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Marriage and the single girl
Eight lessons on how to steward singleness that Marci Turner wishes she would have known in her pre-marriage days.
Over the past century, the average marrying age for the American woman has increased from 21 to 26. More women are now in college than men. Whether because of education or career, women are marrying later in life. The independence that comes for the single gal has benefits as well as challenges. Many of our grandmothers moved out of their parents’ house directly into their husband’s arms. Now, many women have an extended period of independence.
Though God will call some women to remain single (1 Cor. 7:7–8), at the core of most women is a desire to marry. God made us to be helpmates (Gen. 2:18–23), and one day most women will likely marry.
Training yourself for marriage is really just discipleship.
If you believe marriage is in your future, how can you use your current singleness to bless your transition to marriage and not have it be an obstacle? For the Christian single woman, how can you best navigate singleness in preparation for marriage?
I was nearly 28 when I married. I lived on my own for 10 years and financially supported myself for six. My single years brought great independence and self-awareness, but my transition from those “me” years to a life of “we” as a married woman was rocky. Here are eight lessons I wish someone would have taught me. I hope they serve you well in growing in Christ instead of waiting around for your life to happen.
1. Maximize your bandwidth
You have free time right now in ways you may not have for decades. How are you using that free time? You can read your Bible for uninterrupted lengths of time. You have time for extended prayer. You have the flexibility to go on mission trips, to evangelize, and to be trained in discipleship. Use this time wisely. It will fuel you once you are married and raising children.
2. Take captive your thoughts
Paul writes to the Corinthians that as Christians they are at war with their own thoughts and he challenges them to take every thought captive like prisoners in obedience to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).
The longer a woman who wants to get married is single, the more she thinks about one thing—marriage. By bringing your thoughts in obedience to Christ, you are trusting Jesus in your marital status, and in his timing. God has blessed you perfectly today; your life is not in a holding pattern until you marry. Your life is right now.
3. Serve others
Extended singleness can feed the hungry lion of selfishness. Since you have only yourself to care for, you will consume all of your energy. This makes the transition to marriage when you are lovingly serving a family challenging.
As a single gal, you have bandwidth to serve others and the church by volunteering. This will help keep your heart graceful toward others.
Jesus came to serve, not be served (Mark 10:45). Your service in your singleness trains you to meet the needs of others, which will be invaluable if/when you marry.
4. Be accountable
A woman will only be in covenant relationship with two people in her life: Jesus and her husband. An essential part of a covenant relationship is honesty and accountability.
Singleness can become a moral minefield if you walk it out of Christian community and unaccountable. A Christian woman or women (never a man) either single or married can challenge you to walk out your singleness righteously. She should never take the place of your relationship with Jesus, and her role, God willing, will be temporary. But she can hold you accountable until you marry and your husband assumes that role.
5. Learn to be under authority
Likewise, you should only submit to two men in your life: Jesus and your future husband. Submission has been our hang-up since Eve (Gen. 3) and ignoring it until marriage spells disaster. That said, there are authorities placed over us that can be good training ground (Eph. 5–6) in the meantime.
Biblical submission is speaking up and stating your case to those over you, and then if opinions differ, deferring to authority with gladness. Whether it is in school, at work, or with your parents, practice respecting and submitting to the authority God has currently in your life.
6. Repent to others
Married Christians sin against each other regularly and repent regularly. Are you too selfish to notice the sins you commit against others? Are you too stiff-necked to repent to others? Ask your godly friends (especially older, wiser ones) if and where they see sin in your life. Practice repentance so that your husband marries a woman with a soft heart.
7. Practice hospitality
Was your last supper a Lean Cuisine and a diet soda? Years of cooking (or not) for one can dull even the faintest sliver of hospitality. Newly married women tend to go one of two ways: they run from domesticity, or they go crazy Martha Stewart to over-compensate. If you are challenged in the art of keeping a home, take classes, learn from other women, and practice. Make a new dish for your Community Group’s meal. Invite some girlfriends over for dinner as guinea pigs. It’s good practice, and if it goes poorly, you can laugh about it for years to come.
8. Live alone and live with others
As a single woman, I had healthy fears and several neurotic ones, and I had never lived alone. At 23, I rented a studio apartment without a roommate to face my fear of loneliness. For those of you who are extroverted, living alone will train you to value solitude. Conversely, the introverted single gal should consider living with female roommates. You will learn how to deal with conflicting ideas of cleanliness and schedules. Most likely, your future husband will also live differently than you.
Single girl, training yourself for marriage is really just discipleship: intentionality, service, accountability, submission, repentance, hospitality, and community. If your singleness lasts longer than you’d planned, take heart that you are ultimately becoming more and more like Jesus.