What Married People Wish Single People Knew

three bike wheels

Smitty, Mark and I call ourselves The Three Amigos. We’ve seen movies together, thrown parties together, gone on vacations together and eaten a thousand meals together. Smitty actually knew Mark before I did, and she and I have been friends since kindergarten. Though Mark and I are the ones married to each other, he finds himself the odd man out more often, I think, than Smitty feels like a third wheel.

Despite our decades of history, though, there are still times when Smitty’s singleness and my marriedness play a part in our relationship. No matter how sensitive I am or how confident she is, the fact is our difference is sometimes the third wheel in our friendship.

In the past month I’ve read several posts about what single people want married people to know or what one single person wants other single people to know. It got me thinking, and I realized that I have a list of things that this married person wishes single people knew. I can’t presume to speak for every married person, but I suspect I’m not alone in these thoughts.
 

What I Wish My Single Friends Knew

  1. The rude comments other people make get on our nerves, too. Your uncle who corners you at the family reunion, wondering when you’re going to settle down? Your sister who hassles you about going out with her “cute” co-worker? Your manager who schedules you on the holidays because all the people with families asked for vacation? Yeah, they make me mad, too.
  2. We’re sorry for the rude comments we’ve made, too. Umm, right. As defensive as I get on your behalf and as sensitive as I try to be, I realize that I’ve probably hurt you, too. Ugh, the thought of that makes me cringe. But I realize there are times I take advantage or make assumptions or just say things without thinking. I am so sorry.
  3. We don’t know what to say. It’s true. And it’s partially why we’ve said stupid things in the past (and will probably say them again). For me, I’m never sure if I should acknowledge it at all. Do I bring up that guy you mentioned? Do I ask how you’re feeling about single life these days? Or do I wait for you to bring it up? Will you think I don’t care if I don’t ask? Will you think I’m acting like your mother if I do?
  4. Sometimes, we’re jealous of you. Maybe that seems ridiculous or even offensive, particularly on lonely nights or at wedding receptions. But from this angle, the single life has some things going for it. You get to control the remote and the thermostat. You can go out, spend money and even move across the country whenever you want or need to. And [just being honest here] you get to check out all the cute guys at work or church without feeling guilty at all.
  5. On that note, yes, we are always on the lookout for single guys. It’s not only because we’re living vicariously through you, really. We just want to help.
  6. We just want to help. I know, I already said that. And I understand that you may not want help or may not actually need help at all. Especially from someone who’s been married for a million years and thinks that dumb guy from Step Up is cute. [As a purely hypothetical example, of course.] I know that you’re not incomplete, I know that you’re not perpetually depressed over your unmarried status, I know. But if I’ve even seen a glimmer of sadness or frustration (much less more than a glimmer), I will move mountains to help you feel better. Or, you know, tell you about the late-night commercial I saw for a new dating site.
  7. We actually think online dating sounds fun. For real. And don’t even get me started about speed dating. I mean, have you seen it in the movies? Okay, fine. I’m not completely removed from reality. I understand that when these awkward institutions have actual stakes, it’s a lot less fun and a lot more overwhelming, stressful and discouraging. I’m just saying that perhaps letting your old, married friend help you make a profile and sort through the responses you get might be a win-win. [What? You mean this isn't about me? Oh yeah.]
  8. Don’t judge all marriages by our marriage. Whether we’re constantly posting gag-inducing love notes on Facebook or bickering over everything from where we eat dinner to shoes on the floor to the meaning of life, please believe me: Not every marriage is like this one. Don’t swear off men because our man is Prince Not-Exactly-Charming. And don’t pine for romance because our vases are full of fresh flowers each week. Every relationship is different, every relationship has its ups and downs, and every relationship has depths and details the public – even our closest, bestest friends – never see.
  9. That guy [or girl] who hurt you? Yeah, we want to punch him in the face. That’s really all I’ve got to say about that. Except – you are awesome. And anyone who can’t see that? Deserves a punch in the face.
  10. We love you. No matter what. We may not show it the right way. And we may not say it enough. We may be annoying or ungrateful or insensitive or all of the above. But the fact is, we love you. And we want you to be happy, no matter what that looks like.

If you’re married, what do you wish your single friends knew? [And if you're single, what do you wish your married friends knew?]

This post will be linked to Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings.

Making New Friends Anyway {inRL}

A couple weeks ago we took a road trip to visit friends for the weekend. You may recall I mentioned them, saying they “had the nerve to move away.” Yes, I said it. Because honestly? I get really annoyed when people I love move away.

