Tag Archives: for the married people

Single People Are Not the Enemy

4 Jan

'dislike button' photo (c) 2011, Sean MacEntee - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

One of my friends lost someone he’d grown up with. They’d gone to the same church since childhood. They’d attended school together. They read the same kinds of books and watched the same kinds of movies, and even double-dated at times. Sure, he’d had a crush on her at one point, and at a totally different point she’d had a crush on him. But that was a decade in the past, and their friendship had never had a basis in romantic or sexual attraction.

It came to a tragic end when his lifelong friend said I do…to some other man. A man who felt threatened by my buddy’s presence in his wife’s life. Suddenly my friend found himself not only reduced to a brief smile in passing at church, but someone whose occasional phone calls or emails didn’t get answered. Shortly after the wedding, he learned she had de-friended him on Facebook.

This story is tragic.

Listen up, married people: Single people are not the enemy.

We’re not out to steal your spouse. We’re not trying to wreck your marriage. And if you’re too insecure to cope with the fact that your spouse wants to be friends with someone of the opposite sex, that isn’t my problem. It’s yours. And you need to deal with it, because I don’t deserve to have a friendship ripped away from me because you have a problem.

Your Insecurity =/= My Fault

Why did Mr. Insecure feel the need to end his wife’s friendship? I can think of a lot of reasons, none of which are my buddy’s fault:

– Mr. Insecure thinks his wife likes Friendly Guy better.

– Mr. Insecure is afraid his wife will leave him for Friendly Guy.

– Mr. Insecure resents the time his wife spends with Friendly Guy.

But is ending the friendship a good response? I say no, and the number one reason is this: ending the wife’s friendship with Friendly Guy is not going to address the obvious issues with her marriage to Mr. Insecure.

Instead of ending the friendship, why didn’t Mr. Insecure confront the reasons he felt threatened by the friendship? Why didn’t he spend more time strengthening his marriage instead of destroying the friendship? Why didn’t he attempt to cultivate a friendship with Friendly Guy, which would not only strengthen Mr. Insecure’s marriage, but also possibly bless him and Friendly Guy both?

Sure, it’s easy to blame the single friend. But it isn’t honest, and it isn’t effective.

Facebook and eHarmony Aren’t Killing Your Marriage

Sure, there are wives who reconnect with old flames on Facebook and divorce their husbands to pursue some fantasy. There are guys who set up secret eHarmony profiles to meet one-night-stands despite being married. Guess what? That sort of thing happened before the internet existed. It’s just the methods that have changed.

I read an interesting article today on the Atlantic website. Apparently some guy blames online dating sites for the way he can’t get a woman to settle down…ignoring the fact that he doesn’t put her happiness ahead of his own, doesn’t seem to care about his credit score or career, and wants to spend all his time watching sports and drinking beer.  Thankfully, someone who obviously has a much clearer idea of how adult relationships work wrote a response, pointing out the flaws in the argument. Maybe it’s not online dating that’s the problem, buddy. Maybe, just maybe, the problem is you.

Jesus put it another way: “Look to the plank in your own eye before removing the speck in your brother’s eye.”

Single People Aren’t Predators Looking for Marriages to Break Up.

No, I’m not actively looking for a spouse. But when I’m attracted to a guy who seems interesting, the first thing I do is check that left hand. If he’s wearing a ring, he’s automatically off-limits. That’s just how it works. Sure, there are people out there who don’t care. But I’m sick and tired of married people assuming the worst about me because of their own fears.

Think about this logically. If I’m looking for love, which is easier–to find someone who’s available and try to catch his interest, or to find someone who has already made an emotional and expensive commitment to someone else, which I must first sabotage and dissolve in order for me to experience my own version of marital bliss? Frankly, I’m just too damn lazy to try to break up someone’s marriage. Besides, who wants all that drama? Divorce is ugly. Especially if there are kids involved.

Your man may be great, but no one is worth me going to all that effort.

Not to mention…and I know this may be hard to believe, but…single people with ethics do actually exist.

The Real Question

So here’s my question: Why do people think married folks and single folks can’t be friends?

Jesus was a single guy, and he hung out with people like Peter, who had a mother-in-law, so obviously had a wife. Paul was a single guy, and he named Priscilla and Aquila as some of his closest friends. Yet people in the church seem to think a friendship between a single person and a married person is an infidelity just waiting to happen.

I think this is hypocritical, and I think it’s frankly dangerous. If you don’t address the real threats to marriage–things like married partners not putting each other first, married partners not talking honestly with each other, married partners not honoring Christ in their marriage–you’re not just hurting a single person who has lost a friend. You might just be giving up on that marriage before it really gets started.

*

As a postscript, I’m going to fast forward my buddy’s story ten years. After a decade of ups and downs, including a lengthy separation period and marital counseling and lots of heartache, Mr. Insecure and his wife divorced…even though Friendly Guy hadn’t been involved in the woman’s life since she said “I do.”

