Friday, September 30, 2005

Advice for Young Unmarried Women

Recently a group of young ladies from one of the societies asked of the older women what advice they would give them concerning preparation for marriage and which things they wish they had done. Many of the older ladies responded with some very sage counsel about Biblical role models, submission, and character development. Since they covered those bases so well, I decided to cover some other aspects. What I wrote follows....
My advice will focus on education.

Take advantage of the time you have before marriage to STUDY and LEARN. You will never have this much time for doing this ever again. By this I mean practical things like how to grow a garden, good financial principles, and time and home management. You can learn these things later, but it is a lot easier to learn this stuff when you aren't puking your head off in the toilet due to pregnancy.

Most people eat a lot of prepared, processed foods. If you don't know how to cook from scratch, you will end up providing less than nutritious and more expensive food for your family. If your mother is willing to let you cook in the kitchen, take advantage with her oversight. Borrow good books on whole foods cookery from the library and learn to do it right so you aren't having to learn as you go like I had to do.

If you aren't in good physical shape and don't have a regular exercise routine, get one. Also learn to eat properly and develop good sleep habits NOW. You want to be in the best health possible for bearing children. Pregnancy can be enough of a challenge when you are healthy, let alone when you are not. I know a lot of the young people in our church keep weird hours and are sometimes up long past midnight . This disrupts your circadian rhythms and makes you more susceptible to diabetes, obesity and other bodily ills because you are supposed to be resting and allowing the body to repair itself during the wee hours. If you have this bad habit now, do what you can to get yourself to bed by 10:30 at night. Believe me, you won't be able to sustain yourself if you try doing this later on when you have children.

Read books like Don Aslett's Clutter's Last Stand and Is There Life After Housework and practice the principles in keeping your own rooms tidy, and if your parents permit, in helping with organizing the household better. This is good to do even if you have a job, because having children is like getting a full time job on top of the already full time job of keeping a home. If you can learn cleaning principles that enable you to do the work efficiently and well, you will have more time for your children and other things. One of the best cleaning principles to learn is how to tell the difference between clutter (which is a form of covetousness) and valuable stuff worth keeping. Clutter consumes valuable time, energy, and money to sustain. Read books on how to economize and cut corners. Learn to sew and do other handcrafts. The time before marriage is the season of learning so that you can do all l these things easily when you finally are married.

Read books on childhood development and child training. Learn about how your body works, pregnancy, birthing, and breastfeeding. It is better to do this reading before you actually need it. Most women are very uninformed about their menstrual cycles, pregnancy and having babies. (I didn't know how to change a diaper when I had Patricia! -- this is NOT a good way to start life as a mother!)

Don't rush into courtship with the first guy who offers. If you can't have a solid friendship with mutual respect *before* you court, then forget it. The glamour and sizzle can wear off in a marriage quite quickly once the bills come in and reality takes over. If all you had going for you was a similar position on covenanting and a bit of physical attraction, well, you might be left with just a mutual position on covenanting. Time and childbearing has a funny way of changing where the sand in your hourglass figure settles. Marriage can be hard even where there is a meeting of the minds. You don't want to start out with a deficit before you barely get started.

One of the most valuable pieces of advice I ever got from anyone came from Pastor Price. He told me after I had had a severe disappointment with a family member that we need to look to Christ for our joy, happiness and satisfaction in life. All our human relationships are prone to fail us because they involve sinners. Christ, however, never fails us. If you look to Him for joy instead of your husband or children, you will be able to weather the storms of life, marriage, and family much better.

Another good piece of information I read comes from Douglas Wilson's book on courtship. He said that young women should plan to be involved in some sort of work or education or volunteer work before they are married. It is the job of young men to interrupt those plans. IOW, don't sit around waiting for your knight in shining armour to come and sweep you off your feet. You dont' know when he's going to show up on the horizon. While you are waiting for him, do what you can to develop yourself either through work or education. Women who desperately search the horizon for that knight drive them off because of the desperation. Far better to be like Rachel, watering camels and going about her business when a marriage proposal gets dropped in her lap.

Lastly, listen to your parents. I dare say there are a few of us older ladies who didn't seek the counsel of our parents, or else ignored it or flaunted it when it was offered and are still paying for it. Marriage is serious business. The decision you make about who you will marry is an important one with the potential for impacting generations. You don't want to be a dud, and you don't want to be married to a dud. Allow your parents the opportunity to guide you in areas of your own growth and in evaluating any potential suitors. Life is too short to learn everything yourself by experience.

1 comment:

Susan said...

MOST excellent advice, sounds like me talking to my 20 yo daughter-in-waiting. I'm going to have her read this in fact. Thanks, Cheryl.