Does Marriage Really Happen After You Quit Wanting It?
“Argh! I heard it again yesterday!” my friend moaned to me one day. “‘If you just quit wanting marriage, that’s when he’ll come along, you’ll fall in love, and you’ll get married!’ I am so sick of being told that! This isn’t a switch I can flip on and off!”
I didn’t get married until a few months shy of my 30th birthday, and I heard every single cliche ever uttered to single women throughout the ages. Never a person to really say what I was thinking, I would smile politely, hold my tongue, and eventually walk into to my very empty, one-person apartment, stewing with anger. Once home, I would say everything I wished I had the courage to say to the person who had glibly thrown the cliche my way. This was usually directed towards my cats with great passion and feeling.
When my single friends come to me with their frustration over these conversations that they find themselves in, I revert back to those days and remember all the imaginary conversations I once had with those well-meaning advice givers:
“Don’t worry. It’ll happen.”
Don’t worry!? I have been in 7 weddings in five years, spent more money on bridesmaid dresses than I’ll ever spend on my own wedding, and have sat through more bridal showers than I can even count.
The only guys that ever seem to want to date me are complete and total losers who are so obsessed with themselves they could care less if I was an ax-murderer or they seem to still have their umbilical cords attached to their mothers. That, or by the end of our first date it becomes apparent that they think I have no brains and am only a doormat there to meet their needs. This is my life. I’m nearing 30. And you tell me not to worry!?
“Think of all you can do as a single woman! You have so much time and money on your hands without a family to take care of.”
Ah yes, all I can do. Let’s see. I can work sixty hours a week because my boss assumes that as the only single person in the company I can sell my soul so that every company goal ever created can get met before the end of the year.
I can volunteer for every ministry opportunity my church ever offers to our member and community because the pastor always speaks up and says, “Melissa is single, she has the time to do this, don’t you? Thanks so much for your service to our church!”
I have the money to go on vacation and the ability to go as far away as I could possibly want but no one to go with. Because I don’t have kids that need to be put to bed at a decent hour I can stay up and watch TV until the early morning infomercials come on, but I finally crawl into a cold and empty bed. I can eat anything I want, any time I want, because I have no one to fix meals for. What that really means is that I’m usually eating Ramen noodles and Kraft mac-n-cheese every day, usually not before 11:30 at night.
“My husband drives me nuts!”
I drive myself nuts, and quite frankly, you’re driving me nuts by telling me how much your husband drives you nuts.
“Marriage isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”
Well, single life sure isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, either.
Then the famous, “As soon as you quit wanting it, it will happen.”
What? Am I supposed to flip a switch in my brain and heart and all of the sudden logically tell myself, “Self, quit wanting to be married.” Frankly, that’s like telling my lungs to not need air, my body to not want sleep, and my taste buds to not want chocolate during PMS. It doesn’t just work that way. I can’t just quit wanting it.
Besides, wasn’t it planned from the beginning of time for people to need people? Something to the effect of God looking at man and saying, “Hmmm. . . it’s not so hot he’s alone. I need to make a woman for him.” If God didn’t think it was good for a person to be alone why should my heart and mind suddenly decide it’s ok for me?
The truth is, marriage does not happen as soon as you quit wanting it. There is no magic formula that helps your heart wake up one morning and decide, “Hey, I’m fine with not being married — great! In fact, I want to be single!” If you are meant to be married then you will always long for marriage until the day it happens to you.
There are, however, some things that you can do until love and marriage come your way; things that can make the waiting more bearable and keep you from looking like a desperate and needy woman ready to swoop up the first single man that looks your way (which, in itself, is a great deterrent to any future hopes and plans for marriage). Unless, of course, you find a man just as desperate and needy as you are, which you aren’t going to want because, while he may put a ring on your finger and helping get you to the wedding day of your dreams, he isn’t going to make a great husband. The next thing you know you will have joined the ranks of all the other married women that tell you how batty their husbands make them!
