Why Do Women Settle?
About the Guest
Biblical counselor and pastor Deepak Reju explains why young women settle for less when it comes to their relationships with the opposite sex. The influence of Disney movies and the fairy tale belief in happily-ever-after, the fear of missing out, and the fear of being alone, all contribute to this flawed decision-making process. Reju talks about what it looks like to be a lady-in-waiting on God.
Deepak Reju explains why young women settle for less when it comes to their relationships with the opposite sex. Reju talks about what it looks like to be a lady-in-waiting on God.
Why Do Women Settle?
Bob: Deepak Reju is concerned that, for a lot of young women today, their views about love and romance and marriage are being shaped more by fairy tales and fears than by anything biblical.
Deepak: My little girls right now, as they watch Disney, you can see how every Disney movie is setting up ideals in their mind of what marriage is going to look like, with a perfect ending, when Prince Charming always kisses the princess and rides off to Wonderland. Or you hear the fears that women have, like, “I’m going to be alone,” “I’m never going to have children,” “I’m never going to be worthy of a man,” “No one’s ever going to desire me”—those put them in a position of choosing a man that’s not ideal.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, February 4th. Our host is Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. How should smart, young, single women be thinking about marriage, if in fact they want to get married?
What does it look like to think about that biblically? We’re going to talk today with Deepak Reju about that. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us.
You just like to stir it up, don’t you? “Why Smart Women Settle” That’s what you want to talk about here.
Dennis: I want to find out what our guest means by that statement.
Dennis: Deepak Reju joins us on the broadcast, all the way from Washington, D.C.—and he’s the one who is throwing the stone—
Bob: Well, that’s true.
Dennis: —at the hornets’ nest. Welcome to the broadcast!
Deepak: Thank you. Glad to be here.
Dennis: Are you? You sure you are? [Laughter]
Deepak: Well, we’ll find out in just a moment.
Dennis: The book’s name is She’s Got the Wrong Guy, subtitled Why Smart Women Settle. Deepak, as I mentioned, is from Washington, D.C. He’s married to his wife, Sarah.
They have five children, and he is the pastor of biblical counseling at Capitol Hill Baptist Church, which is just a stone’s throw from the Capitol.
Deepak: That’s right—five blocks down the street.
Dennis: Glad you’re there. We need all the peacemakers we can get inside the Beltway.
Bob: Are you seeing smart women settling in Washington, D.C.?
Deepak: I see smart women settle all over the world.
Dennis: Okay, now, hold it. Back up. What do you mean, “Smart Women Settle”?
Deepak: Well, someone can choose to marry a man who is not a wise choice—as long as he’s calling himself a Christian, he showers, and he comes to church, “then I’m going to go to the altar with him, because he’s nice to me.”
Deepak: I mean—that’s about as low as you’re going to go.
Dennis: And you’re seeing in this in your counseling.
Deepak: I see this, I talk to counselors all the time, interact with singles—because our congregation’s dominated with singles.
Yes, people make choices that are not wise choices, and in my job, we get to counsel them on the front end—because our congregation is filled with 20 and 30-year-olds who are making all those life choices—but then you see on the back end—as the counselor dealing with the difficult marriages—and you begin to calculate, “Alright. What happened on the front end, and what do we need to do to make sure we don’t end up in this position again?”
Bob: Okay, so I was talking to this single friend of mine about this interview. I said, “We’re going to be talking about She’s Got the Wrong Guy: Why Smart Women Settle,” and my friend said, basically—she didn’t say it this way—but she said, “Have you been to the grocery store lately?” You go and you’re hungry and you go, “I want to find something here that would be nice to eat.” You look at the produce section, and your choices are the spotty apples or no apples at all.
Dennis: Now there are some guys, Bob, who are listening right there and going, “Now, wait a second!”
Bob: “Are you calling me a spotty apple?” [Laughter]
Dennis: There’s some good fruit out there.
Bob: But a lot—you know this—a lot of young women who say, “Deepak, I just don’t—there are not a whole lot of guys—” Are their standards too high, or are the pickings slimmer?
Deepak: Well, there’s both. In some cases they’re in a congregation where there doesn’t seem to be that many choices to them apparent of godly men, and you’ll often hear them say things like, “The really good men are already taken.”
Deepak: “We just have the leftovers that are in our congregation.”
Bob: Especially if in your late 20’s or early 30’s, it does kind of feel like the herd has been thinned out a little bit.
Deepak: Yes. But, you know, I’m not expecting a 20-year-old man to have the godliness and maturity of 50 or 60 or 70-year-old pastor.
