I briefly mentioned in a recent post that singleness is more challenging than marriage. And while marriage and singleness are incomparable, I do hold to this mentality and would like to delve further into it. Please know that in this post I take the stance that every marriage is modeling the ideal. I understand that life doesn’t happen in a vacuum, there are plenty of variables that can disrupt the ideal, but for the sake of argument and the inability to expound on every possible outcome life can throw at us, I will be operating with this mentality. Now, onto the post:
Singleness is often viewed as an undesirable life stage. If you ask anyone in the Church, for the most part, they despair at their single years. Singleness is hard, often lonely, and unwanted. When you’re married, you’re working, and living in tandem. You and your spouse, though separate individuals, are living together, moving along the same path with more or less the same goals. You have a forever partner, someone to rely on, to look to for immediate comfort, intimacy, and love. While God is the true source of our comfort and reliance, there is an added level of security that marriage holds that singleness does not.
A single person however, is most likely living with one or two singles. Though they may be friends, or perhaps not, they are relying on an unreliable person to make rent and pay the collected bills of co-living. Where a married person has someone else to fall back on, singles are relying on autonomous individuals with their own independence and agendas. If a single person loses their job, there is no other salary to fall back on. When a single person’s roommate moves out for whatever reason, there’s a gap to fill.
These instances can occur in marriage, sure. Divorce is not uncommon in the Church and is very common in society at large. Spouses can lose jobs and a second salary may not be enough to make ends meet. Spouses can die, be seriously injured, or fall ill. There are a slue of possibilities that can disrupt this paradigm, though these possibilities occurring in marriage are conjectural at best.
There is no guarantee that these instances will or will not occur within our married lives. Singles are inevitably going to encounter multiple instabilities not once, not twice, but perhaps numerous times, for as long as they are single, and unable to afford living on their own, which if you live in California and make an average salary, will probably never happen. Even if living alone is attainable, it does not become absolute. Job loss and loneliness are always lurking around the corner.
If you’re a single Christian living in a community house, you’re going to lose roommates, constantly, to marriage, job loss, new jobs, and relocation. Roommate turn over is a very real and exhausting life stage that can be perpetuated far longer than a single was ever hoping or wanting it to. When you’re at the mercy of others that do not have your same interest at heart, it can be despairing. Replacing roommates is not fun, and it can feel like just as you’re getting used to the newest roommate, another one bites the dust, so to say.
My roommates have seen two girls move out because of marriage, and a third is on the horizon thanks to me and another is leaving us in July for new scenery. Finding replacements isn’t easy, and the money gap that I know I am leaving them with is unsettling. There’s this tension though, we cannot pause our lives for the sake of others, yet I can’t help but feel like many singles are left with a dog-eat-dog reality. No wonder why so many choose to continue living with their parents after college or a stint of being off on their own. It’s just easier. It’s more stable.
Where the economy is ever against individuals, the Church feels no better. In congregations where marriage is upheld as the pinnacle of our spirituality and life’s calling, singles are often left out on the sidelines. It’s in this mentality of a members only club, singles are left fending for themselves, relying on the only thing they can, themselves. And while God is and should be an ever present comfort, being told over and over again that the Lord is your solace and should be your own source of reliance by married individuals is a hypocritical pill to swallow.
The thing is, we were never meant to live this life alone. We often think that the solution to that is marriage, or feeding singles the “contentment in God speech,” but the reality is the Church is meant to come alongside each and every person, married or single, young or old, and be there for them. And this means not just saying it, but doing it. If you’re married, reach out to the singles around you. Enjoy their company. Invite them to things. Take them out to dinner. Buy them a damn mixer or a bouquet of flowers because we should be celebrating them just as much as a newly married couple. Let them know that they are not alone and that they are loved. Really. And most of all, take to heart their challenges. Remind yourself that they have it hard too and that they have much to say and offer to the Church.
Thoughts, questions, concerns? Tell me what you think! Let’s discuss! Leave a comment below. Get a little heated. Agree. Disagree. Throw your opinion out there. Hey, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m right. It doesn’t really matter, it’s my opinion anyway. I’m just glad you decided to join the conversation.