October 20, 2019

Question: As a single woman in college, how can my roommates prepare me for marriage?

I came to realize that, even as a single woman in college, God provided me a very real means of preparation for marriage and family life in having roommates. It is in the intimate space that you come to think of as home, where other people come to know you your virtues and vices and you can come to know theirs. Living with roommates offers a glimpse into the daily life of marriage calling you to stretch and grow in ways that dating cannot.

Loving Through the Little Things

More than ever before, I have come to see my personal weaknesses, wounds, and vices. When I was able to humbly step outside of myself and take an objective look at the circumstances, I came to recognize not so much my roommates accumulating unwashed dishes, for example, but my love that was so little, weak, selfish, and impatient. I was, and continue to be, challenged time and again to love as I am called to love with patience, kindness. Most of the time, sitting down and learning to articulate these seemingly unimportant bothers helped me and my roommates avoid big fights. It stretched us in our ability to serve charitably, to be more thoughtful of one another and our shared spaces, to respect boundaries and differences, to be patient with one another, and to sacrifice little preferences in order to reach a compromise.

Communication Learning the Love Languages

In time, my roommates and I also came to recognize differences in our love languages and charitably navigate how to best. Some of my roommates were more assertive and direct and some were more silent and less likely to speak their mind. I had to learn to be more aware of how I perceived the communication of my more outspoken roommates, and how to gently encourage more communication from the more cautious roommates. Communication enabled us to share our thoughts and feelings to one another, as well as to express our love which also had many different ways of being given and received. It is easy to love another in the way that I most easily express and receive love. However, unfortunately, assuming that another person receives an action or word as loving when they do not receive it as such, has left me wondering why they don’t seem to notice my effort, and has left them feeling unloved. It was important for me to love each individual roommate in the way that they receive love. It was also helpful when I could recognize that, even if I don’t feel loved in a particular way, my roommate was going out of their way and making an effort to love me so that I was able to thank them and affirm them for their efforts to love me.

Prayer the School of Love

There is so much more that can be learned and so many more ways that living with roommates can prepare you for marriage. It forces you to stretch yourself and grow in humility, patience, sacrificial love, and your ability to communicate, compromise, and love in the little ways. There is one aspect of this experience that is imperative for living with roommates, and for a healthy married life prayer. Prayer is the only way that I have been able to live with other women. I need the grace of Christ, so that He can love through me, and for His grace to be poured forth on the hearts of those I lived with as well, so that, where we were, He would remain in the midst of us.