Something that comes out again and again with striking regularity, a bit like spring, is the flood of blog posts on the Christian blogosphere about praying for a husband (I’ve seen very little about praying for a wife). They usually take one of three approaches: a) it’s OK to pray asking for a husband, because the Lord gives you the desire of your hearts (not what that verse means, btw); b) it’s not OK to pray asking for a husband, pray for him whoever he is and his needs instead; c) it’s OK to do both a) and b).
I find b) quite admirable in a way, but problematic because it assumes there is a husband to pray for in your future. I guess one can pray for a future husband if it is the Lord’s will that I have one, which I have done the summer before meeting the poor man himself. I have mixed feelings about a) because it depends on the way one goes about it. I don’t think there is anything wrong in pouring your heart out to the Father about your desire to be married, but anything that amounts to putting in an order for a perfect husband is problematic. I’m a big fan of the first interpretation of it, bearing in mind that the verse people love to quote (Psalm 37:4) isn’t like the Genie in the lamp making your wish come true, but about the desires themselves being God-given. If you have a desire in your heart that is still unfulfilled, it sucks big time, and requires such faith and strength to keep trusting and waiting patiently I can’t but be in awe of my brothers and sisters in that predicament.
This brings me to the topic of this post, which is not so much a lesson or advice column on how to use your single years but a reflection on my experience of how my single years shaped the kind of wife I am now. I know there is a lot more shaping to come, but singlehood and then engagement have been a journey closer to the woman that God made me to be, and being a wife is the next step on that journey. However, in the way nobody in their right minds runs a marathon after being a couch potato for 30 years, you don’t get to be a wife without building on the life experiences that come before it.
I wish I had the insight to pray to become the wife my husband needed, instead of realising one day that spending the rest of your life with one person is an immense project, and then binge-read everything Dr Gottman ever wrote. It’s even more strange that I never thought of it given how bad my parents’ marriage has always been, and how much I have always thought it was a lot more to do with my mother’s insane expectation than my father’s behaviour.
I know I am difficult to live with: there is a method to my madness, and I have found it incredibly hard to make space for someone else in my flat. Not exploding when I find socks on the bathroom floor takes every ounce of restraint I have got (courtesy of years praying for patience, btw).
Still, the biggest way in which I had to grow was letting go of my independence. Knowing that if I’m not in the mood to cook or do the dishes it’s not just me who goes hungry, that I can’t come and go as I please, that I can’t turn on Spotify at 7am or watch films until 2am because I can’t sleep and I have gone around the full 20 mystery rosary album of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist twice already (an issue easily solved by a sleep headband with built-in speakers).
When you spend more than 20 years of your life feeling like you have something to prove, it’s hard to let go of that and the need to do it all that comes from it. It takes two to tango, as they say, and that’s easy enough, but it can be difficult not to want to be the lead all the time. I wish I had opened my heart to the Lord to work in me a lot sooner, because being thrown in the water when you don’t know how to swim and having to learn or sink isn’t a fun situation to be in.
At the same time, there are things that I have learnt while single that clearly make a late marriage beneficial for me. I have learnt that my value does not rest in being liked or loved by a man. I have learnt to take care of myself because who knows what’s going to happen in our life, I may have to fend for myself again. I have learnt how to take care of others, which will come in handy if any children come along, instead of having to learn how to do that when thrown into the waters of motherhood. I know who I am, and what I want, and what is a red flag. I know when my behaviour is getting toxic so I can stop it before it’s too late. I know that I have to rely on God’s grace every minute of every day, because I’m really a mess otherwise.
There are many women whom I admire who married young and have built successful families while growing themselves too, but that’s not the person I was and I am grateful that my calling allowed me the chance to catch up with them, even if it took the best part of a decade.
Today’s blog post has been part of the Love Blog Challenge 2020 on the subject “Growth”. Find the rest of the series here