This weekend I received a free book in the mail, Love Worth the Wait: Trusting God for Real Romance and Real Relationship, from a certain conservative Christian organization as a thank you gift for my recent donation. Now, I don’t remember ever having any contact with this organization, and as far as I know I never donated to them. I have no idea how they got my address—although I do have a sneaky suspicion that my Grandma, who is always sending me literature on getting married, donated in my name.
I really only read about three pages of it, but they were very thought-provoking. After flipping through a little, I turned to a chapter called “Living with Unmet Desires,” which sounded considerably more interesting to me than “Is this ‘The One’?” The first suggestion is to “Practice active waiting.” While you’re waiting for your man, ahem, Prince Charming, to sweep in, you may as well do something. The author suggests, among other things, that you “Take a class or finish your degree,” “Explore and develop an enjoyable hobby, whether it’s seasonal like softball or something ongoing like photography,” “Volunteer somewhere,” “Read at least two or three missionary biographies,” (ah yes, that’ll definitely make the time pass faster—I’m sure to have a husband by the time I finish J. Hudson Taylor: Pioneer Missionary and David Livingstone: The Pathfinder of Africa), and my personal favorite “If you are in debt, begin to climb out of it.” Oh I certainly hope there is not a man out there waiting to marry me before he starts paying off his debt, because I can tell you he’s going to be waiting a long time.
It beats me what this author assumes single women are doing with their lives while they wait to be wed. However, I am not exactly the intended audience of this book: while I do have unmet desires, mine fall more along the lines of wanting a travel partner to go with to India than wanting someone to “provide for me,” whatever that means. Perhaps there are women out there who are not exploring hobbies, getting degrees, earning money, or reading missionary biographies (okay, there might be several who aren’t doing that), people to whom it never occurred to invite a friend out for a Saturday morning brunch. Maybe there are women who are actually doing nothing besides sitting at home waiting for someone to propose. And that is very sad. What is this underlying message that a woman’s life begins once she’s married? You’ll never hear that a man’s life begins once he’s married: more likely you’ll hear that it ends! I say, why wait? There’s plenty of happiness to be had without combining your laundry with someone else’s, or listening to someone’s breathing all night long.
At any rate, I thought the list of “waiting” activities in this book was unhelpful, and rather unpractical. (Can’t we also play softball and read missionary biographies after we’re married? I should hope so.) So I set out to think of a few practical activities that one could do while waiting to get married and start a family, things that will make life easier once this family is in place. I enlisted the help of my cousin, and together we created the following list. Some of these suggestions are more specifically for waiting to become a mother and some are practical for marriage.
- Stock-pile frozen meals. I have seen mothers, and believe me they are busy people. Isn’t it a paradox that being single means you have the time to cook enormous meals? Why not work ahead for those days of running the kids to daycare?
- Get yourself onto a polyphasic sleeping schedule. If you’re only taking six twenty-minute naps, you will have no trouble with mid-night feedings, or nightmares.
- Start sewing baby diapers (or any sort of baby clothes)
- Do arm curls. Those children can be heavy--particularly when their weight is combined with that of a car seat!
- Hang out in sewers, hog farms, and dirty bathrooms to increase your tolerance for nasty smells (which is good preparation for having kids)
- Spend a lot of time with highly opinionated people with whom you do not agree, so you can practice communication and conflict resolution. Lock yourself in close quarters with these people. In fact, maybe just turn yourself in to the local jail. If you can maintain working relationships with those people, conflict resolution with a future spouse will certainly be a breeze!
- Live with opposites. For instance, if you like to sleep with the windows closed in the winter, sleep with them open. If you like eating meat well-done, practice eating it raw. If you like to be able to see your bedroom floor, take out all of your drawers and strew their contents around the room. By the time you get married, you'll be very well adjusted to living styles that are different from your own.
Neither my cousin nor I are married, which gives us a slight disadvantage. Are you a married person? Do you have children? What do you wish you would have done while you had more time and personal space? Are you single and "actively waiting," or "actively living as a single person"? Do you have more ideas?
What can "actively waiting" singles do to practically prepare themselves for marriage, besides reading books like the one mentioned above?