That milestone brought with it various emotions and contemplations, but this post isn’t about that. This post is about those yearning for marriage but have yet to find that special person, or a past experience with marriage has wounded them deeply.
I know what it’s like to be bombarded daily, sometimes even hourly, with situations and images of something I desire deeply, and yet don’t have, all the while wondering if it might be something I will never have. My husband and I have knowingly struggled with infertility for eight years. Something as mundane as a parent holding a child in their arms while they go up for communion at Mass can trigger a whole array of emotions for either or both of us.
But last Thursday my heart was with those going through a different struggle: Those who grew up imagining themselves as a husband or wife one day, but now they’re wondering if that will ever happen. What once was a happy occasion, a friend’s engagement announcement, is like a knife to the heart. What once was a time to celebrate, a friend’s wedding, is a long ordeal of trying to hold back tears. What once was just a cute photo, a friend’s anniversary selfie, is a cause for jealousy and pain.
As time marches on your isolation continues to grow. You love your friends, but going out with couples makes you feel like your singleness is on display with a spotlight. And if there’s time to hang out with your friends without their spouses, well, the conversation usually focuses on the daily happenings of married life. All you can say in response to try and relate is, “Yeah, my parents went through that in their marriage.” And the excruciating awkwardness if you’re at an event where you’ll be meeting strangers is nearly unbearable. The “So, are you married?” has to be followed by a painful and deafening “No.”
And it’s not that you want to take away anyone else’s joy. Knowing the pain of wanting to be happily married, and yet not, you would never wish this on anyone else. But unfortunately all your good will doesn’t erase the pain that photos, anniversaries and conversations can cause.
For my friends who desire to be married with every fiber of their being, I in some small way can empathize, because I have felt all these things, but just with a different struggle. And I know that in no way am I aware of all the pain felt by you. I only share what I have come up with by trying to imagine myself in your shoes.
So, when my Facebook page is full of photos from our anniversary date, or of our wedding from long ago, I know that you have a whole mix of feelings, some of them very dark. But here’s the thing I want you know: I don’t judge you for those feelings. I won’t tell you that you don’t have the right to your feelings, or that somehow I’m entitled to my joy and you should keep your feelings to yourself. No. Our lives here on earth are about community, and I welcome all of you. And not just the you that is perfectly at peace with what life has brought your way; no, I welcome you exactly where you’re at.