The truth is, I’ve spent most of my adult life married (from age 19 – yes, I know it was too young, but there was a baby on the way – to 38), and it’s been less than a year since I reclaimed that status. Even so, some points in Leslie’s “On Balance” commentary reviewing the new book Now and Not Yet by Jennifer Marshall, which examines single life from a conservative Christian perspective, struck a chord.
One issue raised by the book is that single women can feel out of place in family-oriented churches, and that was very true for me – one of the reasons I stopped going to church regularly after my divorce was that I just didn’t feel like I fit. The fact that the churches I’ve attended were in family-centric suburban communities, where I was also out of place in other ways, probably complicated that, as did being a divorced Catholic. I haven’t resumed churchgoing since my second marriage, though – that’s partly due to becoming OK with not having it as part of my life for a few years, and partly due to my marrying a heathen whose Catholicism is way more lapsed than mine.
I gather that the overall premise of the book is that singlehood is fine in the relatively short term, but not a good place to be for an extended period, and I think it depends. I didn’t ask to be single and basically on my own for the first time at 38 – my ex-husband initiated the divorce, and for quite awhile during and after I resented the fact he couldn’t just suck it up and accept not-entirely-happy-ever-after couplehood. (Thank heaven I eventually worked my way out of that mindset!) But once I was single, it wasn’t hard to imagine staying that way for a long time, and there were elements about that time I really enjoyed. I could support myself financially and didn’t have to explain or defend my choices to anyone, and I didn’t have to answer for my time to anyone except my dog. I lost weight and found new interests, and learned a lot about myself. There were also plenty of things I didn’t enjoy at all, but therapy was a lot of help with that.
And once I decided I was ready to try dating again, I was pretty focused about it, but the last thing I expected was to find a “keeper” so quickly (I had joined eHarmony for a year, and was “introduced” to TallGuy during my first week). But one great thing about my relationship with him is that I’m not losing the “me” I developed into during those single years.
Singlehood did turn out to be an in-between time for me, but odds are it will happen again – life expectancies and all – and my perspective now is that I wouldn’t trade it at all for a few more less-than-happy years with First Husband.