During my years of prolonged singleness, I definitely experienced discouragement. In addition to providing my amazing single friends, God also ministered encouragement through certain married friends who communicated sensitivity, love, and respect with their words and actions.
In light of my own experience, I recently compiled a mental list of ways married couples can bless their single friends. I’m not assuming marriage is a better state or that all singles are miserable with their status. Far from it! But I do think that life schedules and social groupings sometimes separate marrieds and singles, making them feel awkward about bridging the relationship status gap.
Here are five ways in which you, as a married person, can bless your single friend:
1) Welcome your single friend into your normal life.
Even if your single friend lives a very busy life, there will be an evening or two where he/she will probably be alone. While there is nothing wrong with being alone, it is nice to feel welcomed into someone else’s regular, weekday evening: “We’d love for you to come over and hang out.” “Feel free to join us for dinner. We’re probably having leftovers, but please come!” Think about all the nights that someone cooks/reheats/picks up dinner in your home. Your single friend does the same thing every night, either alone or with family/friends. Don’t feel that you have to plan special meals or events; just invite your friend to join in your normal, after-work routine. Believe me, this can bless your single friend more than you know.
2) Learn how to share/ask about the parts of life that connect with your single friend.
While singles don’t want to feel excluded from conversations about married life and kids, they also need their married friends to be able to enter into meaningful, enjoyable conversations about other aspects of life. As a single woman in my 30s, I was comfortable listening to my friend share about struggles in her marriage, but I also loved it when my married friends and I would talk about what God was doing in us personally, books we were reading, dreams we had, issues at work, fun memories we shared, humorous stories from the week, who we were building with and what kinds of things were weighing us down. Mutual sharing and deep encouragement can totally happen despite relationship status. Your single friend won’t be uncomfortable hearing about the current stuff in your life, but he/she wants you to be able to talk about the stuff in his/her life, too.
3) Let your single friend vent about singleness if he/she needs to do so.
Sometimes singles won’t talk about the frustrations of singleness with those who are married because they are afraid of being dismissed or shamed. Make sure you create a safe place for your single friend to honestly share, vent or cry. Please don’t respond with platitudes or remarks like, “Oh, marriage is so hard. You have it pretty good right now.” Honor your single friend’s hurt or frustration with the same honor you would want when you share about your disappointments and struggles regarding marriage, infertility, kids, career, retirement, etc. This is how we minister to each other as the body of Christ.
4) Honor your single friend’s work/life balance, and give of yourself.
Don’t assume that singles are the ones to stay flexible, serve as free babysitters and pick up the slack in church ministry. Just because someone is single doesn’t mean he/she has unlimited flexibility, energy and resources. Show true appreciation for any way your single friend sacrifices to bless you. If there is a need for volunteers at work, at church or in the community, your marital status doesn’t exclude you from the responsibility to do your part. Also, extend help to your single friend with his/her projects. When married couples and families look for ways to bless their single friends, their churches and their communities, singles will feel less taken for granted.
5) If you personally know a good catch, say something!
I’ve always felt that Christians should do a better job of introducing each other. Our individualistic culture has made this awkward, but it doesn’t have to be! Sometimes, all I want is to know that I have some options: Is there at least one eligible Christian guy within 50 miles?? I would’ve been so encouraged if one of my married friends had approached me in a non-pushy, respectful, non-demeaning way and said, “Hey, I actually know this really great guy, and I think you two might enjoy meeting. You don’t have to answer me now, but if you decide you’d be up for it, my husband/my wife and I can arrange a non-awkward way for us all to hang out.” Even if I said no, or even if an initial meeting led to just another friendship, I would have been so encouraged to know that:
1) Not all eligible guys are taken; they do exist!
2) My friends are on the lookout for me, too (in a totally non-creepy, non-pushy way)!
I’m so grateful for the way God used my married friends (and married folks whom I barely knew) to bless and encourage and validate me during my single years. I hope these ideas will help you pass on the blessing to others.