For the record, I’m still a young woman. Yet about three times a week, someone will ask me some variation of “Why aren’t you married?”
I have nothing against marrying young. In fact, I encouraged it for a very long time, often pitting marriage at the age of 23-25 against the “dire” option of marrying in the late 20s or, even worse, mid 30s. I was wrong for that, and I apologize. I should have advocated for marrying ready. I see that my reasoning was based largely on what I was told by my mentors in the church.
Our pastors have lied to us. They say our marriages have been delayed. But is God’s calendar the same for everyone? Has it crossed anyone’s mind that we just might be right on time by His calendar? Has anyone stopped to ask why the Bible, which is so specific on several things, provides no specific age for marriage? Our pastors make us feel that those who are not married have a part of them missing. The reason why singles conferences are always so packed is because marriage has become an idol and the church is refusing to address the issue of divorce.
When I came to the US many years ago, I had a plan. It involved a PhD by a certain age. I was supposed to be done having children by 28 at the latest. I would marry someone from a particular ethnic and age group, and he would have a particular height, system of beliefs, and yearly income.
Well, life happened. And I hated it at first, but boy, am I now so glad it did. I watched friend after friend get married, and at some point began to doubt myself. I’m sure you all have those aunties who look at you with sympathy and say, “Your time will come,” or those friends who try to convince you to settle for that compromising soldier, saying, “I like him; don’t walk away from this good man or else you might not find a husband.”
I also watched these marriages turn into something akin to hell on earth. 100% of my friends who got married by age 25 are now divorced, many of them before they hit the so-called 7-year itch. A large number who are hanging on are doing so by a thread, bitter to the core because to express their sorrow would be akin to not being a Proverbs 31 woman. Many feel the need to express out loud to anyone who will listen that they are happily married, but a discerning eye – and time and tide – often reveal that it is never just marshmallows and raisins in a green, leafy meadow.
This blog turned a year old on my last birthday. I thought I would be miserable, because a friend had recently celebrated her birthday as well, and she cried because she was not yet a wife. I woke up expecting tears, regret, and frustration. On the contrary, I was thankful, and I had a blast! I have been reflecting on my love life and actually thanked the Lord for shielding me from marriage all this time, because He knew what He was doing. You see, some people are ready for marriage at 23. I personally was not. Actually, why don’t I just get into the reasons why I’m so thankful I’m not married yet? Here we go.
1. My schedule is extremely flexible (1 Cor. 7:34).
So flexible, in fact, that I’ll often get home from work and decide to take a road trip. Yes, we should acknowledge God in all our ways, and I try my best to do that. But there are many things I can do that I would not be able to do if I were married. From time to time, I choose to skip dinner. I occasionally cook after 9pm. I can go for overnight prayers. I can write books, rearrange my apartment, go on vacations, visit whoever I want to visit – and, of importance: I can do these things on a whim, and have done them, many times. Any married woman who tries these things without the approval of her husband is courting disaster. When I realized how difficult it was for my married friends to get up and do whatever they wanted to do – when they started to say “I wish I had your time,” and “I had that same idea! I wish I had gone ahead and done it before I got married” – I took note and began to appreciate what I had.
2. I know myself better (Job 12:12).
Understanding comes with length of days, Job says. I’m not yet a septuagenarian sage, but I’m definitely wiser than I was even last year at this time. I’ve dated in my 20s, but I also had several single months. I’ve spent a lot of time “with me”; discovering who I am as a woman, what I can live with, what I’d be kidding myself to accept. If someone asks me why I have made a particular choice, I can give an accurate answer. I’m also wiser. I know that I’m a prize, and I don’t fault myself if men don’t see that. While I once just said “Whatever; his loss!”, I now truly believe from the bottom of my heart that it is their loss. The type of man I would have married in my early 20s? I probably wouldn’t touch him with a 10-foot pole today. The type of man I detested then is probably the type of husband I actually need. Thank God I discovered that!
3. I’m learning crucial marriage lessons from the experience of others (Jn. 7:24).
No marriage can be a template for any other in more than the general aspect. Many women go into marriage expecting the aforementioned marshmallows and raisins. They instead get hard labor, sex much unlike the movies, in-law drama, and the vicissitudes of life. Two months into their marriages, many will begin to complain. Many Facebook timelines go from “I married my best friend! Oh, joy!” to “Many are the afflictions of the righteous! I can do this!” in one year. The bolder ones will blatantly state, “I hate my marriage.” After some observation, I’ve discovered that these women are often just going through the daily marriage routine but do not realize that it is normal, because for years, they have watched movies and watched their pastors get on stage and their spouses glowing compliments and talk about decades of bliss. Many women cry every night but have to smile and say “I thank God” during the day just to save face. Had I been married earlier, I highly suspect this would have been my story. I, too, thought marriage was just dandelions and pansies. Yes, there’s lots of joy, but I’ve learned in recent years that there’s so much more.
