I just need to get this off my chest. In no particular order –
- Don’t worry, the right man is out there / will come along.
This idea does not give any comfort, because said man is still out there and not right here, right now. (Personally, I also question the singularity of the idea of ‘the right guy’ – but I’ll leave that for another day.) The hopeful possibility doesn’t soften the sting of harsh reality. And that’s all it is – a possibility. Please don’t get us sold on something that isn’t guaranteed to happen.
- There are things God probably wants you to work on before you get married.
Everyone has issues they need to work on – before, during, and after marriage. Sorting out your issues this side of marriage doesn’t guarantee a husband-to-be to show up. Nor does it follow that being a work-in-progress disqualifies you for marriage. If that were so, everyone should just stay single until Jesus Christ returns. At which point, marriage becomes moot.
- Why are you still single?
Why do you even ask? If this is your way of saying ‘You are such a catch, I can’t believe you’re not married’ – please try again. This is a question single people ask themselves fairly often, and does not need to be articulated. Besides, I’m not quite sure people who ask would appreciate an honest answer to that question.
- When are you getting married?
More disquieting to those who are not seeing anyone. See above.
- You need to be happy as a single before you can get married.
I am genuinely delighted to be single. I don’t shun a lifetime of singleness. Does that mean God is definitely going to send a spouse my way soon? Whilst I believe that everyone should be content whatever season they are in, being uncontent as a single doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t get married. (That being said, you shouldn’t view marriage as the solution to your unhappiness. Let’s save that discontented single discussion for next time as well.) Look at your married friends – how many of them were super happy, contented singles before they tied the knot? How many didn’t long or yearn to be married? I may not know your friends personally, but I’m guessing not many.
- Maybe you should (insert advice here).
Lose weight, be less outspoken, make more friends, try online dating… whatever it is. You probably mean well, but we’ve probably thought of these things, too. Besides, these suggestions make it sound like it’s our fault we’re not married. (And by the way, it’s not.) Granted, like everyone else, we have room to grow. But it would be more helpful if you allow us to embrace our singleness without shame (or excuses). Loving our single state is one thing we can do more.
The thoughts behind these statements aren’t bad in themselves. I understand that oftentimes the intention is to encourage or affirm. Sometimes, though, these statements subliminally plant unhealthy ideas, e.g. I ought to be married, there’s something wrong with me, being single is a curse.
Being content in singleness isn’t easy, especially when the world seems to say that marriage is the ultimate goal for single women. There is a subtle difference between recognising what you want, and placing an unnecessary focus on it.
It’s not wrong to want to be married. It’s not impossible to be happily single. And it is quite possible to be both. A healthy view is knowing that the possibility of staying single is as good as the possibility of being married – and where you are is precisely where God wants you to be.