I would like to start off with a simple question to all of the married people reading this blog, “How’s your love-life?” That’s kind of embarrassing isn’t it? How are you supposed to respond to that? It’s not a question you would normally hear someone ask of a married person is it? Then why is it that married people (and our family members), think it’s a perfectly acceptable question to ask of a single person?
In our teens and early twenties, that particular question is thrown in along with “How’s your boyfriend/girlfriend?” and the ever popular “So, when are you going to get married?”
Next time someone asks me a question like that I think I’ll say “I'm waiting for an unmarried Christian archaeologist. After all, an archaeologist is the best husband a girl can find – the older I get, the more interesting he’ll find me.”
I found that after a few years of singleness, those comments from well-meaning friends and family members began to develop into suggestions, “Don’t stay single for too long or you’ll get set in your ways,” and the much hated phrase “It’s when you stop looking, that he’ll suddenly appear.”
Then as the years passed, those suggestions developed into full-on warnings such as “Stop being so picky or you’ll never find anyone,” and one of my personal favourites “You should really find someone before you get too old and lose your looks, dear.”
As a single Christian woman, there have been several common reactions I’ve had from married people in my church. First is the invisible glance as if I don't exist. Then there's the special dance I like to call the "Sideways Avoidance Jig." This is usually performed by a married person who doesn’t think they could possibly have anything in common with a single person and wouldn’t know what to say anyway, and "Let's hope they didn't see me as I turn and run."
Another response has been the “Poor you, let me set you up on a blind date.” Out of the two times I allowed myself to be talked into going to a pre-arranged get-together with a single Christian guy, I got to the end of it and thought to myself "Do my friends really know so little about me that they've set me up with a man who so obviously doesn't suit me? Or do they think I'm so desperate I'll just take anyone?"
One reaction I've seen on a number of occasions has been the "Vice-like Grip". as I've approached a married couple at church. The wife suddenly grabs her husband's arm in an iron grip and pulls him in close to her as if laying claim to him. I feel like saying to her, “Let him loose woman! You're cutting off his blood circulation.”
Sometimes I've also felt tempted to say, "No, that's all right love - you go ahead and keep him. You look like you need him much more than me."
You might think I'm over-reacting, but let me briefly share a demonstration of the reaction I had one time. Several years back I was working one day a week for my church, undertaking visitation with the sick and elderly. At the end of the day, I'd report back to the Pastor and tell him how everyone was and share their concerns or prayer requests.
Now the Pastor and his wife were not a demonstrative couple. In fact, I don't recall them even so much as holding hands. After several months of doing the weekly visitation, I was seated across from the Pastor with a large desk in between us, and was as usual, providing details of my visits.
Suddenly the Pastor's wife appeared through the office door. She sat on her husband's lap and draped herself all over him like he was a piece of bread and she was the peanut-butter. I felt so uncomfortable, I didn't know where to look or what to say. All I could imagine was that they were having some kind of second honeymoon. Even the Pastor looked a little confused.
It wasn't until later that I realised that she was giving me the “Hands off! He's mine!” signal.
Being a single Christian is not for sissies!
This reminds me of the true story about a group of researchers in Tehran who found the remains of a skeleton of a dinosaur that had never been seen in Northern America. The vertebrae and ribs were carefully preserved and in 1930 a group of scientists from Madrid flew out to examine the exciting archaeological find. Much to the embarrassment of the original researchers, the scientists finally declared that the skeleton was not a reptile, but was a lost hay-making machine that had been caught in a landslide.
If it looks like a dinosaur, it must be a dinosaur. In other words, to married people and society in general, if we’re a single person than we must be incomplete and need a partner. The idea of somebody wanting to remain single, or not being willing to settle for just anyone, is a puzzle to them. We don’t fit into their preconceived ideas of what a fulfilled human being is like, and so they try and squash us into the mould that they understand which is “you’re either married, or you’re looking for someone to marry”.