I started this post, and started over, 3 times. I’m not exactly sure why it’s been such a hard one to write…. here’s to hoping 3rd time’s the charm, and not 3 strikes, you’re out. I’ve prayed over these blogs, and it is my desire that they might promote better understanding between singles and married in our churches today. Please note: this is not to compare our lives with yours. My hope with this blog is to provide a place of “oh I get it!” for you, so that you may be able to help and encourage each other.
I feel like I began married life with my eyes wide open, and yet still pretty naive about many things. There were things that didn’t surprise me about marriage, partly, because I’m a reader, and I had read several good books on the subject (something I highly recommend if you are dating, it does help). Plus listening to great advisers and watching my own parents marriage sure did help.
There were on the other hand many things that did surprise me. I wasn’t expecting the differences. Our family cultures were different, but even more so the culture differed greatly between the state I grew up in, and the state in which I was married. I also wasn’t expecting the kind of homesickness that was so horrible, it actually affected me physically. I had been away from home before, but not on a, “this is most likely my permanent home” basis. I wasn’t expecting, the loss of the many people I loved so much, how much I would miss my families, and friends hugs, the smell of my mom, my pastor’s sermons, my dad’s motivations, cutting up with my brothers and sisters, and calling up that friend and inviting myself over to her house because I knew I could. I missed the holidays, traditions, marriages, funerals etc. There’s more that could be said on this, but that’s another post for another time.
I never “expected” what came with my first pregnancy 3 months into our marriage, being sicker than I’ve ever been in my life, and ending up in the hospital throwing up blood, dehydrated, miserable, and wanting to die, if not for my baby inside me.
Despite the difficulties, that first year brought me closer to my husband and to God. My husband was wonderful through it all. How great it was to have a best friend, who even clean up my puke when I didn’t make it to the toilet! He prayed with me and for me, and made me feel so loved. Then to have that baby and it all be worth it, for this most precious little bundle I loved so much it hurt.
The quiet house was hard for me. Coming from a loud family of 8 and being the oldest, there was always someone to talk to. Suddenly, it was me and my husband and he had to go to work, even in the evenings there were often things he had to do which didn’t involve me. I was by myself so much of the time.
Fast forward to now, 6 children later, we’ve muddled through many tough waters, and I believe we are the better for it. There were some hard years\months. Right now life is overwhelming, life is sometimes tough, and life is wonderful. I can still say I wouldn’t trade what I have for anything!
So took the same questions I asked my single friends, and ask them to my married friends, and only rephrased them to fit. Here are the questions with some of the answers, some are summarized or shortened. These are not necessarily all the answers or exclusive to this survey.
Question # 1
What are some of the difficulties of being married vs. when you were single?
-Laying down my selfishness
-Not having those times when you can just do things you want to do.
-Having to let go of things being done the way I would do it.
-Laying down your dreams of how you thought it would be before you were married
-A lack of freedom to travel, keep your own schedule, change jobs, earn an income, and move to a new church or location at will.
-freedom to spend my money as I want
-sharing family times
-not being able to see my family as often as I would like
– (with little ones) going anywhere, even to the grocery store is so difficult
-the mundane tasks
Question # 2
-What are some of the benefits of marriage?
-Having a partner in life.
-Praying and reading God’s word together.
-Going on adventures together.
-Someone to help repair the car, and do heavy duty things around the house.
-Someone to help with financial decisions
-Spending my whole life with my best friend
-Someone to share the joys and sorrows of life with
-Being provided for, and relieved of the need to work outside my home every day.
-A strong arm to lean on
-How it strips you of selfishness
-A better grip on contentment
How does your church family reach out to you?
Just like for singles these answers really varied. From my church family doesn’t reach out to me at all to my church does an excellent job at providing meals when I’m sick or have just had a baby to providing encouragement through different avenues.
Do you feel like you have a voice in your church?
Again answers vary here with some feeling like they do and others feeling like their husband has a voice, but they don’t really. Since I did not send this to men, I can only assume that men would feel more overall like they have a voice.
