A couple years ago Glamour Magazine ran an article entitled, “What Single Women Hate About Married Women (and vice versa).” The article was written by two women: Laurie Sandell, representing “Team Single,” and Julie Klam representing “Team Married.” Each woman offered her frustrations with friends on the “opposing team,” and I thought their insights were both comical and thought-provoking.
…love to complain about how dirty their diamond rings are as they show them off.
…expect their single friends to provide a constant stream of “hilarious” stories about our “crazy” dating lives. Sandell adds, “Those anecdotes we share for your momentary amusement? They’re the same ones that keep us up at night. Try to sympathize.”
…suddenly clam up about problems in their own relationships now that they’re married. (This one was a challenging reminder for me)
…don’t seem to remember how exhausting (and lonely!) it is to be single.
…always leave early on girls night out.
…act as if somehow the fact that we got married means our life is perfect. It’s not.
…get mad if you do something simple because your husband prefers it. Klam writes this anecdote, “For instance, my husband is horribly allergic to perfume, so as a courtesy I don’t wear it. When I told my single friend Veronica this, she rolled her eyes and said, ‘Hasn’t he ever heard of Claritin?'”
…call us “smug marrieds.”
…like to claim “you got the last good one!”
…leave us out of girls’ nights, girls’ dinners, girls’ trips, etc. just because we’re married.
To read the whole article you can click here.
While definitely approaching this topic from a worldly perspective, there is a lot of truth to this article as well, even in the Christian realm. We’re all members of One Body, God’s Church, but we often act as if we’re somehow on opposing teams. Or if not opposing, completely distant: “I can’t go to that party. It’ll be all married people!” or “Dating wasn’t that hard for me and my husband. She needs to stop being so picky!” Sometimes it’s like we’re on different planets.
This is something that I really worried about as I prepared for marriage. As a single woman I remember how annoyed I got when married people tried to give me advice about being single. There was a part of me that thought, “What do you know? You’re married!” I didn’t want to lose my credibility with single Christians as a result of my changed relationship status. I also didn’t want to become “that married girl” who always talked about marriage and how great it is while alienating all of my single friends in the process.
So how do we bridge this divide?
As I’ve been reflecting on this, I’ve realized that the solution lies NOT in pretending that these differences don’t exist. It’s easy for married people to say, “Oh I understand, I was single once” but I think that’s the first mistake. You’re not single now, and that reality is a major factor. You’re different from your single friends. And there’s an extent to which we should treat this difference like any other: in the face of gender differences, racial differences, cultural differences, and socio-economic differences, we have to acknowledge the differences before we can really understand one another. Acknowledging the difference puts us in a position of having to learn from one another, rather than assuming that we already understand.
I think we need to do the same in this matter.
A verse that I’ve found really helpful in processing this issue is 1 Cor. 9:22: “I become all things to all people.” While the context of this verse is evangelism, it’s a helpful way of thinking through Christian unity as well. Paul’s words are not meant to imply a superficial understanding of one another’s joys and struggles. Nor do they instruct us to literally become like one another in either destructive or superficial ways. On the contrary, the underlying assumption of this verse is that there are differences between us. There will always be differences between us.
That said, there’s an extent to which I can’t speak with the same empathy to single women as I did before. I can’t do that anymore than I can with my African-American friends, or even a friend who grew up in Taiwan. Our experiences are totally different in a way that I can do nothing about. That’s why we aren’t expected to “be all things to all people” in that way. We can’t.
Does this mean that our differences define us? Are we hopelessly condemned to the unending, relationship status tug-of-war? By no means! As Christians we have unity in Christ! That will always be our primary identity, even more so than marriage, so it’s important that we continually seek to exemplify that in the way we treat others. In the same way that a missionary minimizes outward barriers to communication (language, dress) we can learn from this technique. I’m not saying you need to dress like someone to communicate with them, but it’s also important to recognize the language and behaviors that alienate people who are different. If you’re married and you’re hanging out with your single friends, are you constantly saying “we” this or “we” that? And if you’re single, do you actively avoid situations that are mostly married people, even when you’re invited?
In other words, what is defining your actions more: your relationship status, or your relationship with Christ?
Every situation and life season comes with its own unique challenges and struggles. We may not totally understand them, but we need to give one another the benefit of the doubt. That’s what will make us stand out in a world that is divided by differences. The world should be able to look at us and see that we don’t draw our lines the same way they do. Though Christ-followers come in many different shapes and sizes, we are all united by our Savior, and even our nights out with the girls should show it.