Zelophehad’s Daughters

Being a 30-something Single in the Church: Part III, Marriage

Posted by Seraphine

I was going to do my law of chastity post next, but my reflections on that topic haven’t quite coalesced, so I’m going to go off in a slightly different direction and come back to that topic at a later date.

I have never been married, so this post is not about being married. Instead, it’s about the fun and excitement you experience when most everyone around you (including younger siblings) gets married and you don’t. I want to start with a couple of personal stories which are difficult for me to tell, but I’m hoping they’ll prompt others to share their own stories. And I’m hoping they’ll help illustrate how difficult it can be to be single in the Mormon church.

Both of my younger sisters are married, and both of their marriages prompted or corresponded to an emotional crisis in my life–it was pretty much all I could do to make it through their weddings and receptions without bursting into tears (not tears of joy). My next youngest sister (Vada) got married when she was 22 and I was 24. Her marriage was generally difficult for me because she was the sister who was my “competition” when we were growing up–we had similar interests and talents, and we often found ourselves (mostly subconsciously) trying to see who could do things first or better. Clearly, she was “better” at dating and marriage than I was.

But her wedding was even more difficult because when she started dating her husband, her husband’s brother and I went on some double-dates with them. To make a long story short, she and her husband got engaged, and his brother and I went on a few dates, and then he started dating someone else. At the time, this whole series of events had huge symbolic significance for me. It represented how my sister (and everyone else I seemed to know) was “good” at dating/marriage/relationships and how I was a “failure.” I worried that there was something fundamentally flawed with me since I couldn’t manage to find any Mormon guys who were seriously interested in dating me.

In hindsight, I realize this perspective wasn’t accurate. Dating and marriage is complicated for most everyone, and while I may find some things harder than other people, I am not a “failure,” nor is there anything inherently wrong with me. But at the time, watching my younger sister get married when I felt like such a failure was not easy.

My next youngest sister’s marriage was probably even more emotionally difficult for me. She got engaged to her husband right about the same time that I got engaged to my ex-fiance. Initially, we even talked about how we might get married the same day/week to make things easier on family members who had to travel. But as her marriage plans went forward, my ex started having second thoughts, and in the end, she got married and I didn’t.

In hindsight, I am glad that what happened did happen. You should not get married if you are feeling conflicted and uncertain, and I am glad my ex did not just marry me because it was what he was expected to do under the circumstances. But it was an enormously painful experience. Not only was I trying to process being engaged to someone who was highly ambivalent about marrying me, which was difficult in and of itself, I was watching my sister marry someone who was certain he wanted to marry her. Again, it was hard not to make comparisons and wonder what was wrong with me. Moreover, my ex and I both went to the wedding/reception, and I spent the entire day fielding questions from friends and family members like “When are you two going to get married?” I finally had to run and hide in my aunt and uncle’s house because I couldn’t calmly say one more time something like, “We’re taking our time with things to make sure we are ready to take such a large step.” This experience was especially painful because not only did it reinforce my own “failure,” it came at a point in my life where one of the things I wanted most in my life was for things to work out between me and my ex.

All this being said, I am extremely happy for my sisters. They have married wonderful men, and despite how difficult their weddings were for me, I see the blessings that have come into their lives from being married (and I have some pretty fantastic nephews). I am also happy with the path my life has taken, and as much as I want to get married and have a family, I love my job, and I love that I was able to go to graduate school. I’ve been able to do things as a single person that would have been much more difficult if I had gotten married at a younger age.

However, even though I know that marriage is a huge step, that I could have been married but it wouldn’t have been the right thing, that I have made the correct decisions in my life and am happy with where I’m at, it’s not always easy. Part of this has to do with the fact that I do want to get married and have a family. Part of this also has to do with the difficulty of negotiating church as a single woman. It’s difficult to see women you babysat (or could have babysat) being treated as more fully adult than you are because they are married and you are not.

To be honest, in the world outside church it’s not as difficult. For example, at work, I am first and foremost a teacher. My world is consumed with figuring out how to connect with my students, grading papers, conversing with other teachers about classroom pedagogy, etc. My interactions with other people in this environment revolve around my identity as a teacher, which is an identity that I embrace and value. I experienced something similar in graduate school–my interactions with other people in that environment revolved around my identity as an academic, which was an identity I embraced and valued. At church, my primary identity should be “daughter of God” or “sister in the gospel,” but it’s typically “unmarried 30-something single woman.” My primary identity is often defined by what I am not rather than what I am.

You might get lucky (like me) and end up in wards like the ones I’ve primarily been in: people embrace the positive aspects of your identity, ask you about your schooling or teaching (rather than your non-existent dating life), and give you callings that help you feel like you have an important contribution to make. However, it’s hard not to feel like there’s something wrong with you because you can’t seem to do what everyone else around you is apparently managing. Even though you know many of the marriages around you likely have serious problems, and you much prefer your single state to an unhappy marriage, when the church teaches that your sole purpose in life (especially when you’re a woman) is to get married and have a family, church is not an easy place to be sometimes.

While I have personally decided that the blessings the church brings into my life outweighs these struggles, I am not surprised that the church is losing a lot of its single members. When you don’t fit the ideal, and you’re reminded of this on a regular basis, it’s difficult to not end up wondering what is wrong with you (as evidenced more directly through my experiences with my sisters’ weddings) and go elsewhere to find peace and fulfillment.

61 Responses to “Being a 30-something Single in the Church: Part III, Marriage”

  1. 1.

    “To be honest, in the world outside church it’s not as difficult. For example, at work, I am first and foremost a teacher. …”

    I felt very much this way during our struggle with infertility. I like to think of the week and the world as my struggle and the sabbath and church as my refuge. It was very difficult and profoundly disorienting to have those roles somewhat reversed for a time. I understand that a lot of it was my (bad) attitude, etc, but it was a real challenge.

    Thank you for this series.

  2. 2.

    Is it possible, in LDS theology, for God to want some people to remain single in this life?

  3. 3.

    Is it possible, in LDS theology, for God to want some people to remain single in this life?

    I don’t see why not. It would be theologically problematic for someone to remain single for eternity, but our doctrine of temple work for the dead supports the proposition that not all saving ordinances need to take place in this life. I know that there are times in my life when God has told me that I was called to be single for that time period. It makes sense that it could happen for someone’s whole mortal life.

  4. 4.

    sister blah 2, for me, church is primarily a place of refuge or, honestly, I wouldn’t go. I can definitely see how if you lost this sense, though (and everything was reversed), that it would be really disorienting.