Deepak: What I’m looking for is a guy who has the right commitments—who’s going to make mistakes—but is headed in the right trajectory.
Dennis: Is it just a supply-and-demand, though, Deepak or is there a number one reason why smart women settle?
Deepak: I don’t know that there’s a number one reason, but there are a lot of reasons why women settle. I mean, take an example of idolatry. My little girls right now, as they watch Disney, you can see how every Disney movie is setting up ideals in their mind of what marriage is going to look like, with a perfect ending, when Prince Charming always kisses the princess and rides off to the Wonderland. Or you hear the fears that women have—like, “I’m going to be alone,” “I’m never going to have children,” “I’m never going to be worthy of a man,” “No one’s ever going to desire me…”
You can go on and on—I could give you more reasons why women choose to settle, and those put them in a position of choosing a man that’s not ideal.
Dennis: As I look at the single culture today, there’s a lot of unhealthy relationships developed.
I mean, choosing the other person around sex and not a relationship.
Dennis: Are you saying the same thing happened in your congregation? I’m not talking about the culture in D.C.—but in your congregation.
Deepak: Well, and not just our church, but as I get to go talk to different churches around the country, you just see how—the compromises that are made, whether it’s premarital sex and—in one case, a young woman confessed to me after she got married, “Because I slept with him and I’d always saved myself for someone, I just assumed out of obligation I had to marry him.”
Deepak: Or the angry man who has a simmering temper and bursts out every once in a while, and she just rationalizes it away, because finally there’s a guy who has a strong interesting in her. Or the control freak who suddenly actually controls different aspects of her life—
—checking her email, calling her all the time, jealous of her friends—the guy who’s actually really acting like a tyrant in the relationship, and yet she doesn’t realize that yet. You just see all the different kinds of guys that gals are choosing, and you think, “Don’t do that!”
Bob: I can imagine single women who are listening—smart single women—who are saying, “Okay, I understand Deepak’s utopia. Let’s talk about the real world in which we live today,” because a lot of godly single women are saying, first of all, “I don’t get noticed as a godly single woman.”
Bob: The women who get noticed are the women who compromise. “So the guys—even the godly guys—are spending more time noticing the compromising women than they are the godly women, which puts me in a position where I don’t want to be left out of this game and be dealing with leftovers.” So let’s talk to her about this phenomenon that she’s experiencing.
Deepak: There are two sides to this one. One would be, “What does it look like to wait well and to be patient?” And fundamental to that is, “Can I trust in the Lord through that?” But, “What does it mean for me to endure. For me to have patience shows that I’m trusting God through my many years. I’m not taking control,” which is easy to do. “I can rustle the leaves. I can initiate with a guy, I can put myself in all the right positions to take over and take the responsibility out of God’s hands.”
A very different position, where I’m saying, “By faith, I will endure by trusting the Lord with my life—but I can still make wise choices by first centering my life around Christ—”
Deepak: “—and in centering my life around Christ, it helps me become the godly woman that the Lord wants me to be—
"—and that’ll help me be patient, that’ll help me to trust. That’ll help me, also, to reflect the kind of beauty that a godly man—the right kind of guy—will begin to notice.”
Bob: So, a woman who says, “Okay, I hear you. I want to be that woman. I want to pursue Jesus,” should she be passive and not initiate in any way?
Deepak: No, no, no, no. Here’s what I’d say— I don’t want her to take control of the steering wheel and take it out of God’s hands—that’s first—
Deepak: There’s a way in which I can ignore God and just do everything I need to get a guy—whether that’s flirting or always initiating with the guy I want, or putting myself in the right position—all those kinds of things—or there’s a way in which she can actually do all the right things—serve within a church, go to all the places where the singles are gathering together, connect with family to help her with this—and doesn’t have to do this on her own.
I mean, I’m a pastor fundamentally. Doing this by yourself is dreadful. Trying to figure out who you’re going to marry is one of hardest things you can ever imagine, because dating is fraught with all kinds of difficulties.
Dennis: That’s where I want to go, Deepak. For a young lady—or, for that matter, for an older lady—to truly wait well, she’s going to need the church. That’s not the facility—she’s going to need the relationship with other singles in the church—families in the church, some mentors in the church to coach her—counsel her, maybe her counsel off the ledge when she’s ready to jump and kind of compromise. She needs the church now more than ever, but the church—it seems to me—has always struggled with what to do with singles.
Deepak: Yes, that’s right. And you look at your typical congregation, there’s a divide between all the married people together and all the single people together.
What we want to do is bridge that gap, so that there is an integration of the married people and the single people as one family, which means families have to be deliberate in bringing singles into their life, and singles have to be deliberate also in initiating.