Pretty telling, isn’t it?

Married People, Help Me Out

12 Nov

Dear Married People,'Begin Two Way' photo (c) 2011, niXerKG - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

What do you get tired of hearing from singles? What misconceptions do we singles have about your married life? What would you like to tell us about yourselves? How can we, as single people, be encouraging to you? How can we better understand you? What should we learn from you? What can we teach you?

I do a lot of talking about what it’s like to be single and how you married folks can better relate to us and encourage us. But this shouldn’t be a one-way street. I’m interested in a dialogue.

Please chime in and address issues you want us to talk about. Better yet, if you’re interested in writing a guest post for Single White Christian, let me know! I would love to listen to what you have to say.

Sincerely,

Single White Christian

4 Things To Say to Parents of a Single Adult

8 Nov

On Monday I posted 7 Things Not to Say to Parents of a Single Adult. But I try to follow up my “negative” posts with something more positive and affirming. So today I’m going to present four suggestions of things you can and should say to parents of a single adult.

  1. You must be very proud of your son/daughter. Finding a mate and procreating is something that happens at almost every level of biology. It isn’t really something unique to homo sapiens. So let’s stop acting like marriage and parenthood are the only accomplishments in life. Every adult, single, married, or in-between, has done something to be proud of. Instead of focusing on marital status, look at the other things. Maybe she’s published a book. Maybe he just sealed a major business deal. Maybe she heads up a charity that impacts lives. Maybe he leads a Bible study in his home. Those are all things to be proud of. Celebrate those.
  2. It must be nice not having to share your child with inlaws during the holidays. Growing up, we rarely had this problem, because one set of my grandparents lived in Florida, while the other set lived fifteen miles away, so Dad didn’t see his folks for the holiday. But occasionally we spent the week of Christmas in Florida…and then my mom didn’t get to spend Christmas with her parents. As a single adult, I don’t have this problem. I celebrate Christmas with my parents the way we always have–we read the Christmas story, then open presents on Christmas Eve (it used to be at midnight, but as we all get older, this starts earlier and earlier in the evening). There are almost always bookish presents for everyone, so we stay up late reading our new books, and sleep in late Christmas morning. I don’t have to compromise on Christmas plans, and my parents don’t have to share me.
  3. (When a child moves back home) Aren’t you glad they aren’t married and bringing their spouse and children back home to live with you! Because yes, I actually know a couple of people who moved back in with their parents, with a husband, two kids, and a dog in tow. At least when I moved back, my parents were getting what amounted to an adult boarder in the upstairs. I contributed financially as much as I was able, and in labor, and I didn’t wake them up for midnight feedings or early morning walks.
  4. How has your relationship changed as your child has grown older? Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your friend with single adult offspring. Just don’t focus those questions on the marital or parental status of said offspring. If your friend wants to talk about her kid’s marital status, let her bring it up first.

Single readers, what do you wish people would say to your parents? Parents of singles, what do you wish people would say to you? Chime in!

6 Things to Say to Your Single Friends

15 Apr

Following up on the last post, 12 Things NOT to Say to Your Single Friends, I want to offer some constructive things you can say to your single friends. After all, what good is criticism if it isn’t constructive?

It’s honestly difficult coming up with some positive things to say to single people. I’m not sure there are many good reasons for a married friend to point out my singleness, so I’m drawing on help from a couple of single friends who contributed to this post.

Things to Say:

  1. “What are your dreams and hopes?” – More specifically, don’t assume that the single person dreams of getting married. Don’t assume that they don’t. ASK. You might be surprised by the answer you get.
  2. “What would you like to do with your life?” – This is similar to the first suggestion, but this opens the conversation to career, travel, ministry, and other topics. I’d like to share a quote from one of my single friends to expand on this.

    People also don’t seem to understand the whole “wanting to have time to work creatively”… Marrieds seem to think my work is a HOBBY I should pursue after I invest time in finding a husband, because having a family should be my priority. But, if I don’t get my art out there now and make a name for myself now, then (a) I won’t be supporting myself through work I really love, and if I’m not doing that, I won’t be satisfied or happy [with] myself and how can I expect anyone else to be, and (b) I know it would be nearly impossible to put myself out there if I’m similtaneously [sic] working at a relationship.

