Motherhood

Friendships between single and married women (an awkward introduction)

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I met her in Sunday School. She looked cute and fun and I set my eye on her as a potential friend. Finally, I worked up the courage to sit next to her. We had been introduced before, but this time I wanted to get to know her a little bit better. So I asked her how old she was.

When she replied with thirty-five, my first mental reaction was disappointment.

Not because I’m against people in their thirties (ahem, I married one). Rather because I felt that age was yet another thing dividing me from this potential friend – another difference in our lives.

You see, this girl was single. She was single…in her mid-thirties. And I am 6 years married in my mid-twenties…with a kid. I felt like we were more different than alike. I mean, come on – what potential does a friendship like that have? What would we talk about? I couldn’t possibly understand what her life is like and she couldn’t possibly understand what my life is like, right?

—–

There was another girl in our Sunday School class. Over the course of a few weeks I found out that she played the piano, was a music teacher, a writer, and had even published a guest blog post on one of the same sites that I had. We had an instant connection.

She was also single. 

We stood there this past July in our church’s gymnasium during VBS chatting about writing and music – and I looked around at the room full of volunteers. I saw a lot of single women.

I’m not really sure why our church has so many single women, but it was different from what I was used to. The churches I had previously attended were in the midst of the military communities, where soldiers are young and their spouses are young and they pop out kids young. All of my friends were married, in their twenties or early thirties, with kids. It’s just how the culture was. Any single friends I had were people I had met online during the brief time when I was single; and that group was readily shrinking with each passing year.

I realized then that I had hadn’t developed a new friendship with a single woman since I got married at the age of just-turned-21. Not a one. 

These realizations overwhelmed me.

While I was internally processing these thoughts, I came across an article on (in)courage, called How To Love Us Well {Just Be You} which answered the question “What can 30-somethings do to encourage and build up the 20-somethings in their lives?”

I loved the post because I felt like it gave a lot of advice on building community between singles and marrieds – and it even gave me a few ideas. But it frustrated me too. Because I felt like it made the assumption that all single people are in their 20s and all married-with-kids people are in their 30s.

My mind raced with questions:

How do I relate to single women, especially when they are older than me?

What do you do when you are 26 years old, married with a kid, and you realize that not only are you the youngest person in your sunday school class, but also the super-cute girl you are sitting next to that you think you could possibly be friends with is still single at 35? And you want to say something like “Hey let’s go have coffee,” but your mind goes blank and you wonder what you could possibly have in common? 

What does a single woman think when she sees a younger wife and mom? Is there envy? Is there pain? Are there feelings of well-she-would-never-get-me-so-why-bother? Does she crave interaction with the 26 year old mom? Does she want to hang out with her and her kids? Or does the thought of a cranky, snotty-nosed kid at a coffee date give her a headache?

These are questions that I have spent the last seven months pondering and trying to answer. I’ve reached out to some of the single women I know with an honest heart, explaining my discomfort and asking them some of these questions. I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone.

And I’m happy to tell you that those two women I talked about at the beginning of this post have quickly become two of my best friends at my church.

In my next post, I am going to be sharing some of the things I have learned in navigating these friendships. I personally feel that there is a huge gap between single and married women in the church, and I want to see bridges built over that gap. I want other married-with-kids women like myself to move beyond their circle of “mom friends” and develop other rich friendships with single women.

friendships between single and married

Come back to read my next post! Feel free to subscribe by email (in the sidebar) or like this page on Facebook to make sure you don’t miss the follow-up post! 

Also, I would love to hear feedback from both single women and married women about these issues. Do you have any advice to give on navigating the friendships between single and married women?

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15 Comments

  • Brenda @TripleBraided

    Aprille, I just love that you are writing on this topic! As someone who was single until she was 32, I felt the strain because of age and marital status between single and married women. Single women need married women!!! I could talk for hours about this topic. Thank you for sharing it! I’ll be sharing it in my newsletter! 🙂

  • Rebekah

    We started out our marriage in a church with a composition of about 90% old people, and 5% singles, and maybe 5% middle aged (40s) couples/families. So, there weren’t a lot of options for interacting with anyone other than couples.A lot of the singles in the churches we’ve been at have been a good bit younger than me, and so have tended to hang out more with others their age. So, I don’t really feel like I’ve had a lot of opportunities to develop relationships with singles.

    That being said, I have nothing against being friends with singles, though at times there have been occasions of “what do we have in common?” I think it’s pretty natural to stick with those who you have the most in common with, but you’re right – we do need to break down those walls.

  • Lauren McCusker

    I’ve found that I often enjoy the company of my single friends more than my married friends. Not because they are single or because they don’t have children, but because I’m friends with them because we actually have things in common besides similarly-aged children. I’m not religious so my friends are made in other settings, and most of my ‘mom friends’ have come from mothers’ groups and whatnot. In almost every case, we have nothing in common. We talk about our kids. Our children play, we get along fine but that’s about as deep as the relationship goes. With other friends, we may have the same values, the same interests, the same sense of humor, the same tastes, so we form that deeper connection. It’s also easier navigating a coffee date when there’s only one set of kids there 😉 And it’s nice being able to have a conversation about something other than the kids.

    I’d also say I don’t really see much difference in my single vs married friends, because most of my friends are in long-term relationships, even if they aren’t married. The biggest lifestyle difference is whether they have children or not.

  • beckydaye

    Love this post, Aprille! I was 23 when I married my husband, but learned pretty quickly to not place limits or expectations on friendships. The unexpected friends that I made along the way (the ones who were at a completely different stage in life) have blessed my life so fully. I think the best answer is to never say no to any friendship potential! All women are worth pursuing!!!

  • Katie Mae @ Nourishing Simplicity

    Thank you for that sweet post. As a single gal in my late 20s I love it when I can have friends that are married with kids, all but a few of mine are. It is true that there are some things we can’t connect on but the them we do have in common help us form great friendships. I think sometimes there can be even more issues on the single gals part because you are right, there is a bit of envy and pain. (That’s something the LORD and I are still working through.) Blessings!

  • Joan

    Thank you so much for this post! I loved hearing your perspective on this topic as I am ‘one of those single’ ladies who try to attend church events to meet other people. I’ve honestly had the exact same thought thought you shared, “And you want to say something like “Hey let’s go have coffee,” but your mind goes blank and you wonder what you could possibly have in common?” except for it’s been when I’ve wanted to get to know women who are married with children. 🙂

  • natasha

    Thats Aprille for your post. See I’ve never really thought about single friends and married its never been an issue until recently. One of my un -married friend has started / maybe she was being asked out by a married man. So then she asked me to transport her to the married man, and put my foot down and told her i couldn’t. And i mean i really couldn’t, its like something came over me my whole body was shaking, my heart was pounding it was really an insane moment. being that i’m one of those people who is always on some “its not my life she’s ruining” but i couldn’t help but think of that wife sitting there waiting for her husband to come home cos suddenly that wife was me.
    and here i was trying to be made to participate in something that did not sit well with me.

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