind and they now have four kids, she’s little-miss-domestic and he’s motoring on towards a 20-year retirement.

    That couple is a rare exception.

    Most marriages in which that dichotomy exists (he wants kids, she doesn’t) end disastrously. I would never advise my sons to bet their lives on being the exception.

  7. Cane Caldo says:
    May 4, 2015 at 2:58 am

    “I anticipated that this post would go over like a turd in a punchbowl. Everybody–everybody–thinks sexiness is ruined by the consideration of fathers.”

    Really? If she’s hot (speaking generally, here, not about one person in particular), how would her love for her father make her any less hot?

  8. @CoRP

    Touching isn’t an issue for her because physical touch has the highest score when she did the love language test and she did explicitly tell me that touch is an expression of love she desires the most. It’s a learning curve because touch is ranked fourth for me.

    Learning curve is a good attitude. Probably the best way to look at that test is as a list of what you need to work on. If, instead, you focus on what and how you already like to love, and then hand that to somebody else as their responsibility to meet…that’s a plan for disappointment by both parties.

    Anyways: Touching is awesome. If, at any time, I pass by my wife and she is in striking distance, I’m going to pinch, slap, or rub that butt. If I’m irritated with her I still take a swipe at that her booty because–if nothing else and no matter what–that’s my butt to enjoy. When I need to tell her something serious, or reinforce that I am seriously expecting to be obeyed, I pull her close and make her look me in the eye while I tell her, “I want you to know that I am serious about this. Are you with me?”

    mental sobriety – To be honest, I’m not sure what this means.

    I mean that her temperament is stable; not prone to wild mood swings; doesn’t seem to be waiting for an opportunity to get angry.

    (b) I must serve God in church. [Which I plan to in the near future.]

    I wonder if this is something her mentor at church has told her to make a priority. I’d agree, but push back on this a bit in our discussions. I’d say things like:“Oh, of course we will serving in our church. But you know, my main concern is that we are serving each other properly; that I’m loving and leading you accordingly, and you’re being respectful and obedient to me. Even church elders are supposed to first prove that they run a good family.”

    There was supposed to be a third condition; she didn’t want to have kids. But because she knows that it’s something I want very much, she has backed down on this.

    You need to be sure of her change of mind about this. If it were me, I’d want to know why she was against having children. It could be that she was just afraid. You said her mother died. Is she afraid of leaving kids behind? Is she afraid that her husband (potentially you) won’t provide enough for the family so that she can be an effective mother because she has to be the provider? Who was the disciplinarian in her house? Those are legitimate fears. You also said she’s a teacher. There is no teaching job like being a parent.

    I’d also want her to explain to me why she has changed her mind and is willing to have children with me. I’d be listening to hear that she trusts me to provide, and take care of and lead her and the kids. While it’s always flattering to hear that she loves you and wants to make you happy you want some more specifics. That’s why I would first ask why she didn’t want to. The answer and reasons need to correspond to each other.

    @Oscar

    how would her love for her father make her any less hot?

    It doesn’t, but anytime a father is in the room it makes sexy stuff uncomfortable; even if that room is only a discussion.

    Men usually thing to themselves, “I want her to love me for me!”. Whether this has been understood consciously, here I am saying, “She will love you for her father.”

  9. It’s interesting to apply these questions to a self described “Christian Feminist” at my church. She spoke highly of her dad … but considers him a friend (!), does not live with him, and is planning to move far from home in pursuit of a full-time job.

    When asked if she would change her mind if her dad disapproved of the move, “I’m 26 years old!”

    Many flags, and I’m not sure what duty I have to say what before she leaves.

  10. @ Cane

    “It doesn’t, but anytime a father is in the room it makes sexy stuff uncomfortable; even if that room is only a discussion.

    Men usually thing to themselves, ‘I want her to love me for me!’. Whether this has been understood consciously, here I am saying, ‘She will love you for her father’.”

