Thursday, April 28, 2011
Living Single in a Married World
Today we are sharing an article from Crosswalk.com that's co-written by Cliff Young and Laura MacCorkle. I'm sure that many of you can relate to the question being addressed. Believe it or not, I can even remember some of those feelings myself, when a co-worker had a child before I did. I think it's all too easy to allow ourselves to feel inferior when surrounded by people who have experienced marriage, parenting, extensive travel or a lifestyle that we have not. The phrase "What about me?" comes to mind. But once again, it's not about me. It's more about what God might be showing us through the discomfort.
QUESTION: I work with two other women in my department: my boss and a co-worker. Of course, both are married with young children and I am single, never married, no kids. It seems like all they ever talk about are their kids, their husbands, what their kids did this weekend, how their husbands get on their nerves, etc., etc. I really believe that my co-worker enjoys the fact that she has all this in common with my boss, and I don't. So, I sit there not being able to join in on most of the conversations, and I am really starting to feel like a social outcast and reject. Is there a way that I can properly deal with this, so that I am not so upset all the time by it?
HE SAID: In many ways, it seems as if we do live in a married world, even though there are 96 million singles in the United States (comprised of those at least 18 years old, never been married, divorced or widowed), which is 43 percent of the population according to the Census Bureau. Approximately 61 percent of those have never “walked down the aisle,” totaling nearly 60 million people. It would be a stretch to place singles as a whole into a social outcast status, but maybe we can receive a minority classification.
Nevertheless, having been single since the pre-cell phone days, I do empathize with you. Most of us spend the better part of our day at work in a situation which, if not conducive, has the tendency to affect the rest of our lives. I have to ask though, if you don’t share all of those commonalities with your co-workers, do you really want to take part in their “venting session”?
Here is my honest take on the situation.
First of all, your co-worker probably does enjoy having many things in common with your boss—wouldn’t you in that position? Whether she is trying to “stick it” to you or not, there’s not a lot you can do (i.e. confront her, talk to your boss, etc.) without it becoming a bigger deal in your office and alienating you even more.
You’re at work, so just work.
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world (John 9:5).
When I encounter times at work where I don’t feel part of a social conversation or don’t have anything constructive to offer, I usually bow out and do what I am being paid to do. If you utilize those opportunities where your boss and co-worker are sitting around socializing, and spend it working (with excellence) rather than trying to “fit in” to their world, what is the worst thing that will happen, your co-worker will say, “Look at her, all she does is work”? That won’t score any points or make her look any better.
You will seldom be scrutinized by your superiors for working too hard, and it will clearly separate you from your co-worker even if they do have a lot in common. Don’t feel as if you have to be like them to succeed.
Outside of work, expand your horizons.
I have come so they can have life. I want them to have it in the fullest possible way (John 10:10).
Instead of trying to blend into their world, establish your own. If you arrive each morning from having “experienced” your single life in the fullest possible way, others will want to hear about it, because they aren’t doing it.
When I worked as a youth worker, I always invited the children of my co-workers to attend the events and trips (even mission), which many did. Although I didn’t (and still don’t) have children of my own, my co-workers and I had much to discuss about the weekend I spent with theirs.
One thing I have discovered from many of my married friends is their lives are fairly “consistent” (some would even call it “mundane,” to describe it politely). I often get many more questions about what I’m doing and experiencing in contrast to their common response of, “Same ole, same ole.”
Don’t spend your time worrying about what you don’t have, but rather experience what you do have—a sense of freedom, more flexible lifestyle, and “free of concern and (seeking) how you can please the Lord” (1 Cor. 7:32).
Live your life to the fullest and be a light to the world—that is how you can properly deal with your circumstances.
SHE SAID: I’m so glad you wrote in and asked this question.
Yes, you, me, Cliff … we are all singles living in a “married world.” Those who have been married since graduating college (or very soon after) have no idea what it is like to be single for many years, even decades. And it is also true that those who have been single for many years (myself included) have no idea what it is like to be married for many years (or even just married at all).
That’s what I tell myself each time I feel left out of a conversation that is all about spouses or children or when it seems like I am being misunderstood or judged for not being married (or having not found someone to date) or that a married person thinks that he or she knows exactly what I’m going through as a single person or has the quick-fix solution to my problems (“You just need to ______.”).
CLICK HERE to read the article in its entirety.
Join the community of Christian singles at Cache' Connections, which is a community and matchmaking service built on biblical principles.