An Open Letter to Singles: You Need Married Friends

In Uncategorized by Debra Fileta21 Comments

My dear fellow singles,

You may have noticed an interesting trend lately. Single people and married people don’t often mix.

It saddens me when I hear time and time again of single people who have disconnected with friends because their friend had got married. Some say they feel their friend who is now married, doesn’t have the time of day for them and they have somehow drifted apart. Some single people choose only to socialize with other single people, perhaps because they feel they have nothing in common with them or nothing to offer.

I would like to share my positive experiences of friendship with married people and about how I believe building relationships with married people can be fulfilling and how you can learn from them if you yourself one day desires marriage. Here are three great reasons why single people need married friends.

  1. Learning how to outwork selflessness

As a single person, it could be so easy to fall into the trap of being selfish. That’s not to say that married people have it figured out, but the reality is that I can come home from work, watch what I want, eat what I want, not call or text anyone if I don’t want to. My house is mine, my food is mine, my time is all mine. Married people, on the other hand share their space, their food, their finance and their duvet. If they have kids, they have to make plans around them and each other’s schedules. I’m certainly not saying that all single people are selfish and all married people are the purest example of selflessness but you can see how it could be easy for a single person to shut out the world and think only of themselves and their needs.

It’s taken me a few years, but I have started to figure out that as a single person it’s necessary to put into practice selflessness. In befriending married people I have learned where, as a single person with no dependants, I could offer practical help and support. It’s through my friendship with married people that I’ve been able to exercise my ability to spot a need and do what I can to help. Learning to be selfless through acts of kindness and simply sticking around when times are tough are small steps towards outworking selflessness.

2 . Becoming Family

A lot of single people feel lonely. In fact, single people can feel lonely even among a group of people. Often what single people are looking for is a sense of belonging, after all God Himself said that it’s not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). As humans, we have a God-designed desire for companionship – we’re not meant to live isolated lives.

In developing a friendship with married friends, I have had the honor and privilege of building up a relationship with them and with their kids. Kids are great and they are a massive blessing, but they can also be hard work. Through being friends with married people who are parents, I saw how they sacrificially give to their kids day in and day out and at times I realized it was important for them to have a break or time out for themselves. In seeing this, I began to offer to babysit, open up my home to my friends and their kids, learning to share my home, my time, my finances and my food. In essence, they became family to me.

Whilst it’s not practical – or even appropriate – for me to be around them all the time, like with any family member I’m there to help whenever they need it and visa versa, as well as having the option of simply spending time with them.

  1. Witnessing Married Life

One of the biggest values of having married friends and being welcomed into their lives like family is that I get to witness what married life is truly like. If you’re a single person and your only experience of married friends is via social media, let me tell you this: you are seeing a perfect vision of marriage which does not exist. The true value of having friends who are married, and spending quality time with them is witnessing the rough with the smooth and getting a true picture of what marriage is really like, away from the perfect frame of social media.

I see my friends walking hand-in-hand, I see them disagreeing over seemingly minor things, I see them interacting with their kids and with each other, I witness the frustrations which may surface with each other. I see two humans navigating life together. Sometimes they get it wrong, sometimes they get it spot on and sometimes I see them working through something with diligence and patience. Sometimes I see selfishness and sometimes I see selflessness.

If marriage is, as the Bible says, giving of yourself selflessly for another. If marriage is wanting the best for another. If marriage is being a blessing even when it’s hard. If marriage is juggling life with maybe a couple of kids in tow, then maybe my married friends have given this single person the greatest and most important lessons I could ever learn.

If you are a single person, it could be so easy to either wallow in loneliness, be self-absorbed or selfish to only satisfy your own desires. It could be easy to become single-minded to the point of limiting your circle of friends to only those of the same relationship status. We would be emotionally poorer if we limited our circle of friends in this way.

Instead, I encourage you to step outside of yourself and your comfort zone to focus on others. Challenge yourself to befriend married people, to become more selfless and in doing so, you will become family to others. I became an aunt to kids whom I was in no way connected by DNA. I learned to be selfless and a blessing to others, in doing so I learned what it was like to juggle two boys, prepare meals for them, get them ready for bed, watch endless repeats of kids TV, change nappies, and go out for the day with them in tow. I learned a little of what it takes to run a family, and in doing so had a greater understanding of the true day-to-day challenges married people face.

Being friends with married people has certainly given me insight into a future that I hope one day I will have. I’ve seen the blessings and I’ve seen the challenges but in the meantime, I will continue to give of myself and my time continuing to learn to love selflessly as Christ Himself does for us. I hope the same for you, too.