One of the most common things I hear from single folks in our congregation is, “I just don’t want to be a burden to the families.” I say, “Forget that! Just absolutely forget that! For your own spiritual good, you need them in your life. You need to go ahead and initiate with them, because there are so many things you’re going to see…”
Now, they don’t have to go into a family’s life and hear a five-point lecture on parenting—that’s not what they’re going to get.
Deepak: What they’re going to get is—when a single man comes with me to a soccer game on Saturday, and when my youngest son has a meltdown, he’s going to see how I parent that child in the moment. As much as books are helpful, he’s going to experience what godly parenting is by actually living it and seeing it, by coming right alongside them.
Bob: Well, and it’s not just the modeling or the instruction, but it’s just the relationship.
Deepak: Yes. I’ll often coach my kids in soccer, and a lot of the church members will have their kids on teams of different pastors who are coaching, and my friend will come on Saturdays—he’s another pastor in the church—but he never comes without another single guy alongside of him.
Deepak: I’ve really appreciated that.
Deepak: Or, you know, what do we want? We want regularly in our homes, singles coming over and just hanging out, just to be with our family. Our kids, now, have developed such good relationships with singles and couples without children within our congregation that they actually get frustrated with my wife and I if we don’t have them over again.
Dennis: Oh, yes.
Deepak: They’re enjoying the relationship, and I want that for my kids. My oldest three children right now are each being discipled by single folks within the church—
—who are taking the initiative to do Bible study with them and bridge the gap into our family.
So…in that sense it goes both ways. The families want to be caring for the singles, and look at the ways the singles can be caring for the families! It’s not—as most people will reduce it to—“the singles are useful for babysitting the kids so I can get a date night.”
Bob: Yes. [Laughter]
Deepak: That’s not what we’re talking about at all! What I want to see is Lindsey, who is meeting up with my oldest daughter and has studied the gospel of John with her and is pouring into her life.
Bob: It’s interesting how this conversation has evolved, because we were talking about single women settling for the wrong guy, and what we’ve found ourselves talking about here is how single people—men or women—ought to, in their single years, be focused on their own spiritual growth and development and making that priority—
—and kind of putting the right guy/wrong guy question over to the side a little bit and not making that so central to all that they’re thinking about.
It reminds me of a quote—I’ve shared this dozens of times, but a pastor from Texas—Tommy Nelson—one time I heard him say, “If you’re single, your job is to run as hard and as fast toward Jesus as you can.” He said, “If, while you’re running, out of the corner of your eye you see somebody running in the same direction at the same speed, take a second look.”
I’ve always thought that’s a great word for singles, because you do want somebody running in the same direction at the same speed. If somebody’s running slower, that’s going to be a problem—if somebody’s running faster, that could be a problem.
Bob: But make that your aim, rather than making your focus, “I have to find somebody, and I have to hurry this thing along.”
Deepak: That goes back to—because we’re talking about finding somebody in your church—I think the best place to find someone is in your local church.
Deepak: Because what you’re going to get—not just someone who you can spend your life with, but someone who believes the same things as you do theologically, who has the same convictions around community, who’s committed to the same relationships. Dating in isolation is dreadful, because you have to figure out on your own how to get through this—
Bob: Okay, I have to stop you here, though, because there are some folks who are listening who are saying, “Yes, that’s where I’ve been looking—is in my local church—but it seems like there are guys who have figured out that the singles group at the local church is a better pickup place than the local bar is.”
Deepak: Well, yes.
Bob: There are wolves who are preying on single women in local churches.
Deepak: Yes, there are—and that’s why we need pastors who would actually go after those wolves—that’s the first thing. What I appreciate about our congregation is the pastors have an antenna for the wolves.
Dennis: Could I also add, it’s also a call to the daddies to get out and protect the young ladies of the church as well? Not just your own daughters.
Deepak: Well, yes.
The older men in the church—because in our mobile society, often single women are far removed from their direct families—they’re in some other part of the country—so it’s the older men in the church—it’s the shepherds, the pastors in the church who are keeping an eye out. But if you’re involved in a family—if you’re connected to a family, they’re looking out for your well-being, too.
How many times—years ago, a young lady that my wife was discipling had broken up with a guy that had meant a lot to her, and she had done the classic mistake of being vulnerable so early in the relationship that, when it didn’t work out, she was crushed.
Deepak: Here she is, she’s on our couch, and she’s sobbing because she had set high expectations—and giving so much of herself early on—was crushed. The awkward part of it is my wife wasn’t home yet, and yet I got to be the father figure right there.
