I know this site is primarily geared toward Catholic moms so I imagine, most of you have already found your husband. But I'm sure many of you have teen or young adult women in your life who are single and wishing they could meet their prince charming. In preparation for Valentines Day when many single women feel especially lonely, here are some words of advice to bring you strength in this time of waiting.
This is a letter to 15-year-old me. The things I wish someone would have told me. Or perhaps, said while strongly shaking me by the shoulders and saying, "This is the most important thing I could ever tell you!" I wish someone had told me that all the years I had to wait for my husband were important ones and not to waste them by crying in my room thinking I'd never find the man for me.
Dearest Teenage Sterling,
First of all, be nice to your mother. You're going to be a mother some day and you'll instantly wish that you took back all the snotty, snide, stupid and sour things you said to her. You are not better than her. You owe her your life and she has made a career out of raising you. Respect her. And since her mother didn't tell her these very important things about life, I'm going to tell you instead.
The world is going to beat you with lies about sex, dating and marriage for the next 10+ years while you try to find your husband.
Finding your husband will be the most important journey you ever go on (apart from finding and devoting yourself to Jesus). Not everyone gets married, but most do and so assuming you are one of them, it is crucial that you choose wisely. This will be more important than what college you go to, what internships you take, what job you will choose next, what career you will strive for, what hobbies you will cultivate, what friends you enjoy along the way, what church groups you are part of... all of it. You must wage battle to find your husband. Many of these battles will just exist in your mind but you must be vigilant. You're fighting for the most important relationship in your life.
Here are 10 Battles You Must Wage to Find Your Husband:
- Television Love is a lie; do not allow it to live in your mind.
Look at the teenagers on tv; they're in their 20s. There's a reason you don't look like them and it's not just because they have been chosen for their physical beauty; it's because your body will need another 3-5+ to mature. They bat eyes at each other, share a few kisses and suddenly they're in love. This isn't love. It's fondness and lust. Love is borne from sacrifice and deep commitment. I'm not saying young people can't achieve this, but it's not something that comes from a date and a kiss and the approval of your friends. I'm also not saying that you shouldn't watch tv. I love tv! But watch it with a Truth Filter. Note absurd situations and don't allow the story lines to be a yardstick for your relationships or your dreams about love. If you feel bad about yourself after watching a show - stop watching it! There are plenty of shows that can build you up; find those. Most TV marriages are also lies. They only gloss over the highs and lows that happen in real marriage. They couldn't possibly show or explain the day-to-day journey of two people who have committed their lives to each other. It's a beautiful and often painful process and it is built on prayer and love for Christ. God created marriage and he will also give you the grace to live through it. It is the hardest and the most satisfying thing you will ever do.
- Dating is about finding your husband, not passing the time or trying to fit in.
Watching tv and being in school is going to make you feel like "everyone is dating." They're not. Look closely. Most teenagers and people in their 20's are actually single. As soon as you see qualities in someone that are not what you want in the future father of your children, stop dating them. You don't have to stop being friends but playing house and going on dates with someone who you are not going to marry is only going to cause confusion and problems in the future when you actually meet your to-be husband. As the years press on, insecurity might start seeping into your thoughts because you feel inexperienced or like you're being left behind. Shut those thoughts out. You will meet your husband one day whether you're 17 or 34 and he will instantly melt away all the years of worry and fussing over all those other guys who don't shine a candle to this man before you.
- Be the woman who mirrors the man you're looking for.
If you don't want a husband who ignores you on Sundays to watch football for 4 hours, don't be the kind of girl that shuts out the world so you can watch Mad Men. Go ahead, watch Mad Men, just don't turn it into an idol that prevents you from missing other opportunities. If you aren't attracted to men who are lazy, don't be lazy. If you want a man who works hard to provide for your family, be a hard worker now. You may end up leaving your career to be a stay-at-home mom but it will be easier to find the husband who possesses the values you want by living those values now. Think hard about the qualities you're looking for in your future husband and then start right now improving those qualities in yourself.
- Pray for your future husband.
First, decide you want a future husband. Goal setting is powerful. Create a goal in your mind that you want to meet your husband. This doesn't make you weak. This doesn't say that you "need a man." No amount of goal setting will make you married if that's not God's plan for you. But God also plants desires in our heart. Cultivate the desire to be married. This will create an openness in you for to see the right man when he comes along. And if you are meant to be married, praying for your future husband is so important. He needs your prayers. Pray that God is shaping him right now for you and that he too is making good choices as he goes through his own journey of finding you.
- Have high standards.
