Having been “never married” for my nearly 50 years of life, by choice, I have gained some vast first-hand insight, being on the receiving end of a pretty broad range of assumptions from people make a swinging attempt to sum up the world of “singlehood”. Some of the ideation that has been given often without invitation sits somewhere on the grid of absolute encouragement and confirmation all the way on the opposite end of the edge of preconceived notions falling flat of any kind of reality. Some comments and suggestions are even downright mean-spirited and weird. I know I am not alone, and on behalf of those that have encountered the same, my objective is to give a few responses to these assumptions and to shed some light about what’s going on with those of us that have either chosen singleness, or are newly single again.
As someone that doesn’t like to be branded a type of anything other than a highly unique individual, I get very weary of being classified as a married, or single, or widowed, or divorced, as if the only way to file a person’s identity is by their marital status. The fact of the matter is, we are people, above and beyond that of a marital status. According to God’s Word, there are benefits to marriage AND to singleness, but often times, others reach to marriage for reasons other than a true solid wise choice in order to fill up with something they are missing.
How many stories of those that got married thinking that this was the next step in life, and the cure for their ailments, find out that they have now compounded their existing issues with involving another imperfect human being into the equation? Being whole as a person above and beyond marriage is a highly favorable state to be in as it allows us to function as an individual dependent on the Lord as our source. Marriage can either compliment that, or, it can actually subtract from that in some cases. Fortunately some of us had that one figured out a long time before we were faced with the decision to marry, yet still, we are faced with some pretty interesting thoughts from others and the following responses are designed for understanding, from what I typically have seen has been the case for many – wrong assumptions.
THE LIES WE BELIEVE ABOUT SINGLENESS:
“You must be anxious for marriage. Isn’t attending weddings hard for you? You are attractive and funny, but not married, what’s wrong with you? You must not be ‘ready’ yet for marriage (aka; mature enough).”
My response: Oh please … aren’t we all adults here and able to think outside the box? Hello, this is the 21st century folks. By now, have we not seen that the average age for marrying has shifted to “much later in life” than ever before? And news flash, much of it is by choice and not because there is something wrong, or that we aren’t mature enough, or that we are secretly gay, or that we aren’t good enough, or whatever other thing is assumed about someone else who is not just like the others that want to head to the altar. Some of us have had some rip roaring rough interactions with the opposite sex in our lives and marriage looks more like a noose around the neck, rather than a haven of partnership.
If anything, waiting for the right time and place to marry in our lives, even if much later, is a strong indication of wisdom, depth, and character about approaching carefully a decision that can shape the rest of a person’s life. If one happens to marry earlier and it’s successful, then praise be to God, but, for those that have a mission before and outside of marriage for the time being or even for life, as well, praise be to Him. I stand in awe and in deep solid respect for marriage, so that is one area, I simply choose to approach with a reverent caution, not only to allow God’s perfect timing, but to allow myself and someone I may meet, to evolve to that place of being ready. We can be the most mature people in the world, but marriage requires a much steeper demand on those that are feeling particularly drawn to it in the immediate realm. Two different callings, with two very different lists of what is required for both – so the lesson here, and please let it stick >>>> being single doesn’t mean something is broken, and that marriage is the fix.
Let’s not forget one other factor. Life is vastly different from the 1940s, 50s, and 60s and we surely can’t exclude the blended family life out there. Blending lives can be a major gift for some and yet a tough area forced upon others. That can and does influence us vastly as to decisions on even wanting to look at marriage as an option for ourselves due to the “what-if” factor. Realistically, what is woefully apparent here is that we teach that marriage is easy to get out of with an attorney and disillusionment of marriage, but in the spiritual realm, it truly is a tearing asunder and it changes the fabric of a person’s history to one they didn’t necessarily plan on. Anymore, we allow an easy out and it’s not unusual for someone who has reached middle age to have been married and divorced more than once by the age of 40. So pardon me if some of us decide that it’s not necessarily the best option in the world for our every day in and day out of existence.
For me personally, having witnessed first hand or having seen the fall out of sixteen divorces in my immediate family, including that of my own parents, my enthusiasm for wedded bliss has been pretty much been rendered at the level of zilch for such a sacred act. As I said before, I respect it, I’m just not sure it’s for me right now, or even ever. Not everyone will respond such as I have, some will embrace marriage and have a successful and balanced experience with it, however, some have known the plague of the aftermath of a the divorce generational curse.
