In this week’s feature article, “Why You Should Keep Hoping for Marriage,” I make a case for why singles shouldn’t give up on their desire to wed. But I know from experience that’s sometimes easier said than done. It can feel good to “just decide” that you’re never getting married and move on — kind of like breaking up.
If you’re convinced God’s given you a desire for marriage, try these three ideas to keep hope alive:
1.Pray. As a woman who had earned good grades in school, been successful in my career and even purchased a house, singleness seemed to be one area of my life that was irritatingly out of my control. I couldn’t just go out and “get” a husband. Candice Watters’ article “Pray Boldly” encouraged me during that season. Praying for what I desired was one thing I could do.
For many months, a friend and I met weekly to pray for husbands. It was a healthy exercise for me to realize I needed God’s help to marry well and seek to align my desires with His. An added benefit was that when I met and married my husband, I recognized him as the true gift from God that he was. Whenever I’m feeling grumpy about some of the challenges of marriage, I remember how long I hoped and prayed for this, and my frustration is replaced with gratefulness.
2. Get out there. When I was single, I felt more positive about my hopes for marriage when I pursued an active social life. (I say “pursued” because this takes effort.) Spending time with other singles or even married couples allowed me to feel wanted and affirmed by others. The added benefit was meeting new people, who inevitably led to meeting other new people. In “Single While Active,” I wrote:
Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a musician, a photographer or a movie connoisseur, find new places to develop your interests. Join a mountain biking club. Sign up for an art class. Volunteer for children’s ministry at your church. If you are looking for someone to share your life and passions, what better place to meet him or her than while pursuing those passions? Even if you don’t meet someone, you’re doing things you love.
3. Give it a break. This one may sound counterintuitive. Didn’t I just build a case for putting yourself out there? There’s a big difference between giving up on marriage and taking a break from obsessing about it.
Allyson, who longed for marriage for over a decade, says she sometimes had to set aside her desire for marriage. “I had seasons of giving up where I was just too disappointed in how I thought my story was turning out,” she says, “and I determined in my mind that I needed to let go of the hope of marriage.
“I don’t regret those seasons because they helped me get through discouragement, doubt, and frustration by allowing me to turn my focus to work or family or ministry. It’s almost like I needed the ‘umph’ that I got from setting aside thoughts of marriage to get me through the sadness that sometimes overwhelmed me.”
The key to staying hopeful despite discouraging circumstances is to stay connected with God and others, and walk the fine line of hoping for marriage but not making it your only hope. As believers our hope is much bigger than marriage (see Titus 2:13). We know a God who offers us hope in abundance, and that’s reason enough to expect great things.