Last week I read a thoughtful and poignant article by a 32-year-old New York woman whose parents had immigrated from India. She is a Harvard-educated journalist, smart and savvy, but she often feels cultural dislocation by living halfway between two very different worlds of dating and mating. Neither the New York social scene nor her father’s matchmaking had produced a guy she wanted to commit her life to. Like many singles, she still longed for marriage, but not at any cost.
Christian websites bring some disturbing stories from singles who too often feel out of place in their congregations. Married people are probably oblivious to the language they use and signals they give that make singles feel left out. To some Christians, “family” is a warm and inviting word, denoting friendliness, closeness, and inclusivity. To some singles, “family” means “you’re not included because you don’t have a spouse and kids.”
I was 35 when I got married. Pretty old. Old enough to have some vivid memories of feeling like you’re outside looking in at the party. I can resonate still with some of those singles’ thoughts. But the reality is more complex. There are probably just as many married people who secretly wish they were single. They miss their independence intensely. They feel smothered and tethered. Marriage does not automatically make you happy if you were miserable as a single. Misery is portable.
Alas, to fallen men and women, the grass on the other side of the fence always looks lush and green. St. Paul praised both singleness and marriage as the best of all worlds. I Corinthians 7 sums up this blessed conundrum: “I wish you could all be single like me” is a few verses away from “Each man should have his own wife.” Say it with me: “God is good to me. I love my life.”