The single years – what should a girl do?

Posted By on June 10, 2010

The single years of a woman are a treasured time that was previously used to the benefit of her family, her home, and the society. Daughters at home have always played an important part in hospitality, community ties, and the productivity of the household. Now, however, it seems matters are not so simple. Now it seems that the “calling” for a young single woman can be just about anything, or so the world would have us believe. While we are young and unburdened, we should do whatever we want… shouldn’t we? It’s true that the single years provide a leisure of time and possibilities which probably won’t be repeated at any other stage of life. But this precious time must be used wisely.

The vast majority of young men and women will be eventually married and will become parents, and, for many, it will happen sooner than they realize. That’s why I’m puzzled by the modern attitude of not thinking about the prospect of marriage and children until it actually comes knocking at our door. When I talk to my single friends about their future as wives and mothers, I often get statements such as “I’m not even seeing anyone yet,” or “I can’t think about this right now, I have more pressing matters.” I don’t think such an attitude is right, because, eventually, the highest ambition of these girls is to start a family, yet right now they are wasting years and years focusing entirely on things which will have nothing to do with wifehood and motherhood. They spend far too much time and money pursuing college educations and careers, and get emotionally involved with men who are clearly unfit for marriage. Somehow thinking ahead looks inappropriate and prudish, while it is in fact the most logical thing in the world.

Since both men and women ideally aspire to become husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, they must adequately prepare for such important tasks. For men, the preparation will include setting the foundation for providing for one’s family – acquiring a profession, possibly accumulating some property and savings. I’m not saying a man must be rich when he marries. He might not even be well-off. But he must be prepared to provide for all the necessities of a wife and possibly, very soon future children. The practical side is far from being everything. A man must learn his duties as a husband, father and leader in a family, and his responsibility towards a wife and children.

For a woman, the tasks are mainly centered on supporting her husband, raising children, and running the home. Therefore, her preparation is different. Practically, she learns all that is concerned with household tasks and what it takes to keep a good home. She learns how to be wise with finances, how to stretch what she has and be content with what is available, and make the most of it. She learns how to provide adequate nutrition for her family and especially for herself, as a future mother.

Spiritually, the aspiring wife learns what it means to be a help mate to her husband and a mother to children. For some lucky girls who come from good, stable families, this spiritual preparation is almost soaked in by seeing the example of their parents. Some are, unfortunately, unprepared for marriage when they enter this sacred covenant. I consider myself among the latter – I did grasp the importance of being a wife, mother, and homemaker before I was married, but I only started learning in my early twenties what I believe girls should be taught from their early teens. And still, you won’t believe how helpful even those crumbs of knowledge have been. Everything I had to learn after marriage was so much more difficult than it could have been for a single.

Not all the talents of a woman are directly related to being a wife and mother. Many of us have talents and interests which are apparently unrelated (though many of them may eventually come in handy while raising a family and educating children). Some women are artistic, others have particular interest in health and medicine, there are also those who are entrepreneurial and want to try a hand in running their own business. If they have time to actively pursue these talents at any point of their lives, it will most likely be during the single years. But even then, these pursuits must be seen in the light of her highest, most important calling of a wife and mother.

Let’s say we have a woman who has always had a particular interest in physiology and in the human body. She also happens to be especially talented, and is prompted by all who know her to try to get accepted into medical school, without thinking practically about what being a doctor means. But then, suppose this young woman goes to medical school, which takes her fast forward to ten years of exhausting studies (including specializing in a certain field), during which she has hardly a spare moment to think about anything but exams and internship, and during which, possibly, several young men who would make a great husband are denied because she “can’t think of marriage at the moment,” or perhaps she never even had the time to meet them. She must also pay a hefty sum for school, rent, and possibly keeping a car, so she is very lucky if she avoided student debt. Let’s assume she is fortunate, and when her studies are over and she is nearing her 30th birthday, one of those good men is still around. He wants to start a family, while she is just beginning her career. However, she is already tired from the race and realizes that she, too, wants a family – and then she sees that the profession she chose is largely incompatible with family life as she envisioned it.