    Jack, that’s a great question. While I think there is potentially room for that (i.e. to my knowledge, there is no doctrine that says we *must* all get married in this life–someone correct me if I’m wrong), I don’t think it’s something that church leaders would ever directly say. Instead, they tend to go the “some people don’t get married in this life because it’s mortality and it’s one of the challenges of life” route.

  5. 5.

    The being-treated-as-less-than-fully-adult part is more annoying than emotionally hard, for me: Married 17-year-olds could live anywhere they wanted to while attending BYU; as an adult, returned missionary, home owning single, I had to have my housing approved; the ward Valentine’s dinner was supposed to be for all adults, but I was asked to work the dinner as a waitress because I’m single — junk like that.

    Also annoying rather than (usually) emotional is all the firesides and broadcasts and Ensign articles the church does for young single adults, and the total absence of anything addressing the peculiar problems of us over 30. Further annoyance comes in with the admonitions to support young marriages by babysitting so wives can date their husbands, or the too-oft-heard assumptions that my need for a family can be satisfied by baking cookies for neighborhood kids and by taking my nieces shopping.

    The emotionally difficult times come when your own family overlooks you in favor of the siblings with all the grandchildren. But that isn’t due to church concerns, so I guess that’s another story.

  6. 6.

    It is admirable how much you look forward to marriage, even though it could have easily jeopardized your happiness and accomplishments. I was so naive when I got engaged about a half year after my mission.

    My brother turns 30 this year and I think he worries sometime about why he isn’t married yet. He lives in Salt Lake City and occasionally goes on dates with people he meets online or through church. I think he is conscious that he avoided college for about a decade and is the stocky one of the family. He is taking classes now, serving in his EQP, and so we will see. I think he has a great personality and definitely knows how to have fun.

    Your stories reminded me of the times I have heard LDS singles compare themselves to their siblings and close friends. Does this assumption that everyone has pretty much the same opportunities and challenges, and should therefore get married around the same time, happen quite frequently? I guess I work with statistics so much that it is easy to forget how often some people rely on anecdotal evidence.

    I can agree about how much of a relief it is to find fulfillment in employment and community service where your marital status makes little to no difference to the people you work with. It is no nice when your worth as an employee or volunteer is based on the skills and motivation you bring to the table, and not on who happens to be in your family.

    As I consider the callings I have held recently, I feel pretty fortunate they have given me a positive identity as a teacher and secretary. It is often nice to be distracted with church work that makes you feel good than to be stuck in a position where you aren’t appreciated or experiencing growth.

    I wonder if it is more difficult negotiating life at church a never-married single or as a divorced single.

  7. 7.

    Sorry if this becomes a thread-jack, but building from Jack’s question and then Keri’s reply…

    Why is it theologically problematic for someone to remain single through eternity?

    Typically, don’t we take D&C 131:1 to mean that in the Celestial Kingdom there are 3 degrees, and that only those who are married are exalted?

    If there are other degrees in the Celestial Kingdom, explicit there for those who do not partake of marriage, but are otherwise worthy of the Celestial Kingdom, doesn’t that imply that God is well aware and preparing for the fact that some will not be married in eternity (but otherwise be worthy of Celestial glory)?

    Maybe our common understanding of the verse is mistaken – maybe the Celestial glory does not have three degrees as well.

    But if they’re there, implicitly by D&C 131:4, for those who are sealed… doesn’t that mean its not only not a problem theologically, but a part of our theology?

  8. 8.

    Not that I’m complaining, because I love my daughters, but standing on the brink of new singlehood seems even more intimidating to me because not only do I have to navigate all the “fun” of the things discussed in this topic, and worry about the stigma of divorce, I also have to find babysitters.

    Why even try? *lol*

  9. 9.

    I’m glad to hear it, Seraphine. It wasn’t a complete or all the time for me either.

    Ardis, in what ways can family help or not help? You mean like they schedule visits ti the grandchildren-having children more than other children?

  10. 10.

    I don’t want to air specifics of family laundry here, SB2, but it’s basically losing your place in the family and your parents’ affections to their grandkids, and having married brothers assume that of course it’s their right to absorb all family resources because they have children to support and I do not. At least I didn’t have to endure the “who are you dating? why aren’t you married?” routine that so many single adults have to take from their families.

  11. 11.

    The Ignorant Sage (#7), I probably should have used more precise language. You make a good point about other degrees of Celestial glory. What I meant to say is that if God desires all of His children to be exalted, and eternal marriage is required for exaltation (meaning being in the highest degree of Celestial glory), then He wouldn’t want any of His children to be single for eternity. (Whether or not He wanted any of them to be single for this life.)

  12. 12.

    Wow – I missed that one luckily Ardis. I was the first to marry. Interestingly both my brother and I married at around the same age: 35. I think the worst I ever felt over it was at a temple recommend interview a month prior to getting “the boot” from the singles ward. The well meaning Bishop told me he once knew someone who got married at 45. I’m not sure why that affected me so much, but it led to a couple of years of real struggles.

    The BYU housing rules are just silly on their own. The idea is that all singles were raging bodies of hormones and needed BYU housing rules to ensure they weren’t screwing up. But of course BYU housing doesn’t help much there – especially if you have private rooms. I guess they hope with roommates also in BYU housing you’ll be more likely to be reported to the honors department. However in practice people tend to roommate with like minded people. I suspect all of us who went to BYU knew of apartments where things were a little wild in our wards.

  13. 13.

    Like Silverrain I not only find myself single but divorced. I never really appreciated the comments that alienate people in this situation until I got there myself. And even though I never thought of divorced people as somehow failures or less worthy, I can’t help but feel that way about my personal situation.

    But it isn’t only marriage and family and child bearing that alienates one. The church is a very conforming organization. It’s hard not to feel like you don’t fit in if you are not a mainstream conventional, politically conservative person . For me personally, I found myself feeling better when I basically skip most church activities other than Sacrament meeting. I think the alienation can also be worse for brethren. For one, I think the RS and women generally are more supportive of each other on an individual basis than men. And number two, whether it is true or not I think there is a feeling in the church that a divorced man is more of a pariah and probably more responsible for the divorce.

  14. 14.

    Seraphine, this is a terrific series. You’ve articulated your situation so well that I can imagine what it must be like. (The younger sister thing reminded me of the scene in the BBC Pride and Prejudice, where the younger sister gets married and lords it over her oldest sister.) These kinds of posts are very helpful in teaching me to be more sensitive to these kinds of issues for the singles in my own ward.

    Regarding this, “I couldn’t manage to find any Mormon guys who were seriously interested in dating me,” that is simply one of the great mysteries of the universe, quite beyond my comprehension.