There is LIFE after the wedding. Routine. Work. Compromise. Child-bearing and child-rearing. Learning things that courtship hid. Even boredom! Pain! There is so much pain, because nobody is perfect, and it is the hurts caused by those who are close to us that affect us the most. And it is these things that have made me even more sure that I need to marry someone I can call my friend; someone who can lead me spiritually. I pretty much just thought I needed to marry a handsome believer. So did many women, which is why they got married to men who called themselves “saved,” only for these men to turn into monsters as soon as they secured their gorgeous wives.
I wanted my future husband to be born again, but also handsome, funny, wealthy, very smart, deep, and expressive. And tall, and with nice, big hands. But as I listened to my friends, I realized that the problems in their young marriages had more to do with things like feeling unheard, judged or condemned, and nagged. There was lack of trust in some cases, lack of peace in others, unfulfilled promises in still others. There was regret as well. Abuse or abduction of children by domestic workers because their parents were too busy fighting or career-chasing to notice the children’s pain.
It hit me that nobody’s marriage is failing because the man’s hands are too small, or because he isn’t funny, or because he got a D+ in KCSE, or because he has to tiptoe to get a mug from the top cabinet.
4. I’ve seen what divorce can do (Prov. 19:2).
And that makes me certain I don’t want it. I pray that it will not be my portion. I pray that the decisions I’m currently making will help me become the type of wife who builds her home and doesn’t pluck it down with her own hands. Divorce turns a woman into a shell of herself. It is a wound that almost always never heals. It makes a woman feel used. The sense of failure, the shame, the guilt and bitterness she goes through on her journey to wholeness is never worth rushing into marriage. Not every woman who is divorced rushed into marriage. But many women who rush things do end up unhappy or divorced. There’s a huge difference between a woman who is single at 30 because she got divorced at, say, 28, and a woman who is single at 30 because she never married. Either way, they’re single and 30, so what was the point of rushing in the first place?
Not only is my schedule flexible, as I’ve mentioned above, but I’m also better able to experiment with business ideas, use my gifts and talents, live wherever I want to. I can get another degree, if I want to. I’ve taken several business courses just to better myself. If I get a job offer in Papua New Guinea and feel led to pack up and move there, I can do it by God’s grace. If it doesn’t work out, I can leave. This is a beautiful world God created. There is so much to discover about Him and His love for us in exploring His creation and our gifts. Why not explore while we can?
6. Mummy was right: There’s no rush (Eccl. 3:11)!
The crazy “maximum age” of 25 is long gone. Nothing dried up, broke, or exploded. It’s like I looked around one day and thought, “What! I’m actually okay!” And realizing that my worst fear was completely baseless helps me to see that there is no rush at all. God is not panicking, and neither should I. I refuse to believe the in the doctrine that states that if a woman is not married by a certain age, it is because her marriage is delayed due to a spoken or generational curse, witchcraft, her sins, or something else. People make mistakes, and sometimes women reject men who would have made wonderful husbands. But God forgives. And as for curses – Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law. I refuse to wake up at 3am to pray confessions downloaded from a website and emailed to me by a friend. The Lord gives His beloved sleep! Unless He leads me to stay up in prayer, I will listen to Him in my dreams and talk to Him at sane hours. God is my heavenly Father. I am His daughter and will assume my position as a loved, treasured, RIGHT ON TIME daughter of the King. No good thing will He withhold from [s]he that walketh uprightly. In other words, He has already provided, so I don’t need to somersault at dawn to beg for what is already mine. It’s more fun to just praise Him for what He has done, who He is, who I am in Him!
Besides, have you ever wondered about that notion that spirits operate between midnight and 3am? In what time zone are these spirits located, pray tell? Because the last time I checked, midnight in New York is noon somewhere else. Isn’t the spiritual realm outside the realm of time? Do they cross over to the other side of the world, where it is night, when the sun rises where they are?
7. I dodged a serious bullet (Ps. 91:3).
Had I been married, it would have been to one of my exes. Which one would it have been? The alcoholic? The one who never acknowledged me? The one who holds on to petty grudges for a lifetime? Or the one who was as averse to the Bible as Superman is to Kryptonite? All these (except one), were “saved” men! Thank You Jesus. I have nothing against any of my exes, but I thank the Lord from the bottom of my heart that none of them is my husband at this time. I escaped a snare!!!! In some ways, I have to say, so did they. I was really not ready. Had we married each other as we were, we would be miserable. My judgment was so twisted that I wept bitterly at every breakup. In fact there was one where I was so distraught I didn’t even want to shower! I would get up in the morning, thinking, “God, I can’t do this.” And every night, He would say to me, “You see? My daughter, you did.” I thank the Lord for those tears. A few tears are better than a lifetime of pain. God, I thank You.
