There was the statement that resonated with me: “If we’re not content single, we won’t be content married.”
It’s because if we have contentment, then most likely we chose to be content. And this habit of practicing contentment in one area of our lives tends to spill over into all other areas.
If you’re in a single zone, consider these 12 tongue-in-cheek-ish advantages to being single that may help lift your level of contentment.
As a single, you can:
1. Pursue your passion for hours on end. No one to interrupt and ask, “What’s for dinner?” (But also no one to eat dinner with.)
2. Skip entire meals. This happens frequently when I’m writing for hours on end with no one to ask, “What’s for dinner?” (But then again, there’s that pesky, ‘No one to eat dinner with.’)
3. Eat ice cream for dinner as often as you’d like. No one to say, “Hmmm, are we having veggies anytime this week?”
4 and 5. Stay up as late as you’d like, even doze off while reading a book. Sleep there the entire night. No one to say, “Don’t fall asleep, babe … it’s almost time for bed.”
6. Sleep in as late as you’d like. No one to say (a bit too cheerfully), “Good afternoon, sleepyhead!”
7. Vacation wherever you’d like. Make your own plans. Book your own reservations. Pack up and leave whenever you want. No one to say, “Let’s leave at 4:00am … to get an early start.” (Then again, no one beside you on your adventures.)
8. Read in a restaurant — while waiting for your meal, while eating your meal, after finishing your meal. (But then, no one to say, “You look beautiful tonight.”)
9. Buy your own gifts: Christmas, birthday, anniversary, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Labor Day, President’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Fourth of July gifts. (But, alas, no one to say, “I got you a little something that I think you’ll really like.”)
10. Stop as frequently as you’d like on road trips. No one to say, “It would be nice to get there before dark.” (However, you’re doing a road trip alone.)
11. Plan outlandish things—like fundraising and chaperoning high school students on educational tours of Europe. No one to say, “But what if you lose someone along the way?” (Not that my husband ever said that … but he was definitely a count-the-cost sort-of person.)
12. Say Yes to every invitation. Immediately. “Do you want to go to Israel with us?” Yes! “We have tickets to the Oregon Ducks football game. Wanna join us this weekend?” Absolutely! “Do you want to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with us?” Yeeesssss! (No one to say, “I’m not so sure about this …”)
So much freedom and leisure time to being single. But did you notice all the “no one’s”? No one to eat dinner with. No one to say, “Don’t fall asleep, babe … it’s almost time for bed.”
In her book, The Story of Arthur Truluv, Elizabeth Berg wrote about a particular thing the main character could do — now that his beloved wife had passed away:
Lucille makes these snickerdoodles, and she always packs some up for him to take home, and he eats them in bed, which is another thing he can do now, oh, sorrowful gift.
Cookies in bed (not that I’ve ever done that). Vacation wherever we’d like. Setting our own sleeping and eating schedule.
Sorrowful gifts for the single person who has known a deep love.
But if we’re waiting for our season to change, maybe we can learn contentment as a single so we’re content as a married person.
And the secret to contentment is gratitude.
For all of us—married or single—maybe we’re not necessarily grateful for our current circumstances, but can we take an inventory?
1) Do you have the freedom to load up hiking boots, kayak, backpack, tent … and head out into God’s backyard?
2) Do you live in a country where there are no bombs dropping from overhead?
3) Are your local grocery store shelves stocked almost to the ceiling? Is there food in your pantry?
4) Have you seen a sun dip below the horizon in water-color splendor?
5) Have you ever tasted warm blackberry cobbler with French vanilla ice cream melting on top?
6) Have you ever heard the freight-train roar of wind in tall trees?
7) Have you smelled the aroma of coffee beans roasting, or pumpkin scones fresh out of the oven?
8) Have you felt the warmth of a bonfire on a brisk autumn night?
9) Have you ever laughed out loud?
10) Do you have people to love? Are there people who love you?
Did you answer all these questions with, Yes? I did.
This admission from Brené Brown:
I get so busy sometimes chasing the extraordinary moments that I don’t pay attention to the ordinary moments, the moments—that if taken away—I would miss more than anything.
This is me sometimes. But I don’t want this to be me. Ever.
I want to pay attention to the ordinary moments. And count the things I’m grateful for. And thereby know deep contentment.
What if you started a gratitude journal?
Do you think you’d be amazed at all the gorgeous, magical, ordinary moments that make your life so extraordinarily awesome?
Try it and see!
Hello Sweet Marlys! Thank you! God used His loving kindness in showing me so many things/people for which to be thankful, when my husband was in the hospital for several weeks at the end of his life. God’s gift of gratitude lifted me up and made bearable what was happening. He is still blessing me in that way, through all of the “stuff” one must go through when suddenly single. God-given gratitude in me for Him, I would say, is the life-preserver which keeps me from sinking! I am so thankful! Love and gratitude for you, M.J.!
I like how you worded this, Nasus: “God’s gift of gratitude lifted me up and made bearable what was happening.” Pretty amazing how that works, isn’t it?
Brilliant, Marlys! Thanks for your insight. It took me a few years to be thankful for being single but is has proved to be the secret of contentment for me.
Well said, Janey: “It took me a few years to be thankful for being single but it has proved to be the secret of contentment for me.” Good for you!
After I got divorced, back in the early 90’s, I was on my own for the first time. Till then, I’d either been living at home with my parents or married.
I come from a large family, and it was really hard getting used to being alone.
But, eventually, I realized how nice it was to go to the grocery and buy food that I liked. And to go to the video store and pick out a movie that I liked.
Singlehood can be a lonely business but, as you say, there are compensations. You just have to pay attention and be grateful for them.
That’s key, isn’t it Jeanne: “pay attention and be grateful …” Well said.
Very interesting and informative perspective. At first I didn’t understand the repeated “No one to say” until you explained it. I can see and hear Gary saying those words to you in kindness and not criticism. I read the words but understood them as “No one to tell me” as in no one to tell me what I’m doing wrong or what I should or shouldn’t be doing. I’m thinking as I’m reading…..yes, that’s a good thing for no one to tell me I can’t have ice cream for dinner by implying I don’t need the calories UNTIL you explained why it can be a sad moment for no one to tell you that you can’t have ice cream for dinner. I now have a much better understanding of why some women have a hard time living alone. It’s the absence of someone’s care and concern for you and so many other good things? And now I better understand why I absolutely love living alone.
An interesting take, Marsha – thank you for sharing your thoughts. I’m somewhere in the middle of those women who have a hard time living alone and you who absolutely love living alone. As much as I enjoyed the companionship and fun of being married to Gary, I’m content to live alone and not looking … but open to whatever God might have for me. Thank you!
Oh yes Marlys – way past time for me to start a gratitude journal – challenge accepted!!!
That’s awesome, Sally!