In this day and age where the divorce rate among Christians is 50%, I'm one of those people that never got married. It's not because I never wanted to, but because I was that girl that stayed home on Friday and Saturday nights, while everyone went out on dates with their latest boyfriend. It wasn't until I was 18, that I finally went on my first date, and even then it was a blind date with a guy from a friend's high school, because she knew I didn't want my prom to be my first date. The date wasn't bad but the guy was pining over a cheerleader at his school and so it was just that, a date. My prom rolled around and not one guy asked me out. Since I didn't want to go to prom alone, in an act of desperation, I asked a guy I worked with, to go with me. It was a double date with my friend and her boyfriend and it was a nice night. Still my date was just that, a date. We "dated" for about a month but in reality, he was hitting on my best friend in high school, the entire time. A fact that I found out after he dumped me, the day after she told us she broke up with her boyfriend. I think I was more confused than anything else as to why he broke up with me out of the blue.
In my 20s, there were a series of a handful of dates, here and there, all totalling five, before I met my ex when I was 26. One of the reasons I looked to singles groups was for the friendships that I knew I wasn't going to get at a liberal arts college. It's hard finding Christian friendships among people that talk about going over to their friends houses and getting stoned. Or going to parties and drinking, not that I find anything wrong with drinking. I'm one of those Christians that feels it's ok for Christians to drink, as long as they don't do it to get drunk. I've never seen the appeal of getting buzzed, much less drunk, I've always been a social drinker myself, having one drink when I'd go out, when I drank that is.
But I digress, this isn't about drinking or the reasons I was in Christian singles groups in the past, it's about being 40 and still single and my interactions with married people, or people that were married but are now single for whatever reason.
I'm single, I am not a child.
Just because I'm single does not give people the right to treat me like I'm a child. Especially if they have children my age. That is the most condescending thing they can do to any single person! Then there's the fact that, by treating a single person that way, it's also rude and disrespectful. I want to be married, that is something I've wanted for many years, but for whatever reason that God alone knows, I'm still single. Maybe he's working on me, maybe he's working on my future husband, regardless, I know one thing, I am meant to be married, not single. I have a desire to be married and God knows this. He would not plant this desire in me if it wasn't what He wanted for me. I've often said being single sucks and it's lonely. That doesn't mean I'm looking for marriage to rescue me, nor does it mean I'm looking for a husband to entertain me. Every time I say something along the lines of how much I hate being single and/or it's lonely, I get bombarded by so called expert married people who clearly don't know a single thing about me. They go on to tell me "you can be lonely in a marriage too". Um if you are lonely or miserable in your marriage, then that is your problem, not mine! It also means you need to work on your marriage to fix what's broken in it. Oh look, the perpetual single person knows a thing or two about marriage. Imagine that.
There's more to marriage than a piece of paper, and sex. There's companionship, something you don't get being single. Sure there are pets, but they can't hold your hand when you are out walking around when you're out and about, or wrap their arms around you when you are having a bad day and need a hug. They can not give you a tender kiss on your forehead, or a romantic, or even a passionate kiss that reminds you how much they love you. They can't give you presents for your birthday, the holidays, or just because. They can't send flowers to brighten your day, or because they are traveling for work and they know you miss them, or they miss you. You can't even get those things in singles groups. What you get in singles groups are people to hang out with. Friends to go to movies with, have dinner with, do other social activities with. However if you are part of a group that is an hour away from your house, you are only doing things in that area. Which means you are not going to places you want to go to close to your house. You can try to plan things closer to home, but the people in the singles group an hour away, won't drive up to hang out with you, because it's "too far". But apparently it's not too far for you to drive down to them every weekend. It's much like the selfishness of my ex boyfriend. He lived an hour away yet I was the one that drove to his place every weekend. I can literally count the number of times he came up to me, on one hand. Bottom line is, you get things in a marriage that you can't get with a bunch of single friends. And that is something that I, and other single people want and desire. Our feelings should not be brushed off by married people.
Being single you have more time to serve
I want to scream and at times, reach through my computer and smack people whenever they say that. Talk about condescending. If singles have more time to serve, then why is it, I have always served with married people at my church? Where are all the single people? Are they not following God's commandment to serve then? Of course not! However married people can and should serve too. But you wouldn't know that because married people are quick to tell single people that they have more time to serve, yet those same married people most likely don't even serve themselves, at their churches (or anywhere else). But they're the first people to tell single people that they have more time to serve. Being single doesn't mean I don't have bills or a job. I've been paying my own way since I was 16, even though I still live at home. I still have a car loan that needs to be paid. I still have a phone bill that needs to be paid. Just like the gas for my car, car insurance and cable all need to be paid. Those are coming out of my pocket, and my pocket alone. And with gas prices on the rise, and my pay remaining low, that means I have to look to a second job to make extra money to help pay the bills and save money for the future. Besides, I have a family too, I am not an only child, and my parents are still alive. Which means I do have family obligations from time to time. Then there's the fact that I need to rest from time to time. Crazy as that may sound, it's true! So how am I supposed to serve more if I have a life as a single person?