First, never, ever think there is a way for you to quit wanting marriage. Just get rid of that thought right now and don’t let it torment you ever again. I say torment, because I can remember working really hard to not want marriage and feeling almost a panic that I couldn’t quit wanting it so my magic moment would, by default, forever escape me.
Instead, accept the fact that you will always want marriage and your heart won’t feel fully complete until it comes your way. Then, accept your situation as it is. Don’t succumb to bitterness and self pity, but instead, grasp a quiet acceptance of the situation as it is. This many mean you have to cry some days because you just long for your future husband so much that you ache, and it may mean that other days you actually enjoy the day you just had as a single woman. Don’t fight the feelings. Let them come over you, deal with them as they do, and then move on.
Another helpful way to get through the single years is by taking it all into perspective. Being single forever looks like a terrifying aspect that can make you want to crawl into your bed and never emerge until it’s time for your funeral. Ask yourself each morning that you wake up, “Can I handle being single today?” The question is not, “Can I handle being single for the rest of my life?” because the answer will be no. But I guarantee that if you honestly ask yourself, “Can I handle being single today?” you will find the answer to be Yes 95% of the time. The other 5% will be on days when you have to move to a new apartment and there is no man to help you, you’re in yet another wedding, and you get the news that an ex and his wife just had their first baby. On those days, it isn’t so easy to handle being single, in which case you practice what was mentioned above. Let the emotions come, work through them however you need to, and then move on to the next morning where being single is as bit more bearable again.
Take care of yourself while waiting for your man to come into your life. Don’t wait until you have a wedding date on the calendar and a wedding dress to fit into to start losing weight, working out, and eating right. Start doing that now! Today! Take care of your body in preparation for the day when Mr. Dreamboat does walk into your world. Then, you’ll be so full of confidence and feeling so great physically that you can focus all your time and energy on being in love with him instead of worrying about whether or not he cares if you are out of shape and need to lose 20 lbs.
Pamper yourself since you don’t have a man to do it for you now. If you can put it in your budget, go buy yourself flowers once a week. Pick a florist, go in, tell them you have so much money in your budget, and then ask them to give you an arrangement based on the price you name. It will become a weekly thrill for both you and the florist as they have artistic license to create random arrangements each week!
Get sexy lingerie and wear it. There is no reason you can’t be sporting a great body in a pretty pair of bra and panties under your clothes as a single woman. Please don’t share it with the rest of the world, though! Instead, keep it tucked away as a nice little secret package, anticipating the day when your husband will unveil it. There is nothing like Victoria’s Secret underwear or a negligee worn on a regular basis to help even a single woman feel, well, very much like a woman!
Build up your friendships. Surround yourself with a social life even if you aren’t a social person. For some that may mean you have thirty friends to get in touch with every week. For others, just a few close friends will be all you need and can even tolerate. Whatever you do, don’t shut out the world in your single, I-want-a-man state! You need relationships even if it is other girlfriends. Not having any friends is going to make you a pretty clingy and needy girlfriend when a guy does come along, so build up your support system now so he can be assured he won’t be all you need. Besides, you never know who may know someone who may know someone who may know a guy that’s just perfect for you.
Find a passion. Don’t make your passion waiting around for your Knight in Shining Armor. Find something to do that makes your heart race, brings a smile to your face, and gives you a reason to get up every morning. There is nothing more attractive than a woman who is immersed in an activity that uses her gifts and talents and makes her so excited that being in a relationship isn’t the only thing that can make her happy and fulfilled.
Starting today, begin to live as the wife you plan to be. It may be over-used, but there is much truth in the statement, “Don’t look for the perfect husband, but be the perfect wife”. Practice giving men respect today and not talking down to them. Practice living with sexual morality and purity. Begin fixing yourself meals at regular meal times and with regular recipes. Keep your apartment in neat and tidy order. Learn how to move beyond your wants and desires and consider others’ before your own. Learn how to love.
Lastly, live life. Don’t just coast through every day feeling as if life won’t start until you get married. Life is in front of you today. Live it!