I feel like I should start this post with a slight apology.
You see, when I was single I absolutely hated getting advice on being single from married people. It was just the worst –as a happy married person they had no right giving me, an embittered single person, advice. Most of this hate was channeled into unpublished blog posts, because after reading them I realized they could never see the light of day. Thank god.
So yes, this post is a little advice for single people, but it’s also for people engaged or married (and me being married for five months means I can mostly provide advice on how not to write wedding gift thank-you notes, and that is to actually write all of them and not stop when there are ten left because your brain cannot handle anymore wedding-related activities).In fact, I wouldn’t even say this is advice. Rather, it’s some observations that I offer to you, whatever life stage you are in.
And to the married people I resented before for trying to tell me how to live my life, my bad. You were only trying to help because you were once there too, and it turns out that just because you’re married you don’t know everything either (which you also probably know).
So here are some thoughts, observations, and advice for those single, engaged, or married:
Marriage will not fix your problems. Instead, marriage will do two things: you will simply find yourself now with different, married-people problems, and hopefully your problems, both old and new, will feel a little more bearable because someone has your back forever.
Just because you are a Christian and this really nice person you are dating is a Christian doesn’t mean you have to get married to them. Seriously. This is a confusing one, I know.
Breaking up is not a sign of spiritual immaturity. In fact, it might be just the opposite.
Please stop feeling this pressure to get married immediately after becoming engaged. Being engaged is different than dating, and it’s different than being married. It’s unique, special, and refining. And it can (and should) reveal the realities of what you’re getting into with marriage – good and bad. Sit with those realities before marriage, together.
I fully reject the lie that sex is inevitable if you wait a long time to get married. You’d be surprised how resilient people are.
You are allowed to feel numerous ways about one thing, or person, or relationship.
Confidence is attractive and will probably get you a date or relationship, but if you’re in it for the long haul this person is eventually going to see all of your really ugly, unconfident bits.
It’s okay to be selective about who you take dating or marriage advice from. Everyone single person has had a different experience than you, somehow.
It’s also okay to be selective about which books you read about singleness or marriage. Or, stop reading them altogether. Sometimes all that advice can be really overwhelming.
Some reasons I’ve broken up with people, for reference:
He couldn’t support my boundaries.
He couldn’t communicate with me about faith or Jesus or spirituality.
He had trouble understanding me.
His presence made me feel like a different, untrue version of myself.
He didn’t pursue me – he made me pursue him.
He couldn’t figure out how he felt about me.
He made me feel like I made no difference in his life.
He wasn’t kind.
He made me believe me being with him was the answer to his problems.
And some reasons I started dating my husband, for reference:
He was steady.
He made me feel special, important, and cared for.
He actually took me on dates, and made it clear they were dates.
I wasn’t the answer to his problems.
He was kind.
He was really funny.
He was gentle to me in touch, respect, and speech.
He was super cute.
He was honest with me about really, really hard things.
He took initiative to learn things, learn me, and better himself.
He wanted a relationship with God more than he wanted a relationship with me.
I loved being around him.
He was super fun.
He didn’t make me feel like I needed to earn his love or attention, which I’m still baffled by to this day that someone can love me like this, especially when I have a dramatic mid-life crisis about once a month.
I don’t really know if God tells us to marry a certain person, but I do know that there is no such thing as one destined, perfect person for us all.
Even for us married people, it will never not be obnoxious when people excessively post sappy things about their spouse.
The first few months of marriage have only been hard when one of us has been selfish. Period. Other than that, marriage is pretty spectacular and I think we need to stop telling people that the first year of marriage is always so scary and tough.
If you’re single and need to unfollow people on social media whose lives appear to throw your singleness into sharp, painful perspective, unfollow them. Do it. Do it now. Take care of your heart.
It’s funny, because in the end advice or thoughts or observations from others only resonate so much in our own lives. I have found that one of the most incredible and frustrating things about love is that no matter how much you “know” it will probably not be enough, and you will have to learn for yourself and through your own actions and choices how to do all this well (or at least try your best).
But I think that’s what’s going on with this blog when it all comes down to it – it’s all just offerings. Offerings for both myself and for you. I really like that.
Julia writes about relationships, faith and identity at hellosoulblog.com.
* Photography by Kat Skye Photography