A gal whom I don’t even know wrote a blog post about things that people say to single women that can be hurtful. Please go read that post!
The gist of it is that I think married people (and sometimes other single people) want to be helpful and encouraging, but they say things that aren’t at all helpful and encouraging – without even realizing it. I made a couple of comments on her blog, but I’ll re-iterate them here.
It’s kind of like a woman who is battling infertility. I’ve never been through infertility, but I think the situations are similiar. In both cases, women are longing for something that is good and right and normal to want. In both cases, action is needed on the part of the woman (no one accidentally gets married or pregnant), but in both cases, it’s not 100% in their control.
When women are battling infertility, they sometimes want people to give them advice on why or what they can do to get out of the battle and into pregnancy. But chances are that they don’t want that advice from you. They want that advice from their doctor or their best-friend-forever or from the-gal-who-has-been-there-and-come-out-okay-on-the-other-side.
Same for single women. They sometimes want advice on why they are single or how they can increase their odds of getting married. But, again, chances are that they don’t want that advice from you. They want it from their mentor or their best-friend-forever or from the recently-married-lady-who-has-married-well-and-knows-a-bit-about-their-life-and-can-give-valid-feedback.
What women usually want from other people is acknowledgement that it must be hard, not pithy answers like:
- “God will give you a husband/baby when you’re not looking/trying.”
- “I don’t know why you don’t have a husband/baby when you’re so cute/would be a good mom.”
- “You don’t need a husband/baby to be happy.”
- “God will give you a husband/baby eventually since you desire it.”
As much as people probably/hopefully mean well, those words can sting. Far better to just say “That really must hurt. How would you like me to pray for you?” And then actually pray for them!