I'm 40 and Still Waiting
Since I came to Christ, I have been praying for a wife. It's been 12 years. My past is very speckled (including homosexuality and porn addiction). I haven't had a date in 9 years and I'm coming up on my 40th birthday. I feel like quitting! I've read books on dating and purity as well. Should I give up on getting married?
SEX THERAPIST'S ANSWER
You have been praying for a wife for a long time so I am sure this is very painful to you. It is hard to keep hoping and praying for something and not see it come to pass. But don't give up! Your 40th birthday coming up might be affecting you more than you realize. For most people when they are young, they have expectations of where they are going to be at 40. Even if it is not conscious, they have a picture of where they will be--it seems to be a marker for a lot of people. So as they come up on their 40th birthday they reevaluate where they are. For most people, there are things that they thought they would be doing or relationships they thought they would have that didn't happen. So this can be a time of reflection and evaluation that includes looking at the next season of your life. You might be doing that as you come up on your 40th birthday and you might be grieving what you thought you would have by now. So feelings of sadness might be particularly painful right now but they won't necessarily last. The good news is that this is a very important step that helps you accept where you actually are not where you thought you would be. If you are reevaluating because of your birthday coming up, most people come to terms with what they didn't accomplish in career or in relationships and then move on to the future in a place of peace and acceptance and renewed creativity.
You say that your past is very speckled including homosexuality and porn addiction. The fact that you mention that makes me wonder if you feel shame about it. If so, shame will make you want to hide who you are and will make it hard to connect with someone. It can make you hang back instead of being bold. So getting rid of any shame will be crucial for you. And let me just say that shame is about who you are rather than your behavior. Neither issue that you struggled with is about who you are, your identity--they are about your behavior. So there is no shame! In fact, the Bible says that you have double honor instead of shame. Understanding how loved you really are by your Father and how good He really is and the freedom that is yours in Christ is so important for you. I had a client that came out of the homosexual lifestyle and was having a hard time with opposite sex relationships and friendships. She was pretty buttoned up with a wall that she put up around people. She moved away and I didn't see her for several years. In that time, she began to understand how much God loved her and that He really was good. That understanding helped her to forgive her earthly father and to begin to restore relationship with him. She sent me a picture of herself and I really couldn't believe it--I honestly would not have recognized her! She was soft and approachable--her whole demeanor had changed--all from understanding how much she was loved by God. So if this applies to you, I would really encourage you to pursue knowing God as your good Father--your Abba.
Where are you with those issues now? Are you attracted to women? If you are not attracted to women then it will be hard to pursue relationship with someone. Are you free from porn? Both of these issues affect intimacy--have you done work around these issues so that you feel like you are free? If not, then I would encourage you to do that first because both things will keep you from connecting with someone. You say that you have not been on a date in 9 years. Have you tried and just not been successful or do you tend to hang back and wait? It is not uncommon for people to wait for God to give them someone so they don't put themselves out to meet anyone. Women find a man who knows who he is and is going somewhere in life to be very attractive. So don't wait around--go on with what you are passionate about. It is amazing how attractive we are to people when we are doing what we love. Are you going to the places where women are so that you can meet them? Finding someone who likes to do the same things you do would be ideal--for example, if you are a runner, join a group that runs so that you can meet people. You might try the dating service that is affiliated with Moral Revolution, On Day Six. That might be a good resource for meeting a woman who shares similar values. Ask a good friend who you think will be honest with you if there are things that you could change that will make you more approachable to women. Sometimes it is little things that we are doing that we are not aware of that push people away.
Maybe you have done all these things and yet you are coming up on 40 and still do not have a wife. Let me encourage you that people are marrying later and later--marrying for the first time after 40 has become more common. And the woman that you will find after 40 is a woman who knows more who she is as well. So don't give up!