  3. “What gifts would you like to use?” – This is most applicable in a conversation about church and ministry, but maybe your friend has talents you’re not aware of. If you focus on the person instead of their marital status, you can learn a lot.
  4. “Would your schedule allow you to [volunteer/chair this committee/go to dinner/insert activity here]?” – In other words, don’t just assume that the single person doesn’t have a full social calendar. Don’t act like the single person is just dying to babysit for you because she doesn’t have kids of her own and doesn’t have anyone to spend time with on a Friday night. Don’t act like the only reason a single person is a good volunteer is because of his marital status.
  5. “Sometimes I get lonely.” – Loneliness happens to married people too, but it’s easy for a lonely single person to forget that. If your single friend confesses to loneliness, it’s okay to point out (gently) that marriage isn’t a 100% cure-all for loneliness.
  6. “Paul’s command to be content in whatever circumstances means: be content.” – In other words, don’t trot out Philippians 4:11 just to address singleness. In fact, he was talking about financial situations and having enough. But it’s good advice, whatever the situation. As a friend of mine commented, it’s about “making that an actual state of mind. In whatever circumstances, yes, up to and including singleness.”
I’m going to stop this list here, even though it’s half the number of things I pointed out last time. Like I said, it’s hard coming up with positive things for married people to say to their single friends. Partly, because your friend’s marital status shouldn’t really be a topic of conversation, unless he or she brings it up first. After all, I don’t spend a lot of time dissecting my best friend’s marriage or imposing my opinion of her marriage on her. So why shouldn’t I expect the same courtesy in return?
What do you think? Singles, are there other things you wish your married friends would say to you or ask you? Marrieds, are there things you want to say, but you’re not sure if it’s okay? Comment and let me know!

12 Things NOT to Say to Your Single Friends

13 Apr

Dear Married People,

Single Christians don’t hate you. We don’t hate your children. We don’t hate your in-laws (in fact, we probably like them more than you do!).

We’re just tired of you thinking we ought to want to be just like you.

Okay, some single people want desperately to get married. But some of us are pretty happy flying solo. Please stop assuming that marriage is the perfect happy ending for everyone in the world.

If I had a dollar for every time my married best friend told me I needed to “get out there and date more”, I couldn’t quit my day job, but I could sure take a nice weekend holiday somewhere. Of course, if I added in a dollar for every time a well-meaning relative or family friend or church friend asked, “Are you dating anyone yet?” I probably could quit my day job.

Several of the things on this list have been said to me. Some of them are responses I got when I solicited two of my favorite single ladies for contributions.

Things Not to Say:

  1. “You just need to get out there more” – If your single friend likes being single, she probably doesn’t really want to get out there. If your single friend doesn’t like being single, don’t you think he’s already trying to get out there more?
  2. “The right one will show up when you’re ready” – How do you know that? And why is it your responsibility to decide I’m not ready? Are you saying I’m too immature for a spouse? Because there are plenty of immature people out there getting married every day.
  3. “Take this time to focus on your ministry” – …Right, because once you get married, you don’t have to minister any more. Forget about Priscilla and Aquila, Peter (who had a mother-in-law, so must have had a wife), or Ananais and Saphira (okay, bad example…) But seriously, there are churches out there who discriminate against hiring single pastors, so don’t tell me it’s easier to minister to people without a spouse.
  4. “I’m so glad I’m not out there dating any more” – Exactly. Dating sucks. So why do you tell me to ‘get out there more’ all the time? (See first point above.)
  5. “I’m so jealous of your freedom” – Yeah, my freedom to pay all my bills on my one income, never know who my plus one will be for an event, and never have someone in the house to scratch a really persistent itch on my back.
  6. “You’re not a mother/wife/father/husband”, so you just wouldn’t understand.” – Um…maybe that’s true, but could you please sound a little more patronizing? I don’t quite feel like I’m twelve yet.
  7. “You’re too picky and you need to stop looking for someone who is perfect.” – So you’re saying that marriage, which is supposedly such a great institution, is just about settling for someone you can tolerate? It’s not picky to want to fall in love.
  8. “A person doesn’t really mature until they get married.” – Um…what? No, really, what? So I guess Paul, one of the greatest heroes of the faith, was immature? Good to know.
  9. “Life doesn’t really begin until you’ve had children.” (Or worse yet, telling the single person’s parents “life doesn’t really begin until you’ve had grandchildren.”) – There are lots of married people who choose not to have children. There are lots more who are not blessed with children despite wanting them. You’re saying those people can’t fully live because they are unable to reproduce? Really?
  10. “Do you not want to have children?” – See above. Some people actually don’t want children, and there is nothing wrong with that (I am one of those people, and have known this about myself since I was a child). But there are also plenty of single people out there who do want to have children, but don’t believe a shotgun wedding is the way to go.
  11. “You act like you don’t need anyone, so no one is going to ask you out.” – I’ve never had this one thrown at me, but I’m definitely guilty of acting like I don’t need a spouse. And I would argue that walking around acting needy & lonely all the time would be more of a turn-off.
  12. “I remember what it was like to be single.” (When you were single for all of three years, in your early twenties.) – Right, okay, you’re one of those people who went to college to get your MRS degree. That’s lovely for you, but don’t pretend you understand what it’s like to spend a decade or better of your life as a single person.

Join me next time, when I post six things you SHOULD say to your single friends.

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