Four of my girlfriends got engaged last weekend. Four. That's a lot. I'm very delighted for all of them. Truly. But as a single girl, it's hard not to feel a bit sad at the same time. All sorts of thoughts go through my mind, most of them along the lines of "will it ever happen for me?"
Warning: Don't tell your married friends that you feel this way. They mean well, but they usually respond with something along the lines of "enjoy being single. Marriage is harder than you realize" or the always encouraging "there's someone out there for you"...etc etc.
Saying that to a single person is sort of like eating a big piece of fudge in front of your friend who is on a diet and telling her that it's not as good as it looks and she should be grateful she's on a diet. I'm not saying the diet isn't beneficial. It is. But that's little consolation when what she really wants and absolutely cannot have is a piece of fudge.
Even on a diet, it's possible to indulge now and then in a taste of fudge. But for single men and women, there is no way to enjoy marriage without being married. It's something that is absolutely impossible for us to experience until and unless we get married some day. In the meantime, it's unattainable.
Please note, I'm not addressing this to any particular married friend. It's just a trend I've observed in the responses I get from married people when the issue of singleness arises. There seems to be an assumption that because you got married and realized an end to your singlehood, then all your single friends will do the same. I know you mean well. And I know that marriage is much harder than single people can ever understand because we're...well...not married.
If you're married, it can be easy to forget the loneliness and heartache that often comes with singleness. The best kind of "consolation" you can offer is simply to listen to your friend who is hurting or who feels forgotten or overlooked. Love them. Hug them. Tell them you remember what it felt like and you are praying for them. Or, tell them you don't remember what it felt like because you got married at a young age, but you are praying for them. Don't try to minimize their singleness or offer empty platitudes about marital status and future.
Just be a friend. A married friend.