It seems counter intuitive at first.
As a single woman, I imagined a lot of things about marriage. I imagined walks in the woods, lovely dinners on a quaint table, running together on some paved pathway that was downhill both ways…
Well, the walks DO happen… when we aren’t working. And healthy, tasty, affordable meals do make it on my tableclothed-and-centerpieced table – because I plan and make them. And running together? We won’t talk about that one.
There was one other thing I believed as a single woman – something many young women believe. I thought marriage would solve my loneliness. Though I didn’t say as much in words, I pictured marriage as that perfect companionship where the love of a man would make me feel secure.
Sure, I knew God would be my confidence and security. But marriage would definitely help.
Single girls: marriage will not cure your lonely.
Two days after we arrived home from our honeymoon, Mr. M left for a week. For the rest of our marriage, he was gone anywhere from 2-3 weeks out of every MONTH. In a good month, he’d be gone 4-5 nights. In a bad month, he’d be gone all four weeks, and I’d be praying he’d be home for the weekends.
So in my first year of marriage, my husband was gone six out of twelve months.
If I thought marriage would fix my loneliness, that thought was cured at the three month mark.
Regardless of whether or not your future (or present) husband travels as much as mine, there is one thing I can guarantee: marriage is not the cure to loneliness. It can’t be. Loneliness is a spiritual condition; a condition of the heart that cannot be ‘fixed’ by human presence alone. Certainly, having a life companion can and will fill ‘the void’ for a time, but it will never fill you completely.
Marriage, and a man, will not make you ‘complete’.
How disappointed do you think I would have been if I had gone into marriage with this expectation? If my heart depended on Mr. M to ‘fix’ the loneliness of my single days, my marriage would have been a crushing disappointment. Instead of sharing long walks, quaint dinners and downhill runs, I found (and still find) myself walking alone, eating alone, and running alone.
It’s like being single all over again.
But I’m not looking for a pity party here. I want you to grasp an important point: whether or not you end up in the same ‘work widow’ situation I’ve dealt with for the last year, it is pivotal that you, as a young woman of God, look at marriage through the right lens. Marriage is not a ‘cure’. It is not a solution. It is not a balm to your wounded soul.
Marriage is a commitment to sanctification – just like singleness.
How God goes about that sanctification will look different for every couple. In my case, I am sanctified in the waiting: in closing the door at 4:30 AM as he pulls his suitcase across the parking lot for the fifth time that month.
I’ve had many of those 4:30 mornings, where I bend my head against the closing door and cry the missing-him out of my heart so I can make it one more week alone. And when the tears are gone, I pick myself up, link arms with Jesus and walk through it, one day at a time.
You don’t know what your marriage will demand from you until you’re in it, so don’t waste your singleness by living weakly. It’s your time to learn to be strong. It’s your chance to learn that dependency on Jesus is necessary regardless of your stage of life. He isn’t just for the single years, to be replaced when you say ‘I do’. He is the companion you need MORE than any husband or friend. Only He can ‘fix’ a lonely heart.
If you’re looking for marriage to ‘fix’ anything in you, you’re looking at it through the wrong lens. Marriage won’t ‘fix’ you. It will expose you.
Marriage reveals the weak points in all of us, shining a spotlight on the selfishness we’re able to largely ignore as single people. That’s sanctification. My sanctification is found in flexibility: Mr. M’s work schedule requires that I be ready to change plans at a moment’s notice. I plan my schedule two weeks at a time, but after a year, I know that the dinner I planned for Friday night will only happen if he’s home on time. I have to be ready to give up my emotional expectations, thank God my husband has a job, and fight for joy in disappointment.
If you’re single, this is your chance to practice the same attitudes you’ll need in marriage. You may be fighting for joy in a present disappointment, but don’t be discouraged – this is sanctification! This is exactly what you need for the days ahead.
If we enter marriage thinking it will solve an inner emptiness of the heart, we will be profoundly disappointed. No man on earth can satisfy a void of that nature. No human heart can fill another’s so it never wants again. It is neither fair nor healthy to place such an expectation on human relationships.
So if marriage won’t cure the lonely – what will?
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6)
“For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own.” (1 Sam. 12:22)
“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.” (Psalm 25:16)
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing…” (Psalm 68:5)
I could have let my first year of marriage make me quite bitter. After all – how “fair” is it to a new bride, to spend half her marriage apart from her husband?
I had days where I felt the weight of that “unfairness”: night after night sleeping in an empty bed, playing music and movies to fill the eerie silence of our little home, and eating little meals at our table for two. Gosh, I even bought a hamster to keep me company! (You know you’re desperate when…)
But in the loneliness I had a choice: wallow or worship. I could focus on my circumstances, or focus on my God. I could blame Him for the bad, or thank Him for the good. How I chose determined the kind of wife I would become.
You too have a choice today, married or single: let your loneliness drive you to wallow, or to worship. How you choose will determine the kind of woman and future or present wife you will become.
So choose wisely, and remember: when no one else is with you – God is always there (Isaiah 41:10).