  15. 15.

    I don’t think it’s useful to try to figure out who suffers *most*. Is it men or women? Divorced or never married? Does it matter?

    We all have challenges and struggles, and the point of church is for us to commune with each other as we worship the Lord.

    Part of that communing is supposed to be bearing one another’s burdens, that all may be light. I don’t think it denigrates men to understand women’s challenges, or vice versa. It doesn’t denigrate single-never-married people to understand the struggles of being divorced, and vice versa. Married v. single, too, even. :)

    If we understand each other better, we can find ways to offer succor. But when we get into a “Oh, *you* would never understand because you haven’t suffered as *I* have suffered” mentality, we shut off that understanding and retreat into selfishness.

    I struggle with this one personally–it’s easy for me to dismiss someone who grew up middle-class or rich because they don’t know what it’s like to grow up dirt-poor. It’s a really easy thing to do, to dismiss the experiences of people whose lives have been different from our own. But I find that when I allow myself to open my heart and listen, instead of shutting the other person down, I learn a lot more.

    On the actual subject, I know exactly what you mean. Church really was my refuge back when my school life was falling apart (it took me 9 years to get my bachelor’s degree, and it was a very angsty 9 years), and into my late 20s when I was starting out in my career, it was still a refuge though equally as enjoyable as my budding secular-life opportunities.

    Nowadays, though, I can’t make myself go to church most Sundays, much as I want to go, because the comfort I crave simply doesn’t come anymore from church–not in my particular situation. My ward is very weird and I keep putting off changing over to a family ward because I keep thinking I’ll wait until my lease is up–which isn’t for another month and a half or so–so that I don’t have to move wards twice. Meanwhile, I miss the spiritual succoring that comes from a normal ward (and by “normal” I mean singles ward or family ward–I just want it to not be so weird. I’d like to not be a home teacher anymore. I’m a *woman*.).

  16. 16.

    #15 I didn’t mean to imply that men suffer more than women. Each of us suffer individually in different ways. And as you state, understanding each other helps ease the burdens. Even though we are individuals there are some generalities that are more common among specific populations. As I said, I think women generally maintain more emotionally supportive relationships within their own gender than men do. Based on what I have read I don’t know if that was necessarily so in the 19th century and might be more of an American cultural thing.

    There are differences in our struggles. Some of the differences may be based on age or gender.

    The basis of Seraphine’s post seems to be that a couple is preferred to being single. Assuming that is the case, I have seen during my time of “singleness” that there are many more opportunities for men than women. I could be wrong. But when I look around at church and my work place I see so many beautiful and talented single women. I don’t see as many men.

    I also believe there are different issues to dating for someone in their 30′s than someone who is my age and divorced. There are many considerations in the relationship’s future that they need to consider that I don’t. And even though I may need to consider these issues they have less bearing on my day to day living. Children and family would be one of them.

    As I have said many times, “Hell I only have to make another relationship last 20 years and I could be dead anyway.” :)

    I also see a generational difference in men. I get the feeling from my reading and talking with women that there is huge frustration with men in their 20′s and 30′s. They know nothing of dating and courting(pardon the old term) and just seem to want to “hang”.

    Comments in this series have been made regarding dating within the church vs outside the Faith. For various reason I have avoided dating LDS women. I won’t go into now. Again I believe that given my age this is less of a consideration than for someone who is late 20′s or 30′s.

    The Washington Post in their On Faith section did a series a few weeks ago on inter-faith relationships. I would suggest that anyone who has dealing with this issue go read it.

    For me, I have personally given up on the Church when it comes to providing any kind of emotional support or practical nourishment. It’s often more a source of frustration than help.

  17. 17.

    When I asked whether certain groups find it more difficult to negotiate life at church, I didn’t mean to imply that some groups suffer more than others. Instead, I was wondering if gender and marital status could be correlated with inactivity rates at church. It breaks my heart that so many men in my situation give up on church. I can’t help but want to understand what people are going through that causes them to stop coming. My background makes it pretty easy to overcome age and gender differences when I do hometeaching or make conversation at church activities. And my education gives me the ability to pretend like I understand where rich or upper middle class individuals are coming from. But I have yet to find a way to successfully discuss politics with conservatives at church; home visits or hometeaching seem to be a safer place to probe political differences. So what does all of this mean for LDS singles? I am increasingly convinced that Mormons need to spend their twenties figuring who they are, where they fit in, what range of beliefs and experiences other people have, and how they can serve and support others. It would be a great thing to raise a generation of Mormons where diversity, achievement, and selflessness were the norm. Only then, it seems to me, could we do a much better job of retaining members and helping individuals to figure out who they are most compatible with, when it comes to finding a marriage partner, and how they can create wards and branches where differing perspectives are valued as strengths rather than rejected as weaknesses.

  18. 18.

    That’s spot on, Seraphine, being defined by what I’m not, as opposed to what I am.

    I also identify with Ardis’s comment re: being treated as less-than-adult – it’s absolutely maddening. One of my former bishopric members had to be spoken to because he was far too physically affectionate with the sisters in the ward – not because he was a lech, but it was obvious he thought of us as little girls, even those of us well over 18. Bizarre.

    (My time in the YSA wards is up in 6 months – I’m really looking forward to interacting with LDS people outside the 18-30 demographic. Even if they do treat me like a child. ;-) )

    One thing I try to keep in mind (I belive touched on already in this series) is that while I’m sure married life is wonderful and blissful (all the time, right?), I fully enjoy my non-married status. This comes from having many an exhausted first-time mom sigh wistfully as I describe my dates/activities/job/plans and tell me that while she loves her family, she really misses the freedoms of being single. The grass is always greener…

  19. 19.

    I am enjoying this discussion. I have a question: what if we attended Church for our own personal worship rather than for the community?

    I know that doesn’t sound very Mormony of me; it could mean that many of us would then only attend Sacrament Meeting or the RS or SS classes we knew were being taught by excellent teachers. It also means that we may not accept callings.

    But it pains me to hear about the angst that people, for various reasons, feel at or about Church. It seems that that angst springs from a feeling that we are not measuring up to some standard and/or that other people judge us as not measuring up.

    I realize it is easier said than done, and it generally comes with maturity, but I don’t really care what people at Church think about me. Whether they view me as a lesser life form because of a marriage or lack thereof, or anything else, is inconsequential to my worship, and the service I perform in callings, which I view as an important part of my worship. Are there people at Church who judge me as less-than-perfect? Darn tootin’, and rightfully so (and I do it right back at them, which is part of my problem). Are there people there who think they are better than me? Without a doubt. But that doesn’t really matter to me, because I happen to believe that they are just wrong.

