Missing the 5 Easy Steps to Marriage

We fast and pray together, asking God to raise up godly men, to change our hearts to make us more like Christ, and to bring marriage to those who desire it.

Everyone seems to have an opinion on what singles should do to find a spouse:

  • You’ll find someone when you stop looking/are content in your singleness.
  • You should get a boyfriend/girlfriend. (Like you could just go get one at a store.)
  • Just be yourself.
  • You just have to put yourself out there more.
  • You should go on eHarmony/match.com/Christian mingle. I know x number of friends who’ve found someone that way.
  • Stop being so picky!
  • Visit other churches and ask about the singles scene.
  • Move to a new city.
  • Wear bigger and flashier earrings (suggested to me by my hairdresser).
  • Don’t be so confident. You’ll scare the boys away.

I’ve had this conversation with my single friends countless times – there’s not a series of sure-fire things to do to find a spouse and no “I’m ready!” aha moment when we have reached the peak of marriage-readiness.

My mom used to say, “Different things for different kids at different times,” when I complained about a privilege one of my sisters got. In the moment, that wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but when my turn came for something special, I begrudgingly realized that she had been right.

I try to keep Mom’s words of wisdom in my mind when I hear that my former high school students are getting married, when someone gives relationship advice like that listed above, and even when my married friends declare their envy of my freedom. What “worked” for them to find their spouse isn’t what God planned to work for me. His timeline for me is different from my friends who are a marriage and three kids ahead of me.

As we fast and pray, let’s remember that those of us who are single later in life aren’t the ones who missed the five easy steps to marriage or who were chosen last to be on the married team. As hard as it can sometimes be to comprehend this truth, remember that as long as we are living in obedience to His Word, we are in His plan (Psalm 139: 15-16) and were “chose[n] in Him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4).

Trusting His timing and plan with you,


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10 Responses to Missing the 5 Easy Steps to Marriage

  1. Christine says:

    Praise God !
    Thank you ! this truth you shared, the verses have comforted me this morning and in my current season.

  2. beth says:

    “His timeline for me is different from my friends who are a marriage and three kids ahead of me.”
    I am in my 40s, never married and childless. I don’t think of myself as behind other women who are married and have children.

    • Emily says:

      Beth, Thanks for sharing this. This singleness journey is certainly different for each one of us! Do you have any words of wisdom for those in the fast.pray. community who might be struggling with this issue?

      • beth says:

        Isn’t that part of the point of the posts though? That being single doesn’t mean that life is slow or less significant or less mature. It’s simply different. That does not have anything to do with desiring and praying for marriage. If I think of the 26 year old married woman with two kids as ahead of me in a race, then I’m trying to catch up to her or to an ideal, not seeking to live deliberately the life that the Lord has planned out for me.

  3. Monica says:

    Dear Emily,
    Thanks for your post which was very timely in my life. Lately, when I want to accuse myself for doing “something wrong” in this whole dating/waiting game – even today for not smiling the right way or obviously enough when a man clearly expressed interest and then he sort of ran away – I must actively remember that this issue is in God’s control. Yes, I can and do make mistakes, but God is sovereign over our foibles and he does not just provide to those who are perfect since no one is.

    Thinking about couples who are having difficulty conceiving has helped reorient me. Are those couples doing something wrong and that’s why they are not getting what they desire? Probably not. Should the solution be to stop desiring a child? Absolutely not. Why does conception happen so easily for some couples and not for others? Some things are beyond our comprehension and perhaps God allows these situations to elicit prayer among his people. Already, God has unleashed great things in my life and that of others in this weekly practice of fasting and praying that would not have transpired had all the desires for marriage been met early on.

    Society and often we ourselves are so willing to point the accusing finger at singles as authors of their own situation, whereas we recognize that conception is sometimes beyond human control and will despite the best efforts. Your mom’s wisdom helps me see the picture more accurately: marriage is a gift that we as God’s children are waiting to receive from the Giver at his appointed time and not trying to earn.

    • Emily says:

      Thank you for sharing what the Lord has been teaching you. I’ve often thought about the struggles of couples who are having difficulty conceiving and how it’s similar to our singleness struggle in the fact that we do have to surrender our circumstances to the Lord – ultimately, it is out of our control. I think there is real comfort in that too – getting married or having children doesn’t depend 100% on what we do or don’t do.

  4. Karis says:

    So true, yet so hard we we’re on the “waiting” side of marriage! I do want to share a “light bulb moment” I had recently that might encourage someone, on a similar note! My friend is taking a break from dating, but frequently draws attention from men, gets asked out, etc. Simultaneously, I am in a place where I *want* to date, and no opportunities are in sight. Initially, I was tempted to become jealous of her luck–“She gets dates when she doesn’t even want them! How unfair!” But then it hit me, the fact that this is NOT what she wants for this season, makes this a challenge for HER. How to stick to her purpose for this season, even when it’s tempting to say yes to hanging out with a cute guy. She is being challenged in this way so that she can grow.

    Likewise, my challenge is in trusting that God has not forgotten me when it comes to marriage. For *me* to grow, this place of uncertainty–rather that having a string of guys beating down my door–is where I will grow the most.

    So both of us have great opportunties to grow in our different ways.

    Which brings us back to purpose #3 of this group–our prayers that we will allow God to change us in the was we need to change/grow. And for us single gals, the challenges we continue to face are just the space we need for that.

    • Emily says:

      Karis – this is such a great “light bulb moment!” I never thought about how the fact that someone is getting dates when they don’t want dates is how God is growing them in the moment. What a wonderful truth to battle that green monster of envy! Thank you for sharing this important lesson.

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