It was a sunny afternoon, I was trying to soak up some Vitamin D in rainy Seattle when my married brother, B, called. Recently our conversations had become more frequent and in-depth – ranging anywhere from his wife & kids, marriage, hockey, relationships, writing, and work. That afternoon the conversation quickly turned to relationships, or my lack of them – with one of the most intriguing questions I have been asked by a married person.
“What are things that I say as a married person that hurt you? And what are something’s I can do to help you in your single life”?
My mind went rampant with what seemed like hundreds of ways that married people hurt singles, but went blank on how B could help me. As the conversation kept going I was able to formulate some thoughts to both of his questions; without ranting.
Invite Them into Your Home and Life.
As for you, Titus…Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely… Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God…These older women must train the younger women…In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely. And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind…(Titus 2:1-8)
If you are married, especially with kids, you have more responsibilities than I as a single person do. You might not always be able to get out of the house in between work, meals, running errands for your spouse, cleaning up after your kids, etc. But you can invite people in amongst the mess, let them see your un-perfect life, your rough days, and your tiny spats with spouse and kids. Teach me what you have learned, be an example by being my friend (not just letting me be your babysitter). Encourage me in life – we may be in different seasons but we could be learning very similar lessons. The biggest lessons I have learned about relationships (not just romantic ones) have come from couples letting me into their lives on a regular basis. This has also allowed me to see past the white picket fence fantasies of marriage and realize how hard, real, and wonderful marriage is.
Encourage & Support Singles in their Needs
One of the biggest things I hear from singles (and long for myself) is the automatic support system that comes with marriage. Once married you have a partner in crime, someone to encourage you in your adventures, and someone to help pick you up when your car breaks down. Honestly the hardest times as a single are not the lonely nights or dateless weddings – but the times my car breaks down, tires need to be replaced, the toilet won’t work, or I can’t figure out how to put a Christmas tree up. The most helpful things in these times have been when my married friends have come over and helped put up the tree, pieced together the massive kitchen table, or fixed my dryer & washer. It’s the support in doing things that I can’t do alone (or struggle with doing) that is such a blessing and encouragement. Don’t under estimate what a small fix like helping change a headlight can mean.
To B’s second question I had one simple answer, with a rather in-depth explanation:
Words have been the most hurtful thing in this season of singleness. No doubt the things that have been said to me were meant with the best of intentions, but sometimes best of intentions don’t cut it. Like the time one of my co-workers on a regular basis reminded me I was young and had all the time in the world to get married. Or the time at small group when I shared my desire to be married and 90% of the group quoted scripture to be content. Oh and that time when a group of married women told me to enjoy my singleness because they all (but that one brave mom who admitted she would never want to go back) wished they could have their freedom back. The underlying issue with casual comments to singles is that (1) most times these comments negate feelings and try to put a Band-Aid on a deeper issue or (2) make it seem like there is a deeper issue at hand.
The moments I have felt most loved is when my married friends have identified with the hardships of singleness – being alone, staying pure, late nights alone, or finding someone to vacation with, and not negated my emotions on these points. While also truly hearing what I say when I express God given desires and dreams for my life, not assuming that in expressing these dreams I am not happy with the life He has given me.
Whether married, engaged, dating, or single we all have the power of words. The power to encourage each other, recognize that we each have individual God ordained journeys, and that no two people are in the same place. When we take time to listen, get to know, and encourage one another – those are the times we are most helpful, the times we love each other the most.
Many thanks to Elizabeth Conner for this guest post. Elizabeth is an old friend and living life fully as a single Nanny in Seattle. She writes at Thoughts on Life from One Girl. This photo is a blast from the past of us, and yes, I went through a blond phase!
“Invite, Encourage, and Your Words“ is a part of the “Today’s The Day: Being Single and Fully Alive” a 31 Days Series. To read more from this series please click here.