Taking Turns: Conversations Singles Should Have with Their Married Friends
- Jessica Bufkin and Amy Schaffner
- 2013 13 Mar
The Single Perspective
The longer I’m single, the number of friendships I have with other single adults dwindles. There was a time in my life when I thought that would be a bad thing, but I think my age has helped me to realize I want friendships with people whose perspective isn’t identical to mine.
I think there’s a bit of a misconception that if singles hang out with married people too much, then we might be sad about what we do not have. And while that may be the case for a few, most of the single people I know don’t use marital status as a gauge for the likelihood of a successful friendship.
If anything, we love being friends with married people because we get a realistic view of marriage. It forces us to deal with our tendency to build false ideas about how wonderful and easy life will be if and when we do marry and have children one day.
Still, friendships with my married friends can require a little more work sometimes. This is not because they aren’t trying or I’m not trying, but simply because our lives look different, and like any friendship, a rhythm must be found.
It’s good to have conversations with our married friends instead of assuming that they know what we’re thinking and vice versa. It’s not fair to get upset with them over our differences if we’ve never really told them things such as:
Don’t hold back around me. I want to see the good and the bad of marriage and kids. I’m not fragile; I can handle it. You don’t have to save the hard conversations for your married friends. I might not be able to identify, but I want to hear them. I want to know what’s going on in your life, in every way, so I can better pray for you. I won’t hold back with you either.
I know it seems like my schedule is the more flexible one—and often times it is—but if I have something going on and it’s not a family commitment, that doesn’t mean it’s not as important as your scheduled activity. I promise that not everything I do is just for fun or because I have a large amount of free time.
I want to hang out at your house. I want to sit around the table and have dinner with your family. I want to meet you at the mall and help you shop with the kids. But sometimes, I just want it to be you and me. Sometimes I need to talk to my friend and know I have your undivided attention. I realize you can’t do it at the drop of a hat; that’s okay. But can we schedule it, please? Weekly, monthly, whenever we can?
I want to hang out at my house sometimes too. I like my house, I cook great meals, and I love to entertain. I’m not a college student anymore, and even though I might not have had 5 bridal showers, I’ve amassed quite the collection of dishes and comfortable furniture. I know you have to arrange for your husband to keep the kids and I’m willing to wait until after they go to bed, but will you come to visit me some times, too?
Ask me if I want to be set-up. Chances are, I’ll hem and haw for a bit, but I’ll probably give you the green light. It’s just best to ask me before you lay the groundwork with that “wonderful guy” at your husband’s office. Same thing goes for babysitting. Just ask me. I mean, don’t ask me all the time, but ask me occasionally. I’ll let you know if I can’t (or if I don’t want to).
I might get jealous of your life sometimes—especially if your husband takes good care of you while you’re sick. It’s okay. I’ll get over it.
- Again, don’t hold back on me. Don’t let me whine about my singleness. Give me a place to share and be real about my desire to be married, but always remind me that marriage won’t solve my problems. Tell me if I’m obsessing about a guy too much or if you think he’s wrong for me. Just because you’re married doesn’t disqualify you. If anything, it gives you the perspective I need to hear. But promise to not give me the clichés that everyone tells singles, like “When you stop looking you will find him,” and I promise to not make fun of your minivan.
The Married Perspective
As a minister’s wife, I’ve had the privilege of friendship with many people—young and old, American and international, married and single
I love the fact that many of my single friends are serious about seeing their singleness as a gift. From the outside looking in, they are breathing in life at every turn, traveling, taking fun jobs, and following God’s call.
I also know quite a few singles that do not seem to realize this time in their lives is a gift, that this season may not last forever and they should seize the day. God never intended for us to just sit and wait for the next thing in life to come to us.
When I think about my friendships with single friends, I often hope the ups and downs that I share with them about married life and children won’t scare them away. I want them to look at my life and see how beautiful a married relationship can be, complete with flowers and poems and the days that I want to strangle my husband.
And all those times that my friends call and my kids won’t stop bugging me on the phone? I want to show them that those kids are such a blessing. I want very much for them to see Godly parenting and to know that life with children is another beautiful challenge that they could rise to one day.
But there are some things we don’t always talk about, things that I often think but rarely say, when it comes to navigating the waters of friendship between my single friends and myself. Sometimes I just want to sit them down and tell them things like:
I want to hang out with you, but sometimes I will have to kick you out of my house. I know you have things you need to chat about, but no matter what time I go to bed my kids will still wake up at 6:30 am. Will you love me anyway?
My schedule is very dependent on my husband’s schedule. When you plan things and I say, “I have to check with my husband,” it is not because I’ve completely given over my life to someone else. Well, my God-ordained role now is to submit to my husband, so there is that. But I also need to make sure my husband is free so I don’t have to drag my kids to something that would be so much more fun with just you and me.
Sometimes I will tell you stories about my children that I think are funny. Mostly you won’t care about them. Please laugh anyway.
I miss my sleep. When we go away on trips to fun places, please don’t wake me up at 6:00 AM to watch the sun rise on the beach. Yes, I may never see this again, and I agree, it is beautiful, but I never ever get to sleep in anymore.
If it looks from the outside like I prefer my married/mom friends to you, it’s not true. Sometimes it’s just easier to be with those people because I can take my kids along and not feel like they might drive someone away from the desire for eventual childbirth.
Sometimes I will need you to remind me that I need friends outside of my home. Days might go by with no word from me, and it will look like I don’t care or have forgotten about you. The truth is far from that. I get very caught up in my day-to-day life and survival, and I barely know what day it is or how much time has gone by. I want to slow down long enough to enjoy your friendship, but I might need gentle reminders.
- I get jealous of your freedom, your traveling and drop-everything-and-go lifestyle. I love my life tremendously, but I still feel jealous of yours sometimes.
What are other healthy conversations single and married friends should have?
A former junior high English teacher, Jessica Bufkin currently serves as Editor for SingleRoots, a website that encourages Christian singles to be intentional with their lives and offers many resources for to assist them, including a review of Christian dating sites.
Amy Schaffner is a follower of Jesus who's trying to figure out what that means for her other roles: wife to John and mother to Sadie Ann and Jack. She writes about life and homeschooling at piecesofamy.net.
Publication date: March 13, 2013