What Married People Wish Single People Knew Part I

One of my post popular posts has been “What Single People Wish Married People Knew,” which you can read here.

I am now going to write a series called “What Married People Wish Single People Knew.”

Let me start this post by saying that I  do struggle with people telling me how hard marriage is, which is the default response when people find out that I am in my thirties and not married. They often feel like it is their duty to warn me of the impending doom that will be mine if I choose matrimony as my life sentence. I usually get very defensive when this happens thinking, “My life can be hard, too! I would give up a lot to have someone choose me. To have children.”

But lately, after seeing more and more friends divorce, I have been thinking it might be wiser for me to listen than to get angry. I should discipline the bratty children named Ego and Arrogance inside my head. I should take to heart the advice of my married friends and learn something that will help me love better whether I get married or not.

Thus, I have decided to interview several couples and several divorced people for my book and I have asked them to share their advice for us single people. My next few posts will talk about some of the best advice I was given.

“Oh no!” you yell. “I trusted you, Kate. How could you make me sit through married-people advice?”

Calm yourself. Paying attention here could save us many years of heartache, and it could greatly benefit the relationships we have now, too.

Take a deep breath. Let’s walk through this together. We will be all right. And it will be worth it.

I want to start this series with an overview entitled I Do Not Get It. 

My brother Will and sister-in-law Marie had twins two years ago. The twins were 8lb 10 oz and 7lb 7oz. That’s sixteen pounds of baby. Inside another human being.

Toward the end of her pregnancy, Marie grew wary of people saying, You look like you are about to burst! or You’re as big as a house! Her belly might not have been as big as a house, but it certainly was as big as a suburban condo. A very attractive, feisty, hippie, suburban condo, might I add.

Along with their twins, Jeremiah and Arowyn, Will and Marie have a beautiful five-year-old with cerebral palsy named John Mark. He is one of the loves of my life. Because John Mark can’t walk, they had three non-walking children for over a year. When Will takes the kids out, he straps one twin into a carrier on his front, he straps one onto his back, and then he sets John Mark in a stroller. Watching Will cart around three babies is as fascinating to watch as it is to watch a woman in Africa putting forty-eight pounds of water on her head.

The twins are now two years old. Last year at Christmastime, I visited this wonderful family. Will and I put on a puppet show on Christmas morning complete with a song called “No Tacos For Christmas” with latino accents. The three kids sat on chairs in front of our home-made puppet theatre and belly laughed for a full hour.

It is during moments like these that I ache for children.

A day or so after the puppet show, we went to the dentist’s office. Marie asked me to watch the twins for about half an hour  while she got her teeth cleaned. I had worked at a daycare for five years, so I didn’t think that watching them would be very difficult.

I was wrong.

Jeremiah crawls crazy fast. I think he could beat most Olympians. His speed made my time at the dentist’s office difficult to say the least. When I held Arowyn, Jeremiah crawled down the hallway at record speeds, straight toward the not-child-proofed dentist’s drills.

When I set Arowyn down to grab her brother, she went speeding down the hallway toward that fun buzzing noise, which was actually someone getting a root canal. Surely a root canal is not a procedure during which a dentist would want an adorable toddler under his feet.

I spent that half hour running down the hallway, picking one baby up and plopping it down in the waiting room, and then running down the hallway again, picking the other baby up and plopping that one down in the waiting room. This went on for what seemed like forever.

Within minutes, I was frazzled. I was perplexed as to how Will and Marie could do this for fourteen hours a day.

Will and Marie barely ever complain about their kids. When asked, they don’t go a on a tyrannical rampage explaining how having twins is harder than surviving the Bubonic plague. (I have heard other people make this analogy about their twins.) In fact, Will and Marie often refer to their children as the most important blessing of their lives. There is power in speaking blessing, even when a child can’t understand those words.

Will and Marie are also super-humanly patient when their children are screaming louder than a bad emo band for nine hours straight.

I often say with a certain air of arrogance that I understand that having a family is difficult. After I spend time with Will and Marie and their kids I realize one important thing:

I. Do. Not. Get. It.

I don’t understand what it is like to live day to day with someone, weaknesses  and all. I don’t understand what it is like to have children vying for my attention every hour of the day, like Will and Marie. I can’t understand it because I haven’t experienced it.

That is one of the reasons I wanted to write this series: so I can get it just a little more.

Okay friends, before I even start, fire away at some of your best married people advice.

PS-I just wanted to add here that you can now get on my newsletter list by clicking on the link at the top right of this page.  You will not get very many of newsletters, maybe one every two months,  and you will get two chapters of my new book before it comes out. Fun!

9 thoughts on “What Married People Wish Single People Knew Part I

  1. Ironic that no one has commented. Maybe it’s the holidays coming. Maybe it’s that we don’t want to hear about that side. You’re right. And I have a friend who says she’ll never marry because she can’t be nice to someone for that long. So there you go! As to children – I can’t say that part scares me (I’ve been a foster parent), but there’s definitely a sacrifice of self that we just might not be prepared for.

