Even though our culture has dramatically changed, and most women do not marry immediately after college (the median age for American females who wed is 26 years old), I’ve found that most young women, especially Christians, still maintain a hope of meeting her husband in college and marrying shortly after. As I work with high school and college girls, I frequently find myself encouraging them to set their sights on career ambitions, traveling adventures, and the joys of single life instead of becoming a wife in their young twenties.
Before I go any farther, let me say that I have many friends who got married at the ripe age of 21-23, and I am not, by any means, criticizing their choice. Everyone’s story is wonderfully different.
This, however, is my story.
Tyler and I started dating right before my 29th birthday, and got married right before my 30th birthday. So, for the majority of my twenties, I was single– deeply single as some of my gal pals joked. While there certainly were moments of frustration and loneliness, with questions like “will I ever find a guy I actually want to marry?” and even nasty thoughts like “how the heck did she get married before me?”– I wouldn’t trade my decade of singleness for the world. I am so grateful I had those years of adventure and growth, and believe it was God’s best story for me to wait a few years longer than the “norm”.
7 Reasons I’m grateful I didn’t get married until (almost) 30.
1. I HAD SUCH GREAT ADVENTURES.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that you can’t have great adventures when married– we’ve had several in our first two years of marriage, but the choices I got to make as an untethered, financially independent person is very different than when you are married. If I had married at 22, I doubt I would have gone to grad school, lived 4 blocks from the White House, taken spontaneous trips to the Bahamas, Cabo, and more. I also don’t think I would have had the time or energy to develop the best friendships a girl could ask for.
2. I CHANGED SO MUCH + SO DID THE GUYS I DATED.
The kind of man I would have married at 22 is not the man I married at 29. It took me seven years to have a better understanding of who God made me to be and that dramatically affected the kind of man I understood to be God’s best for me. During my twenties, there was a major shift in the type of guy I dated and all of that resulted thanks to the time I had to grow up, change, become comfortable in my own skin, and realize who was better suited for me.
3. I WENT TO COUNSELING.
Part of the dramatic change I experienced was due to counseling. In my mid-twenties, I began to realize I really struggle with understanding and articulating my own feelings. I could help others process their feelings all day, but when it came to myself I was a vault locked down who was not allowed to be emotional or vulnerable. Had I gotten married when I was still like that– well, let’s just say it wouldn’t have been pretty. Instead, I had a year to go through intensively counseling on my own– and then another few years to continue growing, learning how to emotionally connect with others, and then I was ready to fully engage when Tyler and I began to date. Had I never gone through counseling in my twenties, I highly doubt my relationship with Tyler would have lasted for more than a few dates.
4. I LEARNED TO LOVE MY LIFE SO MUCH, I KNEW I’D NEVER SETTLE.
A negative of staying single longer could be that you grow too firm in your own ways– but what I found was that the longer I stayed single and created the life I wanted, the more confidant I was that if I did choose to marry, it would be someone who really added to my life. Choosing to be in a serious relationship requires a lot of sacrifice and I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my freedom, time, schedule, and relationships for most guys. So when I was ready to bend over backwards to fit Tyler into my life– I knew I was onto something.
5. I LEARNED TO HANDLE FINANCES.
Sometimes you hear it’s best to wait to get married until you’re financially stable. I’m not really sure what “financially stable” means but I have a feeling that ambiguous goal could keep you single (or childless) forever. So, while it was never my goal to be financially stable before marriage, I did feel passionate about mastering my finances. I went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace; I learned how to budget– like really budget– telling every dollar of my monthly paycheck where to go. I bought a house; I made investments. I didn’t squander my single dollars away, because I wasn’t trying to wait for a man before getting my dollar bills in a row. But all of that effort made combining my finances with Tyler’s much easier than it would have been otherwise.
6. I HAD SO MANY ROOMMATES AND LIVED ALONE.
Throughout my twenties, I moved so. many. times. (which definitely gets old, and why I finally bought my own place) BUT all of those housing situations gave me a variety of living environments with and without roommates. Both were so helpful in preparing for marriage. Nothing will ever prepare you for married life like living with roommates– good ones and difficult ones. You learn to choose your battles, how to get over dishes in the sink, and how to consider others. Living alone, while I used to tease it was only making me more and more selfish (maybe it was), also helped me have greater independence, feel safe without others around, gave me an opportunity to figure out my style and how I liked to spend my time at home. I learned I loved to read on the couch and spend time in the kitchen– rather than just watching community TV. All of those things helped me have a better understanding of who I was and how to live in compromise with others.
7. IT MADE MARRIAGE EASIER.
I’m not saying that all marriages are easier if you simply marry later in life. But for me, after almost a decade of fully embracing single life, learning who I was, how to handle life’s hardships and maturing in faith and character– once I did get married, our first two years of marriage were easy. We’d both been through enough “junk”, we didn’t get thrown off course when hardships came our way. We knew how to fight fair. We took our decade of singleness– all the lessons learned– into our marriage. We weren’t trying to figure out who we were individually and how to be married. We knew who we were, so all we had to focus on was how to be married.
Had I met Tyler when I was in college, I wouldn’t have married him at age 22. Neither of us would have been ready for marriage– nor would we have wanted to even date each other. Even if we had been, I wouldn’t go back and give up my single twenties. I have the rest of my life–hopefully 60-70 years to be married to Tyler. What’s one decade of singleness in comparison?!
So for you gals who are young twenties and lamenting your single days– stop!
Stop wasting them away. Enjoy them. Savor them. Learn to love where you are in life. Use the time wisely and intentionally. Every season–singleness, marriage, childlessness, raising kids–has hardships and joys. Choose to relish in the joy! Be where you are and eat it up. And please, dear God, go on a spontaneous tropical trip for me!