This past June I celebrated my eighth wedding anniversary. Every year I say it may be only eight years, but we lived a lifetime of marriage in those eight years, so we might as well be going on fifty years. If you don’t know our story, my husband had a heart transplant two years after we were married. Combine that with other life stuff and you have a lifetime of marriage.
Right before my thirty-second birthday I got married. I lived a long, hard, and fun life as a single woman. I know singleness well, and after eight years of marriage I now know marriage, too.
But I have a hard time recommending marriage.
Singleness was hard for me. Really hard. That’s why I call myself a recovering single. One of my greatest pleasures now is mentoring single women because I know where they are. I know what they’re going through.
Many single women I talk to want marriage more than almost anything else in life. And I get that. Wanting marriage is good. Marriage is a desire God gives almost all of us.
However, when I talk to single women who want to get married or who may be engaged to be married, I struggle to recommend marriage to them. This is why:
In the Christian world it’s not couth to talk about how hard marriage is. Our culture does enough to dissuade women from marriage by sending messages that you’re better off pursuing a career first, postponing marriage, even freezing your eggs so that you can have the life you want now and the life you want later . . . later. Friends, these lies are straight from Satan’s playbook. I’m here to tell you that.
So it’s not that I want to dissuade anyone from marriage, but I want to tell you the truth. Marriage is hard – like really, really hard – just like singleness is hard.
This is nothing new. We know this straight from Paul’s mouth who tells us in 1 Corinthians 7:28, “But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.” Paul isn’t saying that single people will be trouble-free.
He’s just reminding us that marriage doesn’t take away troubles.
But many women go into marriage thinking it will take away troubles – that life is going to be better. Life is not better married. It’s just different.
In singleness and in marriage, God calls us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’ and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37,39). When I was single, in some ways it was harder to fulfill Jesus’ commands because I had to intentionally go out and find people to love. I had to choose to either get out of my house and serve others or stay home and binge watch Friends.
But in marriage there is less of a choice. Sure, there’s still a choice, but when there’s another person right there in your house that you need to be serving the choice becomes a little more non-negotiable. Not to mention if you have children. Then it’s even more non-negotiable.
Marriage isn’t a means to happily ever after. I know that’s what Disney has sold us, but it’s not truth.
The only purpose for marriage is for two people to serve each other and other people in such away that they can do more for God’s kingdom together than they can apart. That requires a daily laying down of your life for another person. And I do mean daily.
The reason I have a hard time recommending marriage is because most young women I meet are not at this place yet. I know I wasn’t when I got married. I went into marriage thinking about how my life was going to get better. And then it didn’t get better. It became different. And in some ways even harder.
If your expectation is for marriage to make life easier for you, then you’ll struggle to sustain it. Because marriage is hard. Really, really hard. You must have something bigger than your happiness to carry you through or else it won’t be worth it. That something has to be a God thing.
You have to see marriage through the lens that God sees it. God sees it as a perfect depiction of Jesus’ relationship to His Church. He sees it with eternal purposes to lead people to Him. It’s a way to build His kingdom through a family and through what two can do more efficiently than one.
I can recommend marriage to young women when I hear them talk about how they can’t wait to serve Jesus with their future husband. But until they get to that place I recommend some soul-searching.
Read more of my story of being a recovering single in my eBook, Fall for Him: 25 Challenges from a Recovering Single.
What do you think? Do you thing marriage makes your life better? Are you believing this about your singleness or do you know a single woman who is?