“Maybe you are afraid to get married – aren’t you lonely?”
One of the most critical and rare truths that we might completely forget and seem to look down on is that SOME of us are actually CALLED to singleness and are vastly fulfilled in that calling. Didn’t Paul pose the fact in I Corinthians that it is “good to remain even as I” – meaning single, and focused on God’s work and that it is indeed meant to imply that there are advantages to this life than to that of marriage. Look up the word “good” in the passages Paul wrote on the subject and you will be met with a deep definition in the Greek that will set the record straight! Unwed means time for the work of the Lord (aka: fun, travel, freedom, peace, etc), although marriage itself is also the work of the Lord, yes, more often we are busy trying to please an imperfect partner as opposed to being able to please a perfect God. This is exactly what Paul meant in the Word. Often times when I have given a relationship a spin, I have found it to be a complete distraction and almost invariably a means to an end for heartbreak I never wanted to invite into my world to begin with – I have learned a great deal from bad and good relationships.
Recently in the news, Vice President Mike Pence was criticized for being so “extreme” in his conservative approach about honoring his wife. The guy is trying to remain pure and true to his bride, and naturally, the media who is blatantly liberal, would make a mockery of such an incredible gesture of depth and wisdom. For the love, media, do you always twist something sacred into a sin? If I may take the liberty, fellow Christians, you also have a tendency to turn the call to singleness into something “extreme”, or wrong, as if it’s a sin or that we aren’t settled down or avoiding true bliss that we could possibly be partaking in. But some of us just don’t feel that it’s bliss … I see more work than I do harmony in most marriages. Let’s not twist God’s goodness and providence for another to look like a handicap when in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Chew on that for a bit.
“You are divorced. What happened you failure you?”
Wow, so much goes into the reasons of divorce, and often we hear that one person wanted it while the other fought hard to keep it. What if the single you are making remarks to did indeed want to be and stay married. What if they are in anguish and feeling trampled at the moment with being rejected. What good does it do to remind them of what they don’t have and have longed for?
I hate divorce, it has been a huge part of the fabric of my life, but just as much I have seen some that never truly wanted it to take place. It’s a sad day when a certificate of divorce is issued, and my advice to others, is to take some time to imagine what it would be like if their spouse decided to part ways against their will, or if even something extreme happened to tear them apart. Putting ourselves into the shoes of another with situations that are different from ours, can help us use a little sympathy and consideration to keep quiet and not blame and point fingers.
“You are a widow. Have you thought of dating someone else? You can love again – let’s set you up on a date.”
What if they are a widow, and it’s a wickedly raw time for them grieving the loss of one not even wanting to entertain the thought of remarriage, yet, everyone around them is trying to push them into something new before they are ready.
Give people room, to not have to owe an explanation and to not have to prove anything with being in a relationship. Maybe they are profoundly lonely and might like to meet someone? Yet, maybe it’s not your place to pull that out of them. Give them time to offer up that desire if it’s meant to be, and, for all intensive purposes, make sure to pray first about the person they will meet and possibly even decide to marry. Sometimes remarriage after being widowed can pose an interesting new dynamic for them. Proceed with caution. I have seen some great successes and have also witnessed some abysmal disasters in post widow marriages.
“You don’t have children, you must feel empty and sad. You never gave your parents children, they must be grieving.”
If there has ever been one that is as stinging and wickedly demeaning, but not for reasons you might think, it’s been this type of ridiculous assumption that blatantly proves a lack of basic 101 manners and couth. Maybe a man or woman was married and is single now and had a harrowing issue with infertility to the point they divorced. Maybe someone truly want children more than anything else, and they DO want marriage FIRST before babies, but God has not brought that into their lives yet. What if someone has had to survive and look back on an assault in their lives that yielded an unwanted pregnancy they elected to allow to come to full term and then gave up that little one for adoption. The list goes on and on of the what ifs. Woe people, what a field of landmines we step onto when we make such strong comments and judgements to others we know very little about.
My advice to those that don’t understand – just don’t go there.
Remember Hannah in the Word who was in earnest pain over wanting a child and was constantly harassed by Peninnah over Hannah’s lack of ability to conceive. Hannah was far more holy than I would have been, as I probably would have knocked Peninnah backwards for her verbal heckling. Be careful about inflaming a wound … steer clear and don’t be a Peninnah … a source of greater pain and immature annoyance, for you might warrant a response you weren’t prepared to receive.
Then there are those of us that never were really given the basic DNA to desire children. Yes, it crosses our minds, and yes we have the makings of a mother’s heart, but it’s not something we feel we missed out on. I am abundantly aware of the work that goes into parenting, but often if one is called to other things, the Lord gives that one a very satisfying life that even viewing children as a part of, would be an impairment, rather than a necessary part of the picture. The desire has simply not been there in the womb to want to procreate and know for a fact that myriads share that same viewpoint. If one wants children, generally they are wired and want to live up to all the demands that parenting requires.
Rarely do I share this and am careful for the sake of respect, but for the topic at hand someone else might be able to identify with my experience. One of my beloved family members gave me a look years ago, sneering about my proof of lack to provide a grandchild for my parents. Yes, I forgive, but truly, my respect dropped down a few notches for an unwarranted and demeaning comment that nearly sliced me in half. God was about to usher an amazing season into my life, and had kept me to Himself for that very reason. I wouldn’t have skipped what the Lord was about to for that of a wedding ring, even if it were wrapped in Tiffany blue with a dazzling man to offer it to me on one knee with a Bentley as a getaway car. There will be time for that later, if it’s meant to be. The alternative gift God gave for the time being, was far superior to my being married at the time. .
“You are single, you must struggle financially and need a man to take care of you. Your knight in shining armor has yet to come along.”
Eyes rolling and a sigh. Let’s make something clear, it’s not that we women don’t want or need men, it’s rather the fact we have more opportunities open to us to make money, married or not, so finances really aren’t going to be so much a part of the decision to marry like they used to be. So many women jumped from home with their parents as their caretakers into a home with a husband as their caretaker. Not that this is bad, it could have worked out great for many, but sometimes women got married, just to get married, to escape the home, and then ended up in very unhappy situations, even abusive ones, and with few learned skills, in order to make it on their own if faced with that challenge. This is 2017 not 1960. I just cleared well over seven figures in my little company in revenue. No man did it, but God and God alone through my fingers, through ridiculously unmerciful hard work, and with the aid of incredibly talented souls I have hired to do it along with me. My clients are fabulous and I serve them with zeal and commitment, as a perfectly imperfect woman. I have much to be grateful for in this growth cycle, but not sure if marriage would have aided or hindered this amazing business experience for me and so many that benefited from it.
Most of the small start-up businesses in America, are founded, run and managed by … women. The majority of women outlive men, so at some point, they will be single again even if they marry. Look it up as statistics and data speak for themselves! Does it mean, we wouldn’t welcome some relief financially along with the blessing of companionship and someone to love at some point? No, but the options for truly Godly men to marry any more, are pretty rare. Women have been forced to do what they have to in order to care for themselves. Chew on that one as well.
And can we please drop the knight in shining armor life of paradise? People, that is the world of Barbie and Ken. Yes, I know there are some tremendous marriages out there, but we set our girls and boys up for a huge let down and unrealistic expectations teaching them to pin their hopes on a person alone, rather than that of the man Jesus Christ who never disappoints. Then when man disappoints, we bale out! No we should never settle, but again, we need to be careful about making someone fit the role of a saint that is just as capable of the same issues we ourselves have, and no one is capable of fixing another person. Also along that line, let’s stop pressuring couples we might set up, as if they need to walk out of their first date with an engagement ring on and a wedding date set. It’s ridiculous and I personally avoid being “hooked up” on dates because of that type of pressure alone.
My hope is that your brief read through this will give you insight and open new understanding that marriage isn’t a fit for everyone just as singleness isn’t either. Let’s support each other, not put a label of inferiority on either situation, as we all have a calling to fulfill be it with a spouse on earth or a Spouse that is perfect out of heaven. Pray and think before speaking … and … remember what assume spells …
Read my previous blog – “To Married Men Who Cheat”