I had given up on marriage. It just wasn’t for me. It’s not that I didn’t want to be married: I had hoped and prayed for years. I had dated from time to time, but no relationship ever developed that was really serious. By the time I was in my early forties I had come to terms with the fact that I would always be single.

But then, surprise! When I was 48 years old God brought a wonderful man, Al Tanksley, into my life. Neither of us had been looking for a spouse. But he was ready. I was ready. And we got married. It was truly a miraculous God thing! And very worth waiting for.

During my single years I learned a lot. It was that kind of growing up that has allowed me to be so happily married now. Here are a few of those lessons:

  1. You don’t need a man (or woman) to be OK. I learned that even though my desire to be married was Godly, I could truly be happy, fulfilled, and personally successful as a single. In marriage, two halves don’t make a whole. It takes two whole people to unite as one. You will never be happy married if you haven’t learned to be happy single. Truly happy.
  2. Don’t sweat the small stuff. When two people get married, especially after living different lives for decades, there are going to be differences – how you load the dishwasher, what time to go to bed, how often you eat out. Some things are worth “fighting” over, but most things aren’t. If it’s not dangerous, learn to let it go. Living 48 years taught me to keep things in perspective.
  3. Keep your soul well-fed. No other human being can meet every inner need you have. You’re responsible to find ways to stay filled up: same-sex friends, artistic activities, rest, intellectual stimulation, time with God. Many of those things your spouse may join you in, should you get married. But growing up means learning to feed yourself whether you’re single or not.
  4. Giving and Receiving are both blessed. For marriage to work both people must be completely focused on giving to each other. If you learn to be unselfish while you’re single, married life is so much easier. It’s also true that allowing yourself to need someone else definitely brings you closer together. Receive AND give; focus on the giving.
  5.  God is enough. Ask all the Why questions. Wrestle with the unfairness of life. Hate being alone and lonely (they’re not the same!). Look for love in all the wrong places. But in the end, God Himself becomes the Answer to all your questions. And that’s the only way to be truly happy whether you’re alone or in a crowd, married or single.

Being single is not simply a prelude to being married. For my friends who are single – either never married or newly single – I want you to know that you are enough! God sees you, and cares about you. And so do I.

Your turn: Do you need a man (or woman) in your life to be happy? Why or why not? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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