What happened to this woman? Her intentions were good, she had it all thought out, she just wanted to do some “real change” out there in the world while she had the time as a single. Generally speaking, she got bogged down in pursuing something that was interesting, socially acceptable, and gratifying to her sense of self-worth, while forgetting that, in the long run, what would make her truly fulfilled is something entirely different. Many women come to this sobering realization after they have already invested their single years in something that only drove them further away from marriage and motherhood. They are either on the verge of being done with their studies, with heaps of debt upon their shoulders and realizing that now they have to work in order to pay off that debt, or they already launched a successful career, which means they are powerfully propelled forward and getting off the track is considered a “terrible waste.”

I truly don’t see myself as fit to give instructions on what it is that a young woman should do, specifically, in that period as a single adult, be it a short time or many years. However, I believe any woman aspiring to be a wife would be wise to ask herself the following questions: am I investing my true vitality in something that will eventually be incompatible with being a wife and mother? Am I, under the pretext of being productive and doing good in my single years, putting my time into pursuits that might actually cause me to deny or postpone the prospect of marriage? Are my heart and mind free to lay aside anything I might be doing, and focus on the highest calling of wifehood and motherhood as soon as the Lord blesses me with such an opportunity?

Of course, both men and women should be prudent. For men, too, there are certain professions which are not exactly compatible with peaceful family life, and they must take it into consideration when choosing their path. Both men and women must be responsible with their money and avoid debt. However each should focus on the future demands which will be made of him or her as a husband or wife, and prepare accordingly.

About The Author

I’m a Jewish woman, a wife, a mother, a homemaker. A thinker, a dreamer, a learner. An avid cook and baker and a yarn addict. I love everything that has to do with home and family, and enjoy the solitude of my quiet corner, which is located in one of the most beautiful areas of Israel.

Comments

3 Responses to “The single years – what should a girl do?”

  1. tmichelle says:

    I am so encouraged to hear young women being exhorted to be wise with their single years, not going along with what society tells them they should be doing.

  2. Mary-Jane Potter says:

    Awesome! its great to hear women encouraging younger, unmarried women (like myself) to do this. Ive just finished my distance learning degree in childrens and youth ministry and am often asked what i am going to use my degree for and what jobs i am looking at. I (if i have the coruage to do so) reply with i am not looking for a career and will use my degree to make me a better mother and encourage faith in my chidlren. I then get that look, the one that says ‘you mad woman, why would you do that?’ its vital that this lost art of preparing women to be wives and mothers is reignited. However im my time as a full time volunteer family worker at a church it has become clear that young girls often wish they could give the answer ‘im preparing to be a mother’. Many know this is their calling but fear this is not a valid ‘career path’. I pray that young women will have the courage to follow their hearts desire and older women are available to support them in this.

  3. Emily says:

    Anna (or anyone else that would like to answer my questions),

    I am a young Christian woman in the midst of her single years, and I am currently attending college studying engineering, as I have always loved to build things. My teachers and social worker told me that it was a fine job that paid well and was very rewarding.

    However, I have a problem. I am a former ward of the state and was in foster homes for 5 years. There was no opportunity to be a “daughter at home”, no chance to learn all of these womanly virtues. I had to take care of myself.

    Now that I’m in college, I have no one to support me other than the financial aid that I get for being an ex-foster child. There is no telling how long I will be single (God may have chosen for me to serve him all my life as a single woman), so I must get a job in order to support myself. I have no family to help me out, so I cannot make the choice that you describe in your post and simply prepare for married life.

    Right now, I cannot see how I can be a godly woman like the one that you describe and still make sure that I stay off of the streets. I know that God provides for those that have faith, but I also believe that God loves it when we use what he has blessed us with – in my case, a visual, analytical brain.

    If you could help me to see how I can be a godly Christian woman while in this situation, I would really appreciate it.

    Thanks!

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