Watching All Your Friends Get Married
Written By Krysti Wilkinson, USA
I go to a lot of weddings. Like, a lot—five this summer, five last summer. I hang out with a lot of couples. And I write a lot about singleness. Go figure, right?
My life, humorous to many, typically brings about a lot of questions. Isn’t it awkward to hang out with couples? How hard is it to be the token single friend? How much does it suck going to weddings alone? And what’s it like to watch all your friends get married?
What is it like? How does it feel? Allow me to let you in on the biggest secret of Krysti’s Wedding Season 2016: it’s normal.
I don’t know how else to describe it, because it’s just my life. It’s all I know, really. It just happens to be where God has me right now. I’m pretty sick of society telling me over and over again that I’m supposed to hate it, and I’m getting pretty tired of having to explain to people that I actually don’t detest my current reality.
At its very best, it’s incredibly wonderful. I’m happy for my friends because they have found the person that makes them come alive, pushes them to be a better person, and points them back to Jesus. My friends have navigated the hard conversations, put in the effort, and have now found someone to promise themselves to forever. That’s exciting! That’s wonderful! I get to be a part of this treasured season, and I get to celebrate with them on one of the most special days of their lives. That’s great. That’s an honor. That’s to be cherished—no matter what my relationship status is.
At its very worst, it’s incredibly unsettling. My friends have found their other half and I’m not sure where I fit in the equation. Their lives are now characterized by compromise, communication, and putting another person before themselves—whereas I’m in the season of life where I get to be selfish, focus on my needs, and go wherever God leads. While they can be the most important people in my life, I know I’ll never be the most important one in theirs. At the end of the day, they go home to their best friend; I go home alone. They’ve found someone and I . . . haven’t.
Typically, however, it’s right in the middle. It’s incredibly confusing. Sometimes I see my married friends’ relationship dynamics and I am so grateful I am single; sometimes I see their relationship dynamics and I really wish I am not. I don’t understand why God brought someone special into their lives and has yet to do so in mine. At times I feel loved and secure in my friendships; other times, I feel constantly put on the back burner, constantly forgotten about. I am loved in my singleness, and yet I am constantly set up, introduced, and nudged to be not single. I try hard to care about marriage problems and empathize with things I know nothing about, but my single problems and issues can feel brushed aside. That boy texting me? Never mind that, what about her husband?
I don’t feel lesser, I don’t feel unloved, and I definitely don’t feel like something is wrong with me. But watching all your friends get married while you remain single is like watching all your friends graduate college when you never had the chance to go. Are you any less intelligent? Are you automatically lesser? No. And yet . . . it can feel a bit like that at times. When you’re all the same age and yet in very different life stages, it’s easy to feel a bit left behind.
I’m now recovering from wedding season busy-ness, while my friends are recovering from their honeymoon. As I’m falling back into old routines and familiar patterns, they are trying to create new rhythms and seeking new routines with their new spouse. Like getting rejected from your dream school and having to watch friends live the life you expected, I see my friends living out a life stage everyone assumed I would be in by now.
It’s like having a lifelong conversation about a place everyone in the room has traveled to, except you. Everyone has had this experience and seen these places, and you’ve only heard about them. Although you’ve also traveled and know things about traveling, and although you’ve had so many conversations about traveling to this place, you can’t really join the conversation. You can’t talk of your experiences there. You haven’t even been given a visa yet. You can try all you want and give all your advice, but some people will never take your word, simply because you haven’t seen it. You haven’t experienced it. You haven’t been there.
Sometimes, all you want to do is to talk about something other than traveling. Something you all have in common. But marriage seems to affect everything—everything! Where can you go that feels safe, neutral?
Sometimes, it seems, nowhere.
I know it’s not quite the same—but when I moved back to the US after living in Malawi, Africa, I felt like no one understood, no one knew exactly the reverse culture shock I was going through. After spending so long so far away from family, friends, and my norm, I suddenly found myself home and smack dab in the middle of “normal”—except it now felt foreign. All my friends were wonderful and well intentioned, but no one knew. And did I push them away and claim we couldn’t be friends because we had different life experiences? Did I shut them out and try to find new friends who might understand me better? Did I give up on our friendships because we were at different places in life? Of course not.
I try, over and over again, to emphasize that my friends are my friends—single, married, male, female, whatever. I believe God brings people into our lives to shape us and grow us—not to be exactly like us. I’m beyond blessed that the majority of my friends have married wonderful, wonderful people who have since become my friends. I understand this isn’t always the case, and I get that it’s hard when someone you’re close to marries someone you aren’t—and probably will never be—close to.
I’m part of a group of five—my two best friends and their husbands—whom I hang out with all the time. All the time. People always ask me, in hushed tones, about how hard that must be for me. How is it, really, constantly hanging out with two couples? Answer: It’s the best. Because it’s never my friends and their husbands; it’s my four friends. It’s not Krysti the Single and Them the Couple; it’s a group of friends committed to each other, despite any differences. It’s not uncomfortable, awkward third wheeling, because we’re all equally present and all equally cherished. Why should my friends’ marital status—or mine—determine how much I love, care for, or invest in them?
Some days, I don’t even notice it. We sit on the couch and we all catch up and we all make fun of each other. We all love each other so much and we all know each other so well—it isn’t Krysti and two couples, it isn’t us and her, it’s a group of friends. It’s my team. We get up to say our goodbyes and it’s two by two by . . . oh, just one. Just me. I get in my car alone and I drive home alone and I go to bed alone. And it’s okay; I’m okay.
Other days, it’s all I notice. I sit on the couch and hear talk about weddings and couples and grocery shopping together—things I don’t quite have a voice in. It’s hand holding and discussing communication patterns and laughing about fights we’ve had . . . uh, they’ve had, and it’s marriage talk. I’m thankful to be a part of it; I’m glad I’m given this insight, and I’m grateful my friends love me enough to give me the real-life, front-seat version of their happily ever after. But then we part ways and I get in my car alone and drive home alone and get in bed alone and I can’t help but think, they aren’t doing any of these things alone . . .
I don’t know how long this will be my life. How many more weddings will I go to before it’s my wedding? How many more proposals will I help plan before a boy gets down on one knee in front of me? Will that ever happen? I don’t know.
It can be easy to assume I missed some train, that singleness will forever be my norm. It can be easy to assume—in a culture so obsessed with relationships—that somehow God forgot about me and my happiness. It can be easy to believe a whole host of unhelpful, untruthful lies about singlehood. But luckily there are a few things I know to be true.
I know that God is bigger than my relationship status, my friendships, and my life stage. I know that I serve a God who cares deeply about my happiness and about my growth. I trust Him with His timing, His promises, and His omnipotence—even when I don’t understand it.
I also know there are far worse things than being the single friend among marrieds. There are worse things than feeling like the odd one out. And this is: Not having these people in my life. Losing these cherished relationships. Choosing to focus on our differences and therefore pushing away our similarities—all these would be so much more painful, so much more disheartening, so much more unsettling than dancing solo at all these weddings. Even during the slow songs.
This article was originally published on the writer’s blog here. This version has been edited by YMI.
Great read! Exactly what I have to say since I’m the perpetually single wedding photographer who shoots weddings every single week.
thanks for that article, it spoke to me as am currently in the single season.
Krysti you are a good writer, thank you for allowing God to use you as an open book to encourage others(me included), am deeply encouraged, everytime I read your writeup am drawn to spend more time with GOD concerning the issue of singleness. I pray the LORD remembers you..HE will surely come through for you..
Willy from Kenya