Joy, Pain & Friendship

IMG_3074My husband and I celebrated ten years of marriage on April 2nd.

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.

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5 thoughts on “Joy, Pain & Friendship

  1. Poverty well said. I felt like I waited a long time to get married, but sometimes I forget that. I have a few single friends who desire marriage and I think this validates their hope and pain in waiting.

  2. I meant very well said…..ooooops!!!!!

  3. Beautifully said. Love this post. The similarity between longing for marriage and longing for children is so similar. As a young woman who is infertile, I really have identified with this cross the most. Both of us feel like we’re invisible, unnoticed, and lie outside of the “target audience” on Sundays.

  4. conceivinghope

    This intention is so near and dear to our hearts in my marriage that we specially wrote the intentions of our wedding mass for the single among us who feel called to marriage and are still waiting. “Still waiting” : such a poignant phrase for me. It’s something I knew well in my young adulthood as I watched all of my close (and distant) friends meet each other, fall in love and get married. All of those years were spent hurting and feeling left behind in God’s sight. That pain is so real (and yet it can draw us so close to the foot of the cross!). In later years when I became married, I was greeted with infertility. There is something very similar to this current journey of infertility as to the cross of my unwanted-single-ness in my youth.

    I hope any single person reading will know that they are prayed for nightly by my husband and myself. And every time I even say the words “husband” and “spouse”. No one forgot you, least of all God. Rest assured that wherever you are reading this comment from, we have prayed for you today.

    Rmac – well written. Wonderful post, friend! ❤

  5. What a wonderfully written comment. Thank you!

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