    That makes sense. This is great stuff. It’ll come in very handy in about eight years.

    @ SH

    Obviously, she doesn’t think all that highly of her father.

  11. @Oscar:

    There may be hamster-lation going on, but she does have the approval of her father, or rather, lacks disapproval. (Future-dad note to self: Set strong expectations and crush resistance)

    I do wonder if she’d submit if he put his foot down; verbally, no, but the action is the thing. I don’t think he has or will, as he doesn’t have sons and I think she was raised like one.

  12. @ SH

    The part that rang the alarm in my head was when you stated that she thinks of her father as a friend, which I take to mean a peer.

    I’ll be 40 this year, and I still say “yes sir” when my dad calls me. I realize Americans tend to be much more informal than my Central American parents, but viewing the man who gave one life as ones peer, I think, violates the 5th commandment, and is a good indicator of future disrespect towards other authority figures, like a future husband.

  13. Since our young man is 39 years old, I would think his girl-of-interest might be in her 30s? If so, she’s probably had or has a career and has lived outside her father’s home. It’s one thing to live away from your father when your 20, probably a somewhat different kettle of fish to have lived on your own when you’re 30.

  14. Dear CC,

    We’re not married (yet), so her bod’s (and butt’s) not mine to touch (yet). But she did take issue when I avoided any body contact the last time we shared an umbrella. I guess it’s all about building comfort in our relationship now. We are from a conservative culture and therefore, there’s only so much I can do to be playful.

    As for mental sobriety, she passed the test thus far. We’ve been together for four months (almost to the day) and she’s been alright. There was none of the drama or emotional turmoil that some women are wont to do during PMS. It’s either she hid this well or really could control her emotions.

    For serving the Lord, I reckon that in your perspective, nothing is more important than serving God in the family and serving each other in the family first. I’ll hold this thought and share with her the next time we talk about this. I guess many of us lose sight of how important serving each other in the family is when we think about ministry to God.

    You have brought up very interesting questions about her change of mind with regards to having children. She has shared about how most of her friends who are stay-home moms struggle with not having enough money for new clothes, cosmetics, facials and other feminine needs because their husbands do not give them money for these. In other words, these husbands do provide enough for their families but not for stuff that their wives need or want. She has also shared about how she is thinking about sources of passive income so that she’ll have enough if I were to become one of the aforementioned husbands who would dismiss her request for a new dress or a new course of cosmetics. I wonder how you’d deal with this.

    Stay-home moms are actually a minority in my culture and society. Women have been brought up and warned/reminded almost everyday about how they should be financially independent. I believe this has eroded their faith and confidence in men / husbands to provide and in some ways, undermined their headship in the family.

  15. @senecagriggs
    She’ll be 32 this year and has always lived in her father’s home. In my society, it’s not common for people to live outside their familial homes because rent and property prices are exorbitant. By the way, I’m still living with my parents.

  16. @CoRP

    We’re not married (yet), so her bod’s (and butt’s) not mine to touch (yet).

    Sure. I was referring to after marriage.

    Women have been brought up and warned/reminded almost everyday about how they should be financially independent.

    I don’t even know what “financially independent” can mean within a marriage; except “selfish”. Is it to be that your money is for you, her money for her, and you each contribute some for the bills? Shall each bring their own food to the table for meals?

  17. The part that rang the alarm in my head was when you stated that she thinks of her father as a friend, which I take to mean a peer.

    Her words were “best buds”, which I translate to “buddy” to “friend”. But yes, I don’t think of people higher in the hierarchy as “buds”, and I flagged it.

    Overall, I blame this on our church being Churchian on gender roles, for at least a generation or more. Not quite full on feminist yet, but I hear noises in that direction. Lots of factors … we’re immigrants, so “traditional culture” has already been partially ejected for an Americanized one, which meant importing its feminist ideas from the past 40 years.

