Benefits of Single Status

Orthogal Brigid was recently our spokeswoman for an OCN interview. We loved what she had to say!

After Brigid’s interview we found ourselves bemused when an older, married gentleman voiced doubt regarding one of her statements that there were benefits to the single life. As in, he couldn’t see any. But rather than stewing about the fact that yet another married individual unimaginatively dismissed our experiences, we are springing to action.

We would like to hear from you, Reader.

Unmarried readers: Has there been a situation or season that you were thankful for your single status? What do you like about being single?

Married readers: If you are married, do you miss certain things about your single years? What advice would you give to unmarried women about fully living out this season of their lives?

Please use the contact form or send us a Facebook message. We can’t wait to hear from you!

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Categories: Articles | 21 Comments

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21 thoughts on “Benefits of Single Status

  1. Old married lady here. Singles: Travel. Go on short term missions trips. See the world. Be adventurous! Love your neighbor in radical ways that are unavailable to us old fogeys. Work two jobs. Get out of debt. Go fishing in Alaska. Hike the Appalachian Trail. I’m just saying.

  2. Here in America the monastic life is not as common of a thought for unwed people , probably due to it still not being commonplace. Single people have the opportunity to even consider being a monastic, whereas once you’re married you have no chance of ever becoming a monastic unless your spouse dies. Obviously not everyone who is single though is called to be a monastic, but… I bet there might be more people than we realize, but because of it not being a normal part of American culture these singles haven’t considered it or are scared of what their families might say. I’ve read of families, in countries where monasticism is more common, giving their children grief for wanting to become a monastic. Here in America I would imagine it might be worse. Nowadays, with the way things are, people might prefer hearing their child is gay rather than wanting to become a monk or nun!

    Also, maybe another reason we don’t have as many nuns is because women in America are encouraged to wear the least amount of clothing as possible so dressing extremely modestly seems very alien to us.

    We need to be more supportive of singles simply because they do have the opportunity to consider this lifestyle, and we need to teach and set the example for our daughters to dress as modestly as possible so it doesn’t seem so weird. We also need to support the monastic communities that are already established. It would be wonderful to see more monasteries in this country, and the ones that are already in existence to be supported by more than 2-3 nuns.

  3. Being single? Yeah, I remember what that was like. I lived on my own. I lived life without having to answer to anyone for my own choices. I remember being able to just walk away and do anything without having to tell anyone where I was going. My house wouldn’t have burned down and life just would just keep on keeping on. No worries. At least, no big worries. No real responsibilities. And if I had kept going in that direction, it is likely that I would not have put God back into my life. Do you really want to know when I truly SAW God? I saw God each day that all four of my children were born. Seeing your child born into this world changes everything… EVERYTHING.

    I realize that I a man, so I know that my opinion is not necessarily a female opinion, after all, God made us different. That, I know for sure. I have been a married man for the most part of 14 years. Although life has it’s difficulties, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have changed a thing (except perhaps tried harder at having humility and trying to fix my first marriage – even though I know it wouldn’t have worked, I could have at least tried harder.). However, we live in a fallen world. We are flawed. Each and every one of us. It takes the “other half” of us to make us whole. I am no longer just one person. I am, with my wife, a whole person. Without her, I am incomplete. I also believe that God puts many people in our lives that make us whole. It is not just a mate that makes us who we are, for we are all made in the image of God.

    Being single would not have brought the joy in my life that has brought me my four wonderful children and my loving wife. The love that my wife Lydia and I get from our children is immeasurable. Being single? I don’t miss it at all. What advice can I give to those who are single? Stop looking on the outside and start seeing people for who they are on the inside. I have always been a good judge of character. Perhaps that is because I grew up in the Orthodox church where many ethnicities came together as one body in Christ. Perhaps that is why it is so easy for me to love.

    Another thing I see so much in the Orthodox church is single people looking for other single people in the Orthodox church. WHY? Because they are seeking someone who shares the same faith that they do. I think the thing that many single people do not yet understand is that we should be bringing people INTO the body of Christ. Find someone you love for who they are and then TELL them about Orthodox Christianity and why you love it. Tell them to COME and SEE. If they fall in love with your Faith, then it was meant to be. If not… well… some times it is hard for people to see the Truth. Some times it takes a while. My wife and I were married for about 5 years before we both started going to church together. Everyone is ready at their own time in their life. It is not something that can be forced.

    Single people… good luck. God bless and may God grant you many years.

    • I’m sorry that you felt incomplete as a person before marriage. I was told often as a teenager that no man could complete me. Thank goodness or else I would have spent my 20s thinking that I HAD to have someone in order for my life to be a positive influence and capable of loving others. And the children I have seen born, while not genetically mine, have still changed my life.

