rebelling against low expectations

3 Hard Truths for the Not-Yet Married


Well, it happened.

One year ago, we tied the knot and embarked on one of the biggest, hardest things we would ever do. Marriage.

“Marriage” is a buzz word for a lot of rebelutionaries. Most of you are young and unmarried, but to be honest you think about marriage fairly often. You wait and struggle to trust God for His perfect plan for your future spouse.

I was there.

And through my waiting, pursuing, and marriage, I’ve learned many things I believe will resonate with you. This may not be the wisdom you’d receive from a couple who has been married for 50 years, but what I want to share today will hit closer to home for many of you in the not-yet-married world because I was there not long ago.

Here are three essential things I’ve learned that I want you to know about marriage:

1. Life doesn’t end on the wedding day.

It’s easy to get fixated on that magical day, right? We think about the celebration, the dress, our spouse standing next to us, hand in hand. This is incredible stuff! But I can tell you from my own experience—we don’t give a ton of thought to life after the wedding day.

That’s pretty silly, because weddings are when marriage begins.

What does that mean for you?

If you have a long-term perspective of marriage, you’ll be less likely to get impatient in the waiting game, and you’ll be more focused on who you’re becoming, not only for your wedding day, but for every day after.

2. Your spouse is not your savior.

You want to be swept off your feet, right? (Guys, admit it—one day you want a girl to see you as her hero.) But there’s a danger to this, and it’s not small. The danger is that your spouse (or even your idea of a spouse) becomes your drive and your source of satisfaction. There’s a word for that.


If you look to your future spouse as the person who is going to satisfy your soul, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Just to clarify, my wife is awesome. But she’s awesome because she points me to Jesus, and she reminds me that He is my satisfaction, not her.

3. Don’t waste your waiting.

I’ll be honest: I may have grown more in my years of waiting than I did in my first year of marriage. Waiting is what you make of it.

For me, waiting was a continual reminder to find my hope in God, not my future spouse. Even before I started a relationship with the woman who would become my wife, I prayed for an entire year over that relationship, asking God for His will. I wanted to honor God in my waiting.

Three times over that year, I remember feeling prompted by God to fully abandon my idea of that relationship. It was as if God were saying to me, “Do you trust me enough with your future to let go of the idea of a relationship with her?” I wrestled each time, but God won out.

Finally, the day came when I talked with my future wife about a relationship with her. “I’ve been praying for the last year about a relationship with you,” I told her. I was shocked by her response.

“I’ve been waiting and praying this year about the same thing.”

*Cue the melting hearts*

Romance aside, do you get it? Do you see what a powerful story would have been missed if we hadn’t committed to seeking and waiting on God?

Right now, you’re in a season of waiting. And believe me, I know it’s hard at times. But the best thing you can do right now is to lay down your plans and your dreams of marriage and say, “Father, Your will be done.”

I promise you won’t be disappointed if you put Jesus first every time.

And that’s every lesson I’ve learned in life, summed up in one sentence: Put Jesus first every time. Don’t quietly let your first love fizzle out. The best thing you can do for your future spouse is spend time with Jesus, because only Jesus satisfies.

Nothing is more important than knowing God.

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Photo courtesy of Garry Knight and Flickr Creative Commons.


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About the author

Camden McAfee

is Staff Writer and Communication Coordinator with PULSE, an evangelistic ministry. He and his wife Kaylin both grew up reading Do Hard Things and now live in Minneapolis. You can read more of his thoughts on knowing God online at Countercultural.


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  • This is a great article! I think the part about your spouse not being your savior is really cool, and so true! Our God is a jealous God, and He will fight for your love!

    • Exactly! Why would God want to bring something into your life if it’s going to draw you further away from Him? When we realize that, it frees God to do what He wants with relationships in our life—starting, most importantly, with our relationship with Him.

  • Well written, amigo! This is very helpful for those of us still waiting and probably haven’t met our future spouses yet. “Waiting is what you make of it.”


  • Love this post especially the point on don’t waste your waiting. That is something I have been thinking on a lot. I have found that the waiting, if you allow it to be, can be a super sweet time in one’s life, a time for growing in one’s walk with God and growing in steadfastness and growing in righteousness. If you allow God to soften your heart and not allow your heart to grow cold and hard than the waiting season will be a beautiful fruitful season of life.

    • That’s true, Hannah! It’s sad that many people don’t realize that until they’re already married. If you’re always restless for marriage, you’ll get there one day and realize you missed an entire season of life God designed to draw us closer to Him!

  • Thank you so much for writing this! They were all good points, but the one that stuck out to me most was don’t waste your waiting. Waiting and trusting God can be hard at times, but I know that He’s got the perfect plan for me.

    • Thanks for reading, Anne! It’s a hard lesson to learn, but I think the secret is not seeing waiting as a passive activity but an active one. Everything you do, every day, forms and shapes the person you’re becoming.

  • I would gently challenge your construct of identifying people as “not yet married” — which puts marriage on a pedestal, makes marriage a reference point for identity, and reinforces adulthood as “waiting” for something that actually may not be God’s best for them at all. Sure, unmarried people may long to be married and can benefit from wisdom in how to engage with that (as they need wisdom to engage with any longing.) But you are reinforcing a marriage-centered theology which is a construction of the contemporary church, not the Bible.