I’m not mad at them, of course. Or any of my friends who have moved across town or the country, or any of my friends who never lived here in the first place and refuse to move next door to me.

But the hard, grown-up fact that I can’t gather all the people I love the most and force them to live with me, like we’re in the dorm at college? I kind of hate that.

Every time a friend moves away, I tell myself that’s it. I’m done. I’m not making any new friends. Because you know what? They’ll just leave. They’ll get a new job, go to a different church, go on a mission trip and never come home.

I’ve been pretty comfortable in that big baby scaredy cat mindset, too. But earlier this year, a sermon about this very thing hit me between the eyes.

The topic was connecting and community, so I didn’t have to work hard to apply the message to my longing for close relationships and fear that they’ll only end in hurt and “I miss you, please move back” emails. And it’s not like I’d never noticed that Jesus had close friends – close friends he knew would hurt him in the end. But I hadn’t really thought about the fact that while Jesus knew Judas would betray him and Peter would deny him, He chose to love them and live with them anyway.

After I was smacked in the face with that message, though, I felt frustrated. Sure, I get it. Community is important and relationships are worth the possible hurt I might encounter along the way. But how on earth do I make that happen?

There was a time when I was rolling in friends. I had work friends and church friends. I had single friends and couple friends. I had high school friends and college friends and new friends. (Notice how I didn’t call you “old friends,” lovely ladies from high school and college!)

Today is a different story.

Today is sporadic emails and Facebook messages instead of spontaneous happy hours. Today is scheduling a girls’ night out two months in advance only to cancel at the last minute because of a sick kiddo. Today is, “I haven’t seen you in forever!” and “We should get together soon. Yeah, we should.” Today is realizing that I have closer relationships with the people I Skype and tweet than the people I sit next to in church and drive past at the preschool.

Today is hard.

Maybe you know what I’m talking about?

Maybe you miss girls nights out or scrapbooking retreats or book clubs or coffee dates. Maybe your friends have moved away or drifted away. Maybe you’ve always had a hard time finding friends to connect with – or finding time to connect with your friends. Maybe it’s a little bit of all of the above. I know it is for me.

That’s why I love what (in)courage is doing in a few months.

(in)RL is going to be a day of (in)courage meetups all around the country and globe and a webcast for everyone to tune into. Women will gather to watch live webcasts of (in)courage contributors and community, connect with each other and discover new friendships they didn’t know were right around the corner.

On Saturday, April 28, thousands of (in)courage women all over the world will be getting together in homes, coffee shops, restaurants, or churches to connect in real life.

And even though it’s hard – and not a little bit scary – I’m going to host an (in)RL meetup. What about you? Will you attend a meetup or even host one?

Sure, those new friends might live across town. Or be different from you. Or hurt your feelings someday. Or move away and never call, never write. But what if they don’t? Or what if they do, but they also give great hugs and listen with their whole hearts and watch chick flicks with you and drink coffee with you at any hour of the day?

Let’s do this. Let’s reach out and connect in real life. Let’s make new friends anyway.

[Oh, hey! If you're worried about planning a get-together, check out my ebook, Plan a Fabulous Party {without losing your mind}!]

Here are the links you need for (in)RL:

(in)RL website
(in)RL Q&A
Register for (in)RL
Host an (in)RL meetup

And don’t miss this great trailer video:

This post is part of a progressive blog tour. Don’t miss Sarah Mae’s post from yesterday or Arianne’s post tomorrow!

Do you find it hard to make friends anyway? Are you going to – or hosting – an (in)RL meetup? Will you come to mine???

P.S. I can’t remember who took the photo up above. It’s from Relevant, and I’d love to give credit where credit’s due. So if it’s yours, please let me know!

Now that I see you, I miss you!

grandpa's friends

Over the past few months, my husband and I have been looking for a new church home. At one church we visited, we ran into a couple we hadn’t seen in years. One of them made the most honest, striking comment.

She said, “Now that I see you, I miss you so much!”

After we visited for a while and then went our separate ways, I couldn’t stop thinking about that statement. I suppose it could have been a little insulting, to hear that she hadn’t been dwelling on our absence from her life all this time. But, really, am I any different?

I have more friends who live far away from me than I do friends who live nearby. If I let myself focus on how much I miss each of them and our relationships, I’d be crushed with sadness.

