In Christian circles, there seem to be a million spoken and unspoken dating rules.

People talk with all kinds of authority on what should and should not be done and lay the smackdown in arguments if you should veer from their acceptable path. It’s kind of humorous considering the Bible has very little to say about the topic of dating itself.

At best, people can offer their advice, thoughts, conclusions, convictions, and rationale for choosing their particular dating camp, but that’s about it. Mandating grey areas in the dating realm for others isn’t exactly promoting freedom in Christ.

One of the areas where we’ve read quite a bit of discussion on the Interwebs is in the area of making a list of qualities one might desire in a spouse. We’ve seen people from both sides look down on the other from their lofty perches.

Not too long ago, we realized it was a topic we had not covered on this site. And the interesting thing was that we didn’t even agree on whether or not people should create said lists. Add that to the million other things we don’t see eye-to-eye on, yet we still remain friends. How is that possible in this day and age?

So in true SingleRoots fashion, we decided it was time for “The Great Debate,” especially to see what our readers think about the idea of a list. We don’t think there is acut and dried answer on this topic, but it’s fun to talk about. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Through my twenties, I was often told to make a “list” of what I wanted in a future wife. I declined to do this for several reasons:

• Who am I to know what’s truly best for me? That’s God’s department, right?

• Why limit my options to only what my finite mind can think up?

• Checklist + dating = not romantic.

Yes, there should be some non-negotiables on a mental checklist that every potential mate should be processed through, but creating a long, detailed list sounded very limiting to me.

However, a couple years ago a married friend and mentor of mine changed my mind. I was in a dating drought wondering if God had forgotten about me, and my friend said it was the perfect time to write a list because I had no specific girl on my mind.

He told me to:

• Pray. Nothing specific, just pray to get into a peaceful state of mind.

• Start listing and don’t hold back. Write down every desire of my heart – both serious and superficial.

• File it away. Once I was finished, he said I should pray over it and put it away.

So after a decade of not creating a list, I took my friend’s advice and created one. I ended up with 22 things on my list — ranging from spiritual traits to the color of hair I preferred to the foods I hoped she liked. My friend later told me he had 43 things when he did his list.

Every time I wrote a more serious trait down, it caused me to reflect as well. It forced me to ask myself: If I met her today, would I offer her this important trait in return? One of the benefits of making a list was to show me areas of my own life that I needed to work on.

I said a simple prayer over the list, and I turned the page in my journal and moved on. I never went back to it. I certainly didn’t pull it out at the end of future dates and use it as a checklist.

In essence, the creating of “the list” was a one-time experience, not a rigid document to guide my future.

I never went back to it until I met a girl named Kori. I was about to propose to her, and I remembered my list. I found the journal I’d written it in and flip the pages back to a date almost two years earlier. What I read was simply a reflection of God’s faithfulness. I was immediately reminded that He not only hadn’t forgotten about me, but He had actually given me the desires of my heart.

I’ve heard testimonies from other list-makers where every single trait they wrote down (and more) came true. For me, my list didn’t go 22 for 22, but does it really matter if Kori is not a huge fan of coffee? The traits she brought above and beyond my measly list still blows my mind.

It’s important to be reminded that God created a mystery around romance. Discovering His additions and enhancements to our simple “list” is what makes romance so enticing.

While making a list is probably not for everyone, I ultimately found that it benefited me in at least two ways: God used the process to show me areas of my life needing improvement, and then years later, He used the list to show me just how faithful He was at giving me the desires of my heart.

[Ryan Stubblefield]

In college I sat down and brain dumped every quality I ever wanted in a husband.

I listed everything from his walk with the Lord to his family’s biological makeup to his love of Jeopardy. I also requested he would love the tradition of Santa Claus as much as my family does.

In my youthful efforts to preserve this list until the end of time (and possibly be presented as a wedding gift for my yet-to-be-named husband), I slipped the five handwritten, loose-leaf pages into sheet protectors and latched them safely into a binder — a binder that had Ephesians 3:20-21 painted on the cover along with flowers and swirls and whatever other doodles I could come up with. I was not only naming it, but I was claiming it (him) in every possible way, right down to the verse.

Of course, now in my old age, the irony of my extensive five-page list and verses about how God is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine is not lost on me. Nor is the irony that the same binder is in a box somewhere in my parents’ attic tucked away so one day I can re-discover it and giggle at my own ridiculousness.

I fully realize when it comes to the discussion of whether or not it is a good idea to make a list of traits you are looking for in a spouse my naïve college binder detailing holiday traditions, gene pool preferences, and affinities for useless trivia is not exactly the legitimate “spouse list” that people are advocating. Then again, maybe it is. Maybe it’s relative.

Juvenile specificities aside, in adulthood I’ve never made a list of qualities I’m looking for in a spouse.

Maybe it’s because I love surprises.

Maybe it’s because I don’t see the need.

Maybe it’s because writing things down does something to me.

Maybe it’s because I believe not all of my longings will be fulfilled this side of eternity, including my desire for a husband.

Maybe it’s because I don’t trust my oft-wandering heart.

Maybe it’s a lot of those things. I’ve considered them all, and they might contain some shards of truth as to why I don’t make a list.

But really, it’s because if I am to get married, my “list” isn’t really a list. It’s three characteristics: He must love Jesus more than he loves me, he must be a spiritual leader and he must enjoy travel. It’s a far cry from five pages I wrote over a decade ago.

I’ve been fortunate to walk alongside some phenomenal guys in my lifetime, both family and friends. Some have married and some are still single.

Regardless, they have set the bar high and in many ways have made it much easier to not settle for anything less — especially when it comes to spiritual matters and treatment of women. I am grateful God has placed them in my life to show me it’s not unreasonable to wait for someone who follows hard after Him and who will challenge me to do the same.

Each of the guys who come to mind is so unique, except in their zeal for the Lord. They’ve shown me that any character traits that I thought I had to have were short-sighted and limiting me to what I thought was best instead of keeping me open to whomever God might bring into my life.

But then again what do I know? Maybe there is something to this list thing. I mean, Ryan made one and is now married. I haven’t made one and am still single …

[Jessica Bufkin]

Do you think it’s beneficial to create a list of traits you want in a future spouse? If you have a list, why did you do it? If you haven’t, why not?

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