As an Orthodox priest who has been married for more than 20 years, I frequently receive inquiries from young men, asking how to find a godly young woman to marry. They don't want a woman who is feminist, career oriented, or unchaste prior to marriage.
Men keep telling me they can't find any high quality eligible women in their local church, and they are starting to wonder whether traditional, submissive, beautiful, feminine, virgin, Orthodox Christian women even exist.
I have told men that many godly women are available, but it takes diligence and effort to find them. And long before finding a young woman to marry, a man first needs to work on himself.
Here is a checklist I often give to young men, as a guide to help them prepare for marriage:
A - Are you currently putting God first with your money? Are you tithing, giving alms, paying your own bills, and avoiding debt like the plague?
B - Are you currently putting God first with your time? Are you in church for every Saturday evening vigil, every Sunday morning liturgy, and every major feast day liturgy? Do you follow a daily prayer rule, and daily personal reading of Scripture and lives of the Saints?
C - Are you currently putting God first with your work? Is your line of work compatible with living a Christian life? Are you working hard at something that makes enough money to support a wife and children?
D - When/If there is any entertainment, are you putting God first with that? You must avoid the entertainment that even many of your "Christian" acquaintances are watching — e.g. absolutely NO "Game of Thrones" or any other immoral garbage.
E - Do you keep yourself chaste and physically pure, avoiding both fornication and masturbation? Have you fully, diligently, wholeheartedly cut out all sexually stimulating material from your life? Have you separated yourself from any "friends" who tempt you to be unchaste?
F - Are you carefully studying both Scripture and the writings of the Saints, to know what a godly husband/father looks like, and what a godly wife/mother looks like? If I asked you to tell me, in detail, what God requires of good husbands and wives, could you tell me? If I asked you to prove it, could you back up your statements with Scripture and quotations from the writings of Orthodox Saints?
G - Are you praying daily for God to bring you a godly wife?
H - Have you acquired a place for you and your future wife and children to live?
(Apartment is OK. House is better.)
I - Are you willing to do whatever it takes to locate a godly eligible woman to marry? Are you telling other older godly people about your intentions, and are you asking for their help looking for a woman? Are you intentionally calling people in other churches, in other counties, in other states, possibly even in other countries, doing your best to meet new godly friends who may be able to introduce you to godly women?
J - If you have already identified a possible candidate for marriage, have you diligently asked others about her character? Have you talked to her father? Have you asked for his blessing to get to know his daughter?
If you are diligently doing all of these things, then you should have no problem finding a wife very soon.
If you are not doing all of these things, then stop whining. You aren't ready for a wife. Even if you found an eligible godly woman, she probably would not want you in your current state. Go back to the drawing board, become godly yourself, make yourself into marriageable material, and then you will be able to find a wife.
A Wife, Not a Girlfriend
It is very important to remember that seeking for a wife is *not* the same as looking for a girlfriend, which is why a godly man should *never* look for a girlfriend.
The word "girlfriend" conveys the idea of a temporary relationship lacking a lifetime commitment. A "girlfriend" is manifestly "not a wife". For this reason, the qualities one would rightfully require of a wife, one might forget to require of a girlfriend.
Thus, when pursuing a woman, in the forefront of a man's mind there should be the question, "Does this woman have the qualities of a godly wife?" If the answer is "no", then stop immediately, and do not pursue her.
If she is not an Orthodox Christian, then she is not a potential spouse. Such marriages are forbidden by Scripture, and are also forbidden by the consistent teaching of Orthodox Saints. Marrying a non-Orthodox woman will cause many problems for you, and for your future children. NEVER marry anyone outside the Orthodox Faith!
According to Holy Scripture and the writings of the Holy Fathers, there are several important requirements for godly wives:
* devoutly worships and follows Christ
* joyfully submits to her husband and obeys him
* follows her husband's lead in spiritual matters
* is happy to attend the same church as her husband
* shows excellence in housekeeping
* loves her husband
* loves her children
* is of a meek, gentle, and quiet spirit
* does not seek the attention of men
* demonstrates proficiency at taking care of children
* exercises complete chastity (virginity) before marriage
* makes herself sexually available to her husband after marriage
* agrees never to use any form of contraception
* dresses modestly, and is not preoccupied with fancy hair, makeup, clothes, or jewelry
Many of these qualities might seem unimportant or irrelevant for a girlfriend. But for a godly wife, all of these qualities are crucial.