8. The moneys are a little more organized (Prov. 24:27).
In recent years, one passion that I had was to become the type of wife that my husband can trust with not just his empire, but also the welfare of his children. But here’s a confession: I was pretty spoilt when I came to the US. There were certain things I just didn’t do. I remember my mom laughing hard when I told her I was going back to the drugstore to get my brand name cocoa butter because I didn’t use the generic version. As a result, I ended up spending so much more money than I needed to, to get things I could probably get cheaper. I have come a long way since then. I have no problem being a regular patron at my Dollar Tree. I found my beautiful couches on Craigslist. I bought a top from Target about a month ago for the first time – at one point in my life that was unthinkable. I’m a bargain-shopper!! And it’s good for me, because it frees up other moneys for important things, like investment. But that’s not all. I also needed to learn how to run a business. I’m trying to acquire those Proverbs 31 “merchant from afar” skills. I’m trying to network more, and I’m also trying to find ways to make money without leaving my house, because should I become a mother, I would need to be home with my babies. God is helping me. Many of these skills were acquired recently, some are still in the works, but I’m thankful.
9. I’ve lived on my own for some time now (Prov. 31:13-14, 19-22).
Many women transition from their fathers’ houses to their husbands’ houses. Someone said that this is ideal. I don’t know what verse that comes from. But I am glad I’ve lived alone. I know the kind of living environment I can – and can’t – stand. I’ve hosted my friends overnight severally and I’ve learned how to express that I prefer the toilet seat down and no toothpaste leftovers on my sink. I’ve discovered that it’s really not a big deal if someone leaves toothpaste in the sink – I can let them know, and cleaning the sink just takes a minute. No need to scream and yell about the toilet paper being over or under. I’ve learned how to cook quick meals when people pop in unexpectedly and how to be a good hostess and make people feel not just welcome, but also at home. These are skills I would love to apply on my husband one day. I’ve also acquainted myself with basic carpentry, plumbing, and mechanic activities! Lol. I’ve learned how to put tables together, fix my garbage disposal, change my car windshield wipers and washer fluid. I put my TV together (or whatever you call it) all by myself! Trust me, I had no clue how to do any of these things and I would not have known how to do them had I not lived alone.
10. I’m learning men and sorting out my previously-misguided perceptions about them (Lk. 16:15).
I have dated for years. At one point, that was discouraging. I never wanted to have a string of men in my past (anything more than two is a string in my world). But I now embrace this experience as an asset. I have dated different characters, and from this, I have come to pick up on the things that all, or at least most, men have in common. They want to be understood. They want to feel accepted. They want to feel needed. They need respect. It is unfair to deny my man “me” (and by this I don’t mean sex, I mean my presence, my good mood, my texts, etc) simply because he did something small that made me pout. Under normal circumstances, when things go wrong, I’m the type of person who needs to sit down and analyze the daylights out of it and discuss what went wrong and where, and how we can keep it from happening again. I then need to apologize to the other party, give a hug, maybe shed a tear or two, and have the issue forgiven and forgotten. But I’ve learned that not all men are like this. Some, unfortunately, will hold things inside for years. In knowing myself (see #2 above), I have come to accept that this is something I cannot live with. I don’t know about you, but I will not live in a house where someone will not talk to me for three weeks because I broke his favorite glass or blocked the TV for two seconds during a soccer game. In living life, I have also realized that closure for every single issue will not always come in the way I like it to – the sit-down, have-a-meeting, iron-it-out, kiss-and-make-up way. Some things are better left unknown and unsaid until a better time. If my man says I don’t have to know just yet, I have to trust him. I find “knowing” important, but men find “trust” important, and it took me many years to understand that if I can only trust and be patient, I will one day come to know.
So that’s my story! Please note that this is not an “I’m better (or better off) than you are” post, nor is it an “it’s right because I’m doing it” sermon. I’m not writing this in a bid to console myself or convince myself to see something a certain way because it is my situation. Granted, I would still love to be married one day. I think that by God’s grace, I’ll make someone a wonderful wife. But it’s not the painful longing that would drive a woman to an Ojigbani conference. I don’t feel rushed at all. The pressure is gone. I needed these crucial years to be able to learn these lessons. And I’m okay if He decides that marriage is not for me (I shared this with a friend and she said she would pray for me, lol!). I look in the mirror, and I still see a beautiful woman.
People ask, “What are you waiting for?” Am I really waiting for something? Not necessarily; I’m ready to marry the right man. “Why aren’t you married yet?” Because the right man has not reared his head. I’ve actually told my friends, “Hey, keep an eye out and keep me in mind if you meet someone eligible.” Because we’ve been told that’s a desperate move, very many of them are usually uncomfortable with my suggestion. I’d encourage all my single friends to relax. Live life. Wait on God – from a position of rest. This is a very, very blessed season, and it would do us well to enjoy it to the maximum before it’s gone. I pray for my married friends, and trust that their unions will get sweeter every day.
I’ve come a long way. All I can say is the LORD is my strength and my shield. After fussing and fighting, my heart finally trusted Him on this issue, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoices; and with my song I will, I must, praise Him. Psalm 28:7
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