Have you noticed that whenever someone travels overseas they are nearly always asked the same question when they return? It is a question that, in my experience, has a 99% chance of being answered in one, short word. “No”.
The question is, “Did you bring home a [insert foreign nationality here] husband?
This question seems to be quite popular in Christian circles, particularly after the age of 18. And if Heaven forbid you are still single into your early to late twenties, then the question will increase tenfold on your arrival back home.
As a ten year old, I recall a twenty-one year old in my church travelling to China to do missionary work. The buzz in the church was paramount, after all she was the eldest of the minister’s children and to top it all off, she was quite beautiful and single. It was only fitting that she would meet someone Chinese and marry them, right?
I still remember the day that fateful question was asked. The young lady had returned from her journey and was back in Australia. I was sitting in one of the vinyl red pews towards the back of the church when a women raised her hand. Jovially, she shouted across the entire congregation,
“Do you have a Chinese boyfriend?!”
Of course the answer was “No.” Even if she had found a potential Chinese husband over there (because apparently they fall into your lap when you travel international), why would she tell the ENTIRE church?
To this day she still travels between Australia and China, predominantly living there. And as far as I am aware, she possesses NO Chinese husband.*Cue the gasps of horror from the congregation*
I never fully appreciated the epidemic that was “The expectation of a foreign spouse” until I grew older and travelled myself. I was twenty- one at the time and was, as the church community would never blatantly term it, quite ready to be married off. Well, not in my view. But once you are twenty-one in the church scene and have no boyfriend or suitable mate/s locally, things begin to look grim to everyone but you. I was happily travelling around America, as a single female, for two months. Adding to this, I was also visiting some male friends while I was there. Photos were posted on Facebook (the standard, point and smile at the camera), happy stories were published and I was having the time of my life, WITH MY FRIENDS.
The entire time, I knew my family was “watching” me. Having grandparents on Facebook as well as girlfriends back home who loved to gossip about boys meant the questions were inevitable. Yet on my return, I heard nothing. Well, not directly anyway. But then the questions snuck into conversation, and stories of what happened on the other side of Facebook reached me. Nothing traumatic happened, no great arguments, no tears were shed over the fact that at twenty one I was STILL single, but I knew I had broken a cardinal rule in the church. I had not met my future mate. Therefore I must either marry one of the young men in my home town (not likely to happen) or travel AGAIN to achieve the ultimate goal of reaching my potential in life by marrying a God fearing (and also very handsome) young man.
Forgive me, I am being very sarcastic as I chronicle the events that surround “The expectation of a foreign spouse.” While elements of this may be over dramatized, the fact remains that this is the pressure that young adults in the church feel to FIND a partner. I have bought into it also, asking the questions, attempting to match couples, telling all my single girlfriends back home I would find them husbands in Nashville.
But for once, in the 2000 year history of the church, I have decided to challenge the entire concept of the foreign spouse. I had toyed with the idea of taking photos with random males at Disneyland to confuse everyone, but I think there is a better (and far less energy consuming) way to do this. I have put together three points that will empower myself and all those single Christians around me, to challenge the status quo and embrace our singleness.
Point One. Marry locally, who needs a foreigner to fall in love anyway?
Point Two. Don’t fancy ANYONE in your friendship group or anyone in your entire city? Stress less, pray about it. If it is meant to be, you will fall in love with the right person, local or foreign. Maybe you just need to get out more and meet people. But you don’t need a partner to be happy, no matter how much that ‘single’ relationship status weighs on your brain.
Point Three. Become celibate. Why not? It worked for Paul and Maria…until she met Mr. Von Trapp anyway. Freak everybody out and commit your entire self to God by refusing to marry. I bet it causes great family discussion at Christmas time.
I am not sure if “The expectation of a foreign spouse” will ever leave church circles. After all, it gives us some entertainment while we are waiting for the newlyweds to fall pregnant. But maybe we can stop putting that pressure on ourselves? God knows I don’t want to find a husband when I’m looking, I’d rather him just turn up on the scene, like God actually PLANNED for him to be there. And I don’t want to choose a male at random because I’m ‘desperate’. I’m worth the sun, the moon, life itself. Jesus showed me that. So I’m going to trust him to bring along a partner when he wants me to have one. And hopefully by doing this, I shall challenge the concept of the “Expectation of a foreign spouse”.
Unless I marry someone foreign anyway, then you have my permission to ignore these ramblings.