Single People Understand Marriage Better than Married People Understand Singleness
There is a complementarian Christian guy named “KAS” who posts at Spiritual Sounding Board blog – I rather wish he did not, but that’s another topic for another day.
KAS is one of those dopey married people who thinks single adults can never, ever understand marriage or how stressful marriage is.
And he might have a point if we’re talking about a 15 year old teen-ager – but not if we’re considering older adults who have had careers, paid bills, or been in serious relationships of their own, and I do think most of the participants at SSB blog are over 30 years of age. KAS is not being read by or commented at by 15 year old kids.
In contrast, many married Christians mistakenly think they understand adult singleness just fine. But they would be wrong.
I’d say this is especially true of married Christians who are in their 40s, 50s, or older, who got married while teens or say, by their mid-20s.
I suspect they tend to associate singleness with still being 20 years old, in college, and coming home on holidays from college – when there were little or no responsibilities.
All I can tell these types of people is that being a never-married or “single again” adult past the age of 30 or 35 is not the same thing as being single in one’s teens or college years. There is more stress involved, and no significant other to shoulder it with you.
(If you want a better idea of what it’s like to be single past the age of 30, read this essay on Christianity Today to get some idea.)
As a never-married adult, I have sat through what seems like a billion marriage-related sermons – by complementarians, no less, some in person at churches, some televised – and because I used to be a complementarian, as were my parents, I was exposed to a lot of complementarian- flavored marriage advice in Christian books or magazines my mother used to buy and bring home.
If what KAS says is true and a single person can never understand marriage, then why do so many churches force adult singles to sit through all the marriage related sermons they offer?
And most of these sermons are prefaced with the comment, “Even if you are single, this marriage sermon can still benefit you.”
Does KAS mean to say that all those years of listening to marriage sermons were a waste of my time, that there was nothing an unmarried person could glean from them?
If sermonizing about marriage to single adults would be like trying to explain the theory of relativity to a turtle, why bother – if that is so, if single adults just cannot comprehend anything about marriage, why do churches and preachers keep expecting adult singles to listen to marriage related content?
Why do Christians write books for singles with dating advice in them, and preparing them for marriage (I read a few like that back in my late teens and early 20s).
Obviously, some Christians out there believe that singles can understand marriage just fine without ever having experienced marriage first- hand.
I’ve lurked in “For Married Couples” forums on huge Christian discussion boards – the types that would literally get thousands of posters per day.
I watched my sister’s two marriages fall apart. I would over-hear when she would phone and scream or cry to my mother about her husbands, and she later would call me to complain about some of this. Ditto with my older brother and his marriage.
I’ve had married co-workers in the past complain my ear off about what a selfish jerk their husbands were.
I used to read “Can This Marriage Be Saved” advice column in one of my mother’s monthly magazines every month for years. I used to watch and listen to countless hours of married people bickering on the Oprah Winfrey show, Dr. Phil, and so on and so forth.
I’ve read many posts by Christian women at the Christian domestic violence blog A Cry For Justice who talk about having had to divorce their complementarian Christian husbands because their husbands were abusing them.
I had room-mates in dorms I lived in when I was in college. One of them, the blonde, was a slob. I was always having to clean up after her as well as after our bathroom-mates, the two roomies who lived in the room by ours who we shared a bathroom with.
From all that reading and listening, I got a pretty good idea of what marriage entails. I also have relationship experience that is similar (more on that momentarily).
Here is a post I made at SSB blog in one of the threads, in response to KAS:
“This is not something someone who has never experienced can say much, if anything, about, but the same is true of singles discussing the practicalities of marriage.”
Well, well, well, well.
About this link below I am copying.
I was in a serious, committed relationship for several years, the last few we were engaged to be married. Here’s a bit of a run down of what I went through with my ex:
-This relationship I had with this guy involved me spending overnights at the ex’s apartments or homes he lived in while we were together.
