Lessons from My 20s: Singleness, Dating & Marriage

Now that I am a mature 30 year old I decided to do a series on lessons I've learned from my 20s (please read that sarcastically). More than anything this is an opportunity for me to reflect and remember so many of the things the Lord had taught me this past decade. Clearly this is a comprehensive list, just some highlights. Most of these lessons have been learned through lots and lots of failure. Most of these things I still have to work really hard to try to live out. None of these things have been perfected. Simply learned and trying to become. See intro post here and check the bottom of this post for other topics.

On Singleness & Dating:

Read He’s Just Not That Into You. Yes, it was a book before it was a movie. For me it helped me get over the whole excuse thing we do in our head and do for a girlfriends. You can buy it by clicking here.  Best point of the whole book: If you likes you, you’ll know it because he’s asking you out on a date. 

Everything else is just your imagination. 

You are worth so much more than you realize. 

Singleness doesn’t define you. At least it doesn’t have to define you. 

Don’t be that girl. You know that girls that tries to get boys attention. 

You aren’t the only one that isn’t going on dates or has a boyfriend or is married. 

Be yourself. You will be more secure in your relationship and your marriage when you know he fell in love with you... not the perception of you that you wanted him to see. 

I mean this with love: If you don’t want to be single and are confused by why you are, ask someone who really loves you if they see any blatant reason why you might be. I say I mean this with love because we all know those people that are single for a reason. BUT MOST I know that are single, it’s baffling to me. 
I hate this next one most of all, He’s timing really is best. He wants what’s best for you. I know that it’s beyond frustrating. I can’t count the number of times I screamed and journaled and cried asking God, “Whhhhhyyyyyyy?” Why her? Why not me? But it was so worth it. Every tear. Every lonely night. 

Your friends and your parents mean well when they are constantly trying to set you up or give you advice to change you relationship status. 

Speaking of relationship status, until you are engaged, take that part off your Facebook page. It’s just silly. 
Enjoy this time of freedom! Yes there are lonely times and that’s OK to long for something else...BUT don’t get stuck there. Live it up friend! Stay out late. Do lots of girl nights. Meet up with friends as often as possible. And also take advantage of all the growth time. Read more, study the Word, retreat, etc. 

Be responsible and set goals. Just because you aren’t married don’t mean you can be irresponsible. Save. 

Pay off debt. Don’t get into new debt. Invest. Be generous with your finances.  

Don’t settle. You know when you are settling. Don’t. 

Don’t expect Jesus. My dad told this to me in college and he was right. 

Set physical boundaries and refuse to cross them. You can stick them. Don’t believe me? Read these posts: "To the Virgins: Worth the Wait" Part 1 and Part 2. Basically, whatever you believe to be going to far, set your boundary for several steps before that one. If he is “the one,” it won’t be long before you can do whatever you want! If he isn’t “the one,” you will be so glad you didn’t waste it on him!

Listen to your family and friends. They aren’t thinking emotionally like you are. Listen to them. It will save you lots of heartache. You don’t have to learn every lesson yourself. Learn from the wisdom God has surrounded you with. 

Nothing good happens after midnight. 

“On your first date, all you should think about is if there should be a second. You don’t have to know if he is who you will marry.” -Pastor Gregg Matte. 

Don’t play house when you are dating because it makes it really hard to know if this is really “the one” or just the one who can help you get to where you want to go. 

Once you really know that this is “the one,” get married! You will never know someone enough. But I mean you better really know, marriage is no joke. And this means you’ve sough wise council on this too. 

Be open and available. Sometimes we girls think we are being so very obvious about our affections towards someone. Largely because we’ve already married them and had 3 kids and a dog in our head. You know you have. Put yourself out there a little more than you are. Smile, laugh and be engaged. Affirm that you like spending time with him. Even initiate hanging out from time to time. I know, gasp! He can still pursue you and you affirm his pursuit by showing interest! Just don’t be that girl. You know the girl I’m talking about. 

On Marriage:

Have sex often. I know shocker I said that. But really. Turn down his advances as little is possible. There will be some times you really are tired or have a headache. But that should be very rare!

Don’t just have sex-- be affection to. Hold hands, make out, hug longer, etc. 

Be best friends. Yes, have good girlfriends but your hubby should be your BFF. 

Live off one salary (recommended that it’s your husbands, even if his is less). You may not think you want to stay home one day with kids now, but just in case, it’s a good idea. In the mean time use that extra salary to pay off debt or build up savings. 

Conflict isn’t a bad thing, in fact in can make for a stronger marriage. However, fighting should be more of a discussion than a fight. Don’t yell at each other. Choose not to say things that are insulting. Be the first to apologize. Identify the bigger issue, because usually there is one. 

Have fun together! This is usually a choice. 

Reevaluate your expectations for one another often (mainly who does what). While you don’t want to live as roommates, you are living together and things have be done. 

Let the other’s strengths cover your weaknesses. 

Encourage one another as often as possible. Be creative in your encouragement. 

As often as possible, choose to: Turn off the TV. Put down the iPhones. Don’t touch the computer. Have some real face time. 50 years from now you won’t remember who won American Idol, or who the Bachelor proposed to or who was voted off the island. 

Sync Up. Once a week (if possible) sit down and go over a few things: what’s on the calendar this week, how you can pray for one another, what’s one way you can love the other person better (ask them), what’s 3 ways they loved you well (tell them), and how can you be a better parent this week. Be intentional with your marriage and your life. 

Say no to things. You will never regret choosing your family first. 

Never speak poorly of your spouse. Venting shouldn’t occur with anyone. There is no biblical grounds for venting. If you have a problem you are frustrated with go to your husband first. If he doesn’t change, go to a trusted advisor and really seek counsel and help. Best people for this are people that have his best 
interests not yours. 

Make date nights a priority. If you don’t have family in town to watch the kids for free, trade with friends or find room in the budget for a sitter. 

If you want your spouse to change in some way pray for them. And be patient. Try to offer as little advice for them as possible to change. It will be so sweet when you see the Lord work in them. 

Ask for help when you need it. There is no shame in counseling. 

If your spouse is an introvert, make sure they are getting alone time. If they are an extrovert, make sure they are getting social time. If one is an extrovert and one is an introvert, you can still make this work. You just have to be a very good steward of your calendar. You calendar should be stewarded as well as your money. 

Don’t go into debt to try to keep up with those around you or things you just flat out want. 10, 20, 50 years from now you want regret “living like no one else, so you can live like no one else.” That Dave Ramsey is on to something. 

What about you? What has been some of the best lessons you've learned on singleness, dating and marriage? 

For more lessons from my 20s check out this topics: 
Intro to this series (click here)
Friendships (click here)
Singleness, Dating, & Marriage (click here)
Pregnancy & Kids (coming soon!)
Education & Working (coming soon!)
Walking with God (coming soon!)
Self Esteem & Body Image (coming soon!)
Serving & Leading (coming soon!)