This three-part blog miniseries has been rolling around in my head for a few months now. I should state up front that I realize people who ask these questions are rarely asking maliciously. My intention is not to condemn or complain; I simply hope to shed some light into murky corners. Consider this a dual-purposed public service announcement. Should any of my dear readers ever find themselves tempted to ask one of these likely well-intentioned yet inappropriate questions (Part One and Part Two), I hope they’ll remember that there’s a much better choice (Part Three). For those who’ve found themselves on the receiving end of such questioning, may you suddenly feel a little less alone.
Part One: “When are you going to get married?” (variations include “Why are you still single?” and “How come nobody’s snatched you up yet?”)
When I used to get asked this question I wished for a very snappy reply. The best I could come up with was “I don’t know.”
Not very snappy.
Being married was my number one goal in life, the first thing I always asked God for, and remaining single into my thirties was never my plan. This question, though, makes it sound as though getting married is one hundred percent within a person’s control…like deciding when to get the oil changed in the car or when to pick up fresh eggs at the store. There is no Spouse Store, Amazon does not stock husbands and wives in their massive warehouses, and although one can probably be ordered from somewhere online the idea seems sketchy at best. Every time that question was posed to me it was like rubbing salt in an open wound because it reminded me of a yet unanswered – and very dear to my heart – prayer and how it was completely outside my ability to make it happen.
Then there’s the more subtle undertones, the second half of the question that’s never actually voiced: “Why are you still single…is there something wrong with you?” Single folks so often seem normal; perhaps even wonderful. It’s perfectly okay to marvel to yourself why someone besides you hasn’t noticed this fact and made their move. However, the moment you give voice to that wondering in the presence of that single person, it sounds like you’re trying to figure out the hidden flaw that keeps others from committing. What sort of answer is possible here? “I’m probably too…” What, strong-willed? Skinny? Talented? Intimidating? Short? Clearly, if there was some magic thing that needed alteration and the single person knew what that thing was, they’d have fixed it by now.
Thankfully my prayer was eventually answered; when we were ready for one another my husband and I began dating and the rest is (recent) history. There was sweet freedom in knowing I would never have to face this particular question again.
But then, they started asking about children.