Are there any ministries you feel you cannot be a part of as a married person?
Answers were pretty much the same here. Many expressed the fact that ministries are always a joint effort with their husbands because he will most likely have to make sacrifices for them to be involved in ministry outside of the home.
Those with children either have to take them along to wherever they are ministering which in many cases makes them feel as though they cannot be as much of a help, or they have to find a babysitter which in some cases seems kind of pointless.(why get someone to babysit when they may rather just volunteer in your place.) They may be able to leave them at home with the husband, assuming he has no plans in the evening or is willing once again to sacrifice in this way.
Some expressed it is also harder to ministries that involve other places with your children. It means extra tickets, uprooting them for a longer amount of time, or finding a place for them to stay while you and your husband go alone. The latter you can’t do for any length of time.
Others feel that as long as they have children there will be certain ministries in which the church would not even consider them. This is not a bad thing, necessarily, but tough when it’s something you have done in the past and/or are passionate about, or are gifted in.
Is there anything you wish your single friends would understand about marriage?
Here I wish to post exact quotes from 3 different friends because I thought they spoke from their hearts to answer this question, and they were just too good to “summarize”.
“I wish they would remember that marriage does not solve all problems – it does not free me from insecurity, loneliness, or body shame. It does not fill my love-tank perpetually full. My husband is amazing, but he does not always understand me or respond with the “right thing” that makes life okay. I still need other people. I still cry when no one finds out about it. I must still seek Jesus, most of all, for my sense of worth and belonging.”
“That’s it’s meant to be forever, taken seriously. Society makes divorce seem like such a typical way of life. Very few put in effort to make it work. Being PATIENT and diligent in prayer! Be ABSOLUTELY sure that the person you marry is the one GOD chose for you.”
”It isn’t all roses…I feel like some women look at my life and think that because I’m married, I’ve got everything I could ever wish for. You still have to deal with unmet expectations and unfulfilled longings. If you can’t learn to be happy/fulfilled as a single person, chances are, you won’t be happy as a married person either. And you’ll make your husband miserable if you expect him to fulfill all your hopes and dreams.”
Is there anything you wish single people wouldn’t ask you?
-Why can’t you do so and so referring to how you respond to your husband for instance or take care of your children? Insinuating it should be easy…
-Not sure about asking, but I wish sometimes that they wouldn’t assume they know how they would raise my children. It’s so different when you live with them 24\7. I had many ideas of how I would raise my children and then I had them and realized it’s not near as black and white as I used to think. I welcome advice if it’s given in the right spirit, just realizing it’s not easy.
Is there anything you wish your single friends would ask you?
-I wish they would ask me how I’m doing and feel like they care about my day of cleaning up that huge mess with my children, even though I know they would love to have a child to clean after…our difficulties are different, but I still think we can sympathize with each other as friends.
-I don’t know specifically, but I hope they are never afraid to ask me questions.
-Questions about my dreams, who I was and am, sometimes I feel I lose my identity as a person. I love when single people still see me beyond my “married\mother” status
Question # 9
Do you ever wish you were single, or are you at a point in your life that you are pretty content with where you are at?
83% of the participants in this survey admitted to having fleeting moments of wishing they were single, but most of the 83% admitted not wanting to go back to being single when they really thought of it. Most expressed a desire to be content, but discontentment can sometimes sneak up on you unaware. It’s then that we all single and married alike have to remember where our real source of contentment comes from.
So I end my blog on this note. Whether you are married, or single, bond, or slave, Jew or Greek, 😉 there are joys and sorrows, victories and losses, easy and difficult. Whether married or single, we need to seek to understand each other because we are brothers and sisters in Christ. With a little imagination most of us can step into the others shoes for a moment, and I think we need to do this more. Singles we need you. We delight in you. We cherish you! Married we need you. We delight in you. We cherish you!
“Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.”
–Daniel H. Pink