It’s malignant. It’s everywhere; feeding upon any other topic in conversation, unable to be restrained, until it overflows in word vomit: marriage. Aaaaaah, yes. We’re in our twenties now, tis the season to water people’s camels and ask them to spread the corner of their garments over us (no thanks, my heater is REALLY warm). You try to find your old high school buddy Shannon Pickster on Facebook to reconnect, but she has no Facebook. Has no Facebook? Is she stuck in a time warp? No, she’s just Shannon Lee now. Graduation parties have turned into weddings, you now qualify for THAT session with your Pastor at church, and where you used to advise your friend on whether or not to study that course, you’re now advising her on whether or not to marry that man. That marriage thing that used to be so far outside your camp, has crept up on you and is now inside your tent, as you’re gearing up to meet your best friend’s very first boyfriend at her birthday dinner. (Please let me like him, please let me like him, please!) It’s all new wine, it’s strange and strong and forcing me to take a long, hard look at my views on the matter. I’ve come to a place where I have to unlearn everything I know. Those stories and stories of books in my head, accumulated over years of having my nose in one Francine Rivers book after the next, and girly chatter with my friends over coffee and croissants, are now useful only as fire paper. You see, in my head, things were relatively easy and highly romantic. Guy eyes girl. Girl notices guy, yet plays coy because she’s a lady, guy’s inner fires are lit up and he chases after her with reckless abandon, not quitting until she’s in a Carolina Herrerra gown, in front of the minister, vowing to love and honour and wash his socks and hang his wet towels for as long as they both shall live. Nobody ever told me about all the other possible scenarios! I didn’t know there would be so many shades of grey or dense marshes to ford through. It was unfathomable to me that guy would like girl and yet feel inadequate and undeserving of her, or that girl would fall nose over toes in love with the one guy whom every other girl has nose over toes in love with. Neither did it occur to me that on this long and thorny road to the altar, there would be that one guy who would relentlessly pursue girl, refusing to let up no matter how many times girl goes at his heart with a machete because she just couldn’t return his feelings, and that he wouldn’t care that she felt feathers for him, he still wanted her (madness, I tell you). My personal favourite, guy like girl, girl likes guy, girl plays her part of the coy maiden excellently, but guy has decided to get with the times, chasing after girl is so 1920’s and reeks of gender stereotyping, so he decides to play coy…gentleman? Because of the carefully constructed image of eros love in my mind that had taken so long to build, I neglected to consider that girls aren’t the only human beings involved. I had made guys out to be these automatons, following the script to the tee, saying all the right things, at the right time, with the right bouquet of flowers in hand (white orchids or yellow tulips). What I have learnt, is that guys will divert so much from the script we so painstakingly write, that oftentimes the only thing the two versions will have in common will be the characters. Even the title will change. What girl wrote as “He Fought for my Heart”, guy will turn into “I Was Going to Fight for Her Heart, But I Decided another Girl Was worth My Battle Scars”. It’s all so overwhelming, makes a girl want to take some Valium. I’m joking. Say no to drugs. Even prescribed ones. I have to now consider, do I have to give up on my dream? Will my trip to the altar inevitably be less beautiful as I had always dreamed it would be? Do I have to make peace with the idea spending the rest of my days with a man I merely tolerate, after his Pastor proposes to me on his behalf? Absolutely not! I would rather sit alone in a nursing home chewing tobacco, with only my cats as company, than go gentle into that dire existence. Maybe I want more than what the average Christian man can give. Maybe I’m asking for too much that the eyes of a man I have fallen for would mirror my own love. , A little vulnerability, someone I love saying “I love you, I have God’s blessing to pursue your heart and I will not relent until yours begins to thaw.” This is me, this is what I want, and I won’t short-change my dream just to have my ring finger occupied and my surname changed. I know I’m worth the extra effort I ask for. I’m an old school girl, and while my views may be a bitter pill to swallow for the new age man, I know they come with benefits that modern women find obsolete. I will guard and protect his heart and virtue. I will be a soft pillow to rest his head upon at the end of the day. Things that modern women find menial and demeaning, I will do for my husband, the high priest and king of my home, with a heart of love and service. The reward will be great for the pursuer of my heart. And I will wait for him. I will not cast pearls before swine. Because I’m worth it.