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Archive for the ‘Time for a Cool Change’ Category

It’s okay to admit to yourself that you want to marry.  It’s even okay to say it. Out loud. To others.

When you say it to people, I encourage you to pause and let the statement just be. Stifle the urge to explain or equivocate.  Let the person react, and know that this could be a little bit uncomfortable for both of you.  There is a myriad of possible responses but if someone responds negatively I would suggest that you deflect their words with a simply-worded response like, “I think marriage is a good thing and it’s been the desire of my heart for awhile now.”  Then, change the subject, or find a reason to leave the conversation.

There are at least two very good reasons to go ahead and say it. First, the good of stating any goal out loud is that it is more likely to become a part of who you are and something you work toward.

Second, it will be helpful for your friends and even acquaintances to know that marriage is a goal for you. Most people still meet their future spouse through friends or family members, so they can be a conduit for meeting husband material.  If your friends are negative about marriage, they should at least respect your hopes. If they don’t, you might consider finding some friends who will encourage you.

A third and fourth reason.  Your statement will encourage any friends who are like-minded but afraid to admit it, to be as strong as you are. And, you will stand out in the crowd to any man among your friends who would also like to marry.  Good men will admire your forthrightness, and the players will know not to mess with you.

Note: And now, as you’re thinking of a player you’re attracted to, and wish that he would change, stop it! Stop thinking about him!  The best way you can encourage a player to change is not to play his game. He is terrible husband material and, as the well-known book (He’s Just Not That Into You) says, think of yourself as the rule and not the exception–you’re not going to change him by dating him.

Back to the subject at hand. It’s a position of strength to know what you want and be able to say it out loud.  And with the long-term goal of marriage in mind, it should help you that your friends and family know that it’s your goal.

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Do you despair in your singleness?

We women handle feelings of despair differently. For many, it’s a reason to be insanely busy–less time to think.  Others let despair preoccupy their thoughts until they wallow in it.  I avoided (mostly!) these extremes in my single years, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t feel the great weight of it. There were a few nights when despair pressed so heavily on my heart that it was hard to breathe.  One of those nights was after Jones got married, I am sorry to say. I usually didn’t have a hard time with weddings and I was overjoyed for the bride and groom, but that was a long, sleepless night.

It is hard. hard. hard. to walk the thin line of hopefulness when you feel crushed down, but the extreme alternatives are not helpful.  Wallowing is not only unproductive and hopeless, but unattractive.  Busyness for the sake of squelching your desire for marriage and relationship only numbs and dulls a woman’s heart. In contrast, the heart of a woman walking the thin line of hope is tender and brave, open to new people and opportunities, and I believe that some of a woman’s greatest personal and emotional strength lies in how she handles the feelings and her time.

Emily Stimpson is a woman trying to walk the thin line of hope.  She now writes a column and has recently published a book about being single (The Catholic Girl’s Survival Guide for the Single Years: The Nuts and Bolts of Staying Sane and Happy While Waiting for Mr. Right)  And she has this to say about despair and hope in her recent column.

It’s despair that leads us to date people we shouldn’t and do things we oughtn’t. It’s despair that makes us bitter, hard and cold, the embodiment of everything the culture tells us we’ll be if we’re living a chaste single life. And it’s despair that turns us in on ourselves, preventing us from seeing the needs of others and loving them as they need to be loved.

Despair is not our friend. Hope is our friend. Hope is what gets us through a string of bad dates or a stretch of none at all. Hope is what keeps us going after a breakup or when we feel like the last single person standing. Hope is what allows us to trust that God really does know what he’s doing.

She concludes that “remaining hopeful may be a single person’s greatest task.”  I couldn’t agree more.  We’re going to talk a lot more on this blog about cultivating hope.

As usual, we would love to hear from you. Have a great weekend, and don’t forget to thank a veteran or serviceman or woman for keeping us free.

