Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Going to the Chapel...and we're...hoping to get married

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.


Alexis Grant said...

Sigh. Feel you, girlfriend. On the four-friends-got-engaged-this-weekend and on the singleness. Blah.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, being married is the best. People who say it's so hard just didn't expect to have a real relationship. For guys maybe they expected to have some chick who would be like the girls in the magazine they masturbate to that agrees with everything they want, and have no opinion of their own - they just do as they're told, and even after being sick they wake up in perfect makeup looking like a supermodel. Or girls expecting the man made of money and muscles who will accept them no matter how they take care of themselves, will be submissive to them, yet somehow be a man's man who opens every door and psychically knows how to never say the wrong thing, but he also has to be super-spiritual, pray a lot and not be afraid to cry. Guys and girls who stay single into their 30's and 40's always have at least one of these 2 things in common: No.1 they expect the person they end up with to be the picture of perfection, their dream guy or girl and if potential mates don't measure up they kick 'em to the curb and No.2 they don't take care of themselves, or hold themselves to the same standard they have for their potential mate and are thus less than a catch themselves. When someone is both of these even if they do get married it will be a terrible let down. BE WHO YOU WANT TO MARRY, AND ALLOW THE PERSON YOU MARRY TO BE LESS THAN PERFECT LIKE YOU! Some people will be offended by this... that means its talking about you. Some people will be convicted by this, that means there's hope for you yet.

Todd Richards said...

Anonymous... that is one of the most arrogant and antagonistic comments I have read in a long time. I understand where you are coming from, but you are sadly mistaken. At least put your name out there if you are going to offend and attempt to play the Holy Spirit (which, as it turns out, is not a role that is taking auditions - ever).

I am glad that your marriage is so wonderful and that you found love at the perfect age of 20-something. But a little grace and understanding is in order.

In the future, if you don't like the subject of a blog entry - just ignore it. No need to pour salt into the wounds of others. Such an action is hateful and not honoring to the God you imply that you love.

Laurie said...

"Guys and girls who stay single into their 30's and 40's always have at least one of these 2 things in common"

Here's the real problem with the statement made by Anonymous. The points he or she makes are valid, but not all-encompassing. There are certainly people out there who are too picky or who have unrealistic expectations. And there are people who are too slovenly or who don't work to improve their own person and character. I'd venture to guess there are many people who fall into those categories who still somehow managed to get married. And plenty who didn't.

However, it is arrogant and grossly misinformed to state that any individual past the age of 30 who remains unmarried falls into one of those two categories.

There are any number of reasons for singleness. Singleness is not an indication of some sort of flaw or fault within the single person. If such were the case, no one on the face of the earth would be married.

Perhaps Anonymous illustrates my point perfectly -- sometimes married people just don't get it.

Erin said...

Some of us get it. I still have dreams where Troy and I have broken up (before we got married) and I had to start all over with being single. They are very vivid and very emotional. I wake up extremely grateful for him and then immediately start praying for my single friends.

Please don't let Anonymous be the representative for all married people. He/she needs to get a clue.

Anonymous said...

i really appreciate your post and have had a lot of the same thoughts..
i don't ever want to become the single girl whose only goal is to find someone to marry, or whose identity is completely wrapped around being single.. the "woe is me" stuff has always gotten on my nerves, because life doesn't start when you get married & there is NOTHING wrong with not being married..
that being said.
there are times where it just plain sucks to be single, especially in Houston, Texas - where the conservative-Christian culture assumes something is wrong with you if you're not married by 25. it sucks to not really "fit" anywhere, or to constantly celebrate other people's life events, only to be left behind until the next one comes along.. or to have awkward pressure put on you if you're seen simply talking to someone, or to have people try to "fix you" by setting you up with anyone they can think of who is also single.. it sucks to have people assume I am "picky" because i am not married.. it's like, oh i am sorry- i didn't realize that i would have to lower my standards as i approached my "late" 20's..
it really gets old having everyone else focus on what's different about you, or focus on the fact that you're not married, instead of what you are doing, etc. i don't find my identity in it, so why do they have to? it seems like people don't know what to do with you if you don't fit into the "norm" and so they'll either try to fit you in one way or another or they'll just move on.

all of this is to say:married people don't get it & in my experience are the ones who are making being single into some sort of stigma..