That’s why I’m so thankful for relationships that are strong enough to endure time and distance. And I’m even more thankful for the every-once-in-a-while visits with those heart friends.

To read the rest of this post, please visit me at (in)courage.

A Remarkable Faith :: Funeral

This is the third week of my Remarkable Faith series, where we are reflecting on our most memorable moments in our faith walks. I’m saying “our” because I want this series to be an opportunity for you to share part of your own remarkable faith, not just a time for me to tell more stories about my life. So, check out the weekly topics and link up when you have something to say! And if you don’t have a blog but would like to share, please, talk to us in the comments.

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I’ve been to a lot of funerals. Three grandparents, two godparents, an aunt, two uncles, two of my husband’s grandparents and my mother-in-law are just the ones most closely related to me. There have been several others. But the funeral that has had the most impact on my faith – by FAR – is my friend Carrie’s.

I met Carrie a few weeks into my freshman year of college. She lived just a few doors down the hall and was in chorus with me (and a couple hundred other students). I didn’t immediately peg her for a potential friend. To be honest, all I saw was her cheerleading outfit and assumed we weren’t each other’s types.

Thankfully, one of my friends (who lived a few doors down the hall the other way) introduced us, and I recognized a kindred spirit right away.

As the weeks went on, Carrie and several other friends who lived on that second floor of our dorm became my home-away-from-home family. We ate together, studied together, didn’t study together. We walked to class together and took road trips together. We shared hopes and dreams and fears. We explored our college town and talked about our hometowns.

On one of my very favorite nights with that group of friends, we all dressed up and went to our dorm’s formal dance. It was a little bit nerdy but we still had a great time. Eventually, we all made it back to the dorm and piled into Carrie’s four-person room to eat junk food and watch a movie. Nothing special, but it’s a night that sticks in my mind even now.

I also remember talking with Carrie about her major and even the possibility of her transferring to another school. I remember planning to room together the next year and debating who should live with who in the two bedrooms of our suite. I remember driving to Columbia for a concert and Carrie mentioning Caedmon’s Call, a new band she’d like to see next. We also saw Point of Grace in concert at her church and worshiped together more than one Sunday morning. I still tear up when we sing You Are Holy at church, because I remember her loving that song.

But what I remember most when I think about Carrie is the night of my roommate’s birthday. We were eating cake and laughing, and Carrie stopped by my room to say hi. I was busy with my roommate and other friends, and I didn’t take much time at all to chat with Carrie. We were both going home for the weekend, so I said I’d see her on Monday.

The next day I received a phone call at home. It was Kelly, one of Carrie’s roommates. She said, “You should sit down.”

I’m not sure what words she used to break the news – or what I said in response. I know I must have screamed or shouted or something, because I do remember my mom running into my room. I don’t suppose the details matter after all. My friend was dead.

Carrie hadn’t been home to see her parents for six weeks and they were anxious to see her. Her dad was worried about some bad weather we’d had, though, and suggested she take an alternative route home. Somewhere along the way home, Carrie swerved into the other lane and hit an oncoming car head-on. Thankfully the other driver was okay, but Carrie didn’t survive the accident.

My first instinct was to jump in my car and drive the two and a half hours to my dorm, to be with my friends. I just needed to be with them. My dad refused. I argued with him until he finally broke down crying, something I had only seen happen one other time – at his dad’s funeral. Reluctantly, I gave up and changed tacks. I asked my parents if my friends could stay at our house when they came down for the funeral. My mom agreed and began cooking right away. She badgered me about helping her until, this time, I broke down crying. Cooking a bunch of food wasn’t going to change this surreal and shocking situation.

My friends drove down to my house. The guys made fun of my mom’s Pepto-Bismol pink bathroom and the girls spent hours with me, trying to understand what had happened. We joined hundreds of other people at the funeral and listened to people who’d known her much longer talk about what an incredible, sweet person Carrie was.

And then they played a recording of her singing. That was brutal.

In my list of things I don’t understand, why my friend had to die when her life was just beginning is near the top. And no matter how long my friends and I talked about it – how did it happen? what made her swerve into the other lane? was she reaching for a CD? what if she hadn’t taken that road? why didn’t I talk to her more the night before? – it didn’t change the fact that we just didn’t understand.

Because I believe, though, it comes down to faith – even when I don’t like it. So, at the end of the day, even though it broke my heart (and the hearts of her parents and her sister and her many other friends) and it makes no sense even now, I just have to believe that God’s way is best.

