A friend recently posted “What NOT to say to your single friends” on Facebook, and one of the commenters said, ”This is all fair and I can remember being on the receiving end of many of them. But I am looking forward to what the author would say IS an acceptable thing to say.”
I’ve been pondering this follow-up post for awhile, and I think I’ve come up with a short list of things that *most* marriage-minded single Christian women will appreciate. They were certainly helpful to me!
1. Pray for them.
Instead of spouting platitudes (“Once you stop looking for him, he’ll show up!” “He’ll come when you least expect it!” “Don’t worry about it!”), tell your single friends (especially when they’re feeling discouraged) that you’re praying for them. I can’t tell you how encouraged I was when my married friends told me that they were praying for my vocation. My friend Anamaria even added a petition for her single friends to her prayers of the faithful at her wedding Mass! I appreciated it so much that I did the same at my wedding Mass. Prayer really is the least--and the most--that we can do for one another.
2. Invite them to spend time with your family.
Some of the most beautiful, joyful experiences of my single life were spent with my married friends and siblings and their adorable kiddos. Although I’ve babysat many a time (and loved it), I’ve also lived life with these families: playing, praying, and reading with the kids, making dinner with my mom friends, observing healthy and happy marriages at work, and having some of my hyper-romanticized views of marriage and family tempered a bit by reality. I feel like I’m coming into married life with a huge advantage, because I’ve actually seen it lived by friends and family around my own age, who grew up in the same culture and understand the particular challenges families face today. Making space for your single friends in your family is one of the greatest gifts you can give--and I promise they won’t judge you if your house is messy!
3. Set them up (if they’re open to it)!
Maybe I’m atypical, but I never turned down a setup while I was single--and thank God, because I married a setup. I’m not sure how many times I’ve been set up in the past decade, but I do know that it was worth the risk even when the guy turned out to be a dud. So, go ahead--set your single friends up with the eligible bachelors you know (note: this does NOT include men who need “a good Catholic girl to straighten them out”), and who knows? Maybe someday you’ll be giving a toast at their wedding. Stranger things have happened.
4. Value their input and perspective.
Some married women think of single women as outsiders--not part of the club--and therefore without anything meaningful to offer their friends who are wives and mothers. I myself haven’t experienced this state-of-life snobbery, but I have several friends who have, and it’s not only hurtful, but self-defeating. Female friendships thrive when we are open to learning from, instead of competing with, one another. I was blessed to have several married friends who always made me feel like I was part of the conversation, even when the conversation had to do with marriage and family. Thank you, ladies.
5. Respect the unique crosses of (unintentional) singleness.
Although your single friends don’t know what it’s like to be up all night with a sick toddler or to be on the outs with their husband, they do suffer--just in different ways. The suffering of waiting for the fulfillment of your vocation can be pretty intense, and while it is good to be reminded that grocery shopping alone or to daily Mass alone is a luxury to be cherished during your single years, it’s helpful when married friends recognize that the in-betweenness of single life can be a cross as heavy as any born by married women.
Alright, ladies, it's your turn: what would you add to the list? Please share in the comments!