How do I make this waiting to marry more bearable?
My question/concern is this: I am in love with my boyfriend, and both of us want to get married. However, the timing is not right because we are both still in college and if we get married right now we will have no way to feed ourselves or pay tuition, etc. We are planning on getting married as soon as I graduate (he will graduate before me and then go to grad school), but that is 2 1/2 years away. Waiting is so frustrating, because I know that I want to marry him and be one with him and give myself to him fully, not just in a sexual way but in every way possible.
I am plagued with feelings of guilt for feeling this strongly for him…. I feel as though I am too young to feel this way; it is inappropriate to desire to have sex with him and desire to spend all my time with him. How do I make this waiting to marry him more bearable? Am I doing something wrong? Are these feelings of guilt legitimate? The only word I know to describe how I am feeling is simply frustrated.
I have tried talking to older women about this, but their response is typically to blow me off. For example, last time I talked to my mom about it, she said she was sorry I was feeling that way and then told me to take some Tylenol PM and go to bed. Thanks for reading this, I am sorry it was so long, and I hope that it made some sort of sense.
Thank you for writing. Your letter certainly isn’t a waste of time and I think you’ve done a good job of explaining what’s troubling you. You say you and your boyfriend both want to get married to one another but for financial reasons, you have to wait until after graduation to tie the knot. You also express frustration with your longings for intimacy with him, both sexual and otherwise, wonder if they’re normal for someone your age and wonder how you’re going to survive the next two and a half years leading up to the wedding. Finally, it sounds as if you’ve yet to find an empathetic mentor to counsel you during this difficult season.
First, about your timeline, we’ve said before on Boundless that if you’re not ready and able to get married in one year, you probably shouldn’t be dating. The practical reason for this advice has everything to do with how God designed us. As you’ve discovered, once you fall in love, it’s hard to wait for intimacy. Whether you’re 18, 28 or 40, those feelings are intense. I’m guessing based on when you expect to graduate that you’re at least 18, maybe 19 now. In another day, you’d already be married. But in our culture, where education pursuits border on the idolatrous, there’s little support for putting school on hold in order to marry first or marry young. So you wait.
Of course if you and your boyfriend are financially incapable of surviving without the help of your parents, then you have little choice but to wait until you’re done with school to marry. In that case, it makes a lot of sense to cool down your relationship for the sake of your purity. Take things more slowly. Spend a little less time together. Stop spending time alone together and instead, do things a bit more like you did in the “olden days.” Seek out an older mentor couple at your church and go on double dates with them. Spend time together with groups of friends. I’m not suggesting you stop being serious about getting married someday, but that you wise up and get practical about how you’re going to bide your time until it’s possible to marry.
About your guilty feelings: Desiring to have sex with the man you plan to marry is normal. That’s not the problem. Acting on them this side of the altar is. So as long as you’re maintaining godly physical boundaries and avoiding sexual fantasies, you really have nothing to feel guilty about.
That said, advice like “take a Tylenol PM” and get some sleep offers little relief. What you need is a mentor, or mentors, to walk through this season with you. To pray with you and hold you accountable. To help you and your boyfriend work on the practical skills you’re going to need to have a healthy marriage down the road. And maybe even to think creatively with you about ways that you might actually move up your timeline for getting married.
If such wisdom isn’t coming from your parents, look to a Christian professor at your college, or an older married couple in your church, for this advice. If you still can’t find someone, talk to your pastor and ask him for some suggestions.
Finally, consider reading books together with your boyfriend by trusted Christian authors, authors like C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, J.I. Packer and others. Make it your goal during this season of waiting to walk humbly together before God; to grow in spiritual wisdom as a couple and to mature toward marriage.
I wish you well,
Copyright 2006 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Candice Watters is a wife, mom, and Bible teacher. She is the author of Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help it Happen, co-founder with her husband, Steve, of Boundless.org and co-author of Start Your Family: Inspiration for Having Babies. They have four children and blog at FamilyMaking.com.