Much to my shame, I have watched many an episode (er… season) of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. I know I will never get back or truly justify the many hours I’ve spent watching this show. It has very little in the way of redeeming value. When Paul said “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things,” he was most assuredly NOT talking about watching The Bachelorette.
Through a combination of incredible self-control and insanely busy evenings, I have avoided watching this show for a couple of seasons now… but I gave in this week to watch half of the second-to-last episode of this season. Emily, our bachelorette, could not be any sweeter, cuter, or more likable and the three bachelors vying for her affection seem more sincere and down-to-earth than previous seasons.
I can’t help but feel sorry for this girl. She seemed unusually torn up about saying goodbye to these men and the previews for next week seem to suggest things don’t get much easier when she makes her final choice. I actually believe she IS falling in love with multiple men at the same time. The show simply oozes romance–the eligible young men and women are plucked from their ordinary lives and sent to exotic destinations for candle-lit dinners and adventurous excursions–so it is no surprise that people fall in love.
A girl could fall in love with almost any guy under these circumstances. The producers of the show know this. They depend on this fact season after season: Falling in love is not hard. Getting the object of your affection to love you back is slightly harder. Harder still, no, nearly IMPOSSIBLE is the task of staying in love for a lifetime. Especially if you are under the impression that there is only one right person for you.
My dad has always told me that there is no One–no perfect person with whom marriage will work perfectly. Marriage is hard work, but it is good work and worthwhile work. I couldn’t agree more (though I’m not sure I could imagine a more perfect fit for me than my husband…)
And this is our bachelorette’s true problem. She is treating this like a shell game: under one shell is a pearl. Right now they all seem like potential fits but she worries that she might be letting The One go home. She believes there is a One Right Person out there and every other relationship is just a ruse that will result in a failed relationship or an inferior life. Not only does this create anxiety while searching for a spouse, I’m convinced this idea of The One generates a lot of break ups and even divorce. (If your spouse isn’t making you happy, he or she must NOT be The One! Time to keep looking for that perfect partner who will fit the bill!)
If you can fall in love with a person, you can choose to love that person for a lifetime. I’m not saying every person you fall in love with is marriage material; I’m just saying that love is a conscious choice and a commitment and it can work with anyone.
I don’t know Emily, but I wish I could pass along to her some advice from one of my favorite books, Good News for Anxious Christians*:
“There are many good people out there with whom you can make a good marriage, and a good marriage with a good person is good enough; it is one of the greatest blessings on God’s green earth. Young people need to know this, because nowadays they are very afraid of the prospect of marriage, anxious about all the ways it can go wrong and end in divorce… Like every attempt to ‘find God’s will for your life,’ (the quest for ‘the one’) dumps a load of unnecessary anxiety on top of the decision-making process because it means you have to worry that you might miss what you’re supposed to find” (68).
It is a lesson worth learning if you intend to make a marriage work, even if you have to watch The Bachelorette to learn it.
*I can not emphasize enough how significantly and permanently this book altered my thinking about Christianity. It is an awkward title, but an important read.