    I want to be conservative … but I’ve come to the realization I don’t have much to work with.

  18. @ SH

    “I blame this on our church being Churchian on gender roles, for at least a generation or more. Not quite full on feminist yet, but I hear noises in that direction.”

    Cane can probably explain this better than I, but it appears that the lack of respect for elders precedes the lack of respect for God’s order for the sexes. At least they go hand-in-hand.

    “Lots of factors … we’re immigrants, so ‘traditional culture’ has already been partially ejected for an Americanized one, which meant importing its feminist ideas from the past 40 years.”

    I too am an immigrant, so I’m familiar with your struggle.

    “I want to be conservative … but I’ve come to the realization I don’t have much to work with.”

    That’s why we’re all here. There used to be a cultural framework for all of this. Your family would grow like a grape vine on a lattice. The framework no longer exists, so we’re left trying to figure out how to cultivate our grape vine without it.

    I wish I had answers, brother, but for now I have mostly questions.

  19. I want to be conservative … but I’ve come to the realization I don’t have much to work with.

    Yes. So much has been torn down. It can be discouraging, if not infuriating.

    Time to rebuild.

  20. Just saw this post.

    It did give me insight into my wife. I wondered why she struggles with some respect issues when she seems to have a tight connection to her father. He pushed he to be very independent and would likely push against much of what drives me (not that it would help his cause) if he could, but we have very little contact for a variety of reasons. (He lives on the east side of the country, us in Texas.)

    Her independence is what undermines her. Part of the modern US culture unfortunately. And she is better than most!

  21. New reader here. How can a man repent of being married to another man’s wife without turning from the sin of being married to another man’s wife?

  22. @Bruce

    Good question, but ultimately one I cannot answer. I’d need details to even begin to guess.

    Best to avoid the daughters of those men.

  23. @Bruce.

    If you’re married to another man’s wife, then you’re not married and that is not a sanctified union. That is an adulterous union.

    So now..how does one repent of an adulterous union?

    Hard truths with long-term consequences..that’s for sure.

  24. Deuteronomy 24 had these laws regarding re-marriage/divorce:

    “If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house,

    and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man,

    and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies,

    then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the LORD.”

    No “take-backs”, though this only speaks to a situation where the man chose to divorce the wife, and later wants to remarry her. (In a time when women probably didn’t have much legal/social ability to initiate a divorce)

    1 Corinthians 7 has this to say, about staying in one’s circumstances as a Christian:

    “To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. [regarding unbelieving spouses]

    Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches.

    Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised.”

    Here, there is a principle of maintaining the status quo, even if not ideal or very desirable. Divorce is not a solution to a believer/unbeliever marriage. Is it the solution for a divorce-remarriage?

    I think when those passages are taken together, it disapproves of trying to “rewind” an adulterous divorce-remarriage with a divorce. Even when David sinfully married Bethsheba, bringing dishonor to God and judgement to the nation of Israel, he was not required to divorce her as part of his repentance.

    But many innocent lives did suffer as a result of David’s adultery; so this isn’t a free hand to commit adultery through divorce-remarriage and then claim “status quo” – sin will earn its wages, as righteousness earns its.

    Putting my position another way, extra divorces will not get the individuals involved closer to following God’s standards or bringing Him glory.

    That said, I do have a good friend who hopes his frivorcing and remarried wife would repent and come back to him – and I think that heart to forgive and be reconciled does reflect Christ’s heart for his church. (Also consider Hosea)

  25. @SirHamster…

    But if you marry another man’s wife, it’s not marriage..it’s adultery…right?

    I mean, is it marriage – or not? That’s really the question…at least from my POV.

    If a woman frivorces her husband, she’s an adulteress. Everything she does from then on out is adultery…yes. If this new guy marries her, knowing that she frivorced they first guy..then shame on him.

    For conscience sake…he learns she lies to him and says she divorced the first guy for Biblical reasons, and decides he wants no part of it… what then?