    Anyway, I could go on and on. Someone very close to me tells me that she is planning to leave the Church once she moves out of her parent’s ward because she is sure that everyone at Church thinks less of her for being single, etc. She thinks she can find a church that will suit her better. Every time I hear this plan, I think: that is a plan that would make total sense IF WE WENT TO CHURCH FOR COMMUNITY but makes NO sense if you actually have a testimony of the Church. It makes me sad.

  20. 20.

    Ardis, I agree that the more emotionally difficult stuff is the family stuff (and for me, the whole general worry that somehow I’m a failure), though it definitely sounds like your family stuff has been much more difficult than mine. The interactions with people who are kind of clueless are more annoying, though I do find that if there’s a lot of them, it’s quite emotionally wearing.

    Sterling, I don’t think I felt like I needed to get married before or at the same time as my siblings. I think the reason why this issue is generally difficult is because of the assumption that you get married once you’re “mature” enough for it, and so, therefore, your younger siblings must be more mature than you are. More than that for me, though, was that my sister’s marriages made my own struggles more concrete and difficult (i.e. I didn’t think I needed to get married when my youngest sister did, but her marriage made me that much more aware that my fiance *didn’t* want to marry me, which was the biggest heartbreak in my life at the time).

  21. 21.

    SilverRain and CyclingRed, you are both right that being divorced adds a whole new set of complications to being single. Not only do you get the struggles of being single, you have the struggles of dealing with raising children alone or with a co-parent you are no longer married to. And you also have to deal with the judgment of the community.

    CyclingRed, I think you’re right–while I wouldn’t make arguments about anyone’s struggles being *worse* than someone else’s (and I don’t think that you would either) men, single and divorced, get more judgment than women do. Women tend to get more condescension in the form of pity.

  22. 22.

    stacer, thanks for the reminder that we shouldn’t be comparing who suffers the *most*–I think all individuals have their own brand of suffering, and ideally conversations like this (and on other posts that talk about the challenges of being a single mother or infertility or being the only Mormon in one’s family) help us to understand each other’s struggles a little better.

    That being said, I think you should switch wards. Even though family wards have their own set of challenges when dealing with singles, when I switched from a singles ward to the family ward (when I was in my mid-20s) I was much, much happier. Of course, it was partly because of how amazing that family ward was. :) But I think it’s worth thinking about, even if the switch is for a short time–even that short time could potentially be beneficial. Or you could go to the family ward for a month without switching records–you’d at least be potentially having a positive experience at church.

  23. 23.

    Martine, there definitely are benefits to being single, and it’s good for me to remind myself of them, so thanks!

    ESO, I think you’re right that we should go to church for the benefit of our own testimonies, and that we shouldn’t get hung up on what others think of us. But I don’t think it’s as simple as you are representing it. Mormon worship is a community-based worship–our worship is (ideally) centered around service, and learning the gospel together, etc. Thus, I cannot separate my testimony and belief in the the church from my experience in the community. And while this may have its downsides sometimes, I honestly think God wants it this way.

  24. 24.

    Seraphine, I think maturity is sometimes in the eye of the beholder. You might find this to be an interesting article on maturity and marriage for Mormons:

    http://newsnet.byu.edu/story.cfm/71020

    And I can only imagine what Greg Behrendt would say about your ex.

  25. 25.

    Martine wrote,

    I fully enjoy my non-married status. This comes from having many an exhausted first-time mom sigh wistfully as I describe my dates/activities/job/plans and tell me that while she loves her family, she really misses the freedoms of being single. The grass is always greener…

    Thanks so much for that reality check. I never wanted to marry before I joined the church, and won’t remarry if anything happens to my husband. Being married is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Being a single mother was much easier.

    I would prefer to be single, but we all get the challenges that help us grow, not always what we want.

  26. 26.

    ESO, generally the tough times at church for singles are not the result of thinking that people think less of us as singles (that’s annoying when it happens, but not all that tough to deal with). The tougher times come in that lesson that’s already been hashed out a bit in this thread, about marriage being necessary for exaltation; maybe nobody else in the room is even thinking of me at all when that comes up, but *I’m* exceedingly conscious that I haven’t been able to meet that requirement, and it’s my very testimony, my “own personal worship,” that makes it hard.

    When I taught the Gospel Doctrine lesson a month or so ago on “The Family Is Ordained of God,” I listed all the times in the very recent past where the church in general and our ward in particular had focused on the family: specific October conference addresses, the October Visiting Teaching message, the RS lesson two weeks earlier based on family-centered conference talks, the Thanksgiving sacrament meeting which emphasized gratitude for family, the recent sacrament meeting with the explicit theme of family, and one or two other times. All the singles in the room were nodding and smiling; several of the married folks’ jaws dropped — they honestly hadn’t realized how often we talk about family. Believe me, the singles were aware.

    So for me, it isn’t a problem what anybody thinks of me — that should be pretty obvious from some of my ‘nacle behavior — but it’s my personal worship and awareness of my marital shortcomings that is sometimes hard.

  27. 27.

    Seraphine and Ardis–
    Of course there is a big difference between a rather black and white kind of comment and the world of grey that is Church. While the jabs may be made by other people (often unwittingly, I am sure), I think it is us that puts the weapon in their hands that hurt us. Does that make sense? Maybe not.

    I wonder if the pain is caused by our expectations. As an LDS woman, our expectation is that we will marry. As the years go by, and we are still waiting and contemplating never having the chance, it is painful because we are always comparing a hypothetical married life to our actual single life. The divide is rough. But what if we had been told when we were 20 that we would never marry? Since that expectation is withdrawn, wouldn’t it be possible to really relish the singlehood?

    Anyway, that is not very helpful, but I really appreciate those on this thread who remind us all that everyone’s life has positives.

    I think I am pretty sensitive to the “family” hurts that can be caused; what I would love, though, are more concrete things I could do to make sure that everyone feels included in their ward and it’s happenings beyond “watch your every word.” I try, but that is hard feedback to pass on to, for example, an RS presidency or Bishopric who are trying to make the ward more warm.

  28. 28.

    Frankly, ESO, knowing at 20 that I would never marry would likely not have helped at all, because it doesn’t change the doctrine of the requirement of marriage, or make it any easier to live contrary to the acknowledged “it is not good for man to be alone” word of God. Marriage and family isn’t just a cultural expectation; it’s a deep-seated desire, a need, a natural craving, at least for most of us. Just saying (a la the soup Nazi), “No marriage for you!” at an early age doesn’t change that one bit.