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This is something close to my heart.   Church life was (and still is) very important to me.  It was my social life during my 14 single years after college.  I read an article once chastising the church for not being “singles friendly”.  It was actually titled, “Making Your Church ‘Singles Friendly’”.   It made me feel like the awkward kid in school that the teacher wanted everyone to be nice to.  It inspired me to write a rebuttal article that went something like this:

The experience of other single Christians, whether they be never married singles, divorced singles, or widowed singles, may be similar to mine.  As a never-married single, I had never felt part of a congregation.  I couldn’t understand it.  I was very active…in the singles group.  I went on ever singles retreat, camp outs, and ski trips.  I even organized singles events.  I was there every Sunday in the singles class and weekly Bible Studies.  We even had a ministry within the single ministry.  We had our own shepherd/elder and even a budget from the church.  Why, then, did I feel I was missing out on something?  Was the Church not being “singles friendly”?

Thankfully, I realized this problem was my problem and not the church’s.  When I stepped back and looked at the bigger picture, I found myself in what was really just an older “youth group” with “youth group” expectations and responsibilities.  I took a look around at the ministry leaders, teachers, and other servants filling the needs in the Church.  Many were around my age and some were younger.  The only difference was that they were married.  I have no doubt that the apostle Paul would wonder why that should make any difference at all!  It certainly didn’t for him.  There isn’t any mention of him leading a singles group around by the hand.  Quite the contrary.  Paul says to the Corinthians that unmarried men should be concerned only with how they can please the Lord (1 Corinthians 8:32) and unmarried women should aim at being devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit (1 Corinthians 8:34).  These Scriptures told me that I should be actively involved in the Lord’s affairs (I Corinthians 8:32 and 34) and not my own.  I was supposed to be teaching classes and heading up ministries for the church body, not only for singles.

Now that I had a realization of the incredible responsibility, what was I to do?  Confining myself to the singles group was keeping me from participation with the church body.  I found 5 different ways that helped me to become more involved, and they might help you, too. 

1) I recommend becoming active in a ladies or men’ bible study and/or other activity groups during the week (e.g. secret sisters, sports group, ladies and men’t retreats, volunteer days).  It’s important to attend church pot lucks and other gatherings because attending these is a good start toward getting to know your church family. 

2) Use the gifts God gave you to help or lead ministries within the congregation.  Finding where talents lie can be difficult, but there are always ministries in need of help.  More than likely there are ministries praying for someone to get involved and maybe even take over.  I teamed up with another single and we taught a children’s class every other term.  There is always a need for teachers and this is a great way to get to know the precious children in your congregation and their parents.

3) Stop limiting yourself to attending only singles classes.  Attend a class Sunday morning or Wednesday night with an interesting subject.  Choose the class, don’t let the class choose you! 

Last, and I believe most important, be consistent in attending church assemblies.  Remember the responsibilities as a church member to attend services and classes, to contribute to the collection plate, to teach classes, and to help in the church assemblies in prayer, communion, and song.  By showing that you are true and serious  about your faith, the congregation will see you as an integral part of God’s family and not just a single in the singles’ ministry.

Marriage isn’t the key to being an active member of your church.There is a need for Christian singles to come together for activities outside of church services, but that must not interfere with the worship, study, and fellowship with our church families.  This maybe the time in your life when you have the most time and many times, the most money (husbands and children are time consuming and expensive!).

As a single, you are responsible for only yourself.  Take advantage of this time in life to concentrate on your relationship with God.  It’s the perfect time to grow stronger in faith and learn more of what Gods will is for your life.  A spouse does not complete you.  Someone once told me, “Someone who learns to serve others in singleness, will be better equipped to serve in marriage.”  I agree!

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I talked to one of my single girlfriends the other day.  Katie is 27, owns her own business, and is very busy with family and friends. She wants to marry, but is more interested in dating and marrying the right man rather than pursuing someone just for the sake of relationship.