Magazines, television, movies, novels and yes, even our friends are all making jokes about men. They are belittling them and turning lazy and immature men into jokes. They are building up men in suits who have no family or Christian values and creating funny story lines about them. And the jokes are funny but the reality is not. You do not want a man who enjoy casual sex and chases after money instead of God no matter how good he looks in a suit. You do not want a man who is selfish and doesn't understand the great responsibility of having a wife and a child. I'm not saying that you should discard men who are young and having clean fun like traveling, going to concerts, playing video games, trying on jobs to find the right one etc. But choose a man who understands the weight of what he will take on in the future. The right man will talk about these things, out loud, with you. Have high standards and don't accept silly boys who have no intention of becoming men and being responsible. Choose a man who will still play video games because he loves them but who will also turn them off without you even asking to help you with the kids.
- Don't give away your kisses.
Save your kisses for your husband. Kissing someone is extremely personal, it should be. Teenage Sterling, if I could stress one battle the most, it will be the battle to keep your kisses (and the rest of your body) to yourself! You will meet the man of your dreams who will love you for the rest of your life and you will wish that you had saved more of your kisses and everything else just for him. I've known many couples who shared their first kiss on their wedding day. While I'm not sure that everyone should wait this long, it's important not to give your kisses away too easily, especially if you haven't decided this is the man for you... forever. When you get married, all your intimate moments with someone else will live in your mind; you carry them with you. You will regret them and feel sad that you fell for the lie that you need to "try things out to know what you like." You don't. You will pay a price for them even though you are completely in love and faithful to your husband. All the experiences you've had before will still be with you long after your married. If you were never kissed before you were 30 and your very first kiss was with your husband, you will instantly feel such gratitude and peace with him.
- Talk to happily married people!
I know this one is hard. Most adults are divorced, remarried or not exactly modeling happy marriage. Work to find someone who has been happily married for 20+ years and talk to them about marriage. Ask them why it works. By the way, it won't all be sunshine and kisses. Marriage is hard work but they will share the good and the bad with you. If you don't know someone, ask your friends to introduce you or ask someone at church to point you in the right direction. Find a couple whose very first kiss was the one they had after saying, "I do." Listen to their story and hold out for that kind of love. You must seek out good examples to combat the bad ones you've seen.
- Shared hobbies do not equal love.
Fight the urge to find someone based solely on like interest. Do not seek people just because of the things they like and do not discount people simply because they do not share your interests. You will be tempted to think that if he likes the same bands and the same church as you that it must be love! That is not necessarily true. Hobbies change. You will like different music later, you won't have lots of time after you have kids to pursue the same hobbies you did in your early 20s and that's okay. You may end up with a man who does like all those same silly things but you may not. The important thing is that he has the same core values as you. He loves Jesus. He is a hard worker. He has a kind heart. He cares about others. He is good to his family and wants to be a good husband and father. Those things exist at the core and will be the same throughout time even if your hobbies change. Don't overlook people that don't instantly click into your transitional social life.Spoiler alert, Sterling: You will be embarrassed about your future husband's clothes (and later change his entire wardrobe) but he has the biggest heart of anyone you know and he is an amazing husband and father and that pales in comparison to his terrible jean shorts and awful puffy white tennis shoes!
- Don't wait in idleness, do something!
You will find your thoughts spinning and your fears swallowing you up if all you do is sit in your room and wish for a boyfriend. Stay busy. Do not let the devil tempt you into dating someone that isn't right for you just so you can have something to do. Find things that interest you and pursue them. Join groups, develop hobbies, read books, learn as much as you can! Start a charity, volunteer, help those around you. These are great ways to pass the days and they will also be gems that your husband will adore later. Battle the urge to feel sorry for yourself and to wallow. He is out there and he will arrive just when you need him. In the meantime, enjoy your life!
- Be who you are, not who the world tells you to be.
God has placed special talents inside of you. These are the things you are naturally drawn to and often naturally good at. They may even be weird. But these gifts, these talents, these loves that you develop will be what he adores about you. There is a man out there who genuinely loves those things too or at least, will respect you a great deal for your love of them. Because let me tell you, there is no hiding in marriage. There is no faking things in marriage. Your whole self will be naked in front of your husband, not just your body but the truth about who you are. Learn to cherish that true self because trying to be something else will only attract the wrong kind of man. There is so much more that I want to tell you but that is a start. Be strong and be happy because everyone is attracted to happiness! Deepen your relationship with God; he will give you big hugs when you are lonely.
I wish someone would have talked to me about marriage as much as they did about college. I only went to college for four years and I hope to be married for more than 50!
Pray for all the single ladies out there and share these points with them so they aren't so sad and confused while they too wait and hope to meet the one.
Copyright 2016 Sterling Jaquith
Image Credit: 19th Sept: 5 years of marriage by scribbletaylor (2009) Flickr, CC
About the Author
Sterling Jay is a Catholic life coach. She is a wife and unschooling mom of 6 young children and lives in Boise, Idaho. She is a co-host of the Made For Greatness podcast. As an adult convert, she loves sharing her passion for the faith. She believes Catholic moms can change the world! Learn more at MadeForGreatness.co. See her books on Amazon!