Trending in Singapore, is an article with the headline “How would you respond if your graduate daughter dated a plumber?”.

Another similar article earlier in 2022 stated more Singapore women were marrying down, meaning there are increasing numbers of couples where the woman has higher education qualifications than the man.

A total of 5157 women who got married in 2021 had higher education qualifications than their grooms, which was an 8% increase from the 4768 women who got married in 2011.

Growing up in church, I recall one lesson where my youth discipleship (YD) teachers asked me and my peers what our criteria for a life partner was.

Generally, my peers said that they wanted someone who is tall, dark and handsome. But my fourteen-year-old brain went: “Okay, let’s be special and unique.”

Hence, I listed these criteria that, till this day, I still get teased about by my YD teacher and peers.

  1. He must have the same education level as me (at that time, I already knew I probably wanted to pursue a PhD)
  2. He must be at least 5 years older than me
  3. He must be a Christian

Unsurprisingly, my YD teachers had a field day that lesson as they gently corrected us about what we should be looking for in a life partner.

Over the next few years, as I matured as a Christian, I eventually realised that this criteria needed refining.

For instance, I learnt that I had wanted a mature Christian man as a life partner. I thought age would be a gauge of maturity, but that is not necessarily true.

However, one of the criteria did not change for a while and that was “education level”.

As I had gone through university and still had zeal to start my postgraduate education, I had a bias that my life partner had to be someone who could understand my struggle of doing a PhD and have intellectual, academic conversations with me.

I thought I would be settling for less if I dated someone who did not even go to graduate school.

I thought age would be a gauge of maturity but that is not necessarily true… having the same education level does not guarantee that the other person will be able to carry life’s burdens together with you.

So, I dated guys who did go to graduate school and even entered a serious relationship with one who was pursuing a PhD at the same time as me.

However, I realised that having the same education level does not guarantee that the other person will be able to carry life’s burdens together with you.

Once things ended with my ex, I had to re-evaluate my criteria for a serious relationship again.

Enter Isaac, my fiancé, whom I had met on Coffee Meets Bagel (CMB).

My first impression of him was that this guy seemed like a godly man.

He was intentional to write on his profile that he wanted to be salt and light in his workplace, and that caught my attention.

He met all my criteria except one thing — he only has a diploma.

Nevertheless, our conversations on text progressed and many topics came up fast.

Why we were on the app? What was our endpoint for dating? Did we want kids? What did we want in a life partner?

Almost a month into dating him and having met him face to face a couple of times. I told myself, “Okay, I should do a background check on him.”

I remembered that I knew a friend who attended Isaac’s church. I texted this friend and asked, could you check into this guy that I am dating?

Some context: Isaac’s current church has around 7,000 people compared to my church with 500. Also, Isaac was previously from another church and had just moved over to this current church around 2-3 years before he started dating me.

All this was done with Isaac’s knowledge and blessing.

I thought the chances of my friend being able to learn about Isaac were low, especially since she did not know him personally and they were not from the same cell group.

But God had other plans: my friend knew Isaac’s friends from his previous church.

Based on her conversations with these friends, she was able to find out a great deal of information about Isaac.

And so, my friend confirmed that Isaac was not a serial killer but a good boy.

Her only question to me was, could I understand him despite his texting typos?

It was an interesting observation: Isaac was not a great texter.

He had frequent typos and grammar mistakes — though we have not had a major miscommunication on text.

Later, one of my church friends pointed out that his CMB profile also contained typos that I had overlooked.

Nevertheless, my friend left me with this piece of advice: see if he is a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22).

What drew me to Isaac was how he valued commitment, accountability and community.

He shared with me that it is not like he did not want to pursue undergraduate studies. Rather, he did not have the opportunity: after his mother’s passing and his father’s illness, he had to immediately take over the family’s catering business.

He also told me how his friends were there supporting him through his mother’s wake and as he took over the business.

He told me how important community was and that resonated with me as I had just taken on cell leading when I started dating him.

Conversations with him are open and direct. He hides nothing from me (which sometimes can be quite entertaining as he cannot hide secrets from me well).

While I learnt to manage my expectations about using worldly standards to define someone, my parents took longer to accept Isaac.

My father had a difficult time after he signed on with the Army with only A-Level qualifications. He equated education level to earning potential, and questioned whether Isaac could hold his ground with me having a PhD.

My father took a long time to accept Isaac as my boyfriend and only did so after much persuasion.

God has shown me that while educational qualifications can be an indicator, it does not completely reveal the person’s character and values.

After 13 months, Isaac and I embarked on marriage preparation course with my church. We have completed the course and Isaac has proposed to me.

Looking back on this dating journey, God has shown me that while educational qualifications can be an indicator, it does not completely reveal the person’s character and values.

The latter is more important in the foundation of a marriage!

  1. What are your criteria?
  2. How do they align with godliness and Christlikeness?
  3. As such, are there any tweaks to be made with your criteria?
  4. If you’re seeking a life partner, take a moment to pray over him or her right now.