      I read your comment as giving a blanket application of your life being the model for the rest of us. Thank God that he gave us the multitude of Saints: male and female, married and single, monastics, clergy, laity, cradle and convert. Obviously, God was able to show you Truth through your marriage and other life experiences, but that does not mean He calls all to the same.

      The question in the above post was NOT “what has completed your life and made it whole” nor was it “we’re single and need to know how to be fixed.”The question was if you remember benefits to being single whether never married, divorced or widowed.

      You state, “Stop looking on the outside and start seeing people for who they are on the inside.” Great! Stop seeing single persons as single/not married/not doing life your way and look at them as a fellow Christian who is in the same process of Theosis as you and your family. Your last paragraph would be a good comment for another post on whether or not Orthodox Christians should exclusively date other Orthodox.

      The Orthogals didn’t want to answer this challenge by ourselves – not for lack of material of our own but as a way to include our readers. If you don’t remember these benefits, I suggest that you reread the original question and wait to read what others share of their experience.

      • “It’s one of my theories that when people give you advice, they’re really just talking to themselves in the past.” -Austin Kleon

  4. One thing I have noticed with older married men is that they are completely clueless on how to relate to young single women in regards to said singlehood. This is understandable; so why they keep on opening their mouths to give advice or to make comments is beyond me.

    I have also heard various happily married men state that their wife completes them (see example here: Who am I to disagree with that statement? I find the whole concept scary, but maybe that’s because I’m a woman and to me that means the relationship devolving into some co-dependent nightmare. Interdependence, yes, great. Completion? No, thanks.

    Also, people happy with their state of life are completely unimaginative about happiness in another state.

  5. I’m a married man, and I guess I qualify as “older” at least by Orthogals standards at 36. I got married relatively young at 24, so I’m not sure I have any memories of being single that are going to be useful to anybody. I’m also not sure there’s any real advice to give, since the thing is, even having been married for 12 years, we’re still making it up as we go to a certain extent.

    So, I’ll just say this — don’t listen to advice. Relationships and marriages don’t happen and last because of advice. If things looking great “on paper”, okay, but just because they look great “on paper” doesn’t mean that’s actually going to have anything to do with how two human beings are going to interact. Nobody can tell another person how his works, and if you try following somebody else’s script, you’re never going to fully be yourself in the relationship/marriage. Yes, fine, you might luck out and have a situation where, as an old priest of mine used to say, “Your heart will follow your feet,” and the truth of the matter is that even in a marriage love is a choice constantly needing to be remade, but I think it’s harder to take your heart following your feet as a reliable possibility in 2013. In any event, God will lead you where He wants you; that might be marriage and kids, and it might not be. You’re no less a child of God either way, regardless of what monks or married people might tell you. Both ways have their consolations and their crosses. You may find that “completion” is a word that applies in the context of your marriage; to the extent that a Christian marriage is a component of our being “perfected” (which really just means “completed”) in Christ, why not? But if that word doesn’t make sense to you, don’t force it. (And if it does make sense to you, don’t assume it’s the general case for everybody.)

    The point is, don’t let somebody else’s advice define these paths for you. Including mine. Take what’s useful to you, if anything, but leave the rest.

  6. Kathy

    As a single, there is a lot more room for healthy selfishness. You can focus on your needs and desires, finding out who you truly are and changing the parts of yourself that you don’t like. I encourage travel, of course (living overseas for a bit is awesome, but just visiting can teach you a lot). Learning a new language or a new musical instrument is easier when you aren’t self-conscious about somebody else in the house hearing you practicing. Take lessons in a new sport, try a risky financial investment. Give generously to missions. Whatever gets you outside your comfort zone and teaches you valuable lessons at the same time. Keep on open mind, step out, and just go do something that will grow you in a new and different way.

    Also, take the time to develop and nurture deep friendships because God didn’t create us to be fully satisfied on our own (God said it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone, and he was a perfect creation who walked with God and talked to Him face-to-face each day!) but marriage isn’t the only place to find fulfilling relationships. Do you have a friend where you can say, like David and Jonathan, that your souls are knit together? If not, now’s the time to find such a friend! After marriage, the friendship will necessarily cool a bit as you and your spouse bond, but the foundation of a lifelong friendship will have been laid.

    Singlehood can be a treasured time as you can do so much growing and learning while your time and energy aren’t being redirected elsewhere. Grow closer to God and listen for His guidance. Mostly, I’d encourage you to read through the Bible with an eye to finding out what God says He desires His daughters to be and do. Grow in grace and realize that a lot of married people just want you to experience, eventually, the joys that marriage can bring. It’s not that you’re a half-person or sub-human as a single, but know that they want “the best” for you even if they don’t always express it in the way that you find the most encouraging. When you’re living in a happy, fulfilling, Christ-centered marriage it’s easy to want that joy for everyone else (whether single or less-happily married) and to forget that God calls some people to be single for a season or a lifetime. It’s also easy not to see the joys that are a part of a different life. That’s a good thing, actually, because married people who pine for the joys of the single life end up destroying their marriage! So enjoy your season of self-focus and don’t despise people who want you to experience all of the joys that life can bring.