Seek for the rare gem of a woman who exhibits these qualities, and you will have found a good wife. When this happens, don't waste time. Marry her.
What do you do, if you can't find a woman like this in your church?
What if there aren't any girls like this in your town?
What do you do whenever you really want anything? You diligently seek until you find what you are looking for.
There are plenty of fairytale princesses available for everyone. But if you are going to find them, you are going to have to look hard to find them, just like the valiant young men do in the fairytales.
Unlike the loose women of the world, godly women are modest and don't flaunt themselves. They don't loudly advertise their presence. You have to seek for them.
You may have to climb every tree, look under every rock, and trudge over every hill, until you find her. If you aren't willing to do the work to find her, then you don't deserve to marry her.
Just recently, three Orthodox Christian families had a get together at my house. It included fathers, mothers, young adults, and small children. In the group, there were four beautiful young virtuous women of marriageable age, and three more who will be of marriageable age in a few short years. And that's just here in this little village. There are numerous similar scenarios all over America, Russia, Serbia, Romania, Greece, and many other places.
You may have to travel to a different state, or even to a different country. But if you make it a priority to find her, then you will find her.
If you really want to find a keeper, then go for gold — instead of looking for women who have converted to Orthodoxy, seek out men in their 40s and 50s who are Orthodox, who have raised virtuous Orthodox daughters. Find a woman who has been trained from childhood to be a godly Orthodox Christian.
Then don't talk to her. Talk with her father. Get in with him, and you'll get in with her. Take this opportunity to watch their family life. See what sort of relationship this man has with his own wife. If he is a good man, and his wife treats him with love and respect, then the chances are very good that their daughter will likewise treat you with love and respect.
Once you have determined that you want to connect yourself with this family, then let her father know your intentions. Ask him for a blessing to get to know his daughter better.
If he paves the way for you and makes the introduction, and she knows that she is starting out with her daddy's blessing, your chances of success are much higher than if you just walked up to her and tried some lame pickup line.
If we avoid "dating" and "boyfriend/girlfriend" language, then what do we tell people?
A couple can say, "We are courting". If people ask what that means, you can say, "We are seriously considering getting married."
If you are considering multiple women as potential mates, then you aren't yet prepared to have serious conversations or "dates" with any of them. (It's best to avoid unchaperoned "dates" altogether.) Much of what you need to know about her, you can find out without making her heart (and yours) vulnerable.
After you have watched her from a distance, met her parents, talked with others who know her, and have determined that she possesses many of the qualities you are looking for in a wife, then you can get serious about pursuing her directly for a courtship, with the express purpose of pursuing marriage. Then, and only then, you can have deep conversations with her about how you will have daily prayer as a family, how you will raise the children, how you will budget money, etc.
You can have these conversations with her while your family or her family are nearby, sitting at the other side of the room, or even joined in on the conversation. There is really no reason for any "dating" while you are courting. Holding hands, snuggling, kissing, watching movies, and eating out will not give you any information that you need to know whether or not you should marry this woman. Much better to avoid any temptation to sexual impropriety, and to see her in her own family environment, seeing how she interacts with her father, mother, brothers, and sisters, checking out her cooking skills, looking to see whether she helps out with the housework, carefully looking to see whether her mother and father treat each other in a way that you want to see imitated in your own marriage (because their relationship is what has been modeled for your future wife).
If you find that she truly is a godly woman, who will make a genuinely good Christian wife, then rest assured, after you get married you can go on all the dates you want. At that point, you can hug, kiss, snuggle, and even go out to eat together. It will be a lot of fun for both of you, and you'll quickly realize that you didn't miss out on anything (except heartbreak) by avoiding "dating" prior to marriage.