I was single before I was married.
That’s less obvious than it sounds, given the number of people who marry their high school sweethearts or have a number of relationships throughout their twenties and maybe thirties.
I did neither. After a flurry of boyfriends in my teens (the internet won’t tell me the real collective noun), I was Single, Single, Single for twelve years until I met my husband when I was thirty.
The Old Testament book of Ruth stars four single people, and Carolyn Custis Jones’ marvellous The Gospel of Ruth gives each a full chapter. She points out that, given the fact that women live longer than men, nine out of ten married women will be widowed.
Divorce or far-too-early bereavement may leave any of us unexpectedly single, and of course many people choose a single life long-term or have it chosen for them.
In my observation and experience, Christian people are more likely to spend long periods single, in church cultures that a) encourage a high degree of thoughtfulness about choosing a marriage partner; b) discourage relationships with people who aren’t also following Jesus; and c) often comprise many more young women than men.
Well, this is all very interesting, you may be thinking (I hope you’re thinking!) but what’s it doing on a blog called Sacraparental, even if there’s that handy set of brackets in the tagline?
I want to talk about singleness here for a few big reasons.
For one thing, our kids are pretty likely to spend at least some of their adult lives as single people. Living a thriving single life is a skill all of them should learn, so it’d be good to share our experiences of singleness and talk about how we can equip them well.
Single parenting is of course a whole blog theme in itself, and it’s not something I can offer much insight into myself. But some of you can, so I’d like to offer you hospitality here for that conversation.
Single non-parents are often crucial people in kids’ lives. When I was single, I hugely appreciated the generosity of married friends in involving me in their kids’ lives. Our baby, SBJ, has two single godparents and two married (to each other) ones, and they can each offer different experiences and availability to our boy.
We are dead keen to provide SBJ with a great cloud of witnesses, a big extended family of people who will adore him and help him grow up to be kind and wise and brave. Single friends are a vital part of that web.
So I’d like to make some space here to consider what it’s like to be a single person in a variety of different life stages and situations, and to talk about how partnered people can be good friends to single folks. The goal is to build deep community between us all, right?
What have your experiences been? If you’ve been a single adult at any time in your life, could you please tell us:
- what advice you’d give your younger or older single self
- what advice you’d give partnered people on how to relate to single people
- what is best and hardest about being single?
This is part of an occasional series on being single and being friends with single people. You might like to check out the other posts:
If you’re newish to Sacraparental, you might like to check out the Sacraparental Facebook feed, with daily links and resources, my Twitter feed and my Pinterest boards, especially the topical Koinonia: deepening community.