Recently, a friend told Katie that her life was too busy for dating. She implied that if a man was interested in her that he would be turned off by her schedule, or that Katie wouldn’t make time for him. This was a confusing thing to hear when I was single, and it was confusing to Katie, too.

There is such a thing as too busy, but my personal thought is that Katie is not too busy to date, nor do I believe that a man would be turned off by her schedule.  But let’s talk about time and busyness first. Evaluating how you spend your time is not a bad exercise. This isn’t perfect, but let’s divide time into four categories:

Working time

Working time is obvious—the hours you spend at work.  I personally think that if this takes more than 50 hours of your week for more than six consecutive months then you probably need a different job for all kinds of reasons, but the bottom line is that it will keep you from meaningful social interaction.

Responsibilities

With responsibilities I would include time that you have already dedicated to family obligations, volunteering, grocery shopping and oil changes, church, and obligatory work events.  You cannot get out of these, and personal integrity and life demand that you show up.

Wasted time

Wasted time would be the five plus hours per week spent watching TV or stalking the cute guy your friend knows on Facebook, or playing thrilling virtual games like “Warcraft” and “Bedazzled.” Not bad in and of themselves, but they keep you from interacting with real people in the real world.  A good test with wasted time is comparing your time with things and your time with people outside of work.  If your time with television and alone with your iPhone is greater than your time with people, it’s wasted.

Activities

This is the most subjective category. Along with how you handle your responsibilities, activities represent your greatest opportunity to meet interesting people and will make you the most active and interesting. Riding bikes, cake decorating, swing dancing, wedding singing, book clubbing, chess playing, instrument playing, cooking, hiking, etc. Activities put you in contact with people with the same interests, or they give you opportunity to develop a new interest.  You may find out that you don’t do it well at all, but you come away with a great story and a good laugh at yourself.

There is such a thing as wasting time in a valid activity, but that will be the subject of another post.  And, I think Katie’s activities and responsibilities are the right kind—she’s busy, but it’s time spent with people and she’s a very interesting person to talk to.

Finally, about the man being turned off.  I don’t think it would hurt Katie to mention in conversation with friends of both sexes and when appropriate that she would like to marry, however, as far as the man’s interest goes I will refer to something my dad once told me.  “If a man is really interested in a girl,” he said, “he won’t be able to help himself.  He has to let her know.”  That has proven true in my own experience (especially the good ones) and in my observations of others.

My two cents!  What do you think about activities as a way to meet people and develop your interesting self?  We really want to know.

 

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There aren’t very many people I’ve read about that filled me with as much loathing as Tucker Max. I didn’t even want to ask my friends if they had heard of him and his exploits because I didn’t want to give him any more attention, but Tucker Max has changed. He is 35 and is no longer drinking and exploiting women and writing about it in detail.

Max changed his life when he found himself economically successful, but without anyone to share his success. In his interview with Forbes magazine, Max tells Michael Ellsberg that with the help of a good psychoanalyst he now understands that he was using alcohol and sex to fill an emotional hole that stemmed from his painful childhood.  He also understands that he hurt people, and shares that he would like to someday marry and be a father.

Two thing I take away from this article for the marriage-minded woman:

1) Change is possible. If Tucker Max can change from a drinking, narcissistic womanizer to a maturing man who desires fatherhood, then so can anyone.

2) Change needs to happen BEFORE a person is in a serious relationship that could lead to marriage.  If Tucker Max knows it, then you should know it, too.

No person can change another person, so if you’re dating someone with an addiction—from substance abuse to spending—please know that you cannot change them.  You should stop planning a future life with them, and exit the scene. But if you know that you need to make some changes, or see a pattern in the men you date (for example, you’re attracted to drinkers), then you need to consider putting a hold on dating for a while and seek professional help to work through the patterns in your own life. Everyone has issues to work through at some point in their life, but we can only fix our own.  When these issues are unresolved, they affect our closest relationships–especially marriage.

If you have a personal issue that you need some help with, troubledwith.com is a place to start.

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