Are you single but wishing you weren’t?
Maybe you’ve known since you were little that you want to be married. But like many Catholics today, you’ve found yourself with plenty of time on your hands and no spouse in sight. Even though seasons of singleness can be discouraging, don’t let this time of your life go to waste!
Here are eight habits to form while you’re single that will be useful to your life as a married woman or man.
1. Brush up your communication skills
“Without a doubt, communication is the most important skill to have in any relationship,” Dr. Michele Kerulis writes. Communication is vital to any relationship. When done well, words and actions help you understand others and also help them know where you’re coming from.
You don’t have to wait until you’re in a romantic relationship to improve your communication skills, though. Instead, intentionally communicate with friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers. Avoid using accusatory phrases that start with “You always,” or “You never.”
Instead, practice communicating your thoughts and emotions. Use phrases that start conversation without blame, like “I feel underappreciated when . . . ” with others in heated conversations.
2. Have a healthy self-care plan
When you hear the words ‘self-care’, you may think of a trip to the spa, eating chocolate, and relaxing over a cup of coffee. Thanks to the material nature of our culture, self-care has become a consumer fad. But the wounds that we need to heal from as Catholic singles can’t be fixed up with a few swipes of a credit card and a pedicure.
In order to recognize that you’re loved by a good Father, you have to establish a self-care routine. What does that mean, and how does it look different than the self-care the world encourages us to participate in?
When you look at your self-care routine, take time to delve into how you’re doing on all levels. Saint Thomas Aquinas once created a diagram of the make-up of the human person that consisted of three categories, ten sub-categories, then another twenty-three defined categories. We’re complex creatures, made in the image of God.
By committing to holistic self-care that appreciates every aspect our humanity, we actually are praising God, becoming better stewards of the gifts He’s given us.
If you’re able to implement a healthy self-care plan in your own life, you’ll be able to recognize your worth as a child of God. That’s something that needs to happen regardless of your vocational state!
3. Establish your own prayer life
Don’t wait until you’re in a romantic relationship to commit to a life of prayer. Too often, Catholic singles push off establishing a prayer life until they discern a vocation with someone. But how can you learn to pray with someone if you don’t regularly pray on your own?
I’ve been married for almost two years now. Not only do my husband and I pray together on a daily basis, but we also have our own individual prayer lives, too. We both have different spiritualities and charisms, and our prayer lives reflect that uniqueness.
Take time now during your season of singleness to develop a prayer life with the Lord. Not only can regular conversation with God aid your vocational discernment, it can only help your future marriage.
4. Learn how to manage a budget
My parents raised me with a working knowledge of finances by the time I was in grade school. I regularly kept track of my expenses in a little notebook kept in the kitchen. I became quite the frugal young adult, shopping at thrift stores and paying off student loans as quickly as I could to get out of debt. When I got married, my husband and I were able to start saving for a house right away thanks to a good budget plan.
The world will tell you this season of singleness should be about enjoying yourself. Friends may encourage you to go on lavish vacations or shopping sprees because you don’t have anyone to answer to. But when you’re single is a great time to establish a budget. That doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself, but it does mean that you should be financially responsible as an adult discerning a call to marriage.
Do you have to be debt-free before looking into a romantic relationship? No, but you should know what your financial situation is whether you’re married or single.
5. Practice hospitality with friends and family
Do you look forward to marriage so that you can host dinner parties with your spouse?
You don’t have to wait for a relationship status change to practice hospitality. Instead, start inviting others into your home for fellowship now. You may have more time on your hands now than you ever will, so take advantage of it and invest in others.
That doesn’t mean you have to host your family for holidays, or throw huge get-togethers in a small apartment. Maybe big gathering make you uncomfortable. No worries! Invest in a few close friends and foster intentional relationships with them.
6. Do the chores you hate to do
When I was in college, I hoped that the person I married would love doing laundry. Without a doubt, folding clothes was (and still is!) the chore I hated the most.
In an ironic twist, my now-husband despises laundry with the same passion as I do. If we both leaned into our natural tendencies, we would never have clean clothes.
Thankfully, both of us learned to buckle down and tackle the mountain of dirty laundry when we were single. So whether you hate managing money, washing dishes, or going to the gym, do it anyway. Establishing self-discipline habits as a single adult can bring great rewards in your future marriage.
7. Learn how to manage your time well
Maybe time management is a sticky subject for you because you tend to over-commit to things and leave no room for error in your schedule. It doesn’t help that society today glorifies busyness as a status symbol.
The truth is, you can’t do everything. Learn to say ‘no’ to things now, which will allow you time to relax and make room for the things that really matter. So whether that means grabbing a planner or making lists, cultivate habits in your life now that help you manage your time well. Your schedule, friends, and future marriage will thank you for it!
8. Figure out how you handle conflict
Do you know what your conflict management style is? Maybe you avoid conflict like the plague, or find yourself compromising when it comes to heated situations.
Romantic relationships and marriage bring all sorts of conflict along with them. If you run into a point of contention with your future spouse, you can’t avoid those problems forever. Eventually you’re going to have to face what’s causing trouble.
Knowing the way you handle conflict isn’t only a benefit to your future marriage. Recognizing the way you respond to conflict helps you improve your self-awareness. Once you know how you interact with conflict, you can see what’s working in your relationships and explore healthier alternatives if need be.
9. Develop healthy friendships
As divorce rates rise across the world, experts continue to figure out the reasons why marriages don’t make it. According to Eli Finkel, a social psychology professor, marriages struggle because our expectations of marriage are unrealistic.
“I think most of us will be kind of shocked by how many expectations and needs we’ve piled on top of this one relationship,” Finkel said. “I’m not saying that people need to lower their expectations, but it is probably a bad plan to throw all of these expectations on the one relationship and then try to do it on the cheap.”
What is Finkel getting at? Often we rely on romantic partners to make us feel loved, smart, successful, and fulfilled. We may want our future spouse to fulfill us and bring us the happiness we’ve been desiring. But that’s too much pressure for one person to take on.
How can we avoid expecting that our spouse will be our ultimate go-to person? Establish healthy friendships now. Even though you may one day be married, that doesn’t mean you won’t need community and friends in your life. Your spouse fulfill you, only Christ can. A future wife can’t offer the same friendship as the men in your life, and a future husband can’t offer the feminine genius that women in your life can.
Spend time during this season of singleness building up healthy, Christ-centered friendships that will continue regardless of your vocation!