My whole life, I’ve heard people say “marriage is hard.” To be honest, this slightly confused me for quite some time. What’s hard about being married? Sure, you’re bound to have some disagreements and such and go through some hard things in life. However, those things aren’t unique to marriage. You can have disagreements with your family or your roommate. Plus everybody goes through hard things whether they’re married or not.
As a single person, marriage looked so much easier to me. You always had someone around. Someone had picked you. You had someone committed to you. Sex was now a reality instead of a dream. Singleness is the really hard path, or so I thought.
The truth is they’re both hard. Though they may be hard in different ways, they both have their unique difficulties. Though it’s easy to look at someone else who’s in a position you want to be in and think they have it all, that’s simply not true. In fact, that’s pretty much never true, regardless of your situation or theirs.
For the next two weeks (this one and next one), we’re going to look at four problems unique to singlelness and four problems unique to marriage. This isn’t a competition to see who has it best or worst, it’s a reality check. We all have problems. Those problems might be different, but we all have them. Knowing about them can help us to be more gracious to one another and less driven by jealousy or bitterness.
We’ll start with the hard things in singleness. Believe me, I know this isn’t a conclusive list (feel free to add additional items in the comments section), but here are four hard things about being single:
In having a conversation with a friend from work this last week, I was once again reminded how much dating sucks. It’s awkward. You’re in this weird relationship where you’re not just friends, but you’re not quite committed to each other yet either. There’s so many questions and so much fear. It’s fun in some ways, but exhausting and emotionally taxing in so many others. There’s always the fear of a break up. If a break up comes, we all know that’s less than pleasant.
What sucks even more than dating is a lack of dating. What do you do if you want to be in a relationship, but you currently have no good prospects? How far out of your way do you go to meet new people? Do you try the online thing? Do you need to just pray more? There are just so many questions and fears and possibility for hopelessness.
The worst part of both situations is that if things aren’t going well, you start to blame yourself. Am I not [insert insecurity of the day] enough? Even if you know full well in your head that it’s not your fault, your sad little broken heart starts to fight against you. The struggle is real.
It’s so easy to feel lonely when you’re single. There are so many ways to end up the awkward third, fifth, or seventh wheel. You seem to see couples everywhere you go, constantly reminding you of what you don’t have. Coming home to an empty apartment and cooking for one is not what you imagined you be doing.
Even if you’re dating someone, you can feel left behind because you aren’t married. There’s no default person at your house that you have sworn to do life with. Even if you have great roommates that you love, it’s not quite the same as a spouse.
Now, I want to be clear on something. Marriage is not a cure for loneliness. You can still feel lonely within your marriage (in some ways, married loneliness can feel/be worse), but unless your marriage is not doing well, being married does help with the loneliness thing. You have a person who is supposed to share life with you. That’s an expectation in marriage, whereas in singleness it happens, but maybe not as often or maybe not with only one person.
No Life Anchor
When you’re single you can choose to do any job at any place for any time period. It’s totally up to you. The world is your oyster, which is TERRIFYING. We all want some kind of stability, something that we’re tied to. You can feel like a ship lost at sea when you’re single. There’s no other person (besides Jesus of course) to anchor your life to. You have the freedom and flexibility to go, do, and be whatever you want.
On the one hand, that’s great. However, it can feel overwhelming. It’s a little scary to have so many options. How will you ever choose the best one? Marriage gives you at least one long term (as in lifelong, God willing) tether for your life. You will be where this person is. Sure, you might move around or make big life changes, but that person will be there. You still have one stable thing in your life.
Once again, there’s only so much stock you can actually put in the stability a spouse provides. After all, your spouse could die suddenly or leave you or any number of things that would ruin that sense of stability. Still, it feels better and isn’t something that you think about as much when you’re married.
This might possibly be the hardest part about being single. If you’re single and you want to be married, there are so many unmet desires that are tied up in that relationship status. The desire for physical touch, sex, having someone to share your life with, having a family, and so much more.
While married people (and all people really) have unmet desires too, the desires that come with wanting to be married seem so closely tied with who you are. It’s excruciatingly painful to have that desire unmet. If those desires feel like they will never be met, it’s easy to give up hope as well.
This is by far what I thought was the most painful part of being single. I’m not going to lie, though getting married didn’t solve all unmet desires, it did solve the ones that were biggest in my life.
Okay, so I know that’s far from being the only hard things about being single. Those are just the four I struggled with the most. Feel free to share more below. I’d love to hear what you think is hard or was hard (if you’re married).