-This relationship involved things such as my ex financially exploiting me, not paying me back, being horrible or lazy about budgeting, paying his bills late then coming to me to loan him money to pay all his bills and/or just the huge late fees.
-My ex kept choosing his mother over me, even when she treated me like garbage for no reason (this would be back when I was 99.9% codependent and did not have self esteem, so I sure did not pick fights with her.)
-This involved him keeping a messy, sloppy kitchen, with a huge build up of dirty dishes in the sink (on days I was not there, he was all alone), and him brushing crumbs off his counter on to the floor so that the floor in his kitchen by the counters was gross.
-I would constantly ask him to clean this stuff up. I usually ended up cleaning up his mess at his homes because he would not do it, and I do not want to live in filth.
-This involved many stupid fights over many stupid things, like me wanting to stay in and order pizza and him insisting, no, we get in a car and drive to a Tex Mex restaurant.
I could go on with other examples.
All of that will become relevant in a moment.
Here is the link:
Example tweet from that page:
Words I could either be saying to my dog or my husband:
You ate ALL of that?!?
Yeah. When I was a kid and my big brother was a teen, he would inhale an entire bag of “family size” potato chips in one sitting.
My wife bought a rice cooker today. I guess we’re going to eat a ton of rice over the next few days and then never again.
Yeah, when I was a college student, someone gave my Mom a “curly fry” maker.
She used it exactly once and never again. She ended up stuffing it in some hard- to- reach cabinet in the kitchen with all the other rarely- used cooking stuff.
(I love curly fries and always secretly hoped my Mom would drag it out and make more, but alas, it was not to be.)
by some other guy on the page:
I loaded the dishwasher my way and ran it and the world didn’t end and everything was fine.Just kidding.
My wife found out and now we’re in counseling.
Oh that would totally be my father. His way is the only correct way of cleaning dishes by hand in the sink or stacking dishes in the washer – or doing anything else in life.
As a never-married person, I related to most of those 25 married people tweets listed on that page, because I went through the same (or similar) scenarios with my ex fiance.
Hells bells, I even went through some of the same (or similar) situations listed on that “married people’s tweets” page with siblings, co-workers, and platonic friends of mine.
I do not think being married is so incredibly mysterious and alien to un-married people that we don’t “get it.” We do.
So. One can encounter many similar experiences in life in relationships, whether married or not – that was one reason I outlined several of the facets of my relationships with my ex fiance above.
Through my years-long relationship with my ex – which involved me spending time at his homes and all the financial entanglements, and fights over what TV show to watch, and everything else that came with being in a relationship, I got much of the marriage experience. I did not actually have to marry someone to get an idea of what it’s like.
And, by the way, be careful about this sort of thing, that is, just dismissing the experiences of single adults, or treating marriage as so incredibly foreign that no single could ever hope to grasp it.
I just did a post on here the other day of insensitive, catty comments people left below an article by a woman named Megan whose fiance, Matt, died:
A few insensitive, grouchy widowed women left comments saying since Megan was not married to the guy (though she was in a steady relationship with him for five years) that she was in no position to complain about her grief not being taken seriously, because, these women sniped, they were widows, so their grief mattered. (They were married and their husbands had died.)
I wrote about that here:
Some of the bitchy widows leaving comments below that article (as it appeared on Yahoo news) were trying to equate marriage to commitment and permanence and saying marriage is therefore superior to any relationship that does not involve marriage.
In this day and age of quickie divorces, who are they kidding?
Though some in the comments argued in the reverse: that due to legalities and expense, it can be difficult to leave a marriage, which is one reason why some may hold on longer than they otherwise would.
But there we have it. Older singles develop a pretty good idea of what marriage entails or what it must be like by being around married people and listening to them discuss marriage. Older singles who have been in long, committed romantic partnerships also have a pretty good idea.
But many of your older marrieds seem to assume that a 45 year old, never married woman’s situation or lifestyle is no different from that of 20 year old single “Susie College Campus kid.” They couldn’t be more mistaken.