A book was given to me by a friend at church, who had it in a manilla envelope so that no one could see the title. She was embarrassed, but I was happy to know that I have a friend who cares and wants to help me. When I first saw the title, I thought, “I can’t get Married in 12 Months or Less, I just signed a two-year lease!” My second reaction was that grammar must truly be a lost art if book editors allow a book to be published with incorrect grammar in the title (for non-grammarians, it should be 12 months or fewer). Married in 12 Months or Less: Reclaim Your Love Life, Heal Your Heart, and Unlock the Secret to Finding Your Spirit Mate is written by Jackie Dorman, a matchmaker. The inside flap touts Married in 12 Months or Less as “an international movement.” It had been more than a decade since I picked up a book for single women. In that time, I had written my own book (still unpublished, of course) and started a blog. I began reading with a bit of excitement. I thought maybe the author was going to tell me where to find forty-something, Christian, single men. Spoiler alert: she doesn’t actually tell you where to find a man.
Jackie Dorman’s thesis in this book is that single Christian women are standing in their own way, and ultimately in God’s way, so that God can’t bless them with the husband they are promised. How single women behave and think are holding them back – or she would say, keeping them ‘in the waiting room.’ In the book she explains that we are believing lies about ourselves to the point that we are actually living a lie – being a counterfeit version of ourselves. We are also believing lies about men and relationships, which are keeping us from connecting with the opposite sex. Dorman makes some good points about issues that legitimately keep women from being who God created them to be. I have no doubt that many women are trying to be someone they are not in order to protect themselves or please other people. But I do not think this problem is specific to single women, and I am skeptical about it being a major reason for singleness.
Throughout the book, Dorman shares her own story of finding her “Spirit-Mate” (“Soul-mates are a dime-a-dozen,” she tells us). Her personal experience stands in glaring contradiction to what she tells single women. She explains how messed up she was when she met her future husband and that she even tried to warn him off on their first date. But somehow, they were married in under a year. And she explains that her readers can be, too, if they can get beyond all the things that she didn’t get beyond until after she was married. At one point, she explains she doesn’t want us to have to go through what she did when she married her spirit-mate. However, she continues to assert that the obstacles we need to tackle before we get married are also keeping us single.
Believe it or not, this contradiction isn’t my biggest problem with the book. Dorman boldly proclaims that God has a husband for every woman who wants one. She states that it is a promise of Scripture. I have read through my One Year Bible several times and have been receiving Bible instruction my whole life. I have never come across this promise, and I am fairly certain that I would have noticed (it’s a big deal to me). Her premise for this is that the family is how God best demonstrates His plan for the world. While it is true that God uses marriage and family to help us understand Him and His relationship to believers, this does not make marriage a promise. She points out how the fall has messed up how men and women relate to each other, but still, she believes the God has a husband for everyone who wants one. Could it be, instead, that an increase in singleness is a sign of a culture that has moved away from Christian values and further into sin? The values of our culture have changed to the point that many have lost the desire to marry.
I don’t know all the answers, of course. If I did, I might be married! What is plain in my life is that I don’t know any eligible, single Christian men. And when I say eligible, I mean it in the traditional sense of the word. I don’t have a list of traits I’m looking for, which Dorman mentioned as something women need to move beyond. I firmly believe that if God wanted me to be married, I would be. And this is something that actually is supported by the author’s story. Dorman instructs us that God should be our matchmaker (something I wrote about well before this book was published) and reminds us that we have a God-shaped hole inside, not a man-shaped hole. I agree with both of these statements. I don’t agree with putting God to the test by giving Him a deadline. It is also dangerous for women to be focused on a deadline because if you really want to be married, you can probably find someone. But that doesn’t mean it is from God.
Throughout the book, Dorman cites Scripture to back up her ideas. In all, she quotes from five different versions, but never to compare the translations to better understand the text. Most of her quotes are from paraphrase versions, not straight translations, of the Bible. Paraphrases can be helpful to give a better understanding of Scripture, but when they are left to stand alone, they can misrepresent what God’s Word actually says. For instance, she quotes Galatians 5:9 from The Passion Translation (which I hadn’t heard of before): “Don’t you know that when you allow even a little lie into your heart, it can permeate your entire belief system?” (pg. 69). The English Standard Version reads, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” The apostle Paul was admonishing the Galatians about false teaching spreading in the church. A little bit of bad doctrine can spread to everyone, just as yeast is worked into a lump of bread dough. He used the same analogy writing to the Corinthians about allowing an unrepentant man into their fellowship. But Dorman uses this verse to instruct that the lies we believe about ourselves are keeping us single and causing us to have a counterfeit personality. Essentially, she snatched verses out of context from obscure versions to try to support her ideas.
Another problem I had with the book is the assumption that all single women who desire to be married are living miserable, unhappy lives. At one point, she refers to “. . .the crap show your life has been up until now.” (pg. 161) For each page that points us to God as the only thing that will make us happy, there must be two or three pages that infer that we will never be happy unless we get married. I do not believe that a woman can be happy if she is living a ‘counterfeit’ life. But I also don’t believe that getting married is the answer to happiness. Happiness is from God, and a bad marriage is not a happier situation than singleness. Dorman says that she believes this, but so much of the other things she writes point to a belief that single life is misery and only if you follow her plan to land a husband in under a year, will you find the happiness you seek. And if you are a single woman who wants to be married and have a family, but you’ve found contentment being single, it’s just another way that you are deluding yourself.
Dorman would probably tell me that I have gotten too comfortable ‘in the waiting room.’ But her idea of the waiting room is different than mine. I figured out years ago that sitting and waiting for a husband was a bad idea, so I stopped saying things like, “Maybe when I get married, I will do this. . .” If you are waiting to get married in order to live your life, you are going to miss out on a lot of living! The author’s idea of the waiting room is that, for any reason, you are not embracing the promise of her challenge, that not only does God have someone for you, but if you shape up and believe it, God will deliver in under a year.
The author dismisses 1 Corinthians 7 with a single, four-sentence paragraph reminding us that ‘Paul is giving his opinion.’ (pg. 134) That is true, but would the Holy Spirit have allowed Paul to write this if it ran contrary to God’s design? If she is arguing that God intends for most everyone to marry, she should at least address Paul’s desire to ‘secure [our] undivided devotion to the Lord.’ The opinion of an Apostle who was being inspired by God to write to believers, should carry more weight than the opinion of a woman who seems to have spent very little of her adult life being single. Even though she admits that her first marriage was a disaster, she would have people run against the clock to find the mate God has promised. In the back of my mind, I hear the Apostle Paul’s admonition, “Do not seek. . .”
The back cover shows pictures of the happy couples who have gotten married as a result of this “movement.” Hope is a powerful thing. I want to live with hope that someday I will be married, but the basis of my true hope and joy has to be rooted in Jesus Christ. I am interested to know what other people think of this book. If you’ve read it, leave a comment to let us know what this book meant to you and your life.