Being single may feel lonely but sometimes that can actually help prepare you for marriage.
It was 8 PM on yet another weeknight and I sat in the living room of our little duplex, alone, having just put our four-month-old baby to bed. Another night in a series of nights I would go to bed alone, wake up alone, and repeat the next day. My husband was gone on another business trip, but even if he wasn’t, his hours kept him away from home a minimum of 6 AM to 5 PM – usually as late as 7 PM. We’d been married not even two years and I barely saw him.
There were many nights like this that I became angry. Angry at God for selling me a lie. Angry at the world for making marriage seem like something it wasn’t. I remember thinking, I didn’t sign up for this.
And then I remembered another season of loneliness. Another season of waiting: Quiet nights and unmet expectations. My single season.
Not too many years before I’d written in a journal to my future husband: “It’s been a hard day today… I can’t help but wonder where you are, and how long I have to wait to meet you.” I learned a lot about waiting in that season. It changed me, strengthened me, and equipped me for the road ahead. I just didn’t know it at the time.
Once married, I thought the waiting was over. I got what I wanted! But the day after our honeymoon my husband left for three weeks on business. The rest of our first year of marriage, one of us was gone for work; in total, six months of absence. The loneliness and discontent crept back into my heart, back to their old, comfortable places still warm from when they left.
In reality, they’d never left me. Loneliness and discontent were welcome in my heart because I’d never kicked them out. They went into hiding when my circumstances changed, but as soon as trial and testing challenged me, they appeared once again. In the throes of young motherhood, I was forced to face a hard truth: Marriage is lonely too.
I considered this loneliness in those quiet days in our duplex. It wasn’t what we expected or what we would choose, but it was our lot for the season. How could I respond? My mind was immediately called back to my single years.
In my single years, I learned that loneliness can drive us to bitterness or to Christ. Each time we choose Christ, He rewards us with peace and purpose.
In my single years, I learned that loneliness is more spiritual than circumstantial. I could have joy even without the thing I wanted so very much; I could have joy by remembering who God is, and that He is greater than my life situation.
In my single years, I learned to put my hope not in man, but in God’s presence and kindness toward me.
In my single years, I learned to keep hoping for the future without failing to enjoy the present.
In my single years, I learned to make the most of every minute, to live with purpose, and to pursue God’s call on my life even when I did not know how the future would unfold.
In my single years, I was drawn into deeper dependence on God. When lonely, I could trust His compassion and companionship when human versions were not available.
Equipped for Marriage
All these things I learned in my single years equipped me for the marriage I entered. I could not have prepared myself adequately, but God knew what I needed. He knew I needed to be strong enough to withstand the difficulties and absences of my young marriage. The loneliness experienced in my marriage is not something people told me about in wedding cards, but it was and is very real. The beauty? God’s presence is even MORE real.
We do not know what our marriages will require of us until we are in them. We should live well our single years, learning all we can from the opportunities God gives us. We should allow Him to teach us and mature us into the kind of women who depends on God for our ultimate satisfaction and companionship. And from the outflow of a heart grounded in Christ, we will bring an even stronger spiritual identity to our marriages.
Phylicia Masonheimer is an author, speaker, and founder of Driven Women. She teaches strong-hearted women how to follow Christ’s call in work, home, and the world. She writes about the Bible, productivity, and sexuality on her website, and her book on biblical sex can be found here: Christian Cosmo: The Sex Talk You Never Had. She lives with her husband and daughters in northern Michigan.