    But don’t mistake me. I’m not unhappy (most of the time) about being single, and I’m bright enough to know that marriage doesn’t magically make everything lollipops and roses.

    Women at church have to “translate” what they hear and read all the time from manish to womanish. Usually most of us do it without recognizing what we’re doing and it’s no trouble; you know from the blogs if not from personal experience, though, that sometimes that translation is difficult or even resented. Singles have to make the same translation constantly from marriage doctrine to the fact of single life. Most of the time we do it without much effort; other times it’s a bear.

  29. 29.

    Ditto to what Ardis said.

  30. 30.

    I’ve had very little experience as a single adult Mormon, since I got married at 24, just a little over a year after I got home from my mission. (However, I was the last in my Laurel class to marry and some seemed to think I was teetering dangerously on the edge of spinsterhood.) My deviations from the social norm have come in the forms of infertility and having an inactive spouse. I’ve often felt socially marginalized for those reasons, but I also realize that spousal inactivity in particular is fundamentally different from singleness, if only because people don’t constantly harp on me to date more or make myself more attractive to the opposite sex or try to set me up with their nephews or treat me as if I’m eighteen. (Well, they sometimes did treat me as if I were eighteen before I had my daughter, but after I had her, just before I turned thirty-seven, I got to join the grown-up real people club. Such late-life inductions are always more than a little disconcerting!)

    I do sometimes get the sense from younger marrieds, in particular, that my husband’s inactivity and unapologetic atheism make them nervous, as if it might be catching and contaminate their marriages. Occasionally people want to make me a proxy for my husband’s views–they want me to lay out his case for atheism so that they can argue with him in absentia, or they want to tell me how dumb my husband is. And once in a while well-meaning people have plied me with bizarre reassurances that I’ll get a “righteous priesthood holder” in the next life. Creepy– and sad.

    I’m not sure how relevant any of that was, but in any case, thanks for this series, Seraphine. It’s been very informative. It’s making me realize yet again just how inadequate our discourse on singleness is. I’m looking forward to your upcoming posts.

  31. 31.

    Eve, thanks, and I think your comments are relevant because it’s difficult to be outside of the norm in this church, and I think it’s good to hear one another’s stories. In general, I think it’s helpful to draw what parallels we can between our own experiences and others’ in order to increase our empathy (not to suggest that your empathy is lacking, of course).

  32. 32.

    that is a plan that would make total sense IF WE WENT TO CHURCH FOR COMMUNITY but makes NO sense if you actually have a testimony of the Church.

    Hmm. I think the problem is that you have to get community somewhere. If you’re married with kids you are often so busy it’s hard to even be social at all. But when you’re single – especially over 25 – you have far more spare time and don’t have that ready set community of an immediate family. It is a big struggle and it will affect your testimony. Especially if your choices for socializing are those not living the gospel (even in a terrestrial sense). I know I struggled while single, despite a strong testimony. My early 30′s were brutal in that regard.

    It’s easy to say Church isn’t about community if you have other options. It gets a bit tougher when you don’t.

  33. 33.

    To add, the Church knows this. I remember authorities talking about how not feeling a part of the community was the #1 cause for inactivity. That was in the 90′s but I’d be surprised if it were different now. Likewise a lot of church activities focus on social community. (Much of PH and RS) The problem is that the dynamic, independent of everything else, is different when you are single from when you are married precisely because of loneliness and time.

    The problem for the Church is that it really has few options here.
    When would help is married people extending more of a hand to single members by watching a bit what they say and fellowshipping more. I wonder, for instance, how many wouldn’t think of offering the single person a dinner invite while they would to a family readily.

  34. 34.

    Musings on marriage for the Mormon single
    Sabbath meetings followed by munch and mingle
    Family home evening with a few of your friends
    Staying home on the weekends while your heart rends
    Lessons on family where you get forgotten
    Weddings are happy until you feel rotten
    Dating goes nowhere because you don’t fit in
    You console yourself cuddling with your kitten
    You have made it this far without even a spouse
    There is no need for your hopes and dreams to douse
    You point with pride to your degrees and career
    No one can doubt that your efforts were sincere
    Yet you question the path your life has taken
    Sometimes life backfires and your faith is shaken
    Just maybe God already gave you your chance
    You could have settled and abandoned romance
    Perhaps you were selfish looking for true love
    People marry without fitting like a glove 
    Now it feels like you gambled with eternity
    And almost lost celestial fraternity
    But our God can’t really be that capricious 
    The scriptures say he is also propitious
    Commandments always come with a way prepared
    Against no one else are we ever compared
    We receive revelation for our own life
    Including who should be our husband or wife
    Some of us will fall in love with non-members
    Many will be in the group who remembers
    The atonement works when our hearts are breaking
    Christ understands when our bodies are aching
    Fulfil callings and our flesh is renewed
    Passions will be bridled but not subdued
    We then will be filled with love God does promise
    Even for all who are like doubting Thomas

  35. 35.

    Seraphine, I have to admit that your post amused me some. I don’t mean to diminish your struggles or feelings in any way, but I’d like to give you some of my perspectives on the same events. The lines “Clearly, she was “better” at dating and marriage than I was,” and “It represented how my sister (and everyone else I seemed to know) was “good” at dating/marriage/relationships and how I was a “failure,” made me laugh, mostly because you know my husband and I. You know that had I actually dated him in the typical manner (typical for most people, and typical for me before that) we would never have gotten married. I wasn’t better at dating — I simply said yes when God told me to, and I don’t think I was any better at that than you were, either (He simply didn’t tell you to say yes to a marriage proposal 5 days after you started dating someone).

    Again, I don’t mean to discount your feelings at the time (and I can understand where they came from), but I hope you realize at least by now that my own wedding was some combination of a fluke and divine intervention, and had nothing to do with my skill at dating. Also, at the time I got married you were doing what I very much wanted to be doing, and which I have, at least for now, put off indefinitely — going to grad school. There were definitely times I was jealous of that as I struggled to find things to do with myself that were in any way satisfying while following my husband around the country (which is what Heavenly Father seemed to want for me to be doing at the time).

  36. 36.

