Asking Too Much of Marriage (Marrieds Just as Lonely as Singles)- Editorial at Christianity Today

Asking Too Much of Marriage (Marrieds Just as Lonely as Singles)- Editorial at Christianity Today

I have not read this whole thing, only a part of it.

It says that surveys show that married people are just as lonely as single people. It says that one should not expect a marital partner to meet all of one’s needs. To that, I say “Yeah, no kidding. Tell me something I don’t already know.”

(Link): Asking Too Much of Marriage from Christianity Today (excerpts below on this blog page)

I was in a long term, serious relationship, so I’m already aware of that a relationship can not bring full happiness and all that.

I could sit in a room with my ex sweetie pie and still feel alone, in part because the idiot was selfish and only cared about himself.

My needs went unmet. I tried meeting his, but he did not even try to meet mine. So yes, one can be in a romantic relationship and still feel all alone, which is, IMO, a worse feeling that being lonely from being alone / unmarried.

One thing I’d like to point out is it that some single adults ARE LONELY. I know that some unmarried people have an extensive network of buddies, pals, and friends, but some of us (like me) do not.

I sometimes see “Myths of singles” lists put together by well-meaning Christians who, while trying to abolish stereotypes about unmarried people never the less create one when they write, “Don’t assume all singles are lonely! Most have lots and lots of buddies.”

There may be some unmarried people who have tons of friends to turn to, but some unmarried adults do not.

I think it would be better worded on such lists to say, to make it clear, that while some singles are NOT lonely due to having a large volume of friends, that some singles are in fact lonely or isolated, or would at least crave more social activity, and so married couples in churches should make it a point to include them at holiday dinners and the like.

Or, at the very least, a church should provide social bonding activities for singles to meet with other adult singles. I wish the people who put together the “misconceptions about singles” lists would stop saying all adult singles have thriving social lives, because some singles do not.

The thing is, this Christianity Today article is a lone voice in the wilderness. Or a rare one, anyhow.

I watch a lot of Christian television programming and have done so for close to ten years now. I’ve also read books and blogs by Christians about dating, gender, marriage, etc.

During all that time, I will occasionally hear a preacher tell the audience that one should not look to a spouse to meet all one’s needs and so forth.

However, quite often, the usual habit is that most Christians -on the blogs, the online professional Christian magazines, sermons, books and radio programs- all imply that the marital state is to be vastly preferred to being unmarried.

They further imply that being married will be great, and of course, there’s the common idiotic refrain from evangelicals and Baptists of, “wait until you get married to have sex, the sex will be regular and mind blowing!” (no, (Link): no it won’t be. (Link): It really won’t.)

Christians often over-sell marriage and romanticize it.

    (Please understand I am not opposed to any unmarried person wanting to get married. I think wanting to get married and pursuing that as a goal is fine. I’m just talking about keeping marriage in proper perspective, not making it out more than what it is.

    Christians generally shame or scold singles who say they want to get married and are looking for a spouse.

    Wanting to get married is fine, but making marriage into an idol, not so much.)

That every once in a blue moon a Christian author has to publish an editorial in a Christian magazine or that a preacher has to occasionally to remind people that marriage is not the end-all, be-all solution in life for people and that it does not always bring lasting happiness, is an inadvertent clue that the rest of the time, other Christians are over-hyping marriage precisely as being a solution in life.

Here are excerpts. (Someone needs to share this with “Focus on the Family” and all the other traditional-family-unit worshipping groups and Christian talking heads out there.)

Because this following editorial, and/or some of the pages it links to, sort of scolds singles and feeds them the standard Christian “oh now, don’t be so upset being single, you should be content in your singleness,” chastisement, I have tagged this post with the phrase “making an idol out of marriage and then criticizing Christian singles for trying to obtain it for themselves.”

It drives me batty how Christians hype, hype, hype marriage (or parenting) but then scold singles for wanting marriage or trying to get married, or for scolding infertile people for getting fertility treatments.

(Link): Asking Too Much of Marriage from Christianity Today

    We can’t expect our spouses to solve all our problems.

    by Sharon Hodde Miller and Laura Turner

    We’re often quick to associate loneliness and unhappiness with singleness, particularly in Christian circles. We expect marriage to overcome those feelings.

    We overlook not only the joy in that can be found in singleness, but also the sense of longing that persists in marriage.

    Two of our Her.meneutics regulars came together to share stories of their marriages, to underscore the point that no one person, not even our spouse, can meet all our needs and solve all our problems.

    Married People Get Lonely, Too
    by Sharon Hodde Miller

    “I’m sorry I can’t be a group of girls.” With those strange but sympathetic words, my husband tried to comfort me while I sat on the couch and sobbed.