  2. I really like the idea of this new series. I think it’s great for everyone to understand that both marriage and singleness have their ups and downs. I am becoming more and more aware of what I would be giving up in my single life if I were married – and some days I wonder if my life is full enough with friends and family and nieces and nephews that I would be okay living the rest of my life single… esp on those days when I hear a friend tell me about the tough spots in their relationships…. and then there are other days when I know I’m ready to leave singleness behind. Either way though, we all need to look at both “states” of life for the blessings they are (aka that singles aren’t pitied for being alone) and their tough times (aka that marriage/relationships aren’t seen as perfect and the greatest happiness of life).

    Thanks for the post! Looking forward to this series!

  3. I feel like no one commented because no one knows what to say! I’m interested to hear more. I don’t know anything about being married either, and I’d like to hear it from someone coming from the same perspective, for once.

  4. I have neither envy nor pity for a single person. I think being married is a gift (a whole package with huge challenges and real pains and warmths and joys) and singleness is a gift much the same. If I could do my “single” time of my life over I would have made more of it. Climbed more mountains, traveled more, worked hard and built up a savings account, studied more, and made the most of every single day (no pun intended, ha!). Now that I’m married I am confined to the needs of my family, which is my gift now. I aim to make the most of our everyday experiences. As far as putting the needs of my husband before my own, sometimes it’s fine, like when he’s glowing radiantly in his ruggedly handsome way that only he can pull off and he’s loving our children and considering my needs. But what if he’s being selfish and I’m feeling just as alone as I did before I was married? I need to still, just like before marriage, look to Jesus to fill my needs and be my First Love. Even in marriage, God wants your whole heart and to fill every empty place. Marriage can be lonely too. Whether single or married, it is a many-faceted gift. Embrace your gift and make the most of each day with God.

      • True that, Kate! And times we shared are some of my favorite memories,but I would do even more if I could go back. I guess my point is, start (or continue) trusting the Lord to meet all of your needs when you are single, because that will be essential in marriage as well, so it’s at least good preparation! 🙂 Love you Kate and you are a graceful writer and I’m excited to read your upcoming book!

  5. I’ve been married for five years. We have one child and one on the way. What I would say, contra this “married people have problems too” stuff (which is true), is that a *good* marriage is really, really wonderful. A good marriage is worth the wait, worth taking big risks for, worth making sacrifices for. Yes, there is work involved, but everything good in life requires some work. My kid is TONS of work. Pursuing an enjoyable career is work. Even close friendships require forgiveness, honesty, and hard times when you just have to show up for the other person. But to borrow a phrase from the Lord, the yoke is easy and the burden is light.

    I don’t know what practical advice I could give to singles, but I would validate the desire for a good marriage, encourage you to be willing to take risks and make sacrifices in pursuit of marriage, and remember that the ring is not the prize — aim, of course, for the *good* marriage. If God does give you a spouse, a good marriage will still be the goal, risk and sacrifice still the path. May God give you all that you need to remain faithful without a spouse, as I pray He gives me all I need to remain faithful with the spouse I have. God bless.

  6. I have been married for almost thirteen years. My husband took me down a very hard road that was very hard for me, but not very hard for him – by getting his PhD. We thought it would take three years — it took seven! Because I was a stay-at-home mom it was very difficult financially. Because he was getting a PhD, I was a PhD widow (a single mom with little time with my husband). Because we lived in a part of the country where most people don’t understand the PhD experience — it was very lonely. (On another crazy note, once we were done I found out that there is an 80% divorce rate for people getting their PhD. Wow! Praise God for His goodness, the light is DEFINITELY better on the other side!)

    But honestly, even though I was so mad at my husband for brining me on that journey, I always loved him – his heart, his character. I wasn’t mad at him, I was mad at where our journey together had gone. (I fear many marriages end in divorce because they forget that life has taken them down a challenging path — but they do still really love each other.)

    Now we are done and we have had healing and learned from the challenges. I learned my faith is weak, but God is still faithful. We developed bad patterns that needed to be changed and talked about how to love each other better. I don’t think there is anything we couldn’t face after this challenge.

    We recently moved to a part of the country I never even thought about. People ask me if it is hard to be away from my extended family at Christmas. So far nothing could be harder than those seven years in the PhD. God deepened my faith and my love for my husband and children in a way that could not have happened outside of this very lonely and challenging experience. I realize now that I can’t control life events, but I am thankful that I married a man with a good heart.

    My advice is don’t marry someone because you think they will bring a certain life for you — a life of adventure or stability, a certain number of children, a certain experience, etc. I would say, marry someone because you know their heart and you love their heart. Life can bring financial difficulty, bad health, a crazy turn of events, bad choices and different opinions about stuff.

    If you love the heart of the person you are with then you have made the right choice. You will be able to keep the vow: through sickness and in health, rich or poor. And almost like a single person –you do wait — even in marriage — to find a deeper, stronger commitment — and a greater joy!

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