Sincerely,

Rachel

Thanks for reading the #TheSingleLife Series at TrueLoveDates.com! Catch up on our entire series, with more guest posts BY singles, FOR singles.
Rachel is a coordinator and graphic designer, living in Stoke-on-Trent, England where she is the owner of one of the country’s first £1 houses. While navigating through singleness, she travels, serves in her local church and invests in her local community. This doting Aunt loves to hang out with the kids in her life, opening up her home to family and friends, as well as concocting her latest baking masterpiece for the occasion. When time permits, she loves to go on random day trips, learn self-defense, is a keen genealogist, quite partial to superhero movies and isn’t afraid to dig out the Legos. 
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Comments

  1. While the advice is great, in my experience, my married friends have chosen to exclude me or have often used “you wouldn’t understand because you aren’t married” statement whenever I try to give sound advice. If it’s not that it’s either why are you still single questions to here is the reason why you aren’t single. I prefer to work out #1 and #2 by serving in my local church and creating bonds with my single women life group through my church. As for #3, I try to read as much material about marriage, specifically from Gary Thomas and Tony Evans

    1. Cherelle that’s my point exactly. The reality is that for every single married person that I know, unless they’re in a horrible marriage where they basically still live and act as if they’re single, and/or my friends spouse acts like their single, the reality is that life changes immediately for married people. In fact, from my personal experience with friends and family, life changes immediately as soon as they enter into a serious, committed, exclusive relationship. From what I’ve seen and heard, their are certain expectations that come with marriage. Most of the people I know who are married, their spouses have that expectation of wanting, (and needing) the majority of their time, (especially if they have children). Married people have this expectation of feeling like they and their spouse need to be home. Again from my personal experience this is particularly true of men expecting their wives to be home when they’re home, or soon after their home from work. This expectation is very real, and can, and has caused serious problems in many marriages that I know of when one or both people spend too much time away from home, and/or spend too much time with a single person. On the other end of the spectrum, from my life experiences, I’ve found women to be particularly uneasy about their husbands having single friends. They tend to think the single friends are a potential bad influence, and prefer to engage with and spend time with other couples. I do understand the premise of this post, and I wholeheartedly agree. Unfortunately though, in real life with most married people this simply isn’t practical as Cherelle stated upthread, and it doesn’t quite play out that way. There is quite a bit of exclusion from the “married club” when your still single. And it’s usually the married folks that exclude the single folks, and understandably so to a degree. Especially when you’re a newlywed, and/or after you have kids, your priorities, and your life can drastically change. There is an expectation of being at home and not hanging out with single friends, or always having single friends over when someone wants, and expects quality time with their spouse. Of course there should be a balance, even for married people. However, this is easier said than done depending on who your married to. And my married friends who are able to spend lots of time with me are going through very serious issues, and possibly on the outs, and/or separated. That makes me unhappy that my friends marriages are going through such serious turmoil and strife. So it’s inadvertently usually an indication of a serious problem in the marriage, if married friends have lots of time to spend with single friends.
      My suggestion, and something I’ve done that has worked for me, is not to even look to my married peers for marriage advice and examples of marriage. The reason why is because they’re just as clueless as me, not to mention, what they do within their marriage isn’t always right, (and/or Godly). People would probably be surprised how many people are in very bad, and horrible marriages, and not happy at all. In fact, many men have told me that it’s their married friends that deter them from marriage, and tell them “don’t ever get married.” So just because you have lots of married friends, doesn’t mean their marriages are exemplary examples of marriage and what it should be. I truly feel like my best lessons on marriage were taught to me by my grandparents, great grandparents, great aunts and uncles, and friends of the family who have been together, and/or married as long as, or longer than I’ve been alive. Even at work, I talk to the older ladies about to retire about their marriages, and family life. I garner my wisdom from them. I’ve learned some invaluable lessons from them that I know for a fact will help me in my marriage, and ensure that my marriage will withstand the test of time. As someone said in one of my favorite movies “Love Jones,” anyone can go to a courthouse, or have a big fancy wedding and get married, but few people know how to stay married, and stay together, and have longevity within their marriage.

    2. Cherelle,
      Sadly, I sense that this is the case for many singles. I get the questions as well, and the same “you wouldn’t understand” statement at times. The reality is that, as an INFJ personality, I see what a lot of people don’t, and I DO tend to understand people and can give a third-person objective assessment on a topic, such as communication issues.

      Although I do understand that marriage requires a lot of time and work, it would also help if married couples invited singles into their lives. We should all be striving for selflessness, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s on the single person to initiate – heck, I have single friends who never initiate and boy, does it get frustrating sometimes to be the one to do so! 🙂

      1. This is very interesting. I’ve worked with married couples several years and I have to say that even though married couples enjoy each other, we sometimes look at singles and go “wow, they have all the fun.” They get to travel and hang out whenever they want because they don’t always have the responsibility of homes, children, and multiple schedules to consider.

        Maybe, just maybe, you don’t get the invitations because they think you have better things to do. Or maybe they’re thinking what they’re doing is so basic (ordinary) that you would be bored talking about kids, school, recipes, or regular family life.