    We had moved to the Chicago area less than a year prior, and I missed my friends. Although I had relocated from North Carolina with him by my side—a wonderful partner and my very best friend—my heart ached for female companionship as well. Yes, I had a husband to keep me company. Yes, I was married. And yet my marital status had little to no bearing on my loneliness.

    That was a couple years ago, and not much changed in the following years. I continually struggle to find a group of women with whom to share my life, and despite the health of my marriage, that hole in my social life became a deeply rooted ache in my heart.

    Ironically, I am not alone in my loneliness. Research shows that loneliness is epidemic in our nation. In (Link): two recent surveys [off site, from Slate], 40 percent of adults reported feeling lonely, two times as many as in the ’80s. Among adults over 45, one in three report feeling chronically lonely.

    (Link): Among the elderly [off site, Campaign to end loneliness], half (about 5 million) say the television is their main company.

    Finally, loneliness afflicts singles and married alike, some couples reporting feelings of isolation from their very own spouses [off site, FamilyLife.com]

    As these statistics show, loneliness takes many different forms and can affect us at any stage of life. For me, it was the absence of intimate, female friends following a family move. For some, it is singleness; for others, the isolation of raising small children or watching grown children grow distant. Still others feel alienated from their very own spouses, and some from their very own families.

    I have discovered that marriage provides no sure protection. Many married people struggle with paralyzing loneliness, and not because their marriages are unhealthy or their spouses are absent. Like anyone else who struggles with loneliness, their souls are giving voice to a basic human thirst that marriage cannot always quench: the need for community.

    Marriage Doesn’t Change Everything
    by Laura Turner

    There are enough blog posts about marriage that I’m reticent to write another.

    But so much of the discussion around marriage gathers around the extremes: marriage is wonderful, a fairy-tale, the ultimate expression of romance that mirrors Christ and the church, or marriage is difficult, strained, full of conflict and compromise and tiptoeing around the other person.

    There is a thread of truth in both camps, but more in what remains unsaid.

    Singleness is the same way— there are joys and there are pitfalls, peaks and valleys, desires fulfilled and unmet.

    … Ruthie Dean, author of Real Men Don’t Text with her husband Michael, recently wrote about the (Link): feared call of singleness, advising “if you are married, it’s never a good idea to tell someone single that they might never meet someone.”

    [By the way, as I, Christian Pundit, have blogged about before, there is no such thing as God calling anyone to marriage, singleness, or celibacy.]

    …In the post, Dean likens singleness to cancer and says that telling someone they may never marry is akin to telling an expectant mother her child may die before kindergarten.

    While I understand what she is saying about the pain associated with unwanted singleness, I disagree with her premise, which implicitly sees marriage as the fulfillment of hope and a promise of happiness.

    So often we forget that Paul had harsh words for those who married and a less-than-wholehearted endorsement (1 Cor. 7:9). Biblically speaking, marriage isn’t anything to strive for—if we take Paul at his word, it is actually something to avoid.

    Singleness and marriage, especially in the Christian world, aren’t easy to talk about well. We get tempted to ignore one and concentrate on the other, to extol the virtues of marriage and family while not quite sure what to say about being single. But, they are not so different from one another, being married and being single.

    If you were impatient and funny and pale before you got married, you’ll be impatient and funny and pale after you say, “I do.” You’ll just have someone else around most of the time to be the target of your impatience, to laugh at your jokes, to hug you, or hear you complain about the seven hundredth sunburn you’ve gotten. Marriage calls for new habits or routines, but actual inner change has always been work between a person and God.

Please (Link): click here to read the rest of the editorial.
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Related posts this blog:

(Link): Salvation By Marriage Alone – The Over Emphasis Upon Marriage by Conservative Christians Evangelicals Southern Baptists

(Link): The Netherworld of Singleness for Some Singles – You Want Marriage But Don’t Want to Be Disrespected or Ignored for Being Single While You’re Single

(Link): There is No Such Thing as a Gift of Singleness or Gift of Celibacy or A Calling To Either One

(Link): False Christian Teaching: “Only A Few Are Called to Singleness and Celibacy” or (also false): God’s gifting of singleness is rare – More Accurate: God calls only a few to marriage and God gifts only the rare with the gift of Marriage

(Link): Never Married Christians Over Age 35 who are childless Are More Ignored Than Divorced or Infertile People or Single Parents

(Link): Dutch Apathetic About Marriage – and what Marriage Obsessed and Marriage Idolizing Americans Can Learn From Them (article)

(Link): Want To But Can’t – The One Christian Demographic Being Continually Ignored by Christians Re: Marriage

(Link): You Will Be Ignored After Your Spouse Dies (advice columnist)

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