    Love…is supernatural indeed.

    “Putting my position another way, extra divorces will not get the individuals involved closer to following God’s standards or bringing Him glory.”

    I agree, yet also add that the Father ain’t too happy about none of it in the first place. Whatcha ‘gon do?

  26. But if you marry another man’s wife, it’s not marriage..it’s adultery…right?

    Then why do you say he marries her? It’s not a good marriage, but I think it still fulfills the requirements to be a marriage. It’s just one born of adultery … Is divorce better than a “bad” marriage that shouldn’t exist? Don’t know, but leaning towards “no”.

    However horrible a modern divorce/re-marriage is, is it worse than killing the husband to make the wife “available”? That one didn’t require a divorce to “fix”.

    For conscience sake…he learns she lies to him and says she divorced the first guy for Biblical reasons, and decides he wants no part of it… what then?

    He may have been defrauded and would thus have the right to divorce her, though I think it wise to consider any divorced woman off-limits, especially in this culture.

    That said, part of the Christian life is choosing NOT exercising one’s rights because it furthers God’s kingdom. So he can divorce her because that is the Just, Righteous thing to do … or he can keep her because that is the Merciful thing to do. Both of those choices can glorify God, but in different ways … and the magnitude for either is based on the community and family involved.

    Ex: Choosing not to divorce on a legitimate issue when the community is practicing frivorce, to contrast the way of the world with the way of God

    I agree, yet also add that the Father ain’t too happy about none of it in the first place. Whatcha ‘gon do?

    I’m not sure I follow the negatives. But can’t go wrong with read, listen, and pray.

  27. Christ gives one exception for a man to put away his wife in Matthew 19: porneia. Protestants I assume interpret this as sexual immorality on the part of the wife (it seem interesting that Christ uses Porneia and not the greek for adultery. Catholics understand this to mean the marriage was never valid – usually because the union is unclean/invalid in parallel with the usage of Pornea in 1 Corinthians (4th chapter) or that pornea refers to unchastity during the betrothal stage so the woman made false vows.

  28. @SH, you’re a good sport with the negatives. I’m just being silly with the slang.

    “Then why do you say he marries her? It’s not a good marriage, but I think it still fulfills the requirements to be a marriage. It’s just one born of adultery … Is divorce better than a “bad” marriage that shouldn’t exist? Don’t know, but leaning towards “no”.”

    That’s a tough one, sir. The only reason I say “he marries her” is because, well, he did, just in a fraudulent way.

    It’s a tough situation, and I feel like I’m revisiting a discussion about the Code of Hammurabi, which amazingly enough, makes allowances for what we’d all consider “frivorce”.

    Check it out.

    http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/txt/ah/assyria/hammurabi.html

    [142] If a woman quarrel with her husband, and say: “You are not congenial to me,” the reasons for her prejudice must be presented. If she is guiltless, and there is no fault on her part, but he leaves and neglects her, then no guilt attaches to this woman, she shall take her dowry and go back to her father’s house.

    I don’t trust when some Christians use the word Legalism, because generally they don’t know what they are talking about, but then again, I’m not keen on adding to the Word of Truth either.

    My conscience says that a fraudulent union is NOT a sanctified marriage, and can be terminated without condemnation or bondage. However, the “not congenial” crap isn’t very cool at all, and I’d not be surprised if it wasn’t somehow used back in the day in some legal kerfuffle somewhere as justification for the “irreconcilable differences” foolishness that led to the no-fault mess.

  29. “For conscience sake…he learns she lies to him and says she divorced the first guy for Biblical reasons……..”

    There’s a Biblical reason for a woman to divorce her husband?

  30. LOL @Bruce:

    “There’s a Biblical reason for a woman to divorce her husband?”

    Sure, but not if the husband washed all her tingles in hot, when they should have been in cold and now everything is 50 Shades of Grey.

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