Ohhhh, that is so hard! And that is why this funeral, more than the others, has influenced my faith so much.

Has a funeral played a part in your story? Was the death of a loved one a memorable moment in your life? Do you have a remarkable faith?

If you write about this on your blog, please link up! (And remember, use the URL for your specific post, and include a link back to Giving Up on Perfect in your post so others can link up, too!)

A Remarkable Faith :: Wedding

This is the second week of my Remarkable Faith series, where we are reflecting on our most memorable moments in our faith walks. I’m saying “our” because I want this series to be an opportunity for you to share part of your own remarkable faith, not just a time for me to tell more stories about my life. So, check out the weekly topics and link up when you have something to say! And if you don’t have a blog but would like to share, please, talk to us in the comments.

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When I originally thought about writing a post about a wedding that’s influenced my faith, several weddings came to mind. First I thought of my friend whose dad discovered he had an aneurysm just days before her ceremony and still managed to do the twist with her at the reception. Then I thought of another friend whose family and in-laws were so against her marriage that the entire weekend had a palpable tension and discomfort. I thought of the weddings I’ve been in, from bridesmaid to personal attendant to gift book person to pianist to soloist to photographer. I even thought of the beautiful wedding that was everything I’d plan mine to be (if I were planning my wedding now, 11 years later), including the month, the colors and the flowers.

But when I sat down to write, none of these weddings seemed significant anymore. The wedding that has been most influential to my faith is one that I didn’t attend.

Just a few years out of college, two of my best friends got married – and didn’t invite me. I saw the pictures, and it looked beautiful. Both the bride and the groom, once the people I thought I knew best, looked incredibly happy. And I wasn’t there.

While I knew that we’d had some awkward moments, the three of us, since they started dating in our senior year, I had no idea that they were holding onto unresolved anger and possibly disappointment with me. Until I found out about their wedding from someone else, I didn’t know that at least one of them had been mad at me for FIVE YEARS. Five years in which we’d hung out, eaten together, e-mailed back and forth, and even sat together during our graduation ceremony.

I didn’t know. And I found out when a mutual friend showed me their wedding photos and let slip that they didn’t invite me, because they hate me.

Hearing that crushed me, it really did. I immediately e-mailed both of my friends and tried to find out what had happened. Over the next few years, thanks to my persistent (and undoubtedly annoying) e-mails, I found out what I’d done to make one of them so angry. The other one – the bride of that wedding I wasn’t at, someone who’d promised to always be my friend in the way that young girls do – has never responded to any of my messages.

I’ve apologized – more than once – for the mistakes I made that upset my friend so badly. And I truly am sorry. If you’re wondering what I did – and what this has to do with my faith – I promise it’s all connected.

When I was in college, my faith was very black and white. My personality was what you might call – rightfully so – rigid. And I was, on occasion, judgmental and narrow-minded. It was the combination of those less-than-impressive traits, combined with a dose of insensitivity and obliviousness (it’s a word; I looked it up), that led me to hurt my friend and damage our friendship beyond repair.

I was wrong. But acknowledging that doesn’t change what happened. And the evidence has shown me that it doesn’t fix what is broken between us.

The funny thing – and I most certainly do not mean ha-ha funny – is that my friends would probably like me a lot more now, if they knew me. If they knew the me I am today, I think we’d get along even better than we did before things got so ugly. I’m not the same person, and a lot of that has to do with what I believe – and the questions I have that I now realize I don’t know the answers to after all.

This story is vague, and I’m sorry for that. I can’t share any more details than this. Actually, just sharing this much has turned me into a soggy mess. There’s not a week that goes by without me thinking of my friends – and regretting our loss. And, you will probably not be surprised to know, there’s probably not a month or so that goes by without me regretting it to the point of tears, sometimes ugly, shuddering tears.

It’s a huge loss. And for me, it started with a wedding. But despite the grief I continue to carry over the whole thing, I’m also thankful for what I’ve learned through it. I’d like to think I’m a little less rigid and judgmental these days. And that is a good thing.

This song hits me in the face every time I hear it, and it seems like the best way to close this story.

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Has a wedding played a part in your story? Was your wedding – or someone else’s – a memorable moment in your life? Do you have a remarkable faith?

If you write about this on your blog, please link up! (And remember, use the URL for your specific post, and include a link back to Giving Up on Perfect in your post so others can link up, too!)