I got married and had a baby in my early twenties. It wasn’t the life I’d planned. I never scoured wedding blogs or pined after maternity shops. I never meant to be the first of our friend group to start a family. I simply fell in love, and the rest followed naturally.
Meanwhile, you’re still single. I see you going to grad school, traveling the world, getting grown-up jobs. I hear about your parties, your brunches, and the Saturdays you spend alone with your Netflix.
Our lives are different, but I think yours is lovely, too. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not.
If you’re beyond a certain age, you probably feel pressure to get married. You’re aware of biological timelines and parental expectations. Your Facebook insists that every single one of your friends is now engaged. And illogical as it is, marriage seems like some kind of personal success milestone. Like, Congrats on not being an unlovable spinster! We always knew you could get a husband if you just put your mind to it!
Of course, getting married isn’t an achievement. Landing a job is an achievement. Making art is an achievement. Having a good marriage is an achievement. But nobody will celebrate these things with you as much as they should, and for that, I’m sorry.
Single life isn’t less important, but you’re more vulnerable to people telling you it is. Whenever I’m doubting my value, I have a husband to affirm me, and mom friends are the fiercest encouragers I’ve ever met. Plus, everyone tells me I’ve created the miracle of life, so I’m golden. You, on the other hand, have to prove yourself day in and day out. You have to show your boss that you’re not a kid. You have to justify your life choices to your parents. Somedays, you even have to prove to yourself that you’re doing alright.
For the record, I think you’re spectacular. You’re strong and brave, and you’re probably making a bigger impact that you think.
I know sometimes it’s hard to be alone. Whether you envy married life or are happily untethered, sometimes you just want to wake up next to someone who loves you. That is truly one of the best parts of being married. My husband has seen the ugliest corners of my heart, and he still wants to spoon with me every day. He still chooses to love me.
It’s not weak or shameful or naive to want that kind of love. I hope you don’t settle for anything less.
The truth is, I want my marriage to be enviable. I want to be so patient and kind and faithful that it makes you want to do those things, too. I believe in marriage. I believe in commitment, in the beauty of two people submitting to one another. I want you to experience the unique kind of stretching that marriage brings, and I want you to feel its comfort and safety, too. I want you to thrive in it, to live out of the knowledge that you’re loved.
Dear friend, if and when the time is right for you to get married, know that I will celebrate with you through the joyful parts and cheer you on through the hard. If and when the time isn’t right, I will celebrate what’s important to you and cheer you on when you feel weary or lonely.
Our friendship is never dependent on your relationship status. Even if I pop out a dozen kids and you remain single into your sixties, we can still have a rich friendship. We can still be curious about and empathetic towards each other’s lives. I want to hear about your promotions, your backpacking trips, and your awkward first dates. I want to tell you about my son’s new tooth and my husband’s music. I want us to meet between conferences and soccer practice, sipping coffee together and supporting one another through the good and hard seasons of life.
Because even in the busyness of life, marriage, and kids, you matter to me. I see you, I love you, and you are always worth my time.
This post is Part I of The Marriage Letters. Tune in next week for Part II: “Dear Almost Newlyweds,” in which I talk about wedding season and how to start marriage right.
Photo: Ally Mauro, Creative Commons