I have so much to say and so little time to say it in. Luckily, Jillly from Philly says it for me.
"You can hold me close, kiss me nice. Talk to me in the moonlight. You can take my hand. Be that strong man, you can. Hold me close. Make me feel so good. Talk to me in my ear. Tell me things that I need to hear...Come and give it to me soon, cause I need you. I can't take all of this without lovin. I'm tired of being strong all day. I need to get to know you in a familiar way. I can handle it all, but in the middle of the night, I need something right. I need you to get closer. Come a little bit closer boy. I need you to get closer to... Come and feel the fire with me. I need to feel the King in you. Let me see it soon."
I've been thinking a lot about the gift of singleness, in part because of a blog post that one of my sisters sent me about waiting for the right man. It was deep. I 100% agreed with everything that was said. There's no better time to explore who you are and to build a tough relationship with God than when you are single. No better time. Going into a marriage not knowing who you are is tough. It creates all kinds of problems later on. Going into a marriage with a strong spiritual relationship with God is tough. That too creates all sorts of problems.
As I go through these years of marriage, I am so happy that I took that time. I discerned, I researched, I discussed, I learned, I experienced hard lessons, I consulted, I prayed... I did a lot of work as a single person. I think my blog history can attest to that. Learning who you are is not easy. Forget about the fact that you still wonder if you accurately figured out who you are later on in life. Getting to a place where you are comfortable in your skin takes work. Let me say that again. Getting to a place where you are comfortable in your skin takes WORK. I mean real work people. You actually have to do something. For me, that involved a lot of reading and a lot of writing and a lot of decision-making. No, I will not be that person. No, I do not like that. Yes, I can own that character trait. Yes, this hobby definitely affects my personality for the better. Nope, another person's opinion can not alter how I feel about x. I really worked at planting my feet in soil, attaching my roots deep and growing from there.
Moving across the country was a blessing. Every single puppet string was detached when I made that move. I decided everything for myself. One of the most significant decisions was my decision to make a spiritual search. Proving the scriptures to myself, going against what the Bible recommended and learning the hard way that God's Word really has some truth to it helped me to draw closer to God. With the help of Jehovah, I studied my butt off and my conscious was trained. My social experiences also helped define my spirituality. As I partied all over LA, I learned what my Bible-trained conscious would allow me to do and what it wouldn't. I was actively putting my Bible studies to work (although not necessarily in a good way). I challenged everything I was learning and used my social life to do so. "Let me see if I can socialize with people who have not an inkling of spirituality about them, drink until 2am and still feel okay about myself the next day." lol. I did it. I did it all!
I say all that to say that yes lawd singleness is a gift. As I think back, everything experience was for a purpose. It was hard, but it was well worth it. And as I continue to grow in marriage, I look forward to looking back again and rounding up all the lessons and gaining insight into how marriage helped me spiritually and personally. So the work continues! I have a nice base, a great foundation, and now I have to keep building. Keep working. Keep reading, praying, writing, studying, consulting, researching... The hard work is well worth it. I promise you.
Do the work.
Consider the four steps listed below, and note how Bible principles can help you to solve problems in a loving and respectful manner.
1. Set a time to discuss the issue.
“For everything there is an appointed time, . . . a time to keep quiet and a time to speak.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7) As demonstrated in the altercation quoted earlier, some problems may evoke strong emotions. If that happens, have the self-control to call a temporary halt
—to “keep quiet”— before tempers flare. You can
save your relationship from much damage if you heed the Bible’s advice:
“Starting a quarrel is like a leak in a dam, so stop it before a fight
breaks out.” —Proverbs 17:14, New Century Version.
However, there is also “a time to speak.” Problems, like weeds, flourish when neglected. So do not ignore the issue, hoping it will just go away. If you call a halt to a discussion, show respect for your mate by picking a time in the near future when you will talk about the problem. Such a promise can help both of you apply the spirit of the Bible’s counsel: “Let the sun not set with you in a provoked state.” (Ephesians 4:26) Of course, you then need to follow through on your promise.
TRY THIS: Pick a regular time each week when you can discuss family problems. If you notice that you are more prone to argue at a certain time of day
—for example, when you first arrive home from work or before you have eaten— agree not to discuss problems at those times. Rather, choose a time when you are both likely to be less stressed.
2. Express your opinion honestly and respectfully.
“Speak truth each one of you with his neighbor.” (Ephesians 4:25) If you are married, your closest neighbor is your spouse. So be honest and specific about your feelings when talking to your mate. Margareta, * who has been married for 26 years, says: “When I was newly married, I expected that my husband would just know how I felt when a problem arose. I learned that such an expectation was unrealistic. Now I try to express my thoughts and feelings clearly.”
Remember, your goal when discussing a problem is, not to win a battle or conquer an enemy, but simply to let your mate know your thoughts. To do so effectively, state what you think the problem is, then say when it arises, and then explain how it makes you feel. For example, if you are annoyed by your mate’s untidiness, you can respectfully say, ‘When you come home from work and leave your clothes on the floor [the when and what of the problem], I feel that my efforts to care for the home are not appreciated [explains exactly how you feel].’ Then tactfully suggest what you think would be a solution to the problem.
TRY THIS: To help you have your thoughts clearly in mind before talking to your mate, write down what you understand the problem to be and how you would like to resolve it.
3. Listen to and acknowledge your mate’s feelings.
The disciple James wrote that Christians should be “swift about hearing, slow about speaking, slow about wrath.” (James 1:19) Few things cause more unhappiness in a marriage than the impression that your partner does not understand how you feel about a problem. So be determined not to give your mate such an impression!
Wolfgang, who has been married for 35 years, says, “When we discuss problems, I get kind of tense inside, especially when I feel that my wife doesn’t understand my way of thinking.” Dianna, now married for 20 years, admits, “I often complain to my husband that he doesn’t really listen to me when we discuss problems.” How can you overcome this barrier?
Do not presume that you know what your partner is thinking or feeling. “By presumptuousness one only causes a struggle, but with those consulting together there is wisdom,” states God’s Word. (Proverbs 13:10) Allow your spouse the dignity of expressing his or her opinion without interruption. Then, to ensure that you understood what was said, rephrase what you heard and repeat it to your mate, doing so without sarcasm or aggression. Permit your mate to correct you if you misunderstood something that was said. Do not do all the talking. Take turns in this style of conversation until you both agree that you understand each other’s thoughts and feelings on the matter.
True, it requires humility and patience to listen attentively to your spouse and to acknowledge his or her opinion. But if you take the lead in showing your mate such honor, your mate will be more inclined to honor you.
—Matthew 7:2; Romans 12:10.
TRY THIS: When repeating your mate’s comments, do not just parrot his or her exact words. In an empathetic manner, try to describe what you understand your mate is both saying and feeling.
—1 Peter 3:8.
4. Agree on a solution.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their hard work. For if one of them should fall, the other one can raise his partner up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10) Few problems in a marriage can be solved unless both partners work together and support each other.
True, Jehovah appointed the husband as head of the family. (1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:23) But headship does not mean dictatorship. A wise husband will not make arbitrary decisions. David, married for 20 years, says, “I try to find a point of agreement with my wife and look for a decision we both can support.” Tanya, now married for seven years, says: “It isn’t about who is right and who is wrong. Sometimes there are just different opinions on how to solve a problem. I have found that the key to success is to be flexible and reasonable.”
TRY THIS: Create a spirit of teamwork by having both of you write down as many different possible solutions to the problem as you can think of. When you have run out of ideas, review your list and implement the solution that you both agree on. Then pick a time in the near future when you will check whether the decision has been acted on and how successful it has been.