        Sometimes we have to see the grass for what it is. It’s not always greener on the other side. It’s really the same grass that you have. But it’s more about working with your grass to make it enjoyable for you.

  2. Thanks! For this, Debra, I think my loneliness has reached a climax, it’s killing me, i never have felt so isolated, and alone in the world. Even around a few people, on the bus, people look at me, like i’m a broken record, cause i’m always by myself. But i know that one friend, who will ever leave me or forsake me. Jesus Christ!

    And.. I will find my future husband one day! Keep me in prayer! Amen.

    1. Praying for you!! God is with you all the time, wherever you go. Please take care of yourself. You have a bright future ahead of you. You should talk to someone in your life about your loneliness. You should consider speaking to a professional therapist if your loneliness is causing you this much pain. Please take care of yourself.

  3. I’m not so sure I agree with this. I really don’t think singles and marrieds should comingle in a relationship, it’s a slippery slope and could potentially cause strife in a couple’s relationship. I will say, that if you are younger and your married couple is older, both could benefit from each other and it could be a learning experience for both. I can see where if you are single and love children and hope to have them someday yourself, you may find helping out your married friends with theirs is a blessing….me…not so much. I chose not to have children and really do not feel the need to take care of someone else’s. I do serve in the children’s ministry at church and though I enjoy it, I’m usually glad when it’s over…sorry…not going to lie. I don’t think singles are any more selfish than couples, we’re just single so what we have is well….just ours. I am more than happy to share what I have should someone be in need. Unfortunately, I see more couples with the issues of selfishness which is why they don’t work out. In the Bible, the man should be willing to lay down his life for his wife as Christ did, however you’re lucky if you can get him to give up the remote. The bottom line for me is, I don’t like or want to be a 3rd wheel.

  4. Even Will and Jada Smith gave some great marriage advice. They admitted that their marriage had “died” several times throughout the years. They also openly and honestly discussed how they were able to bring it back to life by keeping God first, and through prayer, and family support, and their loyalty and commitment to one another. And that’s why their still together after more than a decade. I believe that’s what single people need to see to prepare them fully for what marriage really is. Because sadly, most people are very ill prepared mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually for the hardships, and the worst of it. And because of this, they have a very hard time dealing with things when hardships come, and all they know how to do is throw in the towel, and walk away when the going gets tough. I think people have to be taught, and trained how to tough it out, and stay in it to win it, and overcome. We must always be mindful of the fact that even God will not always move our mountains, he will allways give us the strength to climb.

    (my apologies for being so long-winded Debra, I had a lot to say on this particular subject).

  5. How are we supposed to be friends with married people when they’re explicitly taught to view single people as a threat to their marriage? This goes for the single person being friends with the same-sex partner in the marriage too.

  6. I think this article doesn’t deal with the fact that it’s often the married friends that do the withdrawing. I can try to include them on many things, but I can’t make them interact. I’m not saying connecting with married friends is not important, but as someone who creates a lot of social experiences for friends, I see the bottleneck on the side of the married couples.

    Despite this, we should still try to reach out to our married age-peer friends, as well as older couples in the church.

  7. Completely agree with Cherelle. It is all good and well to find married friends who are open to having single friends, but, in most cases, married people in the church, especially, are not willing to open their lives up to single people. Many married couples in church have this exclusionary mentality when it comes to single people. Married people very often distance themselves from single people and treat them as if they are social pariahs. They often have this attitude that single people are condemned to singleness, because they have sinned against God, that singleness is all their fault, there is something wrong with them, they have no value, and, that they are immature, selfish Christians, and therefore, single people should be shunned and ostracized in the church. This is the attitude that continues to prevail in the church, which is so contrary to what is in the Bible, where God used many single people in both the Old and New Testaments in mighty ways for His Kingdom, and to carry out His divine purposes.

    This open letter assumes that it always the single person’s responsibility to open themselves up and find married friends, but what about married people? Why can’t they also open themselves up and find single friends, as well. Why can’t married people also show love to single people who are sometimes lonely and invite them into their world and homes? Why must the burden always be placed on single people all the time to find married friends, who, most of the time, do not want to have anything to do with single people?

    It is good to have a mixture of both single and married friends, but most married people in the church are not interested in having single friends. And, they have no problem with letting single people know this in some form or another. I have only come across very few and rare occasions in the church where married couples are willing to have single friends in their lives, and who open up their homes to them. But, other than these few gems, this behaviour towards single people by married people in the church, is definitely not the norm.

    I also take issue with the guest author’s first statement: “I am saddened to hear time and time again of single people who have disconnected with friends because their friend got married”. The author immediately assumes that it is single people who disconnect from their married friends, and, sometimes this is true. But, in most cases, it is the married friends who do the “disconnecting” from their single friends. As soon as a single person’s friends get married, the single friend immediately gets cut off from their married friends’ lives. As soon as a single person’s friends get married, he or she can expect to never hear from their married friends again. This is usually the situation.