I want to be married
I have helped two people plan their weddings, I've made things for another one or two people, I've gone shopping with two brides for their wedding dresses. I've gone to over 20 weddings, stood up in two and as I get older I can't help but wonder, when will it be my turn? I watch the bridal shows on TLC on Friday nights, I don't know why really, other than to torture myself. I watch Say Yes to the Dress and fantasize about going shopping for my wedding dress. I wasn't one of those girls who grew up dreaming about getting married. It was probably due to the unhealthy family that I grew up in. I knew there was a lot of bad there, from an early age. It's hard to miss that when your parents fight daily. Or when you are being mentally abused and controlled. It wasn't until I was in my 20s that I finally got in the right head space to want to get married. I thought my ex was the one, but obviously he wasn't. My ex was nothing more than a learning experience for me. I was a rebound relationship for him which wasn't fair to me. I haven't been on a date since my ex, not because I don't want to, but because I don't date married men.
For years I didn't even know my church had a singles group, so I turned that side of my life off, the part of me that wanted to date and be married. I had given up on the idea of it because I wasn't around any single men. I was never a big fan of bars or clubs, and dating men that I met in bars or clubs never appealed to me. So that left church. Well when you are serving with married men, it makes it kind of hard to meet single men. I never looked to work to meet single men, again I was surrounded by married men. If there were single men there, they didn't look at me and think about dating me, they just saw me as a woman in the office, and that was it. They never invited me out for drinks after work, or to hang out or anything. They didn't even sit with me at lunch or talk to me. I was just there, at work, and they had their own lives. So again, where was I supposed to met single men? At school? I quit college when I was 26. Through my family? Yeah right. My siblings and most of my cousins are all older than me. None of them knew any single guys my age. Not that I would have looked to my family to find someone to date anyway. My neighborhood? That's not even an option. I live in the suburbs, in a family neighborhood. I'm probably the only single adult in my subdivision. So where is a single Christian women supposed to meet single adult Christian men? At church. Again, when you are surrounded by married people, that is impossible. So what's the solution?
I tried a dating site once, but being out of work I didn't have money for a paid account. So I couldn't do anything really, other than set up a profile and read messages sent to me. I quickly closed that account. The fact that guys didn't approach me made the decision to close it a no brainer. One day one of the few single friends that I had left, told me about a Christian dating site. I looked into it, attended one of their events at my church (which was held at a different campus than the one I attend and serve at) and that was pretty much it. I didn't do anything with the site because, at the time, I was out of work. You see, over the span of four years, I only worked for a little over one year, at a few different places. So paying for a dating site was not even an option, when I had more important things to spend my unemployment checks on, like bills. Then one day I was invited to try the site out for a free two week trial. I did, and because I was working six days a week at the time, I had forgotten about it. During the time I had the account on that site, I occasionally looked and only saw one guy that appealed to me on a small level. The big red flags to me were two things, he had no problems with premarital sex, and he had a baby. After two months of being a member of that site, I closed my account. I honestly didn't see a point in having the account in the first place. Just like the first dating site, I sat there with a very good picture of myself, a good write up, and.... nothing happened. Not one guy approached me to talk to me. Working six days a week left me with no time or energy to even think about looking through the site for another match.
About a year after I closed my account, the site had another event at my church. Once again I was out of work but this time I had been on unemployment for much longer and wasn't getting much money from unemployment. My checks were reduced with each extension, which made it harder and harder to pay bills. I talked to the gals that ran the site and I put my name on their volunteer list. Since it was at my church (a different campus though) I ran tech for that event, and I ran it with a guy from my church (also from a different campus than that one, and mine). I did the speed dating that night, but as usual, I left empty handed. That is the story of my life. A month later I went to my church's singles group's, fall kickoff. I know this was all in God's timing, that I went to the singles group when I did. However here I sit, nearly two years later. I'm no longer a leader in the group nor am I a part of the group. I had to step down from leadership and walk away from the group for my own mental health. That group was the epitome of why church singles groups fail and are failing.
I still haven't been on a date since my ex dumped me, but that part of me that wants to date and is optimistic about meeting someone and eventually getting married, has been turned back on, so to speak. Still, being back on my own, being around married men and now, working with mostly women, and three married men, I once again have no options for dates. Yet I sit there on Friday nights watching the bridal shows and feel an ache inside. That desire to want to be engaged, to have a pretty engagement ring, to plan my wedding, to go shopping for my wedding dress. To ask my friends to stand up in my wedding and to pick out their dresses and go shopping with them for their dresses, as they went shopping with me for mine. Married people don't get it. Even the single people that have been married, but for whatever reason, are no longer married. They had all of that. They know what it's like to have someone that loves them so much that they married. They had their wedding, they had all the things I've never had. It's a desire they will never understand, and ache they will never feel. Only a select few of them will have a heart for singles, the kind of heart that finally understands what those of us that have never been married, feel. But that understanding has come from God, and it came after their marriages ended.
It's not that I feel like half of a person, or even part of a person. It's that there is something that I have wanted for my life for years, but have never gotten. To put it in terms that married people will understand, it's like the infertile couple. They have struggled with infertility for years, yet they've always had a desire and ache at wanting children. A desire that women have to take a pregnancy test and see a positive sign for the first time. That is what being 40 and never married feels like.