Happiness not wrapped up in a spouse

IMG_3405A few years ago I read an incredible blog post by a woman who talked about how she desired being married someday, but that in the meantime, she was content being single. I could completely relate. And I can still relate. I want to be married someday, but right now, I’m happy. I’m content.

Some troll jumped in and commented something about how single women need to stop lying to themselves. That if this woman truly desired marriage, there was no way she could possibly be happy without it. I jumped to her defense, then she got involved, and a few other people, and it got kind of ugly.

It’s irked me ever since. Even years later. Can you be content and happy even if you don’t have something you desire? You tell me. I desire to win the lottery (even though I don’t play it), but I’m happy without it. I desire the body of a Victoria Secret model, but I’m content with what I have. I desire to work from home and make more money, but I’m still satisfied without it.

What really makes me laugh is when people don’t understand how I can be in a long-term relationship without marriage (for now), and still be happy, and yet many of those people ARE married… and miserable. And yet apparently having a husband and children is the only acceptable way to be happy in this country.

I love my boyfriend, who, yes, when the time is right, we will get married. We’ve discussed it. It’s between us. It’s interesting that I have to keep explaining that to so many people. I should start asking married people, “So, are you going to stay married? How do you know? Can you explain to me what your plans are for the rest of your marriage?” Sounds ridiculous, but that’s how I feel when people pry into why I’m not married yet.

My life isn’t perfect, but I’m definitely happy. I have bad days, I have breakdowns, but most days are great, and I honestly don’t have much to complain about.

Throughout my 20’s and early 30’s, I was just sure that a husband would solve all my problems. I’m not sure why I thought this, especially when I had many friends who WERE getting married, and they honestly weren’t any happier than I was.

Happiness isn’t found in a spouse. If you aren’t happy before you get married, you won’t be after. For me, the greatest happiness and peace I have found is through a relationship with Jesus Christ. (Feel free to contact me if you want to know more about that!)

As I thought about my happiness, and how so many people are skeptical of it simply because I’m single and childless, I decided to reach out to other amazing single women, and see what they had to say about how they remain happy while being single. I also gave them the option of NOT responding, because let’s be honest, there are plenty of single women who are NOT happy. So this post is for them.

It’s also for those of you who don’t understand. You don’t understand how we can be happy with our lives without a spouse. There’s plenty I don’t understand about your lives as wives and mothers, but you won’t find me judging you for it. I’m just thrilled to see you happy and loving life, just as I am.

Here are some responses from some of the women who replied to my request:

The question: You’re not married. How in the world are you happy with your life?

“I know I can be happy without a husband in my life because I always have God as number one. Now on a funnier side, I can eat when I want, can do my dishes when I want (no dishwasher), watch what I want on TV, and not have any one to tell me what to do.” Age: 60’s

“I’m not married, but I’m happy with my life because I am so sure of myself and the strong individual that I am. I am still learning about myself and evolving as a woman in this world. I am (and am becoming) the strong, sensitive, independent, compassionate, fiery, confident woman that God created me to be, and I don’t necessarily need a husband to accomplish all of that.” Age: 27

“I was raised that I can do anything I want if I work hard for it, and I don’t have to rely on anyone else to do something. That includes my happiness. I am still looking for mister right, but I find my own happiness. If it is in God’s plan for him to come along it will happen. If not, I am content with that and won’t just settle with the wrong guy to say I am married. I won’t do that for me and my kids’ sake. It has to be right.” Age: 46

“Being a single women has truly allowed myself to find who I am as a women and learn how to love myself. Through the years I have learned my strengths and weaknesses and that has helped me become the women I am today. Also, I have pushed myself to limits I never knew I could achieve and I achieved those limits without a man helping me get there.” Age: 34

“I consider myself married….to my husband who is my Lord and Savior. I keep busy in His work and I desire only his will in my life. I live content for the majority of the time because I trust His ways for me. I get the same question. I have been single over 25 years and not without asking the same question of God. But he knows best and ‘this is only a sliver of the sum’. I trust…” Age: 50’s

“The reason I am happy and single is because I am happy with who I am in its entirety, I have accepted me and love me. You can not be truly happy in a relationship/marriage if you do not know how to be happy as a single.” Age: 35

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Follow your map and no one else’s

1534289_10151799014316573_1371136033_nWe grow up believing that we’re each given the same map. It tells us where to go and when, and we believe that if we don’t follow the map, all hope is lost and our lives aren’t “right.”

The basics of the map are this: birth, happy childhood, elementary school, high school, college, marriage, babies, retirement.

But the truth is, our maps aren’t all the same. For someone like me, who assumed my map of life was the “normal” one, it took me years to learn and accept the fact that we’re all given different maps.

I haven’t always been pleased with my life map. There were times I begged God to give me a different one. For more than two years I begged Him for the heart of a man who I eventually found out was full of false promises and other lies. I begged God to move me to Indianapolis. I begged God to send me a man to marry.

And it was just a few years ago that I not only accepted the map God gave me, but I embraced it. These days I’m thanking God every single day for my life map. Why? Because it’s MY map. MY life. MY experiences. My map of life was tailored just for me by the one who loves me most.

It still baffles me that if I haven’t seen someone in years, and the first questions they will ask are, “Are you married? Do you have any children?” Then I sound like some sort of failure because all I can respond with is, “No. I just travel the world going on mission trips, lived in Uganda for a year, volunteer at a homeless shelter twice a week and have a job that I love at a nonprofit. But sorry, no husband or babies.”

I remember having a conversation with a few of my female students in Uganda. One of them was already fearing she wouldn’t get married. It sounded like a matter of life and death to her, although she was only a teenager. It killed me that she, like I had, felt that we all had the same map, and if you don’t find someone to marry by the time you finish college, all hope is lost.

All hope is lost? Although I went through years of feeling inadequate because I wasn’t married, I wouldn’t trade my life for anything. Now that I’ve fully embraced the life map that God gave me, everything has changed. Hope hasn’t been lost, it’s been restored!

Maybe you’re in the opposite position that I’m in. Maybe you did get married and start a family, and you haven’t done all the other things you wanted to do in life. I encourage you to embrace what God has given you, and pray that He will provide you with the opportunities you desire. He can make a way! Or, He will put your heart and soul at peace with not attaining the things you desire.

If you were going on vacation and driving to Texas, would you go to Google Maps and punch in Florida as your destination? Of course not. That map isn’t for you. That map won’t lead you to the happiness that awaits you in Texas. Stop trying to get somewhere that God doesn’t have as your current destination.

We’re all given different maps. Follow your map and no one else’s. We only find happiness when we follow it how God wants us to. Trust the map He’s given you.

“I will instruct you and teach you
in the way you should go;

I will counsel you
with my loving eye on you.”

Psalm 32:8