With wedding season just around the corner, we hear a lot about being single in the season of rings and things. And while it IS hard to be the single girl as your friends get married, there’s another side of this story, another kind of hard.
When you’re the friend who marries first, a different set of challenges faces you. Challenges to stay connected to your single friends without alienating them. Challenges to cultivate a strong marriage while cultivating your old friendships. Challenges to keep your eyes on Christ when your spouse fails you. Challenges in sex and communication that feel isolating and lonely.
Everyone outside looks at you and assumes that since you’re married, you have what you need emotionally, physically and socially. We treat marriage as the solution to loneliness, acting as if one person can fulfill every desire of the human heart. To admit that you are lonely in marriage is to admit failure, at least in our romance-driven world.
But if you marry first in your friend group, loneliness is a reality at times.
Marriage Is Not a Cure
Here’s a truth bomb for our modern dating culture: Marriage is not a cure for loneliness or sexual sin. We treat these two things as physical issues that marriage can fix, and they’re not. They are spiritual issues, and they only have a spiritual solution. While being married can help with intimacy and connection, it can’t fulfill everything for which we long. Marriage is not a cure.
My husband took a job shortly before our engagement and we spent most of our engagement and our first year of marriage separated by work. Both of us traveled extensively, and when I added up the weeks of our separation, it totaled six months. But even if we hadn’t been physically separated, there was an emotional loneliness at times—times when we didn’t understand each other—but when admitting this to someone else, getting help seemed like we were admitting failure to the outside world. It was lonely.
Dependence on God Is Essential
Through this experience, we learned that we couldn’t just depend on one another. We needed the Lord even more than we did when we were single and alone. Those tough days in our single years taught us the necessity of seeking God before seeking our spouse—before or after marriage. By rooting ourselves in Him, we are secure.
This security defeats loneliness and helps us love well. We don’t look to one another to fulfill us unrealistically. Certainly, a healthy marriage is fulfilling. But our dependence on God carries us through both the easy times and the hard ones.
Comparison Is a Thief
If you’re the single girl reading this—the one whose friend married first—I hope it encourages you to see your friend not as someone who is no longer lonely, but as someone who has struggles of her own. There will be days in her marriage when she feels emotionally misunderstood. There will be days when she feels like she doesn’t relate to her friends, or that her friends don’t want to be with her because her stage has changed. Comparison is a thief; it robs us of our best relationships. It robs us of objectivity.
And for the married girl: It gets better. You have to fight through the loneliness and fight for your relationships. But by depending on God, you will be grounded in the only truth that matters. He is your ultimate Provider, Protector, Comforter and Friend, even when your spouse isn’t. By starting with Christ, you’re able to give your best to marriage and to the friendships you hold so dear. Start with trusting God. Pour into your marriage. Depend on the Lord and cultivate community. Be vulnerable. Be real with your not-yet-married friends.
And know that loneliness is not forever; it’s a season to learn from and to share with those who love you most. Who knows? Maybe you can use this season to encourage someone to keep the faith—to know they won’t always feel alone.
Just like I am doing for you.