    Clark, while I definitely agree with this statement — “It’s easy to say Church isn’t about community if you have other options. It gets a bit tougher when you don’t” — I have to point out that I currently, as a SAHM of small children I have less opportunity to find community outside of the church than at any other point in my life. Also, fellowshipping goes both ways. I would be happy to invite single people over to eat, if I actually knew any in my ward. Unfortunately, I’m so overwhelmed by chasing small children that I don’t have a chance to meet anyone. The only people I ever manage to meet are the parents of the small children my children are chasing (because I have to apologize that my kids are terrorizing theirs), so they’re really the only ones who I manage to invite over (being the only ones whose names I know). If a single person helped me chase my children, or even sat down and talked to me while I was wrestling them into submission in the hallway, I’d be happy to invite that person over. (And it’s not that someone has to help me for me to want to invite them over — I just have to have the opportunity to meet them, which is frankly quite difficult at this point in my life.)

  37. 37.

    Vada, I’m glad I made you laugh. :) While things were rough at the time, I do recognize now that my perceptions, both of myself and of you, were inaccurate.

  38. 38.

    my own wedding was some combination of a fluke and divine intervention, and had nothing to do with my skill at dating. Also, at the time I got married you were doing what I very much wanted to be doing, and which I have, at least for now, put off indefinitely — going to grad school. There were definitely times I was jealous of that as I struggled to find things to do with myself that were in any way satisfying while following my husband around the country (which is what Heavenly Father seemed to want for me to be doing at the time).

    Me, too, Vada. Frankly, it’s nothing less than a miracle I got married. It was certainly no reflection either of my excellent social skills or of my great personal righteousness. As to why God told my husband and me to marry each other, and why similar arrangements aren’t made for so many other people I know–well, I have no more idea of that than I do of why other people have children so easily, and we didn’t.

    During the long years of my husband’s graduate program in an isolated rural area where there were very few opportunities for me, I often felt wistful as I watched my sisters start moving around the country to pursue graduate degrees in fascinating subjects. I remember visiting both Lynnette and Kiskilili and feeling so jealous of all the intellectual opportunities at their disposal, and despairing of ever getting back to school myself.

    None of which mitigates the frustrations, and the social and community trials, of being single, I realize. There’s no question it’s much, much easier to be a married Mormon than it is to be a single Mormon. But it is always interesting to consider what we value in each other’s lives, and in our own.

  39. 39.

    Another random thought: I’ve found that when people who share my particular social handicaps have prominent positions in my ward that my social situation immediately improves. A few years ago we had a bishop who couldn’t have children, and then, a couple of wards later, I had a Relief Society president who was married to a nonmember. I was friends with both of them, which probably counted for more than the simple fact of having a social handicap in common, but still, it was so nice, in both cases, to see people whose lives were not the married-in-the-temple-with-lots-of-kids ideal leading the ward. It made a big difference in how included I felt, and in how much I felt that I belonged. In both cases I felt the wards were sending a visible signal that I didn’t have to meet the ideal to be a full participant and to contribute.

    One practical thing I think the church could do would be not to automatically overlook singles (and others of us in nontraditional situations) for callings. Under the current regime in my ward I feel thoroughly invisible. I also sometimes get the sense that leadership is nervous that as a sort-of single mother at church without the priesthood in my home, I’m going to be nothing but a drain on their resources. (Which makes me extremely, extremely leery of asking for anything.)
    That’s one of the worst parts of the pity and condescension–I’m viewed as a problem to be solved, even sometimes a head to be patted. I’m not seen as having anything to contribute.

  40. 40.

    Clark and Ardis–good points, thanks.

    I feel that I (I guess I really can only speak of that) really am no respecter of persons: I invite NO ONE to dinner, and I hope no one feels that they are being slighted, assuming they are not getting invited due to their x issue. I speak with anyone during the very very few minutes I have between getting my kids where they need to go, including potty breaks and picking them up promptly so their poor teachers are not left to wrangle them long after church–I often speak to no one at Church because of this. I try to know all the women, but, as I don’t have the chance to chat at Church and cannot attend the various mothers+kids activities help while I am at work, I really only see the people who get to Enrichment meetings, which isn’t necessarily a large swath.

    My only barrier, really is language because my current ward includes English, Spanish-speaking, and signing members.

    Surely, though, this is pretty typical. Who has time to socialize on Sundays?

  41. 41.

    Vada and ESO, thanks for the comments reminding us all that all individuals (married and single) have their own challenges and that if someone isn’t reaching out, it’s best to read things charitably (i.e. someone may not be reaching out because of being overwhelmed by small children rather than because they are judging your life choices).

    I am going to make a post later about ways that family wards can help make singles feel more welcome, and I will do my best in the post to make it clear that I’m making broad-scale recommendations based on larger patterns I’ve seen (and that I recognize each of us are working on dealing with our own individual challenges, etc.).

  42. 42.

    Vada, great point, and I should have included single moms. I was more thinking of my own single experiences. (I married relatively late) I should also add that I have the same problems as you do. Further I’m in a ward that has high turnover because half the ward are apartments where few stay more than a semester and many move after a single semester. I know almost no one in my ward. Ironically, given my comments, I found it easier to be social before being married than after. I had all these grand plans for being married in a married ward and none of them came to much for various reasons. (Many tied to the particular circumstance of our ward)

    Anyway despite what I said about single life I went from having dozens of friends and acquaintances I saw regularly to having almost no one. And that is difficult. As someone else said there is sometimes a “grass is always greener” judgment to a lot of this. I think this is especially true for women whose children take more to take care of than others. I know my wife has struggled with the change from singlehood to parenthood in terms of social life.

  43. 43.

    Tried to post this yesterday, but it wasn’t going through. So it’s a little past where we are in the conversation now:

    Seraphine, I totally would in a heartbeat if I hadn’t switched to the singles ward from the family ward I live in a year ago because of the way the bishop in that particular ward treated me during a very hard time of my life (I’d just been laid off, and I was treated as if I were a beggar). I didn’t want to go to this singles’ ward in the first place because of all the things I’d heard about it. It’s just a weird situation I’m in–the family wards I was in before moving here were wonderful.

    I agree that our worship is centered around things that make it difficult to separate worship from community. Otherwise, I could just take the sacrament at home, sing a few songs and pray, and be done with it. The very concept of church is being a part of a community, supporting each other. And for me, that means not only being of service to others, but being treated with respect and love by other people, too.

    As Elder Maxwell said, though, we’re all each others’ crucibles. My particular situation is one in which I’m probably failing in being of service to/loving others as much as they’re failing me–I fully admit that. But I think it’s important to our doctrine that the church is about interaction with other people.

  44. 44.

    stacer, wow–it sounds like you’re kind of in a bind. Well, it sounds like the best thing to do is move as fast as you are able and get yourself into a non-weird ward. :)

  45. 45.