    (Note: I was married for 12 years and am now in my second year as a single, living a fulfilling life and trying to honor God in everything I do)

  7. GM

    So lemme get this straight, MF, as a single guy, I apparently have no responsibilities and therefore should go out and start having children to a) give me some “real direction,” and b) somehow bring me closer to God. EXCUSE ME!!! I was born and raised in the Church, and I haven’t felt a need to draw closer to God by impregnating the nearest woman I can find. I’m sorry that you weren’t closer to God in your single days, but don’t go projecting your shortcomings on others! Great judge of character, my foot! How about turning that good instinct into self-examination and introspection, not onto others?

    But to give my answer to the *actual* question, being single and Orthodox has afforded many enriching opportunities. For instance, I have a few close single friends that I’ve gone on spontaneous road/day trips with, either to a patronal/festal celebration or simply on a monastery pilgrimage (where we are from there are half a dozen within a 2 hour drive). Someone with a spouse and family may not have been able to drop everything or mobilize everyone on the drop of a dime, but that’s ok. There’s joy in having a family to stay home with, but there’s also joy in being able to venerate relics/miraculous icons and receiving a word from a holy elder. And FYI, that word was never how to find a spouse in order to be complete, but how to lead a God-pleasing life in the situation we were in at the time.

  8. As a married woman, what I miss most is spending time with my birth family and girlfriends back home. However, I realized when I was Single that I should make the most of hanging out with my family and my girlfriends and therefore have no regrets.

    I find the “travel” advice amusing because although it is probably true of most people that marriage limits your freedom to travel, I have traveled more since I married than ever before! But what I cannot do is run over to my best friends’ houses and hold their babies or pets and hear the latest. (Sigh.)

  9. Here’s some of the biggest benefits I’ve had when it comes to being single:

    If I had remained with my ex-fiancee, years ago, I would not be Orthodox, at all. Period. Being single allowed me, in essence, to become Orthodox, and devote all my spare time and energy into the process of conversion, during my catechumenate. (is catechumenate a word? It should be.) I’d wager to say that was a pretty high benefit of being single, at least for myself.

    It’s easier to finish books you want to read, or sometimes learn about things you want to learn. For example: in a week, I’ll be heading down to Arizona’s wine country to learn about winemaking from someone who is essentially the zen master of Arizona wine. He taught everyone else. He’s going to be teaching me. I don’t have a family, or a wife, or even a girlfriend, so I can simply up and leave, without having to worry about how my wife will fare in my absense with the kids.

    You can travel for cheaper, and live frugally on vacation via camping or dingy hotel rooms that you otherwise wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing. Camping always leads to adventures. I could easily make mini-pilgrimages to any of the two monasteries in my state at a moment’s notice, without worrying about how to bring along or provide for a family during my random absense.

    Most importantly, being single provides for vast amounts of personal growth, so as to better become a unique human individual–rather than just half of a cog, so to speak. You can’t love somone else if you can’t at least tolerate yourself. These challenges you face while you are single teach you things that you can use later on. Selfish, in this case, is not bad, if it leads to self-betterment.

    Sorry if this comment is a little disjointed. I’m doing about 15 things at once!

  10. GM

    Excellent comment, Cody! Especially appreciative of you sharing your experience, namely that you had an ex-fiancee. You are infinitely better off for your decision to not marry, since one’s spouse is supposed to help one draw nearer to Christ. If that is not happening, it is better to be single and in the Church than to be married just for the sake of being married! Which also happens to be why I’m not married…yet…

  11. mallory

    I’ve wanted to weigh in on your conversations here from time to time, but always felt that I couldn’t possibly abstract any “rules” or even suggestions for others from my experience as a single, both because I was such a fool, and because now that I’m married, it’s tempting to see my single life as foreshadowing (which is not very helpful for anyone else!)

    But I can echo what others have said here and say that the freedom was precious. I didn’t have to answer to anyone but God, and I made decisions according to my own conscience. I still do, but I must compromise on all sorts of things: mundane dish-washing technique (so stupid but these things build up!); turning down the volume when I want to dance; leaving a church that I liked because my husband didn’t feel comfortable there; or dialing back a friendship with someone that my husband doesn’t get along with. Being “yoked” a good thing, but I mean, have you ever tried to do anything cool while your neck is stuck in a thing that someone else’s neck is stuck in too?

    The specific benefits of singlehood are different for everyone; when I was single, I tended to be impulsive, adventurous, and enjoy friendships with many kinds of people, so that is what I miss. I think my husband misses the peace and quiet…

    Embrace your independence! Whatever that means for you.

  12. Pingback: The Blessings of Singlehood | Orthogals

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