Three weeks ago, I turned 33. I asked myself how do I feel, and to be honest, I don’t feel much different than 32, or 31, or 30 or 29. I’ve pretty much been steadily focused on what I believe God has called me to become. But my Nigerian mother and my cohort of Nigerian aunties have a different way of viewing my age. From 25 and beyond, the seasoned women in my life have made it their duty to remind me of a clock that is ticking somewhere and have been committing co-operations to introduce me to men I’m sure they haven’t properly profiled for compatibility, all in the name of making me an M.R.S.
Don’t get me wrong, I do want to get married. Absolutely. I do believe it’s a part of God’s will for me and I know I don’t have the gift of singleness (whatever that really means). My thoughts at certain moments can attest to that. However, this obsession that Nigerian women have, really African women, to be married before 30 or else is disheartening. But it’s such a common and accepted societal belief that any blog or Instagram page that even hints about Nigerian weddings can capture about 1 million subscribers, easy. I discuss how to avoid envying these social media pages here, which was featured on one of those wedding blogs.
The pressure to get married before 30 is so surreal, that when you’re 30 and above, that pressure can begin to become stifling and unbearable. But there’s hope. First things first. There is nothing wrong with you that isn’t wrong with other people who have gotten married. Everyone has to improve on something, so the fact that you aren’t married doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to be married like any other woman that wants to and has. However, while we’re in the waiting process, we have to intend to pursue happiness. Will we be content at all moments? No. But who really is completely content in any situation of life? That’s the point. Happiness can occur inside and outside of marriage. Marriage can be one of the vehicles used to facilitate happiness, but it’s not the only one. Here are some tips to help us maintain our happy while being a Nigerian single over 30.
1. Be Engaged To Christ First
I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy because I have promised you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.”
2 Corinthians 11:2
I truly believe that before we can love and marry ANYONE, we have to understand how to love THE MAIN ONE. Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross was the ultimate act of love. His unconditional love for us regardless of: how much weight we put on or take off, how much makeup we apply, how much money we make, how many times we’re late to a meeting or an event, how well we cook, how often we shave, how coily our hair is, how loud we laugh, etc. should inspire us to pursue unconditional love towards others, especially for our future husband. Our relationship with Christ teaches us to love ourselves as is, while we’re working towards improving.
The more we grow and learn, the more our relationship with Him gets better. I know that regardless of how others treat us, see us, or misunderstand us, we’re in a spiritual relationship with Someone who knows us even more than ourselves and still loves us regardless. Which should give us a huge confidence boost and settle our insecurities. Allowing us the freedom to become who we’re supposed to become. Making us happy.
2. Don’t Idolize Marriage
Marriage is beautiful so I’ve heard and witnessed, but marriage takes a lot of work to make it beautiful. Don’t be fooled by the Instagram stories of our favorite couples taking romantic trips or going out on date nights. They didn’t show us the argument they had over parking spaces before they started recording or the 11th argument this morning about why the temperature in the house needs to stay at 64 degrees to lower the electricity bill. Marriage has its highs and lows, like all relationships involving people.
Marriage is determined by the 2 people that are in it. Marriage doesn’t necessarily make our lives better just because we’re married. Ask all the couples who are divorced. For example, if we get married to get out of our financial circumstances, and then our husband loses his job or takes a bad business deal, then what? If we get married, so we can have sex without guilt and then sex becomes routine and dry, then what? There are a lot of factors to work through to build a successful marriage, let’s be happy we know that now rather than later.
3. Get Busy With Life
It’s important for us to get busy with life so we aren’t even thinking about pitying ourselves for using the time to become great. Situations and circumstances happen. We may not always want to be at this stage in our lives, but we are, so we have to deal with it. Let’s think about it this way, at least we have more time to accomplish the goals we’ve set for ourselves. More time is valuable. There are so many people that wish they could turn back the hands of time. I’ve listened to friends that are young moms wishing they could get a morsel of their single life back because it has become more challenging to juggle their schedules with their increased responsibilities. Some of their goals have been pushed aside for their present need.
To be honest, I secretly think I need just a little bit more time to myself to pursue some desires that may be a challenge once I get married. I can’t stress how important it is for us to utilize this time wisely. Learn a new hobby, start a business, travel more, take a class, pick up more hours at work, become an expert at something, just get busy living life. It helps us maintain our happy.
4. Become The Wife You Want To Become, Now
“When I get married, I’ll do this.” “When I get married, I’ll do that.”
We need to stop anticipating becoming and just become. There is nothing stopping us from becoming who we want to be in the future, not even a husband. Actually, I believe we become more desirable when we project those wifely qualities now, because there will be no confusion as to what he’s getting. Of course, there is room for improvement and more growth, because being yoked with someone who grew up under different circumstances will teach us some things, but we’ll be starting at level C instead of A.
If there are married women you admire, go and speak with them about their journey. Ask them what characteristics they think is necessary to building a strong marriage. If you don’t have those characteristics, start practicing them with guys in your life now. For example, women have learned how to be patient with their husbands by learning how to be patient with their father, brother, cousin, uncle, platonic guy friend, etc.
5. Learn To Have Selective Hearing & Vision
At this age, people will project their fears of being single on us. We have the choice to accept it or deny it. We can be polite and listen to the unsolicited advice, but that doesn’t mean we have to act upon the advice. I hear a lot of comments and advice about marriage, but I’m selective about what I accept as the truth for me. Even though the “average” woman experiences this and that doesn’t mean that will be so for us. There are women in their 20’s with infertility issues and women in their 40’s procreating. God handles us as individuals, and so shall we.
We should also guard what we watch. If I’m feeling particularly moody today, I’m not going to be on Instagram consuming photos of friends that just got married, wishing I was in their shoes. Social media has a way of making our current situations look much worse than it actually is compared to others. We know when it’s necessary to take a social media “fast” to get us back into the right head space and perspective of how God sees us. Through the lenses of truth and beauty.