    Did you see this post from a couple months back on marriage quoting a couple talks of the sort we’ve been discussing (marriage after death, etc etc)? http://singlemormongirl.wordpress.com/2009/11/11/a-bit-of-a-crush-actually/

    The first part is really cheesy, then she quotes a talk from Elder Uchdorf that says the same old “you’ll get married when you die if you’re really really good, and don’t worry, you’re just obviously not ready yet because if you were you’d be married” talk. Okay, he says it much more kindly than that, but it’s still the same old cop-out. Faithful as I want to be, I can’t help but hate hearing it. I’m tired of it.

    ANYWAY, that’s all just setup. I really like her description of what it’s like for married people to talk about families and marriage all the time:

    …at times when I hear people in firesides, church, conference, etc. say something to the effect of, “don’t worry if you don’t marry in this life because if you stay faithful, God will give you all the blessings of marriage and family in the eternities…all will be well”, it just makes me cringe. And the majority of the time it is married people giving these “comforting” talks. And I just want to say to them, “okay, if not being married in this life is no biggie because at some point in the eternities God is going to bless us with the deepest desires of our hearts, then why don’t you and I just trade places and I’ll be married and have babies in this life and you can hang out and wonder what to do with yourself while you try to remain faithful and deserving to later receive what everybody else is receiving now, OKAY?” (And yes, I would say it in a big run-on sentence just like that and would probably be out of breath by the end.)

    It would be like me sitting and eating a big piece of delicious chocolate cake in front of a hungry child and saying, “I know I’m eating this delicious cake now, that we have been commanded to eat, but you can’t have any just yet. Just wait for about 80 years, and if you stay wanting this cake, in the next great state of being (that you cannot even comprehend or imagine) you will get to eat cake too. Okay, so just stay happy and faithful.” And then I would give the child a sympathetic smile as I licked my fork.

    I don’t come to the same conclusion she does, that if it’s delivered in a “cute” way that makes it okay (and I wouldn’t describe myself as a “child,” thankyouverymuch, and I don’t just “hang out and wonder what to do with myself”—I have too many things to do to wonder what to do with myself).

    I mean, any apostle saying that is probably saying it because he doesn’t know what else to say, and I understand that, but it still leaves me feeling… empty.

    Like others have said, I’m happy as I am. I have plenty to concentrate on. But I’m tired, too. And I don’t want to feel bitter about marriage. So instead I’d rather just not think about it, and I wish that apostles had more to say than just “do what you’re already doing,” which is what it comes down to.

  46. 46.

    I’ve a friend. He’s the one who introduced my wife and I. He got married, had two children, his wife left him for her boss, etc. He is now 45, has not ever felt emotionally up to remarrying. First because of the rawness of the divorce and the related issues, then because he was helping his step-father out (basically doing his job for him that he couldn’t do himself), now he’s 45.

    At least he’s six foot tall and in good physical condition. But he is trying to restart work, deal with his children now that they are older, have learned the truth from their grandparents (his ex-in-laws) and have reconnected with him and are forging strong relationships, and being a blue collar sort of guy.

    I’ve wanted to set him up, for years really, and now I haven’t the slightest idea of how to find someone who would be interested in him. At least he is hard working and in good physical shape.

    But I appreciate a lot about this discussion. I got married for the first (and only) time at 29. My brother went through a divorce and a remarriage. His second wife sometimes seems bemused at how everyone blesses her.

    we’re all each others’ crucibles

    Seems so true

  47. 47.

    Stacer, I agree with you that the whole “things will work out in the eternities” idea is generally not comforting when you’re facing a lifetime of being by yourself. Mortality is a long time to be alone. But I thought Pres. Uchtdorf’s quote seemed more understanding than other similar quotes. I didn’t read anything that implied that if we were better prepared we’d be married–and I particularly appreciated his acknowledgment that people who haven’t walked in our shoes can’t imagine what it’s truly like. His remarks didn’t seem at all condescending or dismissive, like others have been.

    I’m not sure what else a Church leader can say other than to acknowledge the pain we singles feel. I guess, in that respect, it’s like any other trial.

    Being an “older” single can make everything so complicated. I’m currently in a relationship with possibly the sweetest, kindest man I’ve ever dated, but I’m not sure we’re the right fit for each other. And it leaves me wondering, Is this my last chance? If I ultimately choose to end this relationship, am I choosing to spend the rest of my life alone? It’s not like when I was in my twenties and could always hold out hope for meeting someone at the next party or during the next semester or in my next ward. And not only that, but every breakup leaves me feeling more devastated and emotionally depleted than the last.

  48. 48.

    I’m not sure what else a Church leader can say other than to acknowledge the pain we singles feel. I guess, in that respect, it’s like any other trial.

    From the perspective of a parent who has buried more than one child, I have to agree with this statement. After all, people are always saying, “well, you will see them again in the resurrection, and until then they are with God, so you should be happy …” People can only do and say what they can do and say.

  49. 49.

    Rivkah, I wrote that in a fit of being annoyed this morning and even later today I agree with you. My point was just that it’s frustrating sometimes that there *isn’t* anything else they can say. It’s not their fault. It’s just an annoying situation. If that makes sense.

  50. 50.

    #1 “To be honest, in the world outside church it’s not as difficult. For example, at work, I am first and foremost a teacher.”

    For another example: I was sent to a off-tourist season work conference semi-nearby Kirtland and decided to go over and visit church sites while co-workers went to happy hour. Remember that these visitor sites are staffed with a few couples here and there but almost entirely of SINGLE sister missionaries (albeit younger ones) In almost eVeRy instance, as I entered the doors alone, I could hear the companions inside some office waiting and when they did finally give up on the idea that my non-existent husband was wrestling the non-existent children out of their non-existent car seats to join me idea, I was met at the door with – wait for it – “ARE YOU HERE ALONE?”

    I did scope out the situation and discovered in almost every case there are easy windows to the waiting rooms that missionaries have and openly visible parking lots. It was obvious mine was the only car and unless someone was in the trunk, no one else was coming in.

    Over and over I had to find an answer for that that didn’t sting or respond to the unmistakable incredulity embed in every repetition of the question. I’ve read elsewhere that it’s painful to visit church sites as a single traveler. OMGosh, it’s true.

    I visited several non-church historical sites and never once got that response. I got “Welcome to our museum, so glad you came today” Nobody else was openly counting, and more than happy to give one-on-one tours without the obvious, out-loud commentary, except the SINGLE sisters in the lds realm.

    So what’s up with that?????

    Was it a “traveling alone” gender issue or just a “table for one” issue?

    If I had been a non-member, that might have clenched the deal. Srsly.

