(If you missed part 1, you can catch up here.)
After being single for the first 21 years of my adult life, will I still be me when I get married?
That’s the question I asked at the end of my previous post, and it’s an important one. I love my fiancé and I’m very, very happy when I think of being his wife. I also know that life will be very, very different for me a few months from now. And that’s a bit frightening, to be honest. I know without a doubt, no matter how happily married I am, that there will be days when I miss my single life.
It might be hard for people who have been married for a long time, especially those who married young, to understand this. Some of my married friends seem to forget what it was like to be single, but I hope I won’t. I hope I’ll remember how I felt in my divinity school class the day we looked at the biblical creation story and our professor explained that the imago Dei, the image of God in which humans were created, is only fully realized in marriage. This is what he inferred from the story of Adam and Eve, and as I looked around the classroom, I saw nothing but heads bobbing in agreement. I felt angry and excluded and I knew he was wrong, but I couldn’t formulate the words to say it at that moment. So I went home and wrote it all down, how I agreed that God created us for relationships, for community rather than aloneness, but how limiting that to marriage left out an awful lot of people. I told him that I believed God’s image was just as fully present in me and my relationships with my tight circle of friends as in anyone else. (I also reminded him that the gospel writers never mentioned Jesus being married, so either he wasn’t or it wasn’t important enough for them to mention. Either way, it seems like God wouldn’t have left him an “incomplete” picture of the imago Dei.) To my professor’s credit, when he read my paper he told me that I was absolutely right, and he said as much to the whole class.
In society in general and particularly in many churches, there is such a focus on families and couples that singletons can be made to feel left out. That’s not okay, and I hope I will still be an advocate for full inclusion of single people even after I’m married. Beyond that, I hope I won’t say some of the unintentionally hurtful things people say to singletons. There were so many times that I would be excited to catch up with a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time and their first questions would be, “So what’s new? Are you dating anyone?” If there had been even a pause after the first question, I would’ve been happy to tell them about achievements at work, things I’d been involved with at church, the latest trick my dog had learned, or a recent vacation. But the second question shut me down, and all I could say was, “No.” I was left feeling like a romantic relationship was the only thing that mattered. And that is, of course, not true.
I’m glad to be getting married, but I’m also very thankful for my single life. It’s made me who I am, and I love that my fiancé loves qualities in me that grew out of being on my own for so long. I’m glad that I bought my first car and my first house on my own. I’m glad that I’ve killed my own bugs and carried in my own groceries and been a single dog mom. I’m glad that I was able to decide what job to take without worrying about moving a whole family across the state. I’m glad that I had the freedom to live in France for two years and travel all over Europe. And I’m glad beyond measure that God blessed me with wonderful friends in all the places I’ve lived, my tribe, my worldwide community.
My divinity school professor was so wrong; I was not an incomplete creation as a singleton. I was whole and happy (most of the time), which is the only reason I think I’ll be whole and happy (most of the time) in my married life. My fiancé and I both had lots of life experience before we met, and while we have a great deal in common, we each still have our own interests and hobbies to enjoy separately. Neither of us was looking for someone to complete us Jerry Maguire style, and thank God for that. We will have to figure out who we are as a married couple day by day and year by year, but each of us will still be an individual, too. Will is always going to be completely Will. And though my life will change drastically, I am always going to be completely me, created in the image of God and called good by the Creator, without regard for relationship status.