We want to see that a thousandfold in the congregations—that the single women are not trying to sort this out on your own.
Deepak: The church has to take responsibility, and there have to be families who—in the midst of their busyness—are willing to say, “Actually, caring for the singles in our church is a priority.”
Our senior pastor right now has often said, “Let’s pray that we’re a church where the families will regularly enfold the singles into our lives.”
Dennis: That’s so needed today—it really is needed—because of isolation. A young lady or a young man in isolation can be convinced of anything, and they can make a wrong judgment—and be one that impacts them for the rest of their lives.
Bob: It almost sounds, though, like we’re talking yentas, you know, having the matchmaker in the local church? Are you an advocate for yentas?
Deepak: Well, my unfortunate nickname is D. Harmony. [Laughter]
Long before I wrote the book, being proactive about making sure that we’re invested in singles—
—and, you know, if you’re proactive about it, the singles will come to you. They’ll come to you to have the conversations—they’ll come to say, “Hey, I’m thinking of so-and-so. Is that a wise move?” I want to be in the middle of that conversation, because if they’re choosing someone that’s not wise for them, I want to be able to say, “No, don’t do that.”
Bob: Okay, so we have a lot of listeners who all of a sudden want to meet D. Harmony.
Dennis: Yes, they do! [Laughter] They do.
Here’s the application out of today’s broadcast. Number one—if you’re a single, you need to be in the process of running toward Jesus Christ, as Bob talked about. You need to be in the process of growing as a young woman into the woman God made you to be, and that means cultivating your beauty—your inner beauty—and maybe—how shall I say this carefully, but—being modest. This whole seductive issue of how singles are encouraged to dress immodestly is—in my opinion—poor judgment.
Bob: We just have to step in here, because you’ve heard the dialogue that goes back and forth. We’re not saying that a woman is responsible for whether a man is lusting or not.
Bob: That’s on the guy.
Dennis: I’m not saying that at all.
Bob: But a woman has a responsibility for how she presents herself—and a man does as well.
Dennis: Second thing I’d say is to the families who are so busy, have so much going on, just pull your head up for a family night sometime, and say, “What single women—what single men seem to be circling our family or we have relationships with that we ought to invite them into a little bit of a closer circle of our family—to have an impact on their lives?” Ask God to point out a single woman—a single man to begin to bring into your home and let them observe your marriage, your family in operation. You have no idea how many needs that will meet.
It doesn’t mean they need to come over every day, but it does mean that we get together with them more than once a year.
Deepak: And can I add to that, Dennis—what I’m trying not to do is set them up to feel like—
—they need to actually have hospitality, they have a dinner ready and everything else. It’s just simply, let them into your life. And I’ll say to singles, as long as you’re willing to come into a family and be a part of what’s already going on, then you can hang out plenty. So, come with me to the grocery store, go with me to my son’s soccer game—
Dennis: There you go.
Deepak: —jump in to dinner at the last minute. Don’t feel like you—as a family—have to do a huge effort of hospitality. Just set the standard for the singles. “You’ll get plenty if you come along, but just do it the way our family’s doing it.”
Dennis: Yes. I think that’s important—to not feel like you’re under the gun to entertain a single person. But your book—by the way—would be a great addition to every single woman’s library. Would you encourage a single guy to read this book?
Deepak: Here’s the surprising thing—the feedback I’ve gotten more frequently than I expected was dads who wrote me who read it and said, “I’m making my son read it.”
Deepak: Because they don’t want their son to be “that guy.”
Dennis: That’s a great application of your book.
Deepak: I’m expecting single women or even dads to read it with their daughters in late high school or college, to help them begin to make those choices early, to figure out what kind of guy they really should be looking for—but I never expected a dad to call me and say, “I bought copies and I gave it to each of my sons and made them read it.”
Bob: Well, let me tell our listeners, don’t go Google D. Harmony, because you won’t find it, okay? But we do have copies of the book She’s Got the Wrong Guy: Why Smart Women Settle, by Deepak Reju. You can go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, and the information about the book is available there. You can order it from us online—or you can call to order, 1-800-FL-TODAY.
Again, the title of the book is She’s Got the Wrong Guy: Why Smart Women Settle. Order online at FamilyLifeToday.com—or call to order at 1-800-358-6329.
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And we hope you can join us back tomorrow—Deepak Reju is going to be here again. We’re going to continue talking about how a single woman can be smart in her relationship choices, and how you can ask the right questions while you’re dating one another so that your marriage is a surprise-free relationship. We’ll talk more about tomorrow.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We’ll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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