    I did ask and they get few non-members at some of those sites off-season (pageant season, that is). Sites get more visitors “during pageant”. And yes, I single handedly, no pun intended, educated them about my experience being greeted that way and was met with “I didn’t know we were doing that, we are so sorry”.

    Instead of teach, I wanted to say “No worries, ‘I’ get to be married in the hereafter, meanwhile I thought I’d visit your site, how ’bout it ladies, can a girl get a tour?” but I was afraid I’d come off too sarcastic and they wouldn’t understand the humor of my context quite the way I do.

    So yeah, in about a million + 1 everyday ways… easier on the outside world.

  51. 51.

    >48

    Because of this thread and the one on FMH about infertility, I’ve been thinking about the platitudes we throw at people in grief. Perhaps part of the commandment to “mourn with those that mourn” is to resist trying to make others to look on the bright side and instead learning to acknowledge and empathize with their pain.

  52. 52.

    #2 Is it possible, in LDS theology, for God to want some people to remain single in this life?

    Jack, I so appreciate your comments. esp this one.

    I have imaginarily threatened to march down the sacrament isle and tackle the next speaker I hear teaching false context, albeit not false doctrine about how there are some celestially necessary lessons you can’t learn single/childless/families in the (earth bound) church until you get unsingle/with child/with family (here and now). It’s rampant and dangerous for more than just the single members.

    While there may be some lessons that we need, there is never only one way to teach. And if there is, the Lord isn’t a proponent of it.

    Scriptures tell us that some prophets get burned, some are martyred on a cross, Moroni faces lengthy aloneness. Joseph is reminded that he had the bonds of friends around him. The Lord will teach all of us in different ways.

    Imagine Abinadi saying to Alma/Amulek at Adom-ondi-amen “The Lord only values what I know from my earthly experience”. Imagine a conversation about “the best way” to seal your testimony with your blood between Joseph and Abinadi. (which wins the rock, paper, scissors game, fire or bullets?). A few people don’t even die but are translated. The only sure things in life are death and taxes and death is an exception for even some. Only one way? Really? Where do we get that stuff?

    PS: I want a family here and now, more than you will ever understand. Don’t misunderstand that. I have a testimony of families. I’m practicing “family” life in every way that I can. FHE, genealogy etc…

    I just want to celebrate what I know from my experience wanting a family. It’s so valuable. It just doesn’t look anything like changing a thousand diapers or suffering through a labor pain. That doesn’t make it less. Just different.

    So does God want me to remain single in this life. Don’t know. Can he teach me what I need to need to know in my single state and prepare me for celestial marriage. YES He Can.

    I lack no more than anyone else. Save it be a welcome seat in a chapel rather than a “That’s saved for my children to have more room” response.

    In other words, what I’m missing most is earthly and mortal, not celestial. Those talks always imply that I’m missing a celestial piece that might be necessary and I’m not. He’s seen to that.

    “…because she judged him faithful who had promised” Hebrews 11:11

  53. 53.

    lj, that was awesome.

  54. 54.

    The service issue – Serve and you will be fulfilled, forget your own needs etc…

    Suppose your 12 year old daughter comes home from school and tells you about a small group of really neat friends she has had for the last three years who are so great and she wants to serve them all day long, years on end. So she runs extra fast so she can carry the friends books to class and still make her own classes on time, opens all the doors, shares her lunch with the friends, cleans up all their dishes and playground equipment each and every day. You find out that though the friends serve each other even occasionally, they rarely serve your daughter or call her, or come over to interact. They mostly associate only with each other. Your daughter constantly calls them and sets up any interaction she desires. They co-operate only when they aren’t busy with each other and only when she initiates the interaction. They will call quickly if they need more service, though. And always so appreciative.

    How long do you continue to tell her to serve even more? And if you do, what else do you tell her to avoid the obvious problem here.

    *ps: I personally dislike most conversations about self-esteem that end up encouraging all kinds of selfishness. It’s the opposite, not the solution.
    **It’s a given we serve without expectation or demand of reciprocity. So that point is covered here.
    ***Oddly, I’m a huge proponent of self-less-ness. I’m happiest when I’m not thinking about me at all. But I have to trust that someone else is and knows they have to. Being single, that doesn’t always happen. (married either, I get that.)

    But I just can’t put my finger on this one the right way.

  55. 55.

    This is such a good thread. So many good comments.

    I’m leaving out valuable references to what people are saying bc I’m commenting as I read down, rather than reading all the way down and having a million jumbled thoughts.

    Love what Ardis says in 28. Maybe a guide including/preparing one for the translation task as they entered a fam ward would help. I think we have to be ready to constantly do that, as though we were the second language in a primary language ward. That helps to think of it that way. Woulda helped more 5 years ago. Would not have struggled so much if I could have seen it that way.
    Way less tripping and falling over the stuff. So much tripping, falling and bruising.
    I just had no idea. Couldn’t prep for it, couldn’t talk about it sensibly. Couldn’t understand it. (Don’t still really) But this helps.
    thx again Seraphine & co.

  56. 56.

    LJ, the girl serving others analogy really works for me. That’s exactly how it feels sometimes–and for me, it’s not even so much married v. single so much as I just often feel like an outsider in general.

  57. 57.

    I’m really enjoying connecting to these posts. I feel like my best friends are the ones who are married, so I end up being the third wheel if I want to enjoy myself . . .

  58. 58.

    [...] Michelle Glauser: Being a 30-something Single in the Church: Part III, Marriage [...]

  59. 59.

    lj, your analogy in #54 hit me with more force than I thought a comment on the internet could.

    I got married when I was a few weeks shy of 38. When I would see married friends I had grown up with or gone to college with they would say, “We should get together more often, call me.” And I would call them and we would always have a good time when I did. But after about 15 years of being the caller and never the callee I began to wonder how good a friend is who never thinks of you until you think them. I probably let too many old friendships wither because of that, but year after year it got harder to pretend that it didn’t matter to me.

  60. 60.

    I belong to ward where the only single adults are women over 50 and are widowed. I’m 45 and have nothing in common with these sisters, yet I’m often placed in the same category.
    I had a home teacher who was the former branch president and he felt he had the right to question me on my whereabouts whene ver I didn’t show up for ward events specifically designed for families. He then got pissed off when I told him to knock it off and told me I must have mental problems because I didn’t appreciate his “efforts” He told me he had the right to say thse things because he was a former branch president. And because of this and not receivng support of the real branch president or the stake presidency, I’ve left the church

  61. 61.

    re: cheap labor – I was just being snarky. I specialize in snark. I apologize if I’ve dragged down the conversation here, which has been wonderful.

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