    • Hi Lucy! Thanks for your sharing this valuable insight. I think you’re correct that it’s wrong to put marriage on a pedestal and make it a point of identity, as if you’re less than God’s best if you’re not married. Actually, I hope exposing that myth is what most people take away from this article.

      The three points I made can be summarized as (1) Don’t find your identity in an event, (2) Don’t find your identity in a person, and (3) FIND your identity in Jesus, not marriage.

      I understand that using the “not yet married” as a label is a sweeping generalization, but honestly that’s how I considered myself as a teenager. I knew I wanted to get married—and God challenged me again and again to give that up.

      Maybe I did have a marriage-centered theology as a teenager, but I hope this article loosens that grip in the hands of many young people, just as God taught me to give up that dream for the joy of the reality of pursuing Him.

  • Thank you for your well thought-out response. I appreciate people digging into my words and helping everyone thing more deeply about the implications. So before I say anything else, hear this: “Thank you.”

    I agree with almost everything you said here. When you said, “Our lives are waiting lives,” that resonated deeply with me. Your most valuable feedback is in the start of the third paragraph: “My point is, singleness isn’t a pitstop on the way to something better.” You’re absolutely right.

    The next thing I want to say is that I wrote this article for a very specific type of person, and I define that person in the introduction. “Most of you are young and unmarried, but to be honest you think about marriage fairly often. You wait and struggle to trust God for His perfect plan for your future spouse.”

    I understand this does not capture everyone—it may not have captured you. Nevertheless, it is with this person in mind that I wrote, starting from their assumptions and worldview and trying to bring them a few steps closer to God’s plan for their life—which is not marriage, but Him.

    I would encourage you to also see my response to Lucy, as she touches on many of the same issues you’re bringing up here, and I responded as well to her. But there are still a few things left unsaid.

    First, you say, “What really do I get out of your article?” I may not be reading that right, but it sounds like you believe you can’t get anything valuable out of this article, and I would challenge that.

    1. You examine and think critically about my words, allowing you to wrestle with what is said and bring it back to truth. This in its own right is a worthy exercise.

    2. You’re right that you may not ever marry. Understanding where I’m coming from—taking the common teenaged perception about marriage and challenging it to point people to Christ—is, I hope, insight you can use when talking to others about marriage and helping them wrestle through these issues.

    3. I do hope in some way you were encouraged in your singleness. At the conclusion of my article, I write, “The best thing you can do right now is to lay down your plans and your dreams of marriage and say, ‘Father, Your will be done.'” Unless I read your comment wrong, that’s very much in line with what you’re saying.

    But for the sake of God’s work in my life, I need to challenge one more point, and that’s the belief that I think “I’ve made it,” as you said.

    God is faithful, and whatever season we find ourselves in, we need to be found seeking Him. The point of this article is to let people know that marriage is not all culture paints it to be. Your wedding day won’t satisfy your deepest longings. Your spouse won’t satisfy your deepest longings. Only Jesus can satisfy your deepest longings!

    And I know you agree with me on that, so if that’s the only place we come together, then I have peace.

    I’m not trying to sound superior in any way. I’m still “waiting,” and will be until that day I see Jesus. Through this article, I’m saying, “This is my experience in a season when God did have me wait, and I did believe wrong things, and here’s what I learned that drew me closer to Jesus.”

    I’m sorry if this article made you feel distanced or less than the person God made you to be—you are made in His image and brought into fellowship with Him through the blood of Jesus. So I’ll close with this, spoken in love: Marriage will not satisfy you, and neither will singleness. Only Jesus can satisfy.

    • Thanks so much for responding and being so understanding, I appreciated that. I also think probably some of my reaction was a little harsh; born out of a frustration with a church culture which seems to assume I’ll get married and miss out if I don’t. But you are right; we agree on the fundamentals, are united by the waiting for the New Creation marriage and Jesus here and now, and as I say, thank you for all of that; you challenged me too! 🙂

  • Well done Camden — most importantly for the discipline in prior years. I think some people might have misinterpreted the article a little — your whole point is that marriage isn’t something to put on an ivory tower; if our relationship with Jesus is not in order, then we’re only paving the way for problems.

    How did you meet your wife? 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment! I realize I may have said things in a way that didn’t clearly state what I believe now. But you’re right—keep that relationship with Jesus as top priority, and the rest will follow, in whatever circumstance you find yourself in, not just with relationships.

      My wife and went to the same church during our youth group years. There wasn’t a lot of interest until we left for college. It was after our first year living on separate campuses (going to different schools!) that we began our relationship.

  • “Put Jesus first every time.” Thank you Camden for this reminder. It’s so easy to get fixated on a day, a person, and make your life about pursuing that instead of pursuing Jesus. ~Anna

  • Love it but I’m just being curious about one thing ; how old are you ?
    Thanks and be bless !

    • Hey Sandrine! Thanks for the question. I’m 22, which I realize is on the young end for people getting married. However, at this point in my life, my wife and I had already graduated from college and were both working full-time jobs.

By Camden McAfee
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →