I spent a lot of years (basically my 20’s) angry that I wasn’t married and irritated with married people in general. Especially married women.
Married women seemed so smug. Sure, they’d say things like, “marriage is tough” and “I get so mad at my husband when he…” but it just sounded patronizing especially when all they could ask me about was my relationship status and give me that dumpy sad face when my answer was that I was still single.
Add a wedding and things got even uglier.
At my little sister’s wedding, which I went to stag, nearly every married woman there took it upon themselves to console me and say things like, “This must be the hardest day of your life!” or “Don’t worry, it will happen for you too!” A few of them actually cried on me. It was humiliating.
I decided right then and there that married women sucked.
Perhaps these ladies thought they were comforting me and I’m sure this was their intention. But they failed. I continued to be anxious about getting married all the while believing some really destructive lies about what marriage was.
Of course I am married now–to a man I in no way deserve–and together we are continuing to work our way to a clearer more honest understand of the sacrament of marriage.
Even though it felt like it, I was not the last woman on Earth to get married. Several of my friends are still single, still waiting to find him. And I’ve realized that as a married woman it is hard to know what to say to my single friends, hard to know what to say across this married/single divide that is both honest and loving.
Perhaps this is why all of those married women got it so wrong during my single days.
A part of me wants to give advice to my single friends and reassure them. But, when I say things like, “It will happen for you, I’m sure!” or “As soon as you stop looking it will happen” I’ve become another condescending married twit. I don’t know that it will happen, or when or how. I think I have pretty effectively proven that I don’t know much, about anything, at all. I’m a moron.
And then I think, well maybe if I complain about my married-with-kids life they won’t feel so bad about being single.
So I show up with my 3 kids 4 and under and gripe about the antics of toddlers. But everyone can see these little monsters are really just little blessings covered in watermelon juice and ketchup and that by complaining about them I’m just being a jerk.
And that I suck as much as all those married ladies that cried on me at my sister’s wedding.
But, what to say? Because, let’s be real, Nancy’s always gotta say something. And these ladies are my friends. And I love them.
After a lot of thought here’s what I’ve come up with:
1. Being single can be INCREDIBLE. It’s hard, certainly, but it can also be very, very good. Let it be good.
Don’t let the legions of married morons make you believe otherwise. Seriously, we’re morons. Don’t let romantic comedies deceive you into thinking that marriage is the eternal happy ending. It isn’t. But, most importantly, don’t let the quiet moments of single life scare you.
Quiet is good. Very good. I only figured this out after the quiet was gone…
I was inspired to write about the blessings of single life after talking to a dear friend of mine. She is still single and hoping to get married at some point, but in recent months has decided to put the dating sites and single mixers on hold. Instead she is taking advantage of being single. She is traveling, volunteering, changing jobs, living simply, giving herself to her church and doing a million other things that make me so jealous.
There, I said it. Even though I love my husband, even though I feel SO blessed to be the mother of 3 wonderful kids, I am jealous of a single person. In fact, I might be jealous of all single people.
I am jealous that my brother, still single, gets to do community theater and help my parents in a tangible way. I am jealous of single people that get to spend an hour in silent adoration each week, or go to daily mass. I am jealous of my friend that gets to plan last minute trips or volunteer in the inner-city and train for a marathon.
Basically I’m jealous of anyone that gets to eat a burger with 2 hands.
Really, being single can be so good–if you let it be. You have the freedom to serve THE WORLD. You have the freedom to give yourself to every person you meet, to get a spontaneous cup of coffee with a grieving friend or talk for hours on the phone with a college friend. You have the freedom to travel and spread joy to parts of the world so far out of my reach.
I’m not saying I WISH I was single. I’m not saying that life is better than mine. I’m just saying that the single life is good. Let it be good.
And married ladies, lay off! We married folks don’t have the market cornered on happiness, don’t pretend like we do. Don’t assume your life is better than your single friend’s life.
2. Being Married can be INCREDIBLE too!
We live in a world, it seems, where if one thing is good we assume the other is bad. If being single is good, than being married is bad, right?
If being married is good than being single is bad, then?
Both being married and single can be beautiful. In fact, they are meant to be beautiful.
Marriage is intended to create families, the absolute building-block of society. A married couple, through God’s help, can create children and raise those children together in love and faith.
A single person has the ability to care for that society, through good work, travel, and general getting-out-of-the-house-ness that we moms of littles can not.
We need each other.
If we both/all lived out these vocations like we actually liked them, like we actually understood them, there would be no jealousy of other’s marriages, or other’s freedom.
We’d both understand that we have the opportunity to live incredible lives, whether single or married.
And that is what I want to say to all of my friends, married or single. You are incredible. Live your life and your vocation in an incredible way. Let go of the lies. Let go of the expectations. Let go of judgement and fairy tales.
Because life isn’t a fairy tale–it’s better.
And married ladies, stop sucking and be good to your single friends. Married, single or otherwise, you are incredible.
You are enough.