Before I got married, there were many lies I believed that made being single so much harder – dare I say tortuous? – than it needed to be. I imagine that countless other women have suffered similarly, or are currently causing themselves pain with these lies.
The devil delights in these lies and they separate us from the Lord, so we need to banish them!
Lie #1: Your worthiness/ability to be loved is in direct correlation to how quickly your boyfriend proposes to you.
This may have been the most torturous lie I told myself. I reasoned that if I were such a great catch, then wouldn’t the men I dated realize this and propose quickly?
As I watched friends start dating after my boyfriend (now husband) and me but get engaged before us, I wondered what was wrong with me. What could I do to be more lovable, and thus, get a proposal sooner? What did they possess that made their boyfriend think, ‘I need to seal the deal ASAP’?
On top of that, I knew of a lot of Catholics who got engaged after less than a year of dating, so I had created a recipe for feeling utterly dejected when our one-year and two-year anniversaries passed with no proposal. (We ended up getting engaged a week after our two-year anniversary. I’m glad we didn’t get engaged sooner. The timing made so much sense in hindsight.)
Those mindsets were so damaging. For one, it completely neglects the man in the relationship and assumes that the woman’s value/worthiness is the sole determinant in a marriage proposal. Your boyfriend has wounds of his own, and I can say that with certainty because all humans have wounds.
Marriage is two imperfect people doing their best to love each other and die to themselves.
Lie #2: All my wounds need to be healed before marriage.
Oh boy! I took the common advice to “work on yourself before marriage” the wrong way. I often felt like I wasn’t “healed enough” to get married.
There are 2 problems with this mindset. One, I didn’t define what “healed enough” looked like, and I assumed most of my transformational healing needed to happen before I walked down the aisle.
That’s a lot of pressure!
The second problem with this mindset is that it assumes not much healing happens within marriage.
I can happily say that 3+ years into marriage, there are still wounds, still layers of the onion to be peeled back, and I believe this is how it will be my whole life. If I were fully healed, why would I need God? And why would we need our spouses to help bring us closer to God? I don’t believe we’re fully healed until Heaven, God willing.
At the core, this lie wants us to believe that marriage is something we earn for good behavior, or for being “healed enough,” instead of it being a school of love (more below on Lie #4).
Lie #3: If I desire marriage, then God must want the opposite for me.
As a single lady, I constantly questioned God’s goodness and his intentions. I thought his goal was to bring suffering to my life so that I could grow from that experience. I (erroneously) concluded that whatever vocation I was drawn to must not be the vocation God was calling me to –because what sacrifice would be greater than not going into the vocation you desire?
So, I tried to detach myself from my desire for marriage. I reasoned that once God was convinced I didn’t want marriage and family life, he would finally call me to it and I’d get what I wanted.
I thought I could “trick” God! HA!
Father Jacques Philippe, in his book In the School of the Holy Spirit, says: “It is a trap of our imagination or of the devil to picture a life spent following God as something imprisoning, in complete, constant contradiction with all our own desires, even the most legitimate ones.”
Lie #4: Marriage is a reward for good behavior.
When I was single, I’d look at married people and think, “Wow! What have they done that I haven’t? What good things do I need to do to get someone to want to marry me? Are they more virutous? Do they sin less?”
The longer I went unmarried, the more I believed I was bad/undesirable. To comfort myself in these times, I’d look to other people who weren’t married, but were still awesome people. The consolation would last briefly, but as soon as I saw another engagement announcement, I’d go right back to thinking: I’m not good enough.
Marriage is a gift, but it’s not a reward for good behavior. You don’t earn marriage because you were an A+ single person.
Think of all of the unmarried saints there are! Are they any “less” good because they weren’t married?
Lie #5: If God wants me to meet my spouse, he’ll make it happen in real life, not online.
I dreamed of meeting someone “organically” at the gym, at a club, at work, or anywhere IRL. My idea of a meet-cute was a guy walking up to me at a cafe or a book shop and introducing himself because he found me so beautiful.
Spoiler alert: that’s not how I met my husband.
When I wasn’t meeting marriage-minded men IRL, I accepted I might need to try a dating app or website to meet my spouse (which turned out to be the greatest investment of my life since I met my husband on CatholicMatch.)
At first it felt like defeat. I was going to have to pay money to meet my husband? Shouldn’t it be easier? If I was a great catch, I wouldn’t have to pay a dime.
There were multiple people in my life who encouraged me to try online dating, and I believe God was speaking to me through those people.
Two arguments convinced me to pay for online dating.
The first was that if you went to a restaurant or a bar hoping to meet someone, you’d probably spend around $30 on a drink and an appetizer. And you might not meet anyone. You could, instead, spend that $30 for an online dating service and have a whole month (or more) to potentially meet someone.
The other argument that helped me? The people online are the same people IRL. It’s not like there’s a group of humans in the real world and a completely different set of humans on the internet.
A final bone to pick on this topic…
To say that you’re “taking control from God” in the dating process by trying online dating is like saying applying for jobs online is trying to “take control from God” in our careers. To me, trying to “take control from God” is more of a mindset than a specific action.
I don’t know God’s will for your life, but you won’t know it either unless you’re in conversation with him. It may very well be his will that you meet your husband IRL and not online.
At the end of the day, does it matter how you met your spouse? Not really. Don’t be like me and think that spending money to meet someone is a sign that you’re not good enough, or that the only way God wants you to meet your spouse is IRL.
If I could spend a minute with my younger self, I would say to her: You think marriage validates you as a person, but you’re already valid. You are no more valuable married or unmarried. People who think otherwise are not people who share your values. Jesus really does want your ultimate good. You will spend parts of your life believing this and parts of your life doubting this, but if you can remind yourself of this truth in the hardest moments, it will bring you peace. I promise. Your desire for marriage is good. Don’t let other people convince you it’s selfish. In fact, through marriage, you will learn to become more selfless than you’ve ever been.
Marriage isn’t the destination; it’s the path to to the Destination.