    Just like single people need to be encouraged to find married friends, married people also need to make an effort and show love to single people, who are sometimes lonely, and who are sometimes hurting, and be a good and loving example to them. This snobbery from married people towards single people must end in the church. It is very unloving and not Christ-like at all. All born-again Christians, those who have decided to follow Christ and have a personal relationship with the Lord, are called to walk in love, and this means showing love in real, practical ways, not just in words. Being married does not excuse any believer of this. Just because a believer is married does not justify him or her of not showing real Christ-like love to anyone who is not married.

  8. I agree with Tom A, that the disconnection and withdrawal from single people comes from married people, most of the time. Single people, by and large, are more open to having friends from different walks of life, naturally, because of their life circumstances. Therefore, the bottleneck is definitely on the side of the married couples, as Tom A puts it.

    There is this vague perception in the church that because single people are single, they are the ones who are automatically selfish, but I have come across many, many, many selfish married people in church, as well. They are very often in this “it is only about me and my spouse” mode; the rest of the church family or church community does not exist. This attitude is not from God and does not reflect the love of Christ.

  9. As a divorced single mom I have found friendships with married women to be really awkward. Just saying. I posted yesterday about how I would rather not feel like a mentorship project or a ministry opportunity and so many times that is what friendships with married couples feels like and, after my divorce, sadly turned into. The irony is that singles actually do spend more time in service than marrieds because they are free from having to serve a spouse. Having been married for 12 years and having had single friends during that time, I am not altogether sure about the relationship as described in the article.

  10. I’m with all of the comments above that say it’s the married people who tend to withdraw from their single friends – not the other way around. Girls Nights are often exclusive to the married ladies – I find out about them later on Facebook. There have even been times when I’ve asked a married friend to get together and her “husband didn’t want her to go” and I never know if it’s really the husband or if he’s just a convenient excuse.

    Another thing singles are often encouraged to do to work on their selfishness is volunteer, which I find odd because it’s mostly single people who show up whenever the church is looking for volunteers, yet all anyone can tell us is to volunteer, volunteer, volunteer! It gets old.

    1. I’m not often invited to the casual social events, dinners and parties thrown by married people at church – not even when the hosts are people I think of as friends – but I am ALWAYS on the guest list for a baby or wedding shower or going away party for a couple, including the ones that are not automatically open to everyone at the church. I’m expected or strongly encouraged to show up for official stuff and anything that means I have to spend money on another person. I wouldn’t really mind but there should be some balance. It doesn’t occur to them that they never invite me to anything else when they’re insisting I show up to something where I have to bring a gift.

  11. I sense a lot of bitterness from the single crowd in the comments. I have to say as a newly married person, I am perfectly open to being friends with single people, in fact a lot of my friends are single. Even though marriage is awesome, it’s great to have friends from all walks of life to both disciple and be discipled by. Friendship with married people may look different from friendships in regards to time and frequency, but that doesn’t make the friendship any less special! It’s also actually super nice to have girl time, so please, be our friends 🙂

    1. Jess – it’s great that you are still close with your single friends. You do both need each other.

      Words like “bitter” may be accurate to describe someone’s attitude, but they aren’t helpful when people are hurting –
      especially from someone who has what they want. You can come off as smug and insensitive, even when you mean well.

  12. Dear Jess,
    Many single people have been hurt, shunned and rejected by married people, and experience this on a continual basis. How do you expect single people to feel when this is what they experience over and over again from married people, most of the time in the church? It is easy to brand people as just being bitter, but the rejection that single people experience from married people is very real and very frequent in the church. This is actually the norm in the church. You, as a married person being open to having single friends, are an exception and not the norm. How would you feel if you were constantly rejected all the time by people who claim that they love God and follow Christ, but treat you with contempt and as a second-class citizen, just because you are different to them?

    1. I think another thing to consider is that, given the choice, married people prefer to spend time with married people, not singles. At least, that has been my experience. It makes sense in a way, you want to have friends that can relate to you. Though from the other side, it’s a bummer that the nature of those friendships change.

  13. I agree with all of the above! I have had two beautiful friendships with married couples where I was always invited & included, but those were both exceptions and definitely not normal. Couples always talk about finding couple-friends that they can do double dates with, etc. It was even the subject of a How I Met Your Mother episode! However, I’ve never once heard a married person say that they needed to find more single friends.

  14. I will have to say, given the comments I should consider myself incredibly blessed. I agreed with the article completely which to be honest for me is rare, but I also have a married family that I’m close with. I’m friends with both of them pretty equally as well as their 3 kids. It’s enjoyable